The Obamacare Exemption and Political Classism

The Obamacare exemption for federal legislators and their aids is reminiscent of the privileges of class in the old Soviet system. 


It wasn’t totally surprising when I read, as a teenager, of the privileges that members of the Soviet political class enjoyed during the rule of Leonid Brezhnev and presumably before and after.  The central focus of the article in which I read this information was the GUM department store in Moscow where only senior Party officials were permitted to shop.  Inside GUM there were no shortages and anyone allowed to do so could buy pretty much anything they wanted.  Compare this with the lot of the average Russian who had to put up with incredible shortages in such basic stuff as eggs, bread, and toilet paper.  If you wanted to buy a car and had the money you had to order is several years in advance, unlike here in the US where you could buy a car off the showroom floor. 


The story doesn’t end at GUM.  I encountered a statement from a sovietologist (whose name I am no longer sure of) a short time later in which he stated that the primary difference between the US and USSR was that in the US, if you had enough money, you could buy essentially anything.  In the USSR, it didn’t matter how much money you had; it was the amount of political influence you owned that controlled your buying power. 


Then there was narrative I encountered a few years ago in the book Comrade J in which the author, a KGB defector told of senior party officials who regularly dined on steak with Kristal champagne because they had the money and the influence to do so. 


The myth that the Soviets had achieved a “classless society” was exactly that.  What they had achieved was a society in which class was based on political power rather than wealth.  Ordinary citizens probably had no opportunity to achieve significant wealth, in any event, but if they had, it would have done them no good without access to the Party controlled markets. 


America was supposed to be different.  Politics was supposed to be irrelevant.  Of course, there were exceptions.  Senator Diane Feinstein, for example, could obtain a concealed handgun permit in California with ease, while the average Joe would have a difficult time of it.  Compare that to Texas.  Getting a CHL is pretty much as difficult as getting a driver’s license.  Pass the exams, pay your fee and if you have a clean record you are in.  But on the federal level Obamacare is changing all that.  Firstly, we see exemptions issued to favored entities, including, interestingly enough, political officeholders.  Then there is the government panel charged with deciding who gets what care, resulting in effective rationing that could be based on political influence.  You can be sure that a senior senator will get any care he or she wants, personally or for a family member, but John and Jane on Main St. may be told tough luck in otherwise identical circumstances.  Worse still, it may become possible for John and Jane to have medical care denied on the basis of political belief.  We will be told otherwise, but past reality trumps present day representations.  All we have to do is look at authoritarian governments around the world. 


The sinister fact that we can now see flying under the radar is that old guard Republicans are now working behind the scenes with Democrats to maintain their own exemptions from the health care mandate, while forcing it down on average members of the public.  This, if successful, will create a two tier system in which politicians are more equal than other people and are exempt from oppressive regulation because of their status.  It is another example of the reason why the US Constitution should have contained a provision to the effect that government elected officials or employees may not be exempt, under any circumstances from laws affecting the general public. 


Notwithstanding the opinion of the Supreme Court, the Obamacare law is unconstitutional both as written and as enforced, and equally important, it does the exact opposite of its purported purpose.  In 2010 Obama supporter Warren Buffett said that the Act should be scrapped completely and the govt. should start over because average Americans would suffer under the law.  He called it “a tapeworm eating at our economic body, ” and advised that we should attack costs, rather than mandate “insurance” coverage issues. 


It is unlikely that many modern Americans have seen a tapeworm.  I did years ago when a foreign student at UC Berkeley had one removed and the doctor involved kept it as a lab specimen/curiosity.  A family member who worked at the student health center showed it to me.  Believe me, tapeworms are disgustingly ugly things, just as the Obamacare law is a disgustingly ugly thing.  But what is most important about this law is that it appears designed to place the medical care system under government control, and thereby, make it subject to political influences.  It is a recipe right out of your favorite authoritarian regime.  Pick one; Communist, Nazi, Fascist, etc. 


Meanwhile, members of the Republican Party old guard who assert that the only way to win elections is to be “democrat lite” are therefore backing Obamacare, are more interested in power than in what is good for the nation.  It is likely that they are willing to compromise principle for power; they throw in with the enemy in order to retain their hold on power and become part of the government elite, allowed to get benefits that John and Jane Q. Public are denied.  In a nation that is turning against government centric society, that is a recipe for disaster. 

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