This is freedom, Tea Party-style

From the pages of In Business magazine.

Dianne Barrette thought big government had done a number on her. You can’t blame her. In a world where some popular media figures feel comfortable proclaiming that Barack Obama has a weather machine that creates killer tornadoes (seriously: Google “weather,” “Alex Jones,” “unhinged, barking, crypto-fascist lunatic,” and “tornadoes”), it might seem reasonable to assume that a Kenyan socialist usurper is scheming to enslave millions of regular working folk through a comprehensive government health care reform plan.

That seemed to be the working theory, anyway, when the allegedly leftwing media picked up on Barrette’s story in the weeks following the rocky Obamacare rollout and turned her into a poster kid for everything that’s troubling about the law.

Seems her $54-per-month policy had been canceled, and her insurance company was now offering a new $591 policy — all because stupid Obamacare said that insurance needs to, you know, insure things.

The 56-year-old Florida woman (that’s a red flag right there; what 50-something thinks she can actually pay less than her age per month in health insurance?) was miffed.

“What I have right now is what I am happy with, and I just want to know why I can’t keep what I have,” she told CBS. 

Well, more responsible media outlets thought something didn’t smell right. They dug into the story and discovered that Barrette was actually a potential Obamacare success story.

For one thing, Barrette’s old plan — which was insurance in name only — was a looming disaster. It didn’t even cover hospitalization, and if she’d gotten seriously ill, she would have been in big trouble.

Secondly, as The New Republic’s Jonathan Cohn made clear, Barrette was just the sort of person Obamacare was designed for. While she couldn’t have found a comprehensive $54 plan on the exchanges — nor could she find a unicorn that speaks Hindi and poops Spanish leprechauns — with the help of the law’s subsidies, she could have found a minimally acceptable bronze plan costing her around $100 and a more robust silver plan for about $150.

Her response when she was informed of this? “Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise.”

Government intrusion? A blessing? I feel an attack of the vapors coming on.

Of course, some conservatives would have you believe that everything government does is meant to aggrandize bureaucrats at the expense of our freedoms. Why shouldn’t people be able to buy insurance policies that do next to nothing other than give them a false and dangerous sense of security?

Unfortunately, that’s the modern conservative’s mantra. Self-determination is paramount, and if people’s lives are ruined in the bargain because they didn’t spend six weeks studying for their insurance broker’s license, that’s their glitch.



A Tea Party utopia — in which people are free to do whatever they want, including going without insurance or buying insurance that doesn’t insure — would have its downsides, however. Here are just a few:

  • Don’t want to buy — or can’t afford — insurance? In Free Tea World, hospitals can dump you on the curb instead of treating your massive, gaping head wound. Why not? Personal choice, personal responsibility.
  • Social Security? Why should the government intrude on your investment decisions? Grandma should have known better. Cat food can be very nutritious — unless its manufacture and sale go unregulated, of course.
  • FDA oversight? Pfft. Take any drug you want. It’s not the pharmaceutical companies’ problem if it does nothing or, even better, kills you. (More cat food for everyone else, right?)
  • And by the way, why do we require seat belts and car seats? Impose your bureaucratic will on private enterprise much? Children are safest on Mama’s lap — unless you roll your vehicle or slam on the brakes to avoid hitting a feral senior citizen chasing a cheese-encrusted Arby’s wrapper like a one-armed Dickensian chimney sweep down to his last farthing. 
  • And forget about stock market regulation. People should be able to buy any toxic security an investment bank can dream up, even if (or especially if) the sellers are openly laughing at them.
  • Medicare? See Social Security, above.

So there’s your free-market utopia. It’s a world where anyone can do anything they want to do at any time — except marry their longtime same-sex partner. But hey, as long as they have the freedom to ruin their lives with cut-rate insurance, we’ll just let that one slide.

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