Next week in Michigan, we are voting on six ballot proposals, including Proposition 1 to endorse Michigan's current version of its Emergency Manager law. In general, Republicans support the EM law and want the Proposition to pass, while Democrats are seeking a "No" vote so that the law won't go into effect. But I see a number of parallels between the EM law and the mandate in Obamacare, which I think should cause everyone to pause and consider their positions.
MLive Media Group brings together most of the non-Detroit papers in Michigan, and over the weekend they endorsed Proposition 1 (while the MLive-owned Grand Rapids press endorsed Mitt Romney). The gist of the EM law is that when a local government mismanages their finances, local elected leaders can be replaced by an "emergency manager" who can break contracts with public employees and make other decisions with the goal of stabilizing the finances of the local unit. These units can be municipalities, school districts, or other local units.
In the Prop 1 endorsement, the MLive Editorial Board wrote, "Leaders of local government units who consistently cannot live within
their means are letting down those who elected them and deserve to be
temporarily relieved of their power over the purse, harsh as that is. No one likes to see such a loss of local control, and there is one
sure-fire way for elected leaders to prevent it: Make the difficult
decisions needed to keep the unit solvent while delivering needed
services to residents." They also worried about, "avoid[ing] the lasting financial mayhem of bankruptcy". To save taxpayer money and rescue those who are "let down", the EM law allows the Governor to remove freely-elected officials and replace them with someone else. The Governor basically can say: if you can't competently manage your finances, then you have lost the freedom to do so, and we are going to do it for you.
Now, I am going to change some words in the MLive endorsement: "Leaders of families who consistently cannot manage their health care financing are creating a 'free rider' problem for taxpayers and deserve to be
temporarily relieved of their power over the purse, harsh as that is.
No one likes to see such a loss of personal freedom, and there is one
sure-fire way for citizens to prevent it: Make the difficult
decisions needed to have health insurance ... and avoid large medical bills paid for by taxpayers or the lasting
financial mayhem of bankruptcy". President Obama is basically saying: if you can't competently manage the way you pay for health care, then you have lost the freedom to do so, and we are going to do it for you.
Of course, Democrats love Obamacare, and Republicans think it is the end of the world.
To me, both laws come from the same premise: mandating competence to save taxpayer money. Another way to say it: abridging freedom to save taxpayer money. Yet another way: crap happens -- to "local units" and to individual's health. If we as a society are going to do something about one, why not the other? If we as a society are going to ignore one, than why not the other?