Obamacare and Library Cards

My wife and I recently took a Virginia-based group of home-schooled kids to the Library of Congress, the largest library in the world and, arguably, one of the greatest repositories of human knowledge and history in the world.

After seeing the main ‘sights’ at the library, we took the group to the Madison building to show them how they would apply for a library card at the Library of Congress….. except – shock, shock – the library staff said that THEY WERE OUT OF CARDS! Another staffer confirmed that they had been out of cards “for a week” and had “no idea” when a new supply might become available.

If the Library of Congress’ purpose is to serve Congress and the general public with access to its holdings, and if library cards are essential to that process, one would think that any supervisor or bureaucrat with an ounce of competence would have made sure that they had an ample supply of them on hand, or would move mountains to ensure that they obtained them as quickly as possible, with apologies and explanations to the public they supposedly serve.

This is the equivalent of sending soldiers into battle without rifles or McDonald’s opening its stores without hamburgers. No private sector business could survive with such an attitude of not knowing (and apparently not even caring) when its primary service might be back on line.

In April 2011, nearly $630M was proposed for Library of Congress (LoC) funding in the Continuing Resolution. Whatever the final budget number turned out to be, clearly the LoC receives a huge amount of funding each year, and what is probably a very tiny but vital part of that budget should be allocated for….procuring library cards.

What does this all have to do with Obamacare? Well, to start with, I used the library card example as a ‘teaching moment’ for the kids about the incompetence of so much of the federal bureaucracy and compared it to what life will be like if Obamacare is not repealed.

Just as the Library of Congress is perhaps the greatest library in the world, we also have the best or one of the world’s best health care systems. But even the greatest institutions – whether libraries or medical facilities – are worth nothing to us if we are denied access to them or only given limited access because some nameless bureaucrat hasn’t done his or her job.

This is only the beginning. What will it be like when they say to the widow: “Sorry about losing your husband, but last month we didn’t order enough heart valves because of our government-prescribed quota, and we don’t know when any more might be coming in…. Next!”