Karl at HotAir has this piece today:

The Obamacare Echo Chamber

at another New York-based outlet, NYT columnist (and former editorial page editor) Gail Collinsemotes:

I can’t believe this might be overturned. How can this law not be constitutional? The other alternatives are forcing taxpayers to cover the cost of the care in emergency rooms for people who don’t want to pay for their insurance, even if they can, or letting human beings just die on the side of the road. I can’t believe fiscal conservatives think either of those options is a good idea.Really, I have my hands over my ears. Not listening.

Liberals and liberaltarians are increasingly fond of claiming the right lives in an echo chamber. It is said — sometimes even on the right — that the right’s successes in the past few decades has made them intellectually lazy, unable to engage and overcome progressive arguments and attacks as they did in the halcyon days of Buckley and Reagan. However, when it comes to Pres. Obama’s signature achievement, and a major step toward socialized healthcare, the progressives’ experts and top-shelf pundits display the judgment, rhetorical skill and logic of toddlers. The liberal echo chamber has a long history, exemplified nicely in the apocryphal quote attributed to New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael: “I can’t believe Nixon won. I don’t know anyone who voted for him.” Having started with John Podhoretz, we come full circle with his account of the real quotation, which may be even worse.

Years ago there was a column in the Wall Street Journal that illustrated lefty bias wherein a New York leftist type was quoted as saying “I don’t know how Reagan won, I don’t know anyone who voted for him”.  Apparently, there were quite a few saying this.

This is very telling.  I strolled through the comments section of that NYT column and found it astonishingly, mindnumbingly, (to borrow from Jonah Goldberg) bone-snappingly stupid.

One commenter:

Did I hear David correctly: he’s just heard about how almost every other major industrialized postwar nation on earth has shown that assured healthcare for all has passed all the crash tests, is environmentally friendly, is a poster-child no-brainer? And, every country with universal healthcare has a very active private healthcare sector selling value added perks like hot-cakes to the one-per-centers— why not?

“Obamacare” is admittedly clever, and mindless buzzwords work until people get sick (?) of being shot at with ‘powerpointed’ arrows.’ The Phd in communications counseling who laid that one must have seen the danger of leaving an association linking “Obama” to ‘caring.’ The neurons are synapsing, n’est-ce pas! Are those sirens I hear coming for me, and do they care? I suppose the alternative to ‘Obamacare’ would have to be ‘Abominablecare’, if the right side of the isle continues as before. Look, that’s the mob on gateway into the Health Casino, where the roll of the dice for staying healthy offers the kind of chance-taking real gamblers with hair consider about as enticing as shooting fish at the ER.

Yes, David, the Swiss do a lot of things well besides building cheese and watches. Do have a look, by all means. It’s never too late.

Aisle, not isle.

Every country with universal healthcare has a very active private healthcare sector selling value added perks like hot-cakes to EVERYONE who can afford them.  Not the left’s mythical boogeyman 1%, but everyone who can possibly afford it.  It’s why you can get veterinary treatment quickly, but health care slowly.  Steven Crowder went over this crap at length:

Y’know what else the Swiss do?  They steal from people.  They have harsh immigration laws for citizens.

And Canada, the health care system leftists so desire to emulate?  Claude Castonguay, the Canadia politician who started it, has called it a dismal failure.

After another commenter:

I believe that i read the Swiss insurance system is a mesh of non profit insurance controled by the state. Several countries in Europe use that approach, which costs something like 8 to 10 % less than US healthcare. however, republicans dis like everything termed not for profit, so forget about it.

Also, that Porche, at least here in Colorado, would have mandatory insurance to protect that blind person walking out into traffic and struck. Mandatory health care. So, if you are poor, get hit by a car in Colorado and chance are good that that person is insured and their insurance will take care of what ails ya. all hail the republican answer to health care.

