The state giveth, the state taketh away

Camille Paglia praises Nancy Pelosi for displaying what a lot of people would call balls if they had any. Pelosi, argues Paglia, is "sets a new standard for U.S. women politicians and is certainly well beyond anything the posturing but ineffectual Hillary Clinton has ever achieved."

And this:

a basic feminist shibboleth like abortion rights became just another card for Pelosi to deal and swap.
There's also a scathing indictment of the health care bill:
....this rigid, intrusive and grotesquely expensive bill is a nightmare. Holy Hygeia, why can't my fellow Democrats see that the creation of another huge, inefficient federal bureaucracy would slow and disrupt the delivery of basic healthcare and subject us all to a labyrinthine mass of incompetent, unaccountable petty dictators? Massively expanding the number of healthcare consumers without making due provision for the production of more healthcare providers means that we're hurtling toward a staggering logjam of de facto rationing. Steel yourself for the deafening screams from the careerist professional class of limousine liberals when they get stranded for hours in the jammed, jostling anterooms of doctors' offices. They'll probably try to hire Caribbean nannies as ringers to do the waiting for them.
And she asks,
....why are we even considering so gargantuan a social experiment when the nation is struggling to emerge from a severe recession?
It's the old one-two punch. They don't want the free market to recover; they want to deliver a knockout punch. Even the most "idealistic" of them imagine that they're FDR, whose policies prolonged the Depression, but ushered in more big government.

To repeat myself, not only do they know that socialism doesn't work, they realize that's the whole idea. Not a bug, but a feature. If it doesn't work (which it won't), it will require more government to fix it. Socializing health care will go a long way towards creating a self-replicating, perpetual motion government machine. Getting it started is so important that sacrificing a shibboleth like abortion here and there is a no-brainer.

Besides, with the government's foot firmly in the door, abortion can later be added, by a new bill, amended regulations, or even judicial fiat.

An opportunity for intervention by the courts would be made especially likely if David Frum turns out to be correct in his contention that the bill would ultimately ban all abortions.

These exchanges mingle public and private dollars on complex sliding scales of subsidy. That almost certainly will mean no abortion coverage for any exchange-sold policy, whether the individual purchaser herself receives a subsidy or not.

More government = less choice, in every sense of that word "choice."

As all insurance and all health care become Sovietized, you don't think the courts are going to sit around and allow their bureaucratic comrades to cut off a right which emanates from their penumbra, do you?

Here's what one of Frum's commenters said:

The window will open when everyone thinks that the door is closed and when nobody's looking the law will quietly change and abortionists will be able to kill babies on Uncle Sam's dime. Guaranteed!
When everyone pays for everyone's health care (and the individual free market ceases to exist), then everyone will pay for everyone. If abortion is a "right," it will be everyone's responsibility to pay for it.

A libertarianish commenter raised an interesting but (IMO) unavailing economic argument:

I don't see why tax dollars should be paying for someone's mistakes. If they want an abortion let them pay for it themselves.
Sorry, but that does not work, for many reasons. Fat people, people with lung cancer, people with STDs, skin cancer patients who sat in the sun, people whose cuts and burns became infected from a lack of personal hygiene, and even pneumonia victims who went out in the cold without dressing properly and forgot to wash their hands -- all of these and more can be said to someone else's mistakes. By what standard is anyone to determine which mistake should go untreated -- especially under a system where we all pay? With the government in charge of health care and private care ultimately withering away, where would they go? But the main reason that commenter is barking up the wrong tree is economic, and was answered here:
Setting the morality of abortion aside, the average pregnancy and birth incurs about $12,000 in medical expenses, for low-birthweight babies the average cost is higher, and for very low-birthweight babies the cost may be astronomical (not to mention that the child may have problems that continue into adulthood). If a policy covers pregnancy, on purely economic terms, wouldn't the insurance company heave a sigh of relief any time a woman had an abortion (at a cost of perhaps $350)?

Also, birth control is cheap relative to pregnancy and birth. Isn't it in the economic interest of insurance companies to pay for birth control?

It also seems to me by your criteria, it would be arguable that pregnancy and birth should not be covered by insurance.

That's not even factoring in the saved CO2 emissions. Every human born into life is a wasteful environmental hazard. Abortion is the ultimate cost cutter. The only thing cheaper than that would be sterilization. On the government's dime, of course.

Like it or not, we'll all be in the same pool. As an individualist, I don't like being in the same pool with -- much less having my health care decisions managed by -- people who see my breathing as a threat to the planet, but I guess that's why I have this blog. I can complain to my heart's content, and my heart is never contented.

Of course, now that I live in Ann Arbor, perhaps I should write my Congressman, John Dingell. He has spent most of his legislative career fighting for government health care, though, and as his congressional website points out, so did his father:

At the beginning of every session of Congress, Congressman Dingell introduces the national health insurance bill his father sponsored when he was a Member.
So while I might have fun speaking "truth to power," I don't think he'd consider my letter to be very persuasive. It is no exaggeration to say that there is no man in Congress more in favor of government health care than my Congressman.

And really.... How persuasive is any opinion to those who disagree with it? On the other hand, how persuasive is an opinion to those who agree with it? Those who agree agree, and those who disagree disagree.

But that still leaves emotional satisfaction and possible entertainment value. Ultimately this means that writing to my Congressman would be a bigger waste of time than writing this blog post.

So why not combine both? The more I thought about it, the more it occurred to me that if this whole process is in fact a waste of time, the time that is wasted should be wasted in a proper manner!

