The worst thing about the otherwise beneficent demise of the Soviet Union is that the leftist embrace of Soviet-style policies is not as apparent as it once was. One forgets that the Soviet Union had an extensive and long constitution that guaranteed health care and the right to vote and housing and jobs and the like. To some extent these promises were fulfilled, but only in a minimal, formalistic way. The country was always drab, dreary, and full of inequality that benefited the managerial nomenklatura. Large and impressive monuments to Socialist progress, such as the Soviet space program or the Seven Sisters buildings in Moscow, existed alongside the failures of the system to provide happiness and progress in the more prosaic private realm.
Obamacare has many of these same features: it began with grandiose promises of health care access and universal insurance, but it destroyed the legacy insurance policies that customers were reasonably happy with (if they bothered to buy it), and it is beginning to destroy the health care relationships that the old system permitted. These are not mere incidental effects. It’s all part of the “bending the cost curve” aspect of this technocrat’s dream-come-true. So we see the expansion of a paper benefit–health insurance–even as the quality of health care goes down. And, worse than that, the price of this lower quality care may well go up for many due to the high premiums, high deductibles, and high out-of-pocket limits of the Bronze and Silver Obamacare plans.
These are Soviet-style empty promises in the service of a Soviet-style expansion of government power. And indeed much of the social control exercised by the Soviet Union in recent memory was not in its Gulag or Stalin-era use of mass murder, but rather in the power, simply, to declare people mentally ill, to deprive them of access to state housing and state jobs, and otherwise to dole out selectively the largesse of the state. Incidentally, much like the Soviet Union, under Obamacare that promises health care equity, congressional staffs and other government workers will maintain plans and get subsidies that will be cut by Obamacare in the private sector. So there is an increasing divide more broadly in the country, with the connected government sector and its army of poor dependents on one side and the embattled private sector–the petit bourgeoisie or Kulaks if you prefer–on the other.
This not-so-ancient history of the deliberate, sincere, and totally failed Soviet system should be studied. Its trajectory is the key to understanding the folly of the socialist designs of Obama, including its impossible-to-solve technical difficulties and perverse incentives inherent to his signature healthcare law.