Another failure here.  US healthcare costs are what the consumer will pay.  If you decide that it’s important to spend your life savings to keep yourself alive, you can.  If you decide you really need an ambulance in state-controlled health care, you die on the phoneJust like with police protection, you’ll find you don’t have a right to health care.  The government has an obligation to “the people”, not the individual.

Remember that when the president says to “take a pain pill”:

After another commenter:

The congress could have implemented a tax on everyone to pay for a healthcare program, and then provided a fully offsetting tax credit for those that buy healthcare insurance. Properly designed the effect could be constructed to be equivalent to the healthcare mandate.
I assume this would be unquestionably constitutional. So if the congress has the power to create an exactly equivalent effect – it is therefore the method not the outcome that is really at issue.

And another:

Absolutely, the penalty is in effect a TAX and those that don’t pay the penaly because they have insurance effectively are getting the tax DEDUCTION in advance and not having to list it on their IRS form- probably would have been better to have a line-in and line-out on the tax form and just call the penalty a tax – Perioid- would have prevented this whole farce

So there’s a tax on everyone, taking from everyone, and a “tax credit” for those that buy insurance.  So those who don’t want health insurance pay a penalty, but it’s really a tax that they aren’t getting a tax credit for, so it’s not a penalty.

So if you buy insurance, you only pay a small tax.  If you don’t buy insurance, there’s a “tax” that’s not really a penalty that’s designed to coerce you into buying insurance.  “Just call the penalty a tax!”  Brilliant!  Next we can pass bills of attainder by saying they’re really just taxes, so that makes it legal!  Yeah!  That’s the ticket!  It’s a penalty, but we’ll call it a tax, so it’s not a penalty.  See how easy that is?

Even Elena Kagan didn’t buy that crapSotomayor doesn’t buy it either.  It doesn’t even hold up to scrutiny by the leftists on the court – you can’t call a penalty a tax and magically make it not a penalty – especially when it’s intended to be a penalty.  You’re forcing people into commerce via a penalty.

Another commenter:

It should be obvious that the conservative members of the court have all along planned to overturn the entire Affordable Care Act.

As Scalia stated, they have not read the law nor have the desire to read the law before they rule on the law.

Shouldn’t the court be required to be familiar with the actual material on which they are going to judge? They made up their minds based on their own political views before the hearings ever started and not on the content of the law.

The law is over 2000 pages.  The Democrats who passed it didn’t read it.  Leftist propagandist Michael Moore made a big point of his movie Fahrenheit 9/11 talking to congressmen who didn’t read Joe Biden’s Patriot Act.  Hey, isn’t that guy in Michael Moore’s clip kinda familiar?  Almost like he didn’t read the Obamacare bill…  Remember how this thing was passed?

And more stupid comments:

Why is being forced to buy insurance so strange? I have to buy auto insurance or I cannot get the plates renewed or the annual inspection sticker without it.

The inner state commerce issue is one designed to protect consumers. We have to pay for the bills charged by those who don’t have health insurance so the requirement is protecting us from those high costs.

And justifications for those stupid comments:

The (bogus) answers to your question are: 1) Only car drivers are required to buy auto insurance, and no one forces you to buy a car 2) The requirement to buy auto insurance is a state, not a federal requirement. My answers to those replies are 1) In fact essentially everyone does have to buy a car in modern society. This is a trivial difference. 2) The Civil War is over, and there is no reason to grant any powers to the states that are denied to the feds. Also 30 to quote Robert in St. Paul “The congress could have implemented a tax on everyone to pay for a healthcare program, and then provided a fully offsetting tax credit for those that buy healthcare insurance.” The ACA is essentially identical to this already, and the Supremes should acknowledge that the different paperwork would make no difference.

Except the answers are that only car drivers are required to buy auto insurance.  No one forces you to buy a car.  Berkeley’s bogus “replies” are easily rebutted. 1)

People who live there don’t all own cars.  They use public transportation.  Where I live, most people do own cars – but there’s no reason that a New Yorker who rides the subway everywhere should have to buy car insurance to subsidize my part of the country, or Berkeley’s.

