From Rachel Maddow's show last night, here's a jaw-dropper from the woman who brought you, "We have to pass the bill, so you can find out what's in it." As I keep saying, the Democratic message mavens are working overtime, apparently to woo the all-important swing vote in Williamsburg to health care:
"Think of an economy where people could be an artist or a photographer or a writer without worrying about keeping their day job in order to have health insurance."
If Pelosi wants us to imagine it, let's do it with a few caveats, shall we? If liberal Boomers such as Nancy Pelosi insist on creating government incentives for a generation of people to be unemployed artists who nonetheless have their health care paid for by productive members of society, there will be fewer productive members of society.
If they insist on creating a generation unable to care for itself up to and past the ripe old age of 26 by incentivizing "children"—and I use to term loosely— to stay on parent's health insurance policies until they're turning the corner from Clearasil to Botox, there will be fewer educated, able-bodied people who ever learn to take care of themselves.
If they insist on creating a generation incentivized to "move out of the money-making industry" entirely and "into the helping industry," as Michelle Obama put it, with student loans forgiven by government if and only if students stay away from icky, profit-making industries, there will be fewer people making a profit.
These are the workers—and I may soon be using that term loosely— upon whom liberal Boomer Pelosi must rely to pay her Social Security through their working years. The ratio of workers to retirees has already shrunk from 41:1 in 1942 to 3.3:1 in the mid-2000s, and is expected to dip into to 2:1 in the next decades. Does Pelosi really want one or more of those young people supporting each worker to be a really keen charcoal sketch artist whose earning potential went as thoroughly unrecognized as his genius?
When imagining Pelosi's economy, liberal Boomers should also imagine what comes with it. The mediocre melodies of their street-bard children will be cold comfort indeed when they're warming their hands over hobo fires in Haight-Ashbury.
"Sorry, Pops! No more money! I'm a barrista-cum-unemployed-sculptor-with-benefits!"
Yes, I exaggerate (probably!), but the extent to which liberals actively discourage the very productivity that is the life's blood of their beloved entitlements, is astounding.
Update: Jonathan Chait thinks I've willfully distorted Pelosi and then wilfully ignored his pleas for correction. But the fact that I didn't address his original post is a reflection, not of my obstinance, but of the fact that I missed it in the hubbub of health care. I was simply reading Cohn, not Chait.
He's right that I should have just used the whole Pelosi quote, which I linked to, but I honestly read the first part of her quote and second part of her quote as referencing entirely different groups of people:
Think of an economy where people could be an artist or a photographer or, eh, a writer without worrying about keeping their day job in order to have health insurance, or that people could start a business and be entrepreneurial and take risk but not [be] job-locked because a child has asthma or someone in the family is bipolar. You name it. Any condition is job-blocking.
She addresses artists, photographers, and writers who could quit their day jobs, and then she references people who could "start a business and be entrepreneurial and take risk," separating the two groups with an "or." To me, they read like two different groups of people entirely for whom health care reform would mean two different things. It did not sound to me like she meant that the artists and the entrepreneurs were the same people, and as such, I didn't think the second part of the quote nullified the first part of the quote.
I don't have a problem with the idea of untethering health care and employment— a concept with which Chait suggests unemployment and serious illness might make me more familiar (Thanks!)— though I certainly would go about untethering one from the other in a different way than health-care reform attempts to.
I probably let my ideological bias overblow what Pelosi meant, and for that I apologize. If I was too critical, Chait is probably too forgiving in arguing that neither Pelosi's quote nor her favored policy positions carry with them danger of perverse incentives or unintended consequences—both concepts of which he seems utterly ignorant, which is sadly typical of an enormous percentage of liberal commentators. There is quite a clear difference between thinking that losing one's health care is an "appropriate punishment" for those who lose their jobs and worrying that incentivizing not working could be problematic, which is an idea New Republic writers were more sympathetic to in the days of Clinton welfare reform.
Speaking of perverse incentives, if Chait wants responses to his blog posts, it might be best not to start sentences therein with "I don't wish people bad personal fortune, but." Sheesh.