Navigating by a Felonious Star

“This is possible.”

That was the answer given by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius when asked whether convicted felons can be hired as ObamaCare “navigators,” a position that affords easy access to the sensitive personal information of individuals attempting to sign up under the new health insurance exchanges.

A mystifying refusal to require any sort of qualifications or background checks for these positions means that anyone, from paid advocates for special interests to ex-cons, is eligible to become a navigator. A high school diploma is not even required.

In a rare moment when the typical dog-and-pony show congressional hearings actually uncover something substantive, Sebelius’ confession served as a shocking wake up call to Americans who never dreamed that their government would treat their privacy with such casual carelessness. The idea that honest citizens might unwittingly hand over their social security numbers and tax data to convicted criminals is certainly cause for concern.

But this is the natural result of giving up our authority over our personal information, delegating our privacy to others who may not have our best interests at heart. When we put our faith in experts to manage our lives for us, pretty soon we lose control. It was only to be expected that once the government has control of all our most private and personal information, it would employ that information for its own ends. If that includes a reckless disregard for our privacy from convicted felons, we are hardly in a position to object. We lost that right when we voluntarily surrendered the details of our personal lives into the hands of an uncaring bureaucracy.

It’s puzzling that so many people are comfortable leaving their privacy in the hands of Congress, but horrified by the thought of crooks getting a hold of their data. In recent months we have learned that our government is perfectly willing to spy on us, to use the IRS to punish us for our political views and even to drone us without trial or due process if the president personally considers us a threat. And these are the same people we’re supposed to entrust with our medical histories?

A popular and semi-humorous maxim known as Grey’s Law holds that “any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.” Nowhere can this be more appropriately applied than in the realm of government. Incompetence is really the only area in which the state excels, as evidenced by the disastrous launch of Healthcare.gov, the public face of ObamaCare that lurched into life as a pathetic, malfunctioning heap.

In the end it doesn’t really matter whether Sebelius’ callous lack of oversight on the ObamaCare navigator system is intentional or due simply to overwhelming levels of ineptitude. The result is the same, as are the reasons for us to remain skeptical of government’s ability to safeguard our privacy.

Sebelius has been taking a beating over her role in the catastrophe that is the Affordable Care Act, and calls for her resignation are beginning to pick up. Accountability still matters, and her empty admission that lawmakers should “hold me accountable for the debacle” is meaningless if not followed by action of some sort. But whether she ultimately decides to resign her post or not will make little difference to the problems underlying ObamaCare. There is no reason to believe that her replacement will be any less cavalier in their treatment of Americans’ privacy.

The entire foundation of government is the use and distribution of other people’s money, and now the use and distribution of Americans’ personal data. We shouldn’t be surprised when liars and felons are the beneficiaries.