Freedom from Nature is not Free: A Commentary on the Individual Mandate

As I read the very honest and precise article by my fellow Peanut columnist about Obamacare freeing the ill from illness, I was reminded of my own experience standing in a doctor’s office listening to people who shared my serious pre-existing condition talk about what they thought of the new healthcare law.

Lets start with the basic facts which were laid out in the previous article by Tarif Haque.  The individual mandate is almost certainly necessary in order to make a regulation taking away the insurer’s right to deny coverage to those with pre-existing conditions a workable reality.  Secondly, the individual mandate is not a proper mandate as the Supreme Court has rightly declared it a non coercive tax.  The law cannot use purely monetary economics to force people to buy insurance but rather uses the reminder of that fee as a means of guilt on citizens who do not buy insurance.  If there was no mandate, people would feel that they could morally, as they economically and legally can, keep from buying insurance until they were sick which would bankrupt the system.

This brings me back to the image of me standing in the doctor’s office.  The idea that I could no longer be denied coverage upon outgrowing my parent’s insurance made me feel safe.  But it also made me feel guilty.

When I was sick, as I am now healthy, I became very bitter from years of pain and disability.  To see others around me being happy and pain free made me feel that I had been cheated.  To see others be able to run made me feel that I had been cheated.  To see others be able to walk made me feel that I had been cheated.  To see others be able to stay awake for more than seven hours a day made me feel that I had been cheated.  To see other people be able to speak and read and hear properly made me feel that I had been cheated.

My response to feeling cheated was to believe that all those more fortunate than me had no right to anything that made them happy if it could be put to making me less miserable.  If insulting someone, lying, cutting line, or otherwise demanding that others sacrifice parts of their much more advantaged lives would make me happier I could do all of that and more.  This may even seem fair to you.  Evening things out!  I mean I did not choose to be ill and it was not the result of any misbehavior of mine.

The wages of sin is death.  And the wages of theft and demanding that others live for you is sorrow and in economics death as well.  I became more and more bitter as I could not steal happiness effectively enough.  And when I hit rock bottom physically and mentally, I changed my attitude.  When I respected the rights of others and made my happiness my own responsibility, I was far happier than when I remained as unhealthy.

A year after that I was standing in the doctor’s office (a feat) and I could not bring myself support Obamacare.  Sure I grew up on Fox News but that was not my root reason.  My reason was that I did not want my safety and my life to be purchased at the expense of another.  They were my responsibility.

If the bill passed, I thought, and I was covered by it then the world would not be right.  Though millions were to be punished and guilted into sustaining an unjust system it was the insurance companies that would be enslaved.  The people who owned the company, their money was their metaphorical place in line.  It was theirs and they couldn’t be forced to give it up for me.  That was wrong.  I could and should only control myself.  I shouldn’t control them.

At its most basic level, my thoughts and feelings were a fear of shame.  I would be ashamed if others were being forced to live for my happiness.  If someone chooses to be generous with me based on my virtue, either simply as a human being or as an individual, then I would gladly accept.  The issue was not that I did not want a kindness; it was that I refused to force anyone to cover my health expenses at the point of the government’s guns.

Beyond that I didn’t want anyone shamed into thinking that they needed to buy insurance so that I could have it.  Should a young man wish to forgo insurance to invest in a business or an invention or an art of his that he wishes will create greatness, I should not make him feel guilty and take a piece of his investment because he chose that over my health care.  If he chose to spend that money on whores and heroin, I still had no right to the product of his labor.

Finally there are the doctors and patients.  As a patient I would be shamed and all others would be shamed in my eyes.  The doctors too would be shamed.  If the patient has a right to health care then they have a right to the work of doctors and nurses and that part of the doctor’s life.  Least of all human beings on earth that I wished to shame was my doctor who was allowing me to walk again.  To reward the ability and work of the doctor who gave back to me the sweet ability and the indescribable joy of running, to reward him with slavery was a wrong I could not conscience.

Being unable to conscience a world of theft from the haves of healthcare to the have nots, even those who have no through no fault of their own, I could not and cannot conscience either the individual mandate or the ban on pre-existing condition discrimination.  I could not live in that, I could not ask any man to live in that, and I could never ask my doctor to do that.

Yes, it is sad to see people who through no fault of their own suffer and die.  But that is nature. Man cannot be unshackled from nature by laws alone. The shackles must be broken by another man. This is wrong and this is not the only way to free the ill.  The healthy need not be shackled to the ill in order to cut them free.  Men have been doing this of their own free will since time immemorial.  I expect they always will.