Besides, people pray, don't they? I realize that to an atheist, prayers are a waste of time, but even if God does not exist, prayer nevertheless offers a form of emotional release and possibly satisfaction. And if we assume the state has replaced God, then writing to those who rule the state is probably less of a waste of time than prayer, because unlike God, the state's existence is known and not open to dispute.

What is and what is not a waste of time is relative.

(Letter to Congressman Dingell appears below.)

November 11, 2009

The Honorable John D. Dingell
2328 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Re: H.R.3200 ("America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009")

Dear Congressman Dingell,

Because you are a major congressional figure in support of government health care, I realize that writing a letter in opposition to the idea is highly unlikely to change your mind. Many people would consider that impossible, and it would be very reasonable for them to assume that a letter like this is waste of time.

Yet I decided to write anyway -- precisely because so many people would consider it a waste of time. The fact is that you are my congressman, and I have to object in principle to the idea that it is a waste of time to write to one's congressman, even when that congressman's position is as well known and unshakable as yours is on health care. Moreover, I suspect that this has caused you to receive fewer letters from the opposition, and I think that redounds to the detriment of the old fashioned principle that citizens should write their congressmen on matters of importance to them. That a congressman is known to have a different position from a constituent should not deter that constituent from contacting him anyway, and it should never be considered a waste of time. Not even by a constituent from the overwhelmingly left-leaning city of Ann Arbor.

Let me interject that I feel honored to have a Congressman who is a former NRA Board Member as well as a founder of the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action. Because I suspect that many Ann Arborites might not appreciate your longstanding support of the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, I want to let you know that I am one constituent who does.

However, I strongly oppose the massive health care bill which passed the House last weekend, and I wish you had voted against it. As it is not yet a done deal and may yet revert to the House, I would also urge you to vote against it in the future. This hugely interventionist legislation moves the country towards socialized health care, and I believe it will lead to rationing, lack of choices, and ultimately a drastic diminution in the standard of medical care. Not only do I believe socialized medicine is morally wrong, but in light of the severe recession, the timing of this bill could not possibly be worse. I hope you reconsider your position.

Very truly yours,

Eric Scheie

posted by Eric on 11.11.09 at 12:28 PM


It isn't just your tax dollars that will pay for abortion. Every man, woman and child will be required to have abortion coverage. Otherwise, it might be discriminatory. You'll buy abortion coverage regardless of your religious or ethical beliefs. How else will they be keep the cost downs for those using abortion for birth control?

Moreover, it will become a hate crime to stigmatize abortion and those who whore around. They've got rights you know. One wonders if they'll cover circumcision, at least for Jews, it being a religious mandate for them?

JKB   ·  November 11, 2009 12:43 PM

Every man, woman, and child will also have to have childbirth coverage, too.

If you don't want to pay for abortion, do you want to keep on paying for childbirth, at about $10,000 and up per child (at least), to women too poor, or unable in other ways, to support kids?

Keep in mind the public costs don't stop at birth. There is the ADC paid to poor mothers for their kids, and then the costs to the public of all these misbegotten children when they reach adulthood and cost $50,000 a year to incarcerate and rack up untold costs in the losses to their victims.

It's not whether or not we pay, it's how much and what for.

The health care plan is a disaster any way you slice it. Why quibble over one small cost that could end up saving many times the amount in future costs avoided?

Laura Louzader   ·  November 11, 2009 1:54 PM

Pelosi's got balls, all right. I feel like she's just tea-bagged me.

hanmeng   ·  November 11, 2009 3:02 PM

There will be no problem determining which behavior linked diseases get covered and which don't. Smokers who acquire lung cancer will be sent home with a pain pill and a "Death With Dignity" brochure and AIDS victims will get 100% coverage and treatment.

Choey   ·  November 11, 2009 3:14 PM

she's just tea-bagged me.


Eric Scheie   ·  November 11, 2009 3:27 PM

There will be no problem determining which behavior linked diseases get covered and which don't.

I think you are being sarcastic but you point out the exact problem with "making people pay for their own mistakes". In a free market we all pay ourselves, so it's ok. But in a government controlled one, the politically connected groups will not have to pay while others will.

For instance is being fat bad and cause Type II diabetes and other problems? Many people think so, but most studies do not separate being overweight with being active (since most people are not both). But some experiments have shown it's the activity level that's much more of a problem. But who wants to stand up for fat people?

Similarly, everyone says protein is bad, but there only a couple studies that say so, and they are all either renal patients or based in very bad deli and processed meats, which are of course more harmful than getting your whole meat from the butcher's counter. I can easily see "too much protein" meaning higher costs for people, even if there is no data to back it up.

In a country where we want to criminalize your own personal decisions and MADD is on a warpath to bringing back prohibition, I see all sorts of restrictions on behavior coming up once they succeed to getting on single payer.

Just like AGW. Bad science plus propaganda will be bad for everyone. And the more government control there is, the more likely it will be to happen.

plutosdad   ·  November 11, 2009 5:15 PM


Off topic, but I thought you'd like this. On mentalfloss via the corner. Grab a hanky.


Kenneth Greenlee   ·  November 11, 2009 7:04 PM

I was hoping for pre-abortion abortion coverage. You know - proper reading materials and videos for the guys.

M. Simon   ·  November 11, 2009 7:11 PM

In a country where we want to criminalize your own personal decisions and MADD is on a warpath to bringing back prohibition, I see all sorts of restrictions on behavior coming up once they succeed to getting on single payer.

That's a feature, not a bug. See Britain's NHS.

Darleen   ·  November 13, 2009 9:20 AM

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