Choice? Health Care Reform, Cars, and Freedom
Well, Oklahoma is still abuzz with discussion about the new health care bill. Many say they are outraged about the concept of people being forced to purchase something. And, besides health insurance companies, what other company do you know with a guaranteed market—a market where participation is required by the government?
Of course, there are other purchases not required by the government that afford little choice. Electricity and natural gas are examples of companies that more or less have a monopoly market granted by the city government. We can argue that people have a “choice” not to purchase gas or electricity, but I don’t think many of us believed that last winter when it was 20° outside. But, these utilities are regulated. The books are audited, and rates are set by the Corporation Commission.
Car insurance is another similar situation mentioned often. Anyone who wishes to operate a car has to purchase liability insurance or face the long arm of the law. I have not seen any Oklahomans crying their eyes out over drivers being forced to buy car insurance. Some have even suggested that the car insurance situation is drastically different from the health insurance situation in that no one has to drive a car.
So, Oklahoma, here’s a challenge. Park your car for a month. Okay, not a month. How about a week?
Can’t make it through a week? Three days?
Okay, so how much “choice” do we have
when it comes to owning, maintaining, operating, and insuring cars? We have not invested in public transit. We haven’t planned neighborhoods, schools, libraries, grocery stores, or anything for pedestrian access. We built our state on cheap oil. A car-free Oklahoman is a very marginalized citizen.
This article is not meant to support or oppose the new health care bill. I only hope a few people will think twice about the arguments surrounding “choice” and “coercion.”