April 3, 2010
Paying the Price for ObamaBy Paul Kengor
Call it karma, cosmic irony, or just plain socialism, but many of the very groups most in support of Obama will be hit hardest by ObamaCare.
In this space a year ago, I wrote a piece called "Let 'Em Pay." I noted that while conservatives were obviously justified in bemoaning the "generational debt" President Obama and liberals are heaping upon the country, I also asked: Why complain? It struck me as fitting that the voters responsible for electing Obama -- of which I gave several examples -- ought to bear the lion's share of the financial burden. Let 'em pay, I urged.
Well, in light of what's happening with health care, it's time to update that piece.
Let's begin by establishing my premise: It's almost impossible to grasp all that's in the Democrats' health care legislation; even those who voted for it don't know everything. We do know, however, that it signals precisely what the left has long lusted over: the initiation of a progressive federal takeover -- the seeds of nationalization -- of the most sophisticated, marvelous health care system that humanity has ever known and that free men and free enterprise ever created. As a jubilant President Obama admitted after signing the legislation into law, it took "a hundred years" to get here.
It's so ironic that after decades of trashing Europe in their universities, liberals ache for the Europeanization of America and its health care. The American left hopes that ObamaCare will nanny a system where Americans subsidize one another's health care through some unprecedented form of collectivization and redistribution. For many Obama progressives, nationalization of health care is the ultimate goal; socialized medicine is the final objective.
But do they really understand how that would work?
And so, with that premise, I get to my main point: Let 'em pay. Or who, exactly, would pay, or pay less, if a socialized system is developed?
Here, too, many of Obama's staunchest supporters would bear the financial burden. They would disproportionately pick up the tab for people like me.
I, for one -- a conservative Christian, orthodox Roman Catholic, pro-life Republican -- would make out like a bandit, with liberals greasing my steps. Consider: My wife and I, at any one time, are raising (at minimum) half a dozen kids under our roof. Currently, we have two foster children, beautiful little boys whose struggling mothers chose life.
Under American health care as historically constituted, the financial burden for this lifestyle has been on my shoulders, as I'm the prime income-earner in our household. As for health care, my family is covered through private insurance paid by myself and my employer. It costs taxpayers nothing.
Yet, think about how my situation changes if progressives secure their dream of European-style "free" health care. Consider just a few categories of Obama-supporters who would help pay for me:
College students: It was the college crowd, or more broadly, first-time voters aged 18-29, who elected Barack Obama in historic numbers. This is the largest group of uninsured in America, by choice. At the same time, they still receive by law emergency health care if needed. With the passage of ObamaCare, it appears that these healthy young Americans will be forced to purchase insurance or pay fines. Democrat class-warfare demagogues denounce them as wretched "free-riders." (Lenin would have dubbed them "idlers.") No longer: They will now ante up, primarily to cover the cost not of their own (rarely accessed) health care, but of the entire system, including health care for me, my wife, and all my kids -- not to mention for millions of other baby-making conservatives who consume the earth's resources.
College professors: Those duped college students were prodded from the podiums of their classrooms, where they served as captive audiences in a one-way stream of information carefully screened by the manipulators who grant grades. College professors are the most monolithic group in America, as they (hilariously) preach "diversity." It's fitting that they desire a monolithic health care system.
Yet, think how socialized medicine would enlist the professoriate. Tenured academics enjoy comfortable incomes at hourly rates that AIG execs or Big Oil CEOs would envy. This is even truer of their bosses: As I've noted here before, college presidents rake in big bucks. At Columbia University, alma mater of Obama and Bill Ayers, President Lee Bollinger rakes in $1.4 million per year. Under the professors' ideal system, the likes of Bollinger would contribute far more to my family's health care than I would to theirs.
Further, it would be sweet justice that celebrated authors on "social justice" like Bill Ayers, a tenured professor of education, would, along with his wife, former '60s bomber Bernardine Dohrn, subsidize my family from the opulence of their tony Hyde Park mansion for two in Chicago.
