Saturday, April 10, 2010

More Daily Propaganda with Jon Stewart

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart has not been relevant in years due to its partisan agenda, but in a recent segment entitled “Inethical Basterds,” Jon Stewart hit a new low.

The segment derides insurance companies for seeking loopholes to the new healthcare legislation, which prohibits them from denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions. Jon Stewart contends that looking to deny children coverage is unethical, and comically asserts that the insurance companies must be looking for a fast track to hell, rather than taking the less direct route they have been paving for years.

Though the crowd laughs, this segment isn’t funny. It’s sad, because it is indicative of the widely kept viewpoint of the left. Here Jon Stewart is preaching that insurance companies are devilish entities, somehow responsible for children lacking healthcare coverage. And to give added value to the propaganda, the segment insinuates that those who oppose this healthcare bill are heartless for rejecting legislation that would force insurance companies to cover these children.

But the simple fact is that few rational Americans would oppose federal funding being used to provide underprivileged or unfortunate children the right to healthcare. If this healthcare bill were simply about establishing a charitable pool of federal funds with which these children could be provided care, there would be little to no opposition.

Most aggravating, though, is that Jon Stewart and his audience think that private insurance companies' coffers should be used as that charitable pool of funds. Insurance is a technical and private industry that follows strict policies to maintain profitability. So what right does the federal government have to lay a mandate upon private insurance that they must amend their practices to become charitable institutions?

Yes, Americans are anxious about this healthcare bill. Not because they are afraid that children might get health coverage as Jon Stewart suggests, but because Americans can remember when such federal policies have created huge fiscal problems. After all, we just need to look back a couple of years to see the latest example.

On par with the over-securitization of debt, one of the largest contributing factors in the sub-prime mortgage crisis of 2007-2008 was the institution of federal policy in the 1990's that required private banks to forego their own business practice regarding restrictions in sub-prime lending. The result was that less-than-qualified applicants received home loans, and later foreclosed in record numbers while the banks were left with huge deficits on their balance sheets. And we all know what happened then. The federal government had to step in and bail out the crumbling banks. The national deficit skyrocketed with the taxpayer being the only one left waiting to pick up the check.

Barack Obama's healthcare bill portends the same result. If insurance companies are forced to go against their own practice by capping premiums and disregarding pre-existing conditions to create their risk-pools, how will they be able to maintain a profitability that will ensure that policyholders' needs will be met? The answer is that they cannot, at least not without the prospect of federal intervention that will raise taxpayer liability.

It’s simply bad business. Just as in hindsight we see that it makes no sense for the government to force a bank to offer a $300K home loan to a family with bad credit earning $35K a year, we should be able to see that it makes no sense to force an insurance company to offer a $100 per month policy to a morbidly obese man who has had two cardiac arrests. This is just common sense.

American business owners are rightfully fearful of the precedent this administration is setting. How far removed are we from the idea of laissez faire capitalism when the federal government can dictate that a private business must amend its practice to meet the redistributive common good? If the government can do this, what is to stop them from deciding that McDonalds makes too much money, and that they must amend their practices by giving homeless loiterers free hamburgers on a daily basis? After all, they are obviously down on their luck and could starve without the help of a rich company like McDonalds. But how long will McDonalds be profitable and provide their services to Americans if they are giving away free hamburgers every day?

No matter how much Barack Obama and his pitchman Jon Stewart want Americans to believe that this is a moral issue for this administration, it can simply never be so. It is about federal government wanting to “control the insurance companies,” as Joe Biden succinctly put it.

If it were truly about ensuring that healthcare is provided to unfortunate children, a 10-page bill would have been drafted and unanimously passed last year to create a federal fund for that explicit purpose. The issue would not have been addressed in an obscure monstrosity of text that concealed mountains of pork, unconstitutional federal mandates, and for some reason we’ll never know, an Easter egg about student loan reform.

Jon Stewart and his apostles need to realize that it is not the insurance companies’ responsibility to see that Americans are insured, children or otherwise. Insurance companies are simply in the business of providing the service of health coverage for those who are willing to pay for it. And they are no more morally obligated to pay for other people’s enjoyment of that service than anyone else.

Jon Stewart is often very funny, but he should be ashamed of himself for stooping to this level to demonize insurance companies.

William Sullivan