Obama, Mao, and the revenge of the sparrows

In 1958 the Chinese dictator Mao Zedong introduced a plan called The Great Leap Forward to fundamentally transform China’s agrarian economy into a government-controlled, centrally-planned system via forced collectivization. In 2009 the American president Barack Obama introduced a plan called The Affordable Care Act (ACA) to fundamentally transform one-sixth of America’s economy from market-based, consumer-choice insurance into a government-controlled, centrally-planned system based on forced collectivization.

I’m not suggesting that Barack Obama is a communist. But both the Mao plan and the Obama plan share the same operative concept: that massive price controls and central management can be undertaken without consequences. Both plans follow a three-step pattern common to autocratic schemes: 1.) The regime bases its plan on irrational methodology because they have no knowledge or experience in dealing with the market they seek to control; 2.) When things begin to go hideously wrong, the ruler and underlings dig in and make it worse, claiming ignorance and dissembling rather than revising the disastrous plan; and 3.) The plan-makers blame their failure on their political enemies, whom they demonize in the hope of dodging responsibility.

Distrusting insurance companies and completely ignorant of the healthcare industry (or any other business for that matter), Obama and his ACA creators avoided the advice of experts, doctors, and hospital administrators and installed government-mandated insurance coverage that eliminated many old insurance plans and Americans’ right to choose one to fit their personal needs. Although Obama incessantly promised Americans that they could keep their plans and their doctors, he and his underlings knew as early as the 2010 Health and Human Services (HHS) report published in the Federal Register that the ACA would cause at least 93 million Americans to lose their health care plans because the new mandates render them illegal.

Mao also destroyed his people’s traditional way of doing business to serve his vision. For centuries, peasants made their livelihoods by farming their land, renting or selling it, or using it as collateral for loans. When the government eliminated private landholdings and installed a commune system, it robbed families of their ability to subsist.

Incompetence and sheer idiocy fueled the growing calamity. Mao’s stubborn insistence on irrational farming methods that had already been tried and failed in the USSR doomed the Great Leap Forward. Then, noting that sparrows ate grain seeds, the state began a relentless campaign to exterminate the birds and awarded prizes to villagers who shot, clubbed, or trapped them. When the sparrows were nearly extinct, the locusts came, devouring the crops with no fear of sparrow predators.

Barack Obama and HHS’s stubbornness doomed Obamacare. To obtain approval, new plans have to adhere to new standards that force everyone to pay for coverage they didn’t want or need, such as pediatric dental care for the childless, and free birth control and maternity benefits for women who have had their tubes tied. These benefits made the new plans much more costly. Instead of saving consumers $2,500 per year as Obama pledged, deductibles rose an average of 26 percent. Though Obamacare’s economics depend on the young and healthy paying higher premiums to subsidize the plans of older Americans, the law itself torpedoed that strategy by letting youth stay on their parents’ plans until age 26.