Forcing taxpayers to subsidize people’s health insurance increases the recipients’ voting registration, turnout, and likelihood of voting Democrat, says a New York Times article covering three recent studies. Among childless adults allowed to tap into Medicaid in Oregon in 2008, voter turnout subsequently increased 7 percent. Another study found 3 to 4 point higher voter registration in counties that expanded Medicaid.
While the Times said it’s impossible to know the overall political effects for sure, “the people eligible for Medicaid expansion tend to be poor, single adults, a demographic more likely to be Democratic-leaning. And the Oregon study showed bigger voting effects in more heavily Democratic parts of the state.” The effect fades after the election directly following an expansion of government redistribution, which provides yet another reason beyond ideology Democrats are so keen to keep increasing our welfare state.
The Times’ report suggests some utterly clueless potential explanations for this effect. Since healthier and wealthier people are more likely to vote, goes one, by making people more healthy and wealthy, perhaps Medicaid also makes them more likely to vote!
Yet Medicaid leads to inferior health outcomes. Medicaid also has a higher proportion of people with heath problems that are the result of lifestyle choices rather than genetics or accident. Just ask a doctor how likely it is that his Medicaid patients smoke compared to his middle-class patients, or to compare the rates of soda and junk food intake between the two. So no, new Medicaid patients aren’t likely to be suddenly voting more because they’re more healthy and wealthy.
Or perhaps, the Times suggests, new Medicaid recipients simply vote in higher numbers because getting Medicaid put them in greater contact with government. If that were probable, getting busted for speeding or attending public school ought to also make you more likely to vote, but neither is true (private school graduates are more civically engaged).
“Medicaid might also boost civic engagement by making people more grateful to the government and more interested in public policy,” is the Times’s final suggestion. After all, it worked with Social Security. “Civic engagement” is the most Pollyanna-esque way ever to frame voting yourself other people’s money. It’s so blindingly optimistic it’s a flat-out denial of reality.
Without the need for studies, political scientists all the way back at least to ancient Rome’s bread and circuses knew that vote-buying works. This is just human nature. If you promise Peter you are going to use the government’s police power to rob Paul and give Peter a cut, Peter’s more likely to vote for you. As the aphorism attributed to Benjamin Franklin observes, “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for dinner.” The attribution may be false, but the observation is true.
In an 1858 debate with Stephen Douglas, Abraham Lincoln called this dynamic an “eternal struggle” between “two principles”: “The one is the common right of humanity and the other the divine right of kings. It is the same principle in whatever shape it develops itself. It is the same spirit that says, ‘You work and toil and earn bread, and I’ll eat it.’ No matter in what shape it comes, whether from the mouth of a king who seeks to bestride the people of his own nation and live by the fruit of their labor, or from one race of men as an apology for enslaving another race, it is the same tyrannical principle.”
Quite simply, it is wrong to vote for government to take money from a person who worked for it so another person can get it without working for it. It is also wrong for Medicaid to encourage people not to work full time because if they do that at just above the federal minimum wage they lose Medicaid subsidies. This program is a double whammy: it both implicitly and explicitly discourages recipients from supporting themselves.
Yet every non-disabled American adult can in fact do just that. We don’t live in Venezuela. Thanks to our relatively free economic system, essentially nobody who works full time and saves baby-making for after marriage is poor. These are choices. Unless you are badly disabled — an obvious exception nobody disagrees about from any side of the political table — you can choose to work full time until old age, and not only support yourself but fund your own retirement. Despite what Planned Parenthood tells you, you also can choose to not have sex until marriage.
Therefore, in the United States of America, every single able-bodied person has the ability to generate enough wealth to support himself. Nobody in this country needs to use government to steal money from the responsible people to pay for their irresponsible choices. Nor should they.
Those who say people should not be required to take responsibility for their choices should take a long hard look into the homes of America that are increasingly populated with father-deprived children, and consider whether subsidizing poverty, as with subsidizing all else, in fact creates more of it. They should look at Americans’ empty retirement accounts and consider whether discouraging thrift and self-reliance has helped enable our nation’s impending bankruptcy, cheating the next several generations out of proper government services such as national defense and well-maintained infrastructure.
If they do so and conclude that it’s worth lying about all this to Americans to get themselves political power, the rest of us should run them out of polite society as heartless moral cretins.