How could we all have been so blind! The solution to all of our economic woes has been hiding in plain sight. It’s in the House health care overhaul legislation, which would require us to buy health insurance.
If the government has the power to force us to buy health insurance, surely it can make us buy houses, cars, clothing, and anything else. Imagine the boost to the economy if the government simply orders us to buy stuff!
The big problem since the economic crisis hit has been the collapse of housing, so let’s tackle that first. All the government needs to do is pass a law ordering us to buy houses. Doing so could be made mandatory for anyone who has been in the same house for a certain length of time, say 15 or 20 years. Sales volumes would skyrocket, as would housing prices. Problem solved.
There’s no doubt some people could not afford a new house, so again following the health care bill model, the government could provide subsidies to help people pay for their new homes. We’re already doing this to a degree with the home buyers tax credit that Congress extended and expanded earlier this month. We just need to extend and expand it even more.
There’s also no doubt some people would object to being forced out of their current homes. Here, too, the health care bill provides the answer: Impose heavy financial penalties if they refuse to purchase a new house, just as the health care bill would fine someone for not buying health insurance.
Same with the auto industry. We don’t need to fret about low sales volumes. Follow the health care bill example and order people to buy new cars. As in the health care bill, the government could set restrictions defining an acceptable purchase, such as requiring us to buy Chrysler and General Motors cars (what with the U.S. government owning chunks of the automakers) or cars of a certain size or achieving a minimum number of miles per gallon.
Here, too, affordability problems could be solved with subsidies. Think a souped-up Cash for Clunkers program!
America’s clothing and textile industries are shadows of their former selves, too. Imagine the resurgence of those industries if we were ordered to buy a minimum number of shoes, shirts, pants, blouses, and other articles of clothing made in the USA!
We can do it—the health care bill shows we can. Health insurance cannot possibly be the only thing the federal government can force us to buy. The precedent has been set. All we need is the bold vision necessary to carry the health care legislation to its next logical steps.
Steve Stanek ([email protected]) is a research fellow at The Heartland Institute.