Fabled left-wing columnist Michael Tomasky provided a lesson this weekend in why you shouldn’t take business advice from people who don’t believe in the free market.
“That ‘Pajamaboy’ ad for Healthcare.gov is indeed terrible,” the Daily Beast columnist wrote, conceding that this is one outrage on which he agrees with conservatives, “and I’m afraid that it does say something about liberalism and liberals that someone, or several someones, at Organizing for America thought this ad would be in any way effective.” (RELATED: Should we stop being mean to Pajama Boy?)
Tomasky, a Newsweek “special correspondent,” distances himself from the “psycho gay-baiting” against onesie model Ethan Krupp, but he concedes that the insufferable man-child is likely to produce disgust from the Obamacare’s youthful targets. And he has a better idea.
“[I]f you’re trying to reach these so-called Young Invincibles who think they don’t need insurance, with what kinds of people do you reach them?” Tomasky asks. “Simple: People more invincible than they are. So, how about an athletic white guy holding his snowboard? A strong-looking Latina woman cradling a soccer ball? A strapping young black male gripping a basketball — no; not a basketball, liberalism, a goddamn football! Et cetera. And a headline with something like: ‘Yeah, I’m healthy. But I bought insurance anyway.'”
Sounds interesting, but as Number Two had to keep reminding Dr. Evil, that already happened.
The Obama administration has made repeated efforts to tie the Affordable Care Act to the manly world of sport, with expensive and embarrassing results. The Department of Health and Human Services tried to get promotion from the National Basketball Association, while Covered California got L.A. Clippers point guard Chris Paul to promote the new law at an event sponsored by Kaiser Permanente.
“We can reach young adults,” Paul told CBS in Los Angeles at the time. “We’re with kids all day, every day, and they’re watching our games, and we have an influence, so we have an opportunity to use our voice.”
HHS also reached out for help from the National Football League, but was rebuffed. But the Baltimore Ravens participated in Obamacare promotion for a small price. (RELATED: Baltimore Ravens receive $130,000 in taxpayer cash to promote Obamacare)
The Obamacare cool factor didn’t end there. Progress Now Colorado promoted the Centennial State’s exchange with an ad showing keg-swilling doofuses. (RELATED: Actual ad sells Obamacare in Colorado by calling it “brosurance”)
Colorado also uncorked the “Susie & Nate: Hot to Trot” ad in which a woman hopes a man will prove as “easy to get” as her birth control. (The supply-side challenge faced by women in getting sex from men is another of those problems that went unnoticed through eons of human history, until Obamacare solved it.) (RELATED: Group behind ‘hosurance’ Obamacare ads attacked Limbaugh, state senator for ‘sexism’)
Hollywood too got into the act, offering its boldest and most beautiful to shill for the health care revolution. (RELATED: Nina Dobrev poses topless for Obamacare [PHOTO])
And just last week, before Pajama Boy changed everything, the nation was dancing to Covered California’s Obamacare rap by “B-Rock O’Beezy.”
Now I don’t mean just to ridicule a man of a certain age for failing to “grok” what the kids are getting up to at their “be-ins.” But Tomasky includes a second part of his Obamacare sales pitch, one that gets at what is truly misguided about the administration’s belief that the rapidly deteriorating law can be brought back to health with a talking cure. He believes young people can be won over if we redefine an unattractive business deal as a form of altruism.
“Well, maybe this is Pollyannaish of me,” Tomasky writes, “but I think that if you explain to young people that they are becoming part of something bigger, enough of them are just idealistic enough to buy in, as long as the price is right (and it is, generally — bare-bones individual plans for people who don’t plan on seeing a doctor are often around $70 or $80 a month). So the copy under the headlines accompanying the photos of my snowboarder and soccer woman and football man would go something like: ‘I don’t expect anything to happen to me. But one, you never know. And two, it’s actually pretty cheap. And three, when enough young people like me buy insurance, we’re making it more affordable for our parents and grandparents, and other sick people who do need care. It’s the right call.'”
This at least speaks honestly about what is at the heart of the Affordable Care Act’s Rube Goldberg fabtraption. The reason the plan called for the vast majority of new enrollees to be young and healthy people was because those people will mostly remain healthy, thus losing the bet at the heart of insurance: They will pay a lot out and they won’t get anything back. It’s a transfer of wealth from the young to the old, and it’s obviously not in the best interests of the young.
Now appeal to collective purpose can be powerful. Every year it impels thousands of young people to join the armed services for low pay, tedious work and often long deployments to unpleasant or dangerous places. But the self-sacrifice of military service is hallowed by traditions and notions of courage that go back thousands of years. Veterans get nearly universal expressions of gratitude from the nation and its citizens and are guaranteed lifetime health coverage as well as other material benefits.
Despite all these appeals, the United States has consistently turned to mass conscription during times of true national emergency. You can think of the military draft as the armed version of Obamacare’s individual mandate — coercive altruism rooted in the belief that the individual is the property of the state. Even when the collective appeal could not be clearer or more honorable, you have to force people to do things that are not in their interest.
Since the rollout of Healthcare.gov, there’s been a remarkably consistent refrain that if we can just “tell a friend” or “#gettalking” or “talk about getting insurance,” the target audience will get to like a deal that is obviously bad for them — a deal that is in fact designed to be bad for them. Do the Obamaoids have any data, any experience, any evidence that talking about the Affordable Care Act makes people like it any better?
Despite what Tomasky and other lefties may believe, the people running Wal-Mart stores and Spencer Gifts outlets all over the country are not constantly trying to pass off defective items through more ubiquitous advertising. But the Obama administration is trying to do that.
The race for a cure to Obamacare needs to start from that point: People don’t like Obamacare because it’s a bad product. It’s so bad that even with a law forcing them to buy it, they’re still not buying it. That’s a problem that will not be solved with better pajamas, better cocoa, or better advertising.