Posted by: Tony Carson | 28 October, 2009

The Machiavellian Opt Out Clause

You’ve got two choices: do nothing and take what’s given to you, or do something and get something much, much better.

If you’re typical, you’re taking the do nothing choice.

This Time article is fascinating: The Public Option: Let’s Opt Out and Say We Did. It makes that point through a few examples then tailors it to the Opt Out provision in the proposed Senate Health Care bill.

Basically, it says the difference between having the default of the bill to have the states opt out of the public option if they don’t want it rather than opt in to the public option if they do will result in vastly more people, if the state does nothing, having insurance.

But can human nature be extended to state nature? Time isn’t sure:

“There is, however, one big difference between the Reid legislation and other opt-out strategies: a state is not a person. An individual might end up in a public-health plan out of pure inertia, but it’s not clear whether a conservative state like Louisiana would exhibit the same status-quo tendencies. “But states are subject to inertial forces too. Passing a bill is always a lot harder than not passing a bill. There can be procedural roadblocks, financial roadblocks, legal roadblocks and political roadblocks. History has shown that states can be as dumb, lazy and conformist as the people who live in them, regardless of their real or perceived interests.”

This is like something out of Freakenomics. We’re all embarrassingly predictable. It remains to be seen if states are, too.


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