So goes the USA? Megan McArdle at The Atlantic has a look at the scrambling being done in the Bay State to cover, jerry-rig or otherwise manipulate the problems that plague the state's health reform/universal coverage plan into something marginally tolerable.
Even if you're in favor of the healthy reform, this is a lousy, desperate way to go about it. This kinds of mandatory "contributions" are essentially a punishment for past, legal behavior. Practically, they tend to be vulnerable to regulatory takings challenges. Economically, they dramatically ratchet up the risks of doing business in Massachusetts...
The quality of legislation coming out of Massachusetts on this stuff right now is really frighteningly bad. There's none of the technocratic fine tuning that we were assured was the greatest reward of this sort of program, just crude, blanket rules that do much reflect the realities of the market. Rather, they're a cathartic outlet for legislators frustration that any reality exists outside of the power of their pens.
Just wait until we see these kinds of gamesmanship, punitive fines, regulations and takings on a national basis when the audaciously promised "savings" from health care reform fail to materialize, along with the loss of private insurance, the loss of your doctor, and the loss of the quality that was personified in the American medical system.
The legislature, in order to stick a finger in the dike of insurance losses, is trying to siphon $100M from successful profits. Call it a "windfall profits" tax, a one-time taking. Just to, you know, solve the problem.
But that won't solve the problem, merely postpone it. And when it has to be done again, they'll call it one-and-done once more, won't they?
There is a version of Murphy's Law that says that no system can be foolproof because fools are so ingenious. The corollary is that no foolproof system can be devised by fools. And what is a legislature if not foolish for thinking that such a system is even possible?