The Open Secret to Affordability

The Open Secret to Affordability

Tibor R. Machan

For a little while I was mystified about what would make the health insurance scheme that’s at the heart of Obamacare affordable. I was reading about the measure all around the Web and couldn’t find much information about this. Why would this be affordable, compared to unaffordable alternatives?

And then it hit me–and I felt ashamed for failing to grasp it right away. Of course! Anything you can get other people to pay for can easily become affordable! If my kid wants me to buy her a new car, I would normally say “Sorry, I cannot afford it.” For our family such a purchase is unaffordable, at least now. And that’s the story with innumerable commodities and services available on the market–most of these are just unaffordable to a great many folks. Why? Because they haven’t got the funds to buy them at the price sellers are willing to accept. Ergo, all of this is unaffordable.

But suppose I manage to sell a manuscript to a publisher who is willing to pay me big bucks for it–yes, I am dreaming–or imagine any other good deal I can nail down; suddenly much of what my family would like to purchase turns out to have become affordable. That would be the kosher way to come to afford what we want, namely, by increasing our resources through making good deals, being more productive, earning more funds than we did before, etc.

But I was forgetting for a while an entirely different way stuff we want can become affordable. We could steal or rob others of their funds and use these to increase our resources. Much of what we want could become easily affordable by this means.

You can easily imagine some bank robber coming home after a heist and announcing at the dinner table that what his family couldn’t afford before has suddenly become affordable. Maybe it would include health insurance, vacations, better furniture for the home, a new automobile, etc., etc. Pronto–all this stuff has become affordable.

And that is really the clue to what makes health insurance affordable under President Obama’s measure! He has put together a system whereby a great many people who do not wish to purchase health insurance will be mandated to do so anyway. This will bring down the price of health insurance, make it affordable to millions seeing that they no longer have to increase their own resources in order to come to afford it. Instead, they can now legally dip into the pockets of others, perfect strangers whose generosity they cannot count on but who have some funds that can be taken from them, making the service affordable to those who would have to either do without or improve their economic situation in order to pay for it on their own.

Not that this is anything new in the field of public finance–indeed, it is the routine. But in most instance some kind of excuse, admittedly spurious, is offered why that approach is necessary.

I don’t know what one calls this approach to purchasing stuff in the field of public administration but I do have the words for it in ordinary English. It is called robbing Peter for the benefit of Paul. And that is at the heart of Mr. Obama’s health care program. That is what the individual mandate is mostly about, namely, forcing those who don’t choose to purchase health insurance to part with the funds that it would take to pay for it. Thus has something that was unaffordable for many people become affordable. Easy as pie!

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2 Responses to The Open Secret to Affordability

  1. John Selig says:

    And I guess this applies to auto insurance. I know: you don’t have to buy a car… or do you? At least half the population must have a car to get to work and buy stuff. Why is everyone forced to buy auto insurance (even in that great Libertarian State of Texas)? Is it because insurance works best when everyone pays into it, even though most will not have catastrophic insurance claims, but a small percentage will?

    • szatyor2693 says:

      Whether insurance “works best” with everyone paying into it is irrelevant to the question of whether anyone may be coerced into buying insurance. The answer is “no.” If you can persuade everyone, fine, otherwise you have to cut cost some other way.

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