Saturday, January 18, 2014

Understanding Government Coercion and The Affordable Care Act

In order to function, our government must have coercive powers. Without these powers, the government could not levy taxes, provide for national defense or enforce the criminal and civil justice systems. We would have anarchy. However, it is important to realize that many laws restrict our freedoms and our choices. So it's extremely important that we're always vigilant to avoid having the government restrict our freedoms and our choices. . . unless there's a compelling reason.

When President Obama was campaigning for the Affordable Care Act, he said he would, "ask wealthy Americans to pay a little more." This is what he said, but it's most certainly not what he meant. After all, if he just asked wealthy Americans to pay a little more, many would have said no. What he meant was that he was going to use the coercive powers of government to confiscate a larger share of the earnings of the Americans he deemed to be "wealthy."

He also intended to create a large government bureaucracy to oversee a program that forced many Americans to purchase new insurance policies or pay a fine. While some people would receive subsidized or free insurance other people would be forced to give up their existing insurance (because their insurance companies are no longer permitted to offer it) and purchase plans with higher premiums as a result of the act.

So it seems that with the Affordable Care Act there are winners and losers. The winners are the people whose insurance is being subsidized by other Americans and those people who get lucrative government jobs in the bureaucracy created to administer the Act. The losers are those people being forced to buy more expensive coverage or to pay higher taxes to help pay for the bureaucracy.

Whether you like or dislike the Act may depend a lot on whether you're a winner or a loser. One lady who thought she was a winner was Jessica Sanford. Sanford wrote the President a letter thanking him for the Act. According to Sanford, she hadn't been able to afford insurance for the last 15 years, and she was crying tears of joy when she finally was able to get coverage she could afford. She thought she would be able to purchase a Cadillac insurance plan for her and her son for about $170 per month.

The President was so impressed by her letter, that he read part of it in the Rose Garden as an example of how the Act was helping everyday Americans. Unfortunately for Jessica, shortly after she wrote the President, she received a letter telling her that the price she had been quoted for her insurance plan was wrong and she would have to pay much more. She felt that all of the plans were too expensive than what she could afford so she's now just going to pay the penalty and remain uninsured.

My question for thinkers: Is the Affordable Care Act a good use of governments coercive powers?

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