There are all kinds of reason to be appalled at the government’s new individual health insurance mandate.
It’s a major gift to the insurers for one thing. And it’s constitutional legitimacy is in doubt.
Craig Pirrong, the econ prof who write The Streetwise Professor, ratchets up the rhetoric and compares the healthcare bill to the draft.
One of the libertarian arguments against conscription is that it is a tax levied exclusively on the young (and young men particularly, back in the day). The government uses its coercive powers to force the young to supply labour at below market rates. This tax was rationalized using all sorts of high-sounding rhetoric.
The just passed health care legislation bears considerable similarity to conscription. Here, the government uses its coercive powers to force the young to consume a service at an above market rate (in order to subsidise consumption by others). We again hear the high-sounding rhetoric to cover this outright theft from one cohort of the population. (One difference with conscription is that this tax hits young women harder than young men. So much for the feminism of those who are among the law’s most fervent advocates.) The indirect effects will also affect the young disproportionately; the inevitable tax burden will slow economic growth, dramatically reducing the lifetime incomes of those just entering the labour force.
That the young are being forced into the insurance market in order to help subsidise the cost of caring for the elderly is basically true.
But, bear in mind that there’s no such thing as “young” people, there are only people who happen to be young for a brief period of their lives (presuming they live a normal-length life, which is not actually a guarantee for soldiers in past wars). All of these young people will soon become middle-aged people, and then likely old people.
And it’s not just that they’ll then want young people to subsidise them, it’s that without some kind of healthcare regime change, there would be no insurance against being forced out of the insurance system.
Another reasonable way of thinking about it is that young people aren’t really subsidizing the older generation, but are putting a down payment on their own future care.
Again, the individual mandate is bad, and potentially a scandalous expansion of what government can expect. But a military draft — where the youth are actually being brought in to die for a narrow military purpose, this is not.
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