Defenders of Obamacare -- yes, they exist -- say its requirement that virtually all Americans buy federal government-approved medical insurance will end the freeloading by some people who could afford insurance but choose to do without and show up in emergency rooms for "free" care when they get sick.
Now, so far as it goes, it is repugnant that some individuals who can afford insurance choose to spend their money in more frivolous ways and let the burden for their care fall on others.
But the answer to that isn't to create a massive boondoggle of a federal program that will balloon budget deficits and penalize the responsible and the irresponsible alike. It is to end the guarantee of "free" medical care to those who could pay their way but don't, and to let them rely on family and friends or on charitable care funded by private organizations. It wouldn't take too many instances of not getting treatment with lots of frills before the freeloaders would realign their spending priorities and buy the insurance they need and can afford.
But while we're on the subject, do you notice a decided inconsistency in the federal government's indignation toward those who take advantage of health care safety nets and those who make unwise use of food stamps? While the Obama administration is happy to denounce health care freeloaders in order to justify Obamacare, it has no qualms about the limitless purchase of health-destroying junk food by people who get food stamps.
You may have read about efforts to curb the kinds of foods that food stamp recipients may buy. Some states are seeking to put the purchase of items such as candy, potato chips and soft drinks off limits. The commonsense idea is that if taxpayers are going to have to pay other people's grocery bills, at least that food should be reasonably healthful and should not promote obesity and generally poor health habits that can last a lifetime.
Yet the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees food stamps, officially opposes restrictions on junk food purchases by recipients of food stamps. And other critics deem that sort of restriction demeaning. It might stigmatize recipients, we're told.
It's hard to say whether that's true, but even assuming it is, since when is the purpose of federal welfare programs to make recipients so comfortable with the benefits that they have little motivation to pursue self-sufficiency?
And if Washington is desperately concerned about taxpayers subsidizing health care for irresponsible Americans, should it not also stop forcing taxpayers to subsidize bad food choices that saddle us all with increases in the very health care costs it claims to be trying to control?
Is just a little consistency too much to ask?