2) The 10th Amendment is there for a reason.  The Constitution itself limits the power of the fedgov.  If we are a nation of men and not a nation of laws, then Berkeley is correct.  If we have laws, then he is woefully incorrect.  His further expansion on the “pass a tax, pass a credit” doesn’t change that you’re instituting a penalty.  It would be the same as California, Texas, Florida and other driving states going after New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts citizens to force them to subsidize our car insurance.  Saying “you lost the civil war” disregards the law, and is overall flippant and stupid.  Furthermore, auto insurance is only required if you’re driving on state roads.  If you have your own private roads (of which there are a very few), or you have a vehicle that you keep on your ranch or your farm and that doesn’t drive on public roads, you don’t need insurance.

And another comment from the same string:

Don’t we also have “buy” social security, which is nothing but an insurance policy that pays out if you live long enough. Aren’t there numerous examples going back more than 50 years of Congress “creating commerce” through mandates in order to regulate? This particular instance is not really a precedent, is it?

Yes, there are.  And they’re unconstitutional, too.  Arguing that wrongs are still being done justify more wrongs is like arguing that since the ATF did Fast and Furious, we should just cut out the middleman and have the ATF start gunning down Mexican citizens,  US citizens and US law enforcement like some kind of third-world paramilitary death squads.

And another comment:

Mr. Justice Kennedy (as an officer of the court I’m obliged to use his formal title) mused during arguments that if the mandate is eliminated but the rest of the ACA were to stand, then “how could this be fair to the insurance companies?”

News flash, Mr. Justice (and your conserva-reactionary colleagues): how could it NOT be “fair” to consumers? Whose constitutional interests are more important: a few dozen artificial persons or 300 million living, breathing individuals? What is a more important governmental function: preserving absurdly high profits of these few artificial persons or preventing total impoverishment of the millions who make up this nation and elect the Presidents who appoint you to your lifelong jobs?

I’ve said it before (and in different words, so has Ms. Collins): among all commodities, systems and markets health care is sui generis. Everybody needs it; at present, everyone currently subsidizes it for both those unwilling and those unable to acquire insurance coverage. It is the only sector of the service economy in which the primary mode of payment (by far!) is not direct cash payment by the recipient of the service but payment by a third party filter which redistributes the premiums that had been originally paid to it by recipients regardless of whether they sought or received that service when paying said premiums. Every other market is primarily directly paid for by recipients of the goods or services: auto repair, cellphones, broccoli…….

300 million living, breathing individuals work for those insurance companies, and purchase their products by choice.  Health care is not sui generis, it is not a beautiful and unique snowflake.  Everybody doesn’t need it.  Those unwilling and unable to get insurance often don’t need it.  Auto repair is a stupid comparison, because auto repairs is very often made by a third party filter – the auto insurance company.  Whoever is covering your vehicle is who’s going to pay, after you pay your deductible.  They redistribute the premiums that are originally paid by the customers just the same.

The only difference is that mandates by government make it so that employers and government get involved in what would otherwise be a similar endeavor.  You pay your premium, and if you get ill enough to require treatment, the company covers it.  If you get sick a lot or represent a risky demographic, you pay more (just like males 18-25 pay a lot more for car insurance).  If you work towards making yourself healthy (gym memberships, etc.) health insurance might be reduced, just like for driver’s training.  An insurance company has a vested interest in making sure you are well – so they don’t have to pay out.  Plus, that’s what you pay them for.

The other arguments – cellphones, broccoli, etc. – mock SCOTUS’s points.  Among all commodities, food and water are necessary.  You don’t need a cellphone.  You need food.  Andrew Wilkow is fond of noting that there are other things that come first in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Yet another stupid comment, but one with an interesting response afterwards:

Health care is a fundamental human right. Excellence in pre natal and post natal care, maternal, child and indeed family health is central to the wealth of this nation. We ignore that fact at our peril.

