The Corner

A meanie writes

I’m out of the country so I’ve only just been alerted to the fact that in The Washington Post E J Dionne has called me a meanie and hypocrite. I’m certainly a meanie, but I don’t quite get the hypocrite thing. I’ve been consistently opposed to swollen middle-class entitlements because in the long run (as in Europe) they kill nations. Michelle Malkin returns to the subject of the Frost family today, and tries to get us to re-focus on the basic question: At which point should the government pick up the tab? Ultimately it’s a reductive notion of liberty to say a free-born citizen can choose his own breakfast cereal and DVD rentals and cable package and, in the case of the Frosts, three premium vehicles, but demand the government take responsibility for all the grown-up stuff.

Toward the end, Michelle writes:

Once again, they will ignore the fundamental concept of how insurance is supposed to work. I repeat again:

If you don’t buy it before you need it, you shouldn’t be shocked if it’s difficult to impossible to get after you need it.

That’s correct. But it gets to the nub of the Republicans’ political problem. In most cases, “insurance” insures against unlikely events. Your house is highly unlikely to burn down, but, if it happens, it’s life-changing, so you insure against it. Health care is all but certain, especially in a western world where longevity and falling birth rates are producing a society where a big chunk of the population will be nonagenarians requiring long-term Alzheimer’s or other care for the last fifth of their life. I would prefer a system in which we distinguish between routine ailments and catastrophic medical needs. For the former, it would be cheaper (and healthier) to restore a direct doctor/patient financial relationship. For the latter, a more limited insurance system would be better.

But, either way, a two-property three-car family does not demonstrate the need for entitlement expansion.

Mark Steyn is an international bestselling author, a Top 41 recording artist, and a leading Canadian human-rights activist.

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