It’s been bizarre, as Will Saletan said this week, to see Republican governors in New Jersey, Virginia, and Louisiana chew out their most stubborn citizens for refusing to evacuate, and yet eschew government for asking its citizens to buy health insurance. In either case, whether it is the stranded woman on the roof of her flooded house or the guy who rolls into the ER with a busted pelvis, our common humanity, government, and social contract impels us to try and save them:
“What’s odd about Christie and other Republican governors is that they recognize this principle only when a hurricane hits. When it comes to injury or disease, which we know will strike everyone on this planet, the Republican governors defend your right to ride it out. They oppose any requirement to buy health insurance. If you get sick, the rest of us will shell out to rescue you.
“Hurricanes and health care are different in many ways, of course. Buying health insurance is more expensive than evacuating for a natural disaster. But in both cases, the question is whether you should be allowed to make your own choices when the cost of bailing you out will fall on others. If the state has no business forcing you to buy health insurance, even when the premiums are subsidized, why should it be empowered to order you out of your home in a storm, just to save your skin? Why do Republican governors think they can have it both ways?”
It’s difficult to swallow your pride, and all the more agonizing to have to leave your home. I hope I’m never put in that position. If I was, I’m not sure making the right call would be easy. Lately, I’ve tended to think most people are bad at solving their own problems and better at solving other people’s.
After the poor decision to stay in their inundated town is laid bare for them by events, who knows better than the pig-headed couple who had to be rescued, that maybe the choice to “opt-in” shouldn’t have been left to them?