The very rich can afford whatever health insurance and care they want. Those who are eligible for Medicaid may be able to get by. I’m a recipient of Medicare–one of the largest single payer health care systems in the world. The vast middle struggles in an essentially unregulated market, to meet premiums and deductibles that are often catastrophic.

Until this nation joins the community of nations that recognizes the need for universal health care, we will founder, slipping lower and lower in rates of infant mortality and shortened span of life.

I am revolted by the image of partisan bickering over this issue, by the millions of dollars spent by the health care and associated industries lobbying member of Congress while filling the campaign coffers of politicians.

Asking the most vulnerable among us, including our children, to climb the health care mountain takes us far from the center of excellence in health care we pretend to have.

And the voice in the wilderness response, by a rational mind:

The only problem is that everything you say is wrong. Human rights are freedom from abuse, like freedom of religion, speech, assembly, so on. Healthcare is a service that you (or someone) has to provide. That costs money. Next, health care, especially the bloated monster which government has fostered in this country, is not central to the wealth of the country, actually it is a giant drain. Think about it. Without the healthcare megalopolis our country grew like gangbusters from 1800 to 1960. Only since then have we slowed down. Look at China. Not so good health care, rapid growth. Look at Europe, viewed as the model of health care system heaven by the Democrats. It is mired in slow growth and deficits.
Nurtured by the government our bloated wasteful system is bankrupting us.

This was about the only contrary comment I could find, and about the only one that hits the nail on the head.  Healthcare, or anything else “provided for” by government, has to come from somewhere else.  Government cannot give anything that it does not first take from someone else, and legitimate government holds the monopoly on force in a society.  If you don’t pay taxes (or penalties that are called taxes), they can imprison you.  If your neighbor doesn’t return your lawnmower, you can’t hold trial in the kitchen and then lock him up in your basement.

The groupthink just wading through the comments is mind-numbing.  It’s astonishing to see so many people who fancy themselves intelligent can be so incredibly wrong, over and over justifying their wrongness by pointing to other wrongs, demanding that more wrongs be done, and dismissing any arguments to the contrary.

One last one:

The decision by Kennedy quoted here has a problem: it equates relations between individuals (I do or do not have a duty to rescue you) with relations between government and an individual. The two are inherently different: government is supposed to consider the common good of many individuals, which may mean actions to the detriment of some individuals. Government does things to individuals (execute them, for example) that individuals are not permitted to do each other (except in limited conditions of self-defense).
Today’s broccoli comparison and now this. These justices apparently like to reason by analogy, and they’re just not good at finding accurate analogies!

The government is supposed to do what’s outlined in the Constitution, nothing more.  Considering “the common good” at te detriment of some individuals is the argument of tyrants.  Government only executes people who have committed crimes; the same crimes that a citizen can prevent being visited upon himself via use of force.  Absurd.

US government does not exist for the majority to tyrannize the minority (though European governments famously often do).  Any argument in favor of the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few rapidly turns into an argument to prey upon the minority for the good of the mob, whether it be the 1%, the Jews, the blacks, the whites (they’re the minority many places), the Poles, the Irish, the Japanese, the Chinese, the Arabs, the Amerinds, or any other group that happens to be the minority in any given region or area at any given time.

The broccoli comparison is that you need to eat and that the government can create commerce, so must the government provide food or force you into eating something, mandating what you eat.

Oh, but wait, a Canadian earlier argues for that:

And we lack incentives for healthy living; we don’t tax junk foods, for example, to subsidize fresh greens and make them available in low income neighbourhoods. But this will come — just like taxes on alcohol and cigarettes — where we know there is a future health-care cost to their use.

So it’s not a mandate, there’ll just be a tax to create an incentive, and you’ll get a tax credit for broccoli, but if you don’t buy it, it’s not a penalty targeting you, it’s a tax.

That’s enough groupthink.  It’s almost like they’re using The People’s Progressive Truth Generator.

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