Obamacare and the Death of Honest Graft

Obama forgot that government benefits need to be actually beneficial.

What seems like an eternity ago, Nancy Pelosi famously said that Congress needed to pass Obamacare so we could find out what's in it.

America is finally starting to see Ms. Pelosi's prediction fulfilled, and generally speaking, most people are horrified.  It turns out that the Republicans were mostly spot-on: far from providing "affordable care" to anybody, it's doubling and tripling people's bills by forcing them into plans with "benefits" they don't want or need.  How many men truly require maternity coverage?  Yet by the power vested in Obamacare, it's illegal for them not to have it.

How has Mr. Obama's signature "achievement" reached a point of degradation at which even Saturday Night Live had to ridicule it?  Isn't the whole fundamental strategy of the Democrats to bribe taxpayers with their own money by giving more and more government benefits to more and more people until, one fine day, the government owns everything and controls everybody?  So why this backlash, to all appearances a complete surprise to virtually every member of the Obama administration including the media?

There's a simple answer.  It's not just that socialism doesn't work, or that government is incompetent in general.  It's that in their lust for absolute power over our very lives, Mr. Obama's minions forgot the first rule of government corruption: restrict yourself to "honest graft," and make sure the proles do actually get something at the end of the day.

Tammany Hall and the Building of New York

The masters of the art of political chicanery and corruption are found in big cities - it's no accident that big cities are almost exclusively ruled by Democrats and have been for a long time.  New York City's Tammany Hall ring under Boss Tweed is the archetype of a corrupt big city political "machine."

Boss Tweed and his gang were nominally Democrats, of course, but in their day were so powerful that they had their own animal representation.  These symbols were invented by the legendary political cartoonist Thomas Nast after whom the word "nasty" was created: the Republicans had an elephant, the Democrats a jackass, and Tammany Hall a tiger.

Unlike the jungle beast, however, the denizens of Tammany Hall knew better than to become an all-consuming destroyer.  Yes, they fleeced the taxpayers by overcharging for construction of public works, with kickbacks all up and down the contracting chain.  Yes, they tried to personally buy up land on which, they knew, the government was planning to build something, so as to sell it on to the government for twice its value.  But - while inflating costs to several times what was really required, they made sure that the work done was well thought through and of top quality.  Much of the infrastructure and many of the edifices built in the Tammany days are still in use today.

The result was that New York City voters tolerated the obvious corruption for a surprisingly long time.  Yes, they were paying more taxes than they might have, but "the rich" paid far more than they, and they could see worthy civic improvements being built all across the city.  They weren't getting their money's worth, but they were getting something for the money.

Obama and the Building of Nothing Much

In contrast, what has Obamacare given anybody?  Yes, requiring that your out-of-work college-age kids be allowed to stay on your insurance until they're 26 benefits the large number of people whose kids can't find jobs in the Obama depression.  If that's your worst problem you're lucky: many millions of Americans are finding that the insurance they thought they had is going away, and the cost of a new plan is prohibitive.

Has the legendarily awful Obamacare website signed anybody up?  Yes, quite a few - but as the very limited statistics available tell us, the vast majority of them simply enrolled in Medicaid.  Medicaid is a welfare program that's been around for 50 years, giving free health care to poor people.

The people who signed up for Medicaid on the Obamacare website mostly qualified for it before Obamacare was passed; they just were too lazy to actually sign up.  If they went to a hospital for treatment, they couldn't pay; the government usually chipped in with some help for the hospital.  Now, they have Medicaid coverage, which... the government pays for just the same.  Six of one, half dozen of the other, and all at vast taxpayer expense.

As Mitt Romney pointed out, the 47% who live off the government are going to vote for big government no matter what.  Medicaid-qualifying poor people aren't Republican voters and never will be, since they know they'll be the first thing cut.  They vote Democrat with or without Obamacare, and they're taken care of by you and me regardless.  Obamacare didn't change anything for them.

It's the people who aren't quite rich enough to rely on Uncle Sugar that are suffering.  We've previously quoted Cindy Vinson, a retired Californian teacher, but what she said bears repeating:

"Of course, I want people to have health care," Vinson said. "I just didn't realize I would be the one who was going to pay for it personally."

Ms. Vinson has realized that she is paying an arm and a leg and getting nothing for it.  That makes even a die-hard Democrat voter mad.  The long-ago voters of New York City also paid an arm and a leg, but at least they got great public works in exchange.

Unless Obamacare can start improving the lives of people other than the very poor, Americans will be asking increasingly loud and angry questions.  Did Barack Obama really not understand the political benefits of keeping his graft to the honest sort?

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other Scragged.com articles by Petrarch or other articles on Partisanship.
Reader Comments

"Did Barack Obama really not understand the political benefits of keeping his graft to the honest sort?" He doesn't have to worry about honesty, the media will cover it up and liberals will defend him regardless. His whole life is based on lies, a public persona really, nothing more than just an empty shell.

November 5, 2013 1:17 PM
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