A Flawed Metaphor

I missed Obama’s speech last night (Wednesdays, my local gaming shop hosts a board gaming night, and I try not to miss it), but I caught some clips from it. And one thing that Obama said (it was hardly original) struck me as just plain wrong.

Obama likened health insurance to auto insurance, and said that, in essence, if we can require people to have auto insurance, why can’t we require them to have health insurance?

The first flaw is pretty obvious. No auto insurance policy covers routine maintenance. State Farm will not cover your oil changes. GEICO’s lizard won’t subsidize your new tires. And Progressive won’t send that perky redhead over to fix your brakes.

The second one, however, was a bit more obscure.

Not all Americans are required to have auto insurance.

New Hampshire (renowned for its decided lack of nanny-stating) does NOT require drivers to carry any auto insurance at all. If you don’t, you better be ready to pick up any and all costs that are your responsibility in case you have a crash. And if you can’t do that, they’ll take away your license and registration until you settle up.

In a similar vein, New Hampshire has no mandatory seatbelt or motorcycle helmet laws for adults. The philosophy is, “you’re grownups. You wanna be an idiot? Go right ahead.”

Outside of New Hampshire, there are a lot of other people who don’t have car insurance. They don’t have to have it, because they don’t own cars.

By current law, driving a vehicle on public roads is a privilege, not a right. And part of the cost of that privilege is obeying the laws. Every other state requires that you demonstrate financial responsibility by securing auto insurance. If you don’t have that, you’re not putting your car on the road. Content yourself with driving around on your own property.

So, there’s a mechanism for opting out of auto insurance — don’t try to register a vehicle and operate it on the public roads.

So, how the hell does one “opt out” of mandatory health insurance? What is the equivalent of hanging up the car keys and contenting oneself with public transportation? (Renouncing one’s citizenship doesn’t seem to work — it’s pretty clear that illegal aliens will be covered by the Obama plan.)

Oh, well. I’m sure President Obama, being a former Constitutional scholar, can explain to us plebes just where in the Constitution the federal government has the authority to demand we all subscribe to health insurance, get out of the country, or just die.

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