The Auto Insurance Straw-man Argument for Obamacare


Straw-Man_500I was reading a commentary in today’s Tacoma News Tribune, in which Paul Metzel, professor of philosophy at Pacific Lutheran University,  attempts to make a case against Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna’s joining Florida’s (and 13 other states) lawsuit against the new Health Insurance Reform legislation (Obamacare) passed last week.

Mr. Metzel proceeds to compare an almost universal requirement for auto insurance with state mandated health insurance. The crux of his argument is that “… people who drive without insurance unfairly impose costs on others.” and therefore the federal government is justified in requiring mandatory health insurance coverage for every individual in the country. The only thing in common between auto insurance and the new Health Insurance Reform is that they both have “insurance” in the title.

Auto insurance is mandated independently by each state. It is not federally mandated, as is appropriate since this power was never granted to the federal government in the Constitution, and therefore is reserved for the States. Auto insurance is still voluntary. You are only legally required to have auto insurance if you drive. With auto insurance, your rates are determined by the amount of risk incurred by the insurer using actuarial tables. With auto insurance, competition is encouraged between insurance providers across state lines, keeping it quite affordable. Health Insurance providers are restricted from this practice, keeping them uncompetitive. If you prove to be too much of a risk, you cannot obtain auto insurance. Under Obamacare, risk is simply absorbed by your neighbor – in the form of higher taxes.

And that is the crux of the counter-argument. No matter what, someone will have to pay the cost. Given the federal government’s track record in controlling costs and providing massive programs that far exceed original cost estimates (Social Security, Medicare), it will be another in a long line of federal boondoggles.

Perhaps Mr. Metzel should play to his strengths and write about the philosophy of honesty and integrity in government, instead of promoting the philosophy of Marxism?

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