Apr 232009

I presume it has happened in the movies if not in real life: The parents scrimp and save to send the kid to college. They work extra jobs on weekends and evenings so he can get through the pre-med program. Then, instead of making them proud, he drops out and rejects their ways by becoming a flower child.

Or it could happen in both the movies and in real life. Christopher McCandless graduated from college but rejected his parents’ materialistic ways. He gave the rest of his educational savings ($25K) to Oxfam and became a nomad, communing with nature and giving his parents no clue as to where he had gone. He wandered from California to South Dakota to Alaska, where he died of starvation and had the movie “Into the Wild” made from his story.

Some parents will be angry at an ungrateful child like that. Some will be manipulative and controlling. Some will handle it with loving resignation.

But what if the parent is Uncle Sam? In that case there will be no loving resignation. There WILL be anger and manipulation. The parent will NOT relinquish control, because the parent has the tax system and prison system on his side.

This type of parenthood is made clear from a letter in today’s WSJ, about doctors who are opting out of the system of government health care by refusing to take any Medicare patients. Henry A. Kolesnik from Tulsa, Oklahoma wrote:

I think it is a doctor’s right to opt out from Medicare by turning away patients, provided that he can prove that his education and training was not received at any insititution that was funded or subsized by taxpayer dollars.

Robert Kugel of Burlingame, California explains how it will be done:

If more physicians become like Marc Siegel and opt out of government insurance plans, look for state and federal governments to impose “opt-out fees” on the grounds that “it’s only fair.” Doctors will be charged a tax on their services (and pass it on to patients). The tax probably will start out at a modest level and then ratchet up to 100% or more, with the increases defended as a better alternative to rationing health care “for those that aren’t wealthy enough to pay the tax.” Such a tax will allow governments to deny that they are coercing doctors to stay in the system, while accomplishing that very goal.

And when Uncle Sam is the parent, he can also point out how kind he was to make it possible for the children to go to college in the first place — something the parents could never have done if he hadn’t taken their money to make it possible.