ObamaCare Meets Kafka

In Franz Kafka's "Before the Law," so ably recorded by Orson Wells here, a reader learns of the tribulations of a man who seeks access to the law.  But over the span of his lifetime, he is never permitted admittance as a single doorkeeper will not allow it. Thus, the doorkeeper laughs and says

If you are so drawn to [the entrance to the gate] just try to go in despite my veto.  But take note: I am powerful.  And I am only the least of the doorkeepers.  From hall to hall there is one doorkeeper after another, each more powerful than the last…

And yet the man cannot fathom that one would not have access to the law for:

…he thinks, [the law] should surely be accessible at all times and to everyone.

But seeing the power of the doorkeepers, he "decides that it is better to wait until he gets permission to enter." And there "he sits for days and years." 

Yet the man is intrepid and "makes many attempts to be admitted and wearies the doorkeeper by his importunity."  To add insult to injury, the doorkeeper even remains cordial "asking him questions about his home and many other things, but the questions are put indifferently, as great lords put them."  For ultimately, the man is never allowed access.

The man "curses his bad luck" and fixes all his attention on the first doorkeeper who "seems to him the sole obstacle preventing access to the Law." 

And in one final stab of hope, the man questions the doorkeeper and asks:

Everyone strives to reach the Law, so how does it happen that for all these many years no one but myself has ever begged for admittance? The doorkeeper recognizes that the man has reached his end, and to let his failing senses catch the words roars in his ear: 'No one else could ever be admitted here, since this gate was made only for you. I am now going to shut it.'

Abraham Rubin writes that "what is most striking and paradoxical about this parable ... is the man's liminal position with regard to the law. The man stands before the gate of the law, which is wide open and at the same time utterly inaccessible to him."

Like the man, Americans are now at the "transitional period or phase" of Obamacare wherein we are to "show obedience...and follow prescribed forms of conduct."

Yet, one is reminded of the utter contempt that the Obama administration has for American rights and medical concerns.  Thus, "the man's frustrated relationship to the law" in Kafka's tale is "replicated by our own frustrated expectations" as the law "is no longer clear" and "consequently, what gets lost is any clear demarcation between law and lawlessness."

Daily we learn of cancer patients who are losing their medical coverage, their doctors, their access to oncology centers only to be met with the derision of Harry Reid who calls them "liars." 

Gary Weiss writes of his experience as he signed up for his 2014 health insurance on the New York exchange.  He was puzzled by the fact that the Gold plan cost more than the Silver plan although the Silver plan was substantially better and he "thought it odd that this peculiarity was nowhere noted in any of the news media accounts of the New York debut of Obamacare."  But like the man at the gate in Kafka's story, he thought "this was the System, and it was not to be questioned." He signed up for the Silver plan.  He received a bill which "described the Silver plan for which he had signed up as Silver EPO Rx 10/35/70 87AV CS plan."

After navigating the circuitous maze of the United Healthcare website, he discovered, however, that this plan simply did not exist.  So he called the toll free number only to be met with annoyance by the customer service representative.  In fact, "she behaved as if [he were] somehow withholding information readily available to [him], or was too dimwitted to read plain English."  Repeated explanations to this modern day gatekeeper were met with suspicion, accusations and ultimately no clarification of the situation.  The next day Weiss spoke with another customer service representative and was assured that "indeed the Silver plan was cheaper than the Gold plan" but she could not explain why.  But he should not worry because the plan that he had signed up for actually did exist.

Puzzled by the two totally different conversations Weiss wondered if the "System was toying with him?  Was he being punished?  But if so, for what?  What did he do?  What was his crime?  How would this end?

And so his story echoes the deep concerns of many Americans.  And "from hall to hall there is one doorkeeper after another, each more powerful that the last" which signifies that "although the man from the country cannot even be sure of how truthful the first doorkeeper's word is, he believes him and abides.  Similarly the law is anonymous and faceless, while still maintaining utter power of the majority of society."  One interpretation of Kafka's tale can surely be as an "allegory for the threatening obscurity of modern bureaucracies" as Americans get lost in a vortex of never ending red tape with Obamacare's constantly changing regulations.

But what does it mean to "reach the law?"  Is it merely to understand it?  Is it to exact an impartial rendering of justice?  In Obama's America, we have an oft-touted Law of the Land which many are coming to realize is intended to be a flexible political tool meant to gain total control over the American people.  It has absolutely nothing to do with improving health care or lowering health care insurance.

Yet, many do not even know the fundamentals of the law and those who try to follow it are horrified at the constant permutations of Obama and the Democratic Party.

P. Gardner asserts that Kafka's parable shows how "the law is somewhat compelling to individuals, and therefore, must be protected and kept within secretive confines."  How aptly this describes Obamacare.  The "law remains a semi-vague entity to many, practically a different language at times and very complex in nature and statute." 

Do we have a society that "will follow the law despite not having a complete comprehension or understanding of it" ultimately "waiting on answers that [are] never delivered or receiving answers that [are] not nearly close to satisfying." 

There are "many people who try [to] understand the law and [attempt to] make changes to it...[but] will these changes be possible to make?"  Has the Justice system in America been so thoroughly packed with leftists that we, the people, cannot divine that the doorkeeper is, in fact, untrustworthy?

In Kafka's parable, the nameless man "sacrifices all he has, however valuable, to bribe the doorkeeper" who accepts everything and explains to the man that he "is only taking it to keep [the man] from thinking [he might] have omitted any thing."  Obama clearly can only operate via a system of bribery which has punctuated his activities ever since he began his political career.  And so the foolish unions and politicos who fell for his bribes are now discovering, to their dismay, that he is totally indifferent to their requests. 

Are we entering a new time in America where the "fruitlessness" or "futility of all efforts" will mark most of our lives as we try to wrest control back from the government?

Is our fate irreconcilable with the Founders vision?  What, in fact, is the message of Kafka's tale?  Is it just to remain in "hopelessness and frustration" or is it a wake-up call to action because the alternative is unacceptable? 

We must decide "if there is one door that we have been told not to go through, then that is the door we must enter" if we are to remain true to American ideals of freedom and exceptionalism.  It must be Obamacare and not America that should become a dim footnote in the dustbin of history.

Eileen can be reached at middlemarch18@ gmail.com