Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Obama Logic: The Healthcare Mandates

The president is good at very little, but he is a master of demogagory and deception. It is useful, therefore, to look carefully at the logic proffered by the president and his allies in support of his various policy prescriptions, beginning now with the health care mandates.

Much has been said these last weeks about Obamacare's infringement on religious liberty. And indeed the religious liberty issue is an important one. However, the insurance mandates do far more than trample on the right of Catholic institutions to decline to carry certain kinds of insurance plans for their employees.

Obamacare's governmental control of the healthcare market is easily the grandest intrusion of the state into the private sector in American history. These mandates curtail the right of private parties to enter into contracts that suit their particular needs and permit the government to dictate to private business the cost and nature of the product it must offer--a product that it then, in turn, orders the public to purchase.

Specifically, on the contraception mandate, the Obama/Left argues that the mandate is necessary to secure access for women to birth control. In short, women need, and should have access to, these kinds of products; ergo, it is wrong for some employers to deny it to them.

Now consider the implications of this argument and its logical underpinnings. Commonly, when one discusses "access" to a good or service, one means the ability of an individual to obtain such good or service for himself. That is distinguished from ordering another party to provide such good or service to the individual who desires it.

In other words, an individual can obtain contraception if she wishes through her doctor, over-the- counter at a drug store or by purchasing an insurance policy that covers these types of products. But, when seeking or accepting employment, does that person have a right to demand that the prospective employer provide her with this insurance coverage for birth control pills?

If so, does a man have a right to demand that his employer provide coverage for anti-baldness treatment? Is there a fundamental right to a dental plan? After all, everyone has teeth and if we let them rot, we will have to spend untold billions caring for them later. Better to require a dental plan now.

And why not mandate other forms of employee benefits as matters of right--paid vacation or, perhaps, even require that nurses be paid as much as surgeons? Pay disparities are awfully unfair and if a nurse earned as much as a surgeon, she would have more money to spend and would enjoy an easier time supporting her family. Presto! It'd be great for the economy!

The entire line of argument is absurd. When an employer makes a job offer, the employer informs the prospective hire of the proposed salary, the types of benefits it offers and lays down the terms and conditions of employment. The prospective employee then decides, based upon the offer, whether to accept it, reject it or attempt to negotiate it. These are basic and essential private interactions where individuals and organizations freely decide whether to associate with one another and on what terms.

In considering the Obamacare justifications, it is helpful to remember that no one forces an individual to work for a Catholic school or hospital. If Miss X. wants her abortofacients covered by employer-sponsored health insurance, she is free to seek employment from an organization that offers such a plan.

Women can obtain birth control should they wish to do so; in fact, thanks to the Obama/Left, we live in a society where women have a constitutional right to terminate their pregnancies if they so desire. But there is no "right" to a particular health care plan from your boss. There is no "right" to insist that your employer give you things that it cannot afford or does not wish to purchase, for whatever reason. If you don't like your pay or benefits, change jobs. In the real world, this has been known to occur without government intervention. Once, we called it a "free marketplace".

The liberals invented the constitutional "right to be left alone", yet they leave us alone only for those moments when we destroy innocent human life in the womb. Once we step outside the Planned Parenthood clinic, Obama and his progeny are our constant companions. 

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