Monday, May 20, 2013

Natural, as well as necessary

The truth is that it is natural, as well as necessary, for every man to be a vagabond occasionally. - Samuel H Hammond

I’ve been feeling rather bitter because my liberal friends - who support Obamacare - get their health insurance through their employers while I buy mine individually. I believed that this meant I would have to give the IRS information about my income and health insurance while they would not. It looks like I was wrong. According to Avik Roy at The Corner (and do read the longer post at Forbes):

To enforce the individual mandate, the IRS needs to know whether or not you have purchased insurance this year. It will also need to know the specific insurance policy you have, in order to ensure that it meets Obamacare’s “minimum essential coverage” requirement.

To enforce the employer mandate, the IRS needs the same information from employers in terms of the specific policies employers purchase for their workers, and also the hours worked by every part-time employee. In addition, your employer will need to know what your household income is, in order to ensure that the coverage it offers you is “affordable” to you by the law’s definition.
This makes me feel less bitter about my friends (it’s probably a sign of a serious moral failing that I rejoice to know they, too, will fall under the watchful eye of the IRS). However, it also made me realize something I had known but not fully understood before: The individual mandate means no one has the right to be left alone any longer.

Let’s say I work until I’m 50 and save my money. I then decide to retire and become a vagabond. I convert my savings to cash and keep it in a no-interest checking account. I live off the cash, never earning a salary or interest or capital gains. I have no reason to interact with the Federal government since I owe no taxes. I do not maintain a residence which means I have no reason to interact with State or local government. I can, if I want, legally step outside the grid.

Under Obamacare, that will change. I now must interact with the IRS. I have to tell them how much money I make and what health insurance I purchase. If I do not purchase health insurance, they will fine me. I can no longer legally step outside the grid.

That seems to me to be a terrible loss. I know that very few people want to take that step but I believe we have lost something precious by making it impossible for people to do so without breaking the law. How did we end up in a situation where my life is now subject to my government’s beck and call?

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