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In Your Stocking, from the Democrats: The Worst Present Ever

The true spirit of Christmas, according to the Dems? Less liberty, state-mandated theft, and bribery. We'd prefer a new tie.

by
William M. Briggs

Bio

December 24, 2009 - 6:53 am

Harry Reid and 59 other Democrat and independent senators and no Republican ones have donned their Santa hats (faux fur, naturally) and snuck down the chimneys of every citizen this Christmas Eve.

In the true spirit of one-party rule, they have gifted each of us with an IOU. Not one that says they owe us. But that we owe them.

It is the Worst Present Ever.

It’s worse, even, than a lump of coal, which at least could have been used to heat our houses. Hmm. Maybe a new tax is a “green” alternative for the traditional naughty list stocking stuffer?

Anyway, each of us are on the Democrats’ naughty list. Why? Because too many of us have been thinking for ourselves and acting in our own interests — without considering the sensitive feelings of those who wish to rule us!

“Oh, Briggs, you Scrooge. You forget that X million Americans don’t have health insurance — where I conveniently let X vary according to what I think my audience will swallow. Our Christmas IOUs are meant to pay for their insurance.”

No, I didn’t forget. But you misremember that Scrooge turned out to be a good guy, using his personal fortune, garnered through capitalistic means, to bring goodwill and spread cheer at Christmastime. Scrooge didn’t give his money over to the government after his awakening, but doled it out himself, as he thought best.

Scrooge was a numbers man (he ran a counting house, remember). He knew, as Thomas Sowell knew in his The Vision of the Anointed, that saying “X Americans don’t have insurance” is a statistical trick.

The number X — even if not heartily exaggerated — is calculated from a snapshot in time. Many people who do not have insurance now, because of temporary unemployment, say, or because they simply don’t want or need it, will have it in the future.

Harping on X doesn’t reflect, as Sowell says, the transient nature of American life. People do not tend to stay in one economic or social strata their entire lives — they move, usually upwards as they age, and especially if given the incentive to do so. Those who do not have health insurance and view a lack of it as an ill have a natural motivation to secure it.

Giving away insurance to those who do not have it, and paying for it by confiscating money from those who have that, removes a large proportion of the incentive for the giftees to find ways of paying for their insurance themselves (a decreasing fraction of incentive due to personal pride is left).

The burden of proof should have been on the Democrats to explain how removing incentive will cause more people to pay for their own insurance, rather than the more likely consequence that a growing percentage of people will end up on the dole — which means more money must be confiscated from more people.

Most importantly, old Ebenezer could tell you that nobody needs health insurance, they need health — and that not everybody wants that, at least not at all times. What kind of life would it be to never enjoy the occasional life-shortening excess? (A socialist utopian one, actually. But never mind.)

Another way to put this: Lack of insurance does not imply lack of health. Repeat that with me. Those X people who do not have insurance are not all unhealthy. Besides, in those times of lack of health, nobody — even those lacking formal insurance policies — is ever turned away from Marley & Scrooge Memorial.

This charity is paid for by other people, like the new government entitlement, but the costs are spread around more evenly than by direct confiscation. The reason is that taxation requires an overhead — a bureaucracy — to administer. All experience with government suggests that the overhead will add a significant additional cost.

Once more, the burden of proof was on those who proposed the new mandate that their innovations were more cost effective. We have seen no arguments — but plenty of bald assertions — that they are so.

However, none of these are supported by chief elf Reid, who tacitly acknowledges that the new program will cost more by starting his tax now, but will not provide benefits for several years. This of course means that the taxes must be increased sometime after the benefits kick in, just to maintain status quo.

And it’s rational to suppose they’ll increase even more given all experience of the growth of entitlement programs.

The Democrats’ gift is one that will keep taking for years and years and years.

Ho ho ho.

William M. Briggs is a statistical consultant in New York and San Francisco. He is an American Meteorological Society member and serves on their Probability & Statistics Committee. His specialty is on the philosophy of evidence, forecast evaluation, and marketing.
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