Pro-choice working mothers: These liberal women voted Obama by the boutique-load. Traditionally, they've worked for their own health insurance. However, if their president's system progresses to ultimate fruition, then they will pay for health care not only for themselves, but also for me, for my stay-at-home/home-schooling wife, and for all the children we're raising to be pro-life. Under the system they elected, we would thrive on their nickel.
As these women break that glass ceiling and earn wealth, they become the reviled enemy in the left's angry world of class envy. They also become cash cows for what the late economist Hans Sennholz called "the transfer society." They transfer shares of their wealth to my family -- "income shift," as Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) lauds it.
If these women never made that connection until now, then they can thank those who miseducated them, from the public schools to the universities to the Democratic Party to the liberal media that serves as America's educator-in-chief.
New Englanders and Northeasterners: The most blindly liberal demographic in the country is self-identified liberals in New England and the Northeast. They are also among the wealthiest and the highest taxed, a direct function of their suicidal voting patterns. Most ironic, while they can afford large families more than citizens elsewhere in America, they have the lowest birth rates, the highest abortion rates, plummeting replacement rates, and comparatively very low percentages of children. A colleague of mine who is a sociologist points to recent data on abortion rates, where the Northeast stands astride America like a giant, grinning Grim Reaper: New York ranks #1 at a staggering 509 abortions per 1,000 live births. Rhode Island is #2 at 430. Connecticut is #5 at 321. Massachusetts is #7 at 313.
Really, New England and the Northeast are a microcosm of Europe. There, the Europeanization of America has been underway for a while, and it is about to hit hyper-drive.
Imagine if these liberals secure the progressive goal of taxpayer-funded abortions in a European-style system: These "free" abortions -- or, I should say, subsidized abortions -- will birth more abortions. For liberals in this region, this would equate to even more disproportionate health care funding of people like me and my family. As they hop planes to L.A., these progressive elites might want to condescend to glimpse below at "flyover country" -- i.e., the land of the living that they may soon sustain unlike ever before.
This, too, is deliciously ironic: In study after study, the rich liberals who populate this region (especially in Massachusetts) are the least charitable people in America. They would never dare fund any pro-life ministry I advocate. Under socialized medicine, this would change, and by a method that progressives instinctively embrace: federal fiat.
Secular liberals and atheists: It is most amusing that as these leftists help subsidize my lifestyle, they also support my faith. So they know where their money may be going, I suggest that they read Pope John Paul II's Evangelium Vitae and Pope Paul VI's Humanae Vitae (note hyperlinks), which condemn birth control and abortion as moral evils. I find it fabulous that ACLU lawyers and the likes of Barry Lynn might literally aid the ability of my wife and me to implement Roman Catholic teaching. And after all that energy trying to separate church and state!
What would be more wonderfully unintentional than to watch proceeds from Chris Hitchens' atheistic screeds fall into my pockets, or profits from Bill Maher's Catholic Church tirades off-setting the costs of my family's Catholic home-schooling? Or how about cash from Castro-stooge Michael Moore redirected to my kids' doctor visits?
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Hey, I've always warned liberals that they will pay a price for economic ignorance. Previously, I paid for my own lifestyle; if they get their way, then they will be pitching in. It's their choice and their system, not mine. To paraphrase Forrest Gump, socialism is as socialism does.
Alas, I've merely focused on the direct cost of subsidizing socialized health care. I haven't touched the enormous fiscal burden liberals are hoisting upon themselves to cover the incredible cost of these "progressive" initiatives America cannot as a matter of elementary economic fact afford. Across the board, they and their small families will disproportionately assume a far higher per-capita cost than me and my family. Yes, they can!
Well, they voted for change. They may be shocked to discover what the "fundamental transformation" of America really looks like.
Paul Kengor is professor of political science at Grove City College. His books include The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan's Top Hand and The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism.