Previous posts here have wondered aloud whether, or not, Washington is really as broken as everyone says? Are partisan politicians really that out of sync with the will of the people; are our leaders really frustrating the legislative progress, that it should be making on any number of policy fronts, purposefully? Or, is it just the opposite? Isn't it more likely that Congress is actually functioning exactly the way it was designed: i.e.,to faithfully represent the diverse views of its [increasingly-diverse] electorate? In other words, could it be that the perceived DC dysfunctionality is really nothing more (nor less!) than a true reflection of a nation that has not been so bitterly-divided on key issues since its Civil War of a hundred and fifty year ago? `not at all clear...
But this post will take a closer look at a yet deeper, and IMHO yet more troubling, phenomenon: an utter breakdown in the trust that the electorate itself must place in government in order for it to function properly. And, rather than delving deeply into the nature of how/why this same trust is essential to a "properly functioning" government, I'd like to instead explore its cause; and, inasmuch as I like to see abstract notions back-up in fact, I'll offer but one illustrative example on how our trust [in government] is, in fact, being further eroded in real time.
In a nutshell, trust can only withstand so much dissemblance. We've all adapted to a certain level of duplicity (white, and not-so-white, lies) in our day-to-day transactions with others; and, sadly, we've grown accustomed to extraordinary levels of deceit from our elected officials. But, at a certain point, we become so incredulous, so calloused or just so confused as to presuppose everything we are hearing from a given administration is cloaked in self-serving distortion and/or out-right lies! When every nightly newscast—from both right and left-leaning organs!—seems to be exposing yet another mismanaged deception—e.g., WMD, Fast-And-Furious, IRS, NSA, Benghazi, etc, etc—is it any wonder how/why Democrat, Republican and Independent-minded folks alike assume an attitude of "Well, they're all crooks, or at least incompetent; and, therefore, they'll squander any/all resources they're taking from us. So, I may as well get as much as I can, from whatever program I can, [because they're going to waste it anyway]."
Case in point: Obamacare. Any number of polls show how pervasively mistrusted this prevasive new entitlement regime is within the general public. Notwithstanding these misgivings, both opponents as well as proponents of the plan are naturally lining up at the public trough. But no one, that's actually taken the trouble to look at the underlying arithmetic, believes that Obamacare has any real chance of financial solvency; and, therefore, we all devolve to the circularly-unfortunate logic of "we may as well get our fair share of the subsidies [that, collectively, we've have no choice but to pay]." Take a look, for example, at the politically-schizophrenic Colorado implementation plan/progress.
WHOAA!!!...some may say. Optimistic Democrats in particular are wont to point to some states that are claiming that the actual health insurance rates in their nascent Exchanges will be materially less! Ignoring their own good sense, I suppose that they infer from this that overall costs will actually decline as well? In their shallow defense, there is an at least a theoretical possibility that enough new low-risk (read new subsidizers) will show up at the Exchange to make up for the new higher risk (read higher-cost/under-water) applicants. Exceedingly "shallow" indeed; individuals' behavior can be counted on to act rationally and, therefore, they will always find ways around being the subsidizer en masse.
In reality, there are but two ways that the apparent costs in some Exchanges [many other states' are projecting sharply increased rates] sport apparently less expensive insurance rates...initially. The first is obvious: as in the Colorado case linked above, the Fed's are offering rich one-time grants (already $180million in CO and counting), as well as the promise of the larger ongoing subsidies (from a technically bankrupt national treasury). The best strategy that can be attributed to this free-spending policy is that, if/when enough folks become dependent upon the Exchange-based subsidies, like all other entitlements Obamacare itself will become all but impossible to repeal. A more cynical strategic suspicion depicts Obamacare designers, fully-aware of its congenital defects, looking forward to the Single Payor (European-style National Health Systems) era that—in the wake of America's private insurers' collective collapse—they will then be more able to push through.
I'll assume the best (ingenuous but sincere beliefs that Obamacare could work) motives and return to the question of just how is it that "some states' Exchanges" (ergo Obamacare at large) may seem to be "working?"
Those with keen appreciation of irony will be delighted by this bit. The apparent workability (i.e., evidenced in short-term health premium declines) owes to pure capitalism at work! How? Easy: the labyrinth of subsidized access to expanded healthcare insurance rolls represents once-in-a-lifetime top-line and market-share opportunities: i.e.,with an Administration sending consistent messages to the supply-side (insurance companies and States) that it will somehow keep them whole, 2nd-tier insurers see an unprecedented opportunity to gain share; uninsured demand-side individuals and employers see the Exchanges as a unique opportunity to get something for nothing (e.g., subsidies and opportunities to dump their more costly current plan obligations entirely). `need evidence of this assertion's truth? Look only toward the current "working Exchange" poster-children in CA and NY: in both of those large markets, most of the current market-share leaders are dropping out already! Like some suddenly-awakening Union bosses, many insures are realizing that they were sold a bill-of-goods in the tortured trail to Obamacare passage. Indeed, contrary to Democratic claims, Congress itself never really legitimately passed Obamacare (instead it was slipped through via obscure Budget Reconciliation processes and dubious back-room wrangling--e.g., the obscene Louisiana Purchase and Cornhusker Kickback senate vote buying).
So what, some may say: "everyone does it." Sad but true. Like the WMD case alluded to above, health reform was sold on a fatally-flawed logic and will, ultimately, unravel. But, in the meanwhile (and the core point of this post) the deep-seeded mistrust generated in one area invariable undermines policy everywhere: e.g., if the general public believed the Administration's claims about its implementation plans for Immigration Reform, Gun Control, Patriot Act (citizen surveillance), etc, etc, the President's proposals would move like shit through a goose. But, as it is, The Tradgedy Of Broken Trust leaves most every much-needed new and/or adjusted policy in purgatory.