Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Government by Whim

Yuval Levin writes:

The Department of Health and Human Services announced yesterday that 30 corporations (including McDonald’s, Jack in the Box, and a New York teachers’ union) would receive exemptions from a rule that would have required them to raise the minimum annual benefit in their employee insurance plans.

The exemptions themselves are good news, since the rule would have forced these companies to drop their employee coverage, leaving almost a million workers without the insurance they had before Obamacare. But it means that these companies now need permission from the administration to offer their employees a benefit they have offered for years. And of course, many other companies—those without the lobbying operation of a company the size of McDonald’s, or without the access to liberal policymakers that a NY teachers’ union  has—can’t get the same permission, and so can’t compete on a level playing field, or offer coverage that might entice the best qualified people to work for them. This kind of government by whim, and not by law, is the essence of the regulatory state.

This is one more example of the pattern we have seen since the closing weeks of the Bush administration. As the bailouts and mind-numbingly complex legislation multiplies, the private sector becomes rife with rent-seekers, looking to spin the dials and eke out some preferential treatment from the heavy hand of government. CEOs are chosen for their political and PR skills, not their prowess as wealth creators. Business judgment is clouded and distorted as businessmen must look over their shoulders to avoid the wrath of  bureaucrats and elected officials.

The fact that these judgments are unmoored to any fixed rules and depend on the whim of government officials makes it all the worse. If the rules are unclear and the name of the game is about access, the opportunities for corruption multiply. In fact, it’s hard to tell what corruption is.

This is all a recipe for a creepy sort of corporate statism, where big business and big government are joined at the hip. It is the natural and inevitable result of Obama’s agenda. Unless of course a new set of lawmakers decide they’ve had enough and it’s time to constrain government, keep the private and public realms distinct, and support rather than undermine the rule of law.



Join the discussion…

Are you a subscriber? Log in to comment »

Not a subscriber? Join the discussion today, subscribe to Commentary »





Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.