Obamacare, Baseball, and the Public Trust
Two weeks before the passage of Obamacare in 2010, I attended a town hall event held by my then-Congressman Bart Stupak. Remember Stupak? It was Bart who, along with Joe Pitts, attempted to hold up the final passage of Obamacare with their amendment prohibiting federal funding of abortion within the law. It was all a sham, though -- Stupak admitted he would have voted for the bill even without his amendment.
In fact, in reply to a constituent stating at that town hall that "73% of the American people want you to start over" with the health care law, Stupak replied:
We've been starting (healthcare) over for 98 years, we’re not gonna start over.
Stupak went on to explain his take on the health care law that Democrat-controlled Washington, D.C., was hashing out. He noted:
[Both the House and Senate bills] eliminate the insurance company’s anti-trust deal; only insurance companies and major league baseball benefit from anti-trust laws.
At the time, I couldn't figure out why he brought up baseball, but since then I've learned that it's quite a burr in the regressive's saddle. Anti-trust laws were supposedly established to break up the titans of industry, stopping huge monopolies from occurring from a huge burst of freedom and liberty, ostensibly to protect us from having only one place to go for our goods. How very successful and lucrative that legacy has been for the federal government.
Three years after the passage of Obamacare, we can see the law has allowed the federal government to function as a trust. It forces millions to lose their plans from numerous companies, and it forces citizens into a one-size-fits-all coverage scheme to be purchased from a marketplace that is not a marketplace, served by one non-functional website.
Really, it is the federal government that "benefits" from being dealt out of the anti-trust laws. The public trust is now at odds with a monopoly within government. Such a government of the government, for the government, and by the government is not what our founders intended.
Speaking of baseball and the government, the sport can serve a useful comparison for just how much money has been spent on the doomed Healthcare.gov.
Let's assume the Washington Post is correct in its estimation that the website cost around $174 million, and could reach as high as $300 million. (Excuse me for snickering at the thought that there is some sort of spending cap on this monument to hole-digging.) In that case, the Obama administration paid out, presumably in the last three years, more than the entire career earnings of Mariano Rivera. Don't like baseball? Shaquille O’Neal’s estimated career earnings are a little over $292 million. Wayne Gretzky, Brendan Shanahan, and Steve Yzerman would have to pool all their earnings from their entire careers to fund this website that doesn't work. (Why Brendan Shanahan? Because I like Brendan Shanahan.)
I'm not even talking net worth. I'm talking about all the money they have earned in their careers. If you consider how much money you've made in your lifetime, and then look at the stuff you have, you might get a little depressed. But the government doesn't have such emotions, as unearned money is no object. They’ll just fill in the hole and start digging a new one.
A moral comparison is apt, as well. The men mentioned above spent nearly all of their lives honing their God-given talent. They practiced and sacrificed, and worked toward goals and succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. Their lives were consumed with becoming the best and remaining excellent -- two distinct moral virtues that big government tries to undermine, and indeed, attempts to prove are not possible. (Recall, “you didn’t build that.”)
These athletes have been tested again and again and rose to the top, and on average would deliver excellent performance. Whereas the federal government is never tested, and success is based on force. As such, they cannot ever spend the money we send them efficiently. They have proved that in this latest example of a failed website.
The lesson we should learn from their malfeasance is that the leviathan has no ability to act with moral virtue, because in its current form, it does not have to. Aristotle described a moral virtue as a state of character lying between excess and deficiency. The federal government constantly jumps from excess to deficiency as warnings blast from the virtuous people they seek to silence.
In Federalist #49, James Madison wrote that the passions of the people, assuming their agents represented them well, ought to be controlled by the government, and the reason of the public ought to control the government. We are not operating in this method. Instead, we are existing as serfs under a government out of control fiscally and morally, one that decides our passions and seeks to ignore our reason, one that attacks the individual and coerces him to submit to their collective whim. One that sues states that try to serve their constituencies; one that acts as one, by one, and for one, itself.
We are ensnared by the selfish gluttony of government, invariably disregarding human variables and refusing to acknowledge our ability to reason. We get turned back and forth until we give in, powerless, our individual dreams extinguished.
There is no “constitutional equilibrium” as Madison promoted, because of the branches of government that refuse to view themselves as separate from the whole. With Washington’s current status quo, perhaps the national pastime is the only thing left that is not completely stolen from the citizen’s control.