An even worse argument in favor of single payer

By Megan McArdle

Several people have said that single payer must be moral, because it works just like other insurance: some people get more out of the pool because they have to tap it, while others get less.

Uh . . . do you really not understand the difference between voluntary and forced transactions? You are perfectly entitled to pool your risk with that of others at any price you care to pay . . . or not, just as you please. This action has no moral content, although I concede that The Church of the Suburban Methodist may have made purchasing adequate insurance one of its tenets.

Millions of people subscribe to US Magazine . . . and for that matter, the Methodist church. Would it be morally okay to force everyone to adopt some belief about the existance of God, or Salma Hayek, because millions of Americans have found it very satisfying to do so?

Update What about mandatory auto insurance? This is completely different. We don't force people to buy auto insurance in order to forcibly pool the risks of bad drivers and goods, thereby transferring money from the good drivers to the bad ones. We force people to buy auto insurance to protect others; drivers have a high potential to cause damage they can't pay for. It's a social arrangement to minimize externalities.

Moreover, we don't force everyone to buy insurance whether they have cars or not. We don't even force car owners to buy insurance. We just force people to buy insurance if they drive on public roads, in order to protect their fellow citizens from the possible negative consequences.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2007/08/an-even-worse-argument-in-favor-of-single-payer/1792/