Saturday, December 26, 2009

Clueless in Nebraska

Cornhusker State Senator Ben "Clueless" Nelson is hoping that his fellow citizens are as dense as he is. Continuing to tout a popular (if discredited) meme that mandating health insurance is no different that mandating auto insurance, he demonstrates a depth of ignorance that's hard to understand. After all, one would think that a Senator (of all people) would grasp the difference between a function reserved to the states (Hello, 10th Amendment!) and an unprecedented grab for citizens' rights.

To wit:

"Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) said Wednesday that Congress is given the constitutional authority to mandate that individuals buy health insurance in "probably the same place” that states get the power to mandate that people purchase auto insurance."

There is so much wrong here that it's hard to know where to begin.

First, states only mandate auto insurance for those who choose to operate a motor vehicle on public roads. Own a farm? Don't need insurance for that combine (unless, of course, you're taking it to the drive-in on Saturday night). Don't own a car? No insurance required to ride the bus or subway, or take a cab.

Or ride a bike, for that matter.

That is a far, far different animal than requiring citizens to buy a product simply by being alive.

Second, as noted above, states' rights are not the same as the Fed's. Just because a state is legally allowed to do something does not automatically confer that same right on the federal government.

The 10th Amendment reserves to the states rights and privileges not set forth in the Constitution. Licensing automobiles, for example, is done at the state level, not the federal.

Third, this whole idea that auto insurance and health insurance are the same thing is utterly absurd. Yes, they are both predicated on the principle of "indemnification," but then so are disability and homeowners insurance. But no knowledgeable person conflates those two. If you really want to illustrate auto and health insurance as identical, then why isn't there legislation to outlaw underwriting in for the former as well as the latter? Why should folks with multiple DUI's pay any more than those with nary a speeding ticket? And why should folks who drive late model SUV's pay any more than those happily chugging along in their '76 Gremlins?

And, of course, why doesn't auto insurance pay for windshield wipers and a new set of tires? Or oil changes?

One reason, of course, is that mandating these kinds of changes would render auto insurance unaffordable.

I'm confident that our readers can connect the dots from there (even if erstwhile Sen Nelson, et al, can't).
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