The Individual Mandate – A Modern Fairy Tale
One of the world’s oldest and most successful hustles is insurance. “What?” you say. What do you mean hustle? Well, imagine you and a few of your friends — lets call them pirates — are sitting around a table after a full day of pillaging the local town, killing the farm animals, and raping the women. The drunken stupor is finally wearing off, and you are ready to go out and do it all again. However, you have already sacked this town, destroyed it so that there is barely anything left to take away and sell. Nothing to sell, except, FEAR.
Yeah, that’s it! You and your friends will sell fear. You’ll make the townspeople fear that nothing they own is secure — not their farm, not their farmhouse, not the stuff in the house — including the people. Mayhem is lurking just around the corner! The folk will want to protect their stuff, their health, their very lives. And that’s where your gang comes in. You tell the townspeople that, for a monthly fee, you will promise to pay a PORTION of the replacement cost of anything they decide to insure. Even their wife and children — after all, don’t the husbands own their wives and children … uh, wait, that’s a different fairy tale. Anyway, as we all know, stuff happens. There could be a storm that destroys the crops, we tell them. Or the King and his staff (also referred to as your elected representatives) could raise your taxes and — wait a sec, thats a roving band of marauders … that’s what we do. Well, anyway, you get the picture: stuff happens. You just never know.
So the townspeople, having just come through a very difficult situation through no fault of their own, decide they like our idea. So people start signing up in droves to insure their stuff. Not everybody, but many. Other pirates from all around the world hear about the great business opportunity where you don’t have to produce ANYTHING, just make people nervous about losing their stuff, ask them to give you some just-in-case money — AND PEOPLE DO IT! Willingly and proudly. And the best thing about it is that since raping and pillaging is against the law, you don’t have to do that anymore and risk going to jail. Just tell folks it COULD happen. Sweet.
What do we do with all this money? We take it and buy gold! We invest in pharmaceutical companies. We make scary television commercials. We sell more insurance. Then we buy gold! We invest in… you get the picture. We just won’t tell them THAT. So, this goes on for many years. The new King of this (by now) VERY wealthy land, decides that it is a good thing for his subjects to have some protection against the unknown so that when times get hard they can at least remain marginally productive and continue paying taxes, making this an even WEALTHIER land. He (and most of the people) decide: “Insurance for everybody! Halleluia!” Great idea. Really! Except for one little glitch.
Instead of the King using some of his subjects’ hard earned tax money to provide the insurance, he decides that little ‘ole you MUST go to THE PIRATES (you know, the ones who did the raping and pillaging in the first place) and BUY it from them. And if you don’t do business with THE PIRATES, then the King will FINE you a pound of flesh. Now, in fairness, the King SAID he didn’t initially want to FORCE you to buy from them. The devil — I mean, THE PIRATES and their cabin boys, also known as lobbyists — made him do it.