Today, kids, we’ll take a look at what the word “free” means. There’s been some …okay not really confusion, I mean most of us know what “free” means, but the Tea Party Representatives, the Michelle Bachmanns and the John Webbs, are either confused or trying to confuse you, so let’s start.
“Free” as in a democracy can’t survive without a free educational system. Old Thomas Jefferson said that, as we all know, and it’s true. Now did Thomas Jefferson mean “free” as in there would be absolutely no costs to anyone? Of course not. He wasn’t crazy and that notion is absurd. He meant the government would absorb the costs and it would be free to citizens. He also meant “free” on another level. Free from interference as to what is being taught. Of the two ways he meant “free” this one is key to our Republic's survival and it’s the one the Tea Party desperately wants to change.
“Free Wash With A Fill.” We have all benefitted from that one and there are very few complaints about it. Of course the service station owner bears the costs of water, electricity, soap, wax, hot air... but the increase in his profits from offering a “free” car wash more than make up for the costs. It’s a standard business practice: spend a little to make a lot. In fact, you can pass the costs of the wash onto the customers by raising the price of an oil change by a couple of bucks and no one is the wiser. I’m pretty sure we all know how “free” works in the marketing sense. And that is the sense the Bachmanns and the Webbs are now objecting to when they criticize C.B.S. and Obamacare.
Anthem Blue Cross, along with most of the health insurance industry, already offer “free” preventative care. They’ve been doing this for a number of years now and Obamacare isn’t going to change that at all. The reason preventative medicine is free is that it produces huge cost savings. Regular checkups, screenings, wellness programs and the like reduce the instances of cancer, diabetes, heart attacks, obesity, and other costly conditions. For a while, in a couple of the Luminos health plans, Blue Cross was even giving people money for doing things like quitting smoking, losing weight and so on. It didn’t even matter how many times you quit smoking; you received a pay out each time.
“Free” is a sound business practice. You pay a little up front and realize hundreds of thousands on the back end. Then you close those plans off for new members, wait for enough people to leave for a variety of reasons, and you jack the premiums up sky high. The state regulators don’t even blink because you can show them a reduced group where the risks aren’t being spread very far at all. Only those who can’t get insurance will keep the plan and you can violate them at will. It’s a pattern you can find time and time again in the health insurance industry. Obamacare does nothing to address this sort of practice.
I’ve never been able to figure out if the Tea Party representatives who offer up bizarre arguments like “free isn't free" are just stupid or if they are trying to fan the flames of a class war. I’m leaning toward the latter because the Tea Party Representatives tend to be business leaders, and I really can’t believe they could be that bad at business. But they might be; after all, Warren Buffet once told my little brother that he shouldn’t buy stock in a company unless he thought an idiot could run it, because, sooner or later, an idiot would be running it.
Idiots or not, I think their real agenda is to pit us against each other. Implied in this “Free isn’t free” argument is some people will get services they just don’t deserve. Not you, of course. Certainly not you. No… you are the right sort. A member of the club. However, one day, after they have finished impoverishing you, well, you won’t deserve services. But that day isn’t here yet, so you can rest easy, while you carry their banners and vote for your own demise. Ain’t that swell?