Selwyn Duke
Obama's healthcare discrimination: making some more equal than others
By Selwyn Duke
January 20, 2010

One thing we get with our mother's milk today is revulsion for what civil-rights lawyers call "invidious" discrimination. For the civil-rights lawyers who attained their status through the invidious discrimination known as affirmative action, the parenthesized word means "likely to create ill will" or "offensively or unfairly discriminating." Now, the problem with judging invidiousness is that it requires you know what fairness is. For instance, it certainly creates ill will when Americans are rejected simply because they're too white or too male (yes, it makes sense — think San Francisco), but the government doesn't trouble much about that.

We also have an unfair progressive income tax that evokes ill will in high wage-earners. But although I'm no fan of such taxation, at least it reflects a moral principle that, when applied privately and justly, is valid. After all, I think most of us have at times given someone down on his luck a break.

And this is what Barack Obama's healthcare overhaul is supposed to be about, giving those in need a break. Now we learn, though, that the breaks will be offered, well, most invidiously. In a sweetheart deal struck behind closed doors — you know, during that transparent process being covered by No-SeeSpan — unions will receive a special dispensation from healthcare taxes the rest of us will have to pay. The New York Post's Carl Campanile reports on the story, writing:

    [The deal] will save union employees at least $60 billion over the years involved, while others won't be as lucky — they'll have to cough up almost $90 billion.

    The 40 percent excise tax on what have come to be called "Cadillac" health-care plans would exempt collective-bargaining contracts covering government employees and other union members until Jan. 1, 2018.

Moreover, Campanile tells us, "the value of [union] dental and vision plans would be exempt from the tax even after the deal expires in eight years . . . ."

It gets even more invidious, though. While the 40 percent tax will be levied on plans worth $8,900 or more for individuals and $24,000 or more for families, "The threshold will be even higher for certain plans with many older workers and women — a move to benefit unions with a high proportion of female membership . . . .," wrote Campanile.

Ah, the change of Obama's utopia: From each according to his political means, to each according to the party's political needs.

Speaking of change, how about the language manipulation evident in describing a healthcare plan with the name "Cadillac"? Haven't we been told that everyone's entitled to the best healthcare, that it's the most basic of needs? So why is this right, this need, being cast as a luxury through association with a high-end car?

Answer: to grease the skids for tax discrimination against those who obtain something approaching the healthcare plan Congress enjoys.

Speaking of which, when the politicians foist Obamascare upon us, they will benefit from discrimination exempting them from it. So while I don't know for how long "Cadillac" health plans will be available, congressmen will still have their Rolls Royce plan.

And now they've deemed a few more groups more equal than others. Let's understand clearly the model they've created. If you're a non-union auto worker earning $45,000 a year, you'll be subject to the 40 percent tax on comprehensive health plans; if you're a union auto worker earning $45,000 a year, you won't be. And even though men die younger than women and are more likely to suffer work-related injuries, the fairer sex will get a very unfair break. My, were I cynical, I'd think that Obamascare has little to do with fairness and a lot to do with union and feminist lobby clout. But perish the thought. An idea like that could create some ill will.

This is why it's a pipe dream to think that the government can or will ever make the world fair. The EEOC investigates discrimination — but only the kind it deems "invidious." Title IX is used to guarantee equality of the sexes in education — except when the inequality hurts boys. Hate-crime laws don't actually outlaw hate — they just give politically favored groups extra protection. This is the pattern. So is it surprising that the government is creating favored groups once again, this time in healthcare?

And there's a lesson in this, one taught well by legendary economist Milton Friedman. Refuting the idea that big government is more virtuous than the "greedy" free market, he once asked why we would assume that political self-interest is somehow more noble than economic self-interest. In reality, the discrimination of the market is far more palatable than that of the government. Sure, the market isn't perfect; it will compensate a rap thug with a 500-word vocabulary more handsomely than a person of substance. Nevertheless, I trust the judgments of the 300 million people who are market — rendered when making purchases and pronouncements — more than the judgments of 535 ruling elites, imposed when making law. Economically determined discrimination is less scary than politically determined discrimination.

Besides, at least the market doesn't slap us in the face with the pretense of charity, perhaps the scariest thing of all. As C.S. Lewis once wrote, "It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated, but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."

Speaking of conscience, even before the sweet union deals, the Amish were granted a break from healthcare mandates. Yet are matters of conscience only for the irresistibly quaint? So, now, on top of all the other discrimination, the government will determine whether your religious beliefs are sincere enough to warrant exemptions from "your body, Uncle Scam's choice" legislation.

Really, Obamascare itself, just like the man it's named after, is invidious. Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Diane Crimestein and the rest of their co-conspirators are invidious. Big government is invidious. And my will has become awfully, awfully ill. Let's just hope an ill wind of public discontent blows the right kind of discrimination through the halls of government this November.

Originally published at American Thinker

© Selwyn Duke


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)


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