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An article published in the Raleigh News and Observer this week hailing the government claim that there has been a 56 percent increase in Obamacare enrollment across North Carolina manages to be both insightful and contradictory at the same time.

The article reports that 560,000 North Carolinians have enrolled in government approved and subsidized health insurance plans as of Sunday, February 15, the last day the uninsured could enroll before facing heavy fines. (Supreme Court Justice John Roberts called these taxes and the N&O article redundantly refers to them as tax penalties).

Many people who chose to pay the fines last year are choosing the insurance this year, as fines have increased from a first year low of $95 or one percent of income, whichever is higher, to the larger of $395 or two percent of the insurance resister’s income.

After pointing to the "improved" enrollment statistics, the author of the N&O article, reporter Ann Doss Helms, suggests that the increase in enrollment was "spurred by a growing awareness of tax penalties for remaining uninsured."

In more stark, but accurate terms, the increase in enrollment was the result of threats of government coercion against any individual who refused to purchase not just health insurance, but Obama administration approved health insurance. In other words, force works. If you twist people’s arms hard enough, you can get them to capitulate to your demands.

Almost immediately after suggesting that the increase in enrollees is due to the increase in coercion associated with the refusal to purchase insurance, Helms goes on to note "proponents hailed the growth in North Carolina and across the country as proof that the controversial health-care act is working."

This invokes an odd interpretation of the data and a strange definition of "working," which went completely unnoted by Helms. I don’t think that anyone who has been opposed to Obamacare has argued, or had any doubt, that by using enough coercion or strong enough threats of coercion you wouldn’t be able to get reticent consumers to knuckle under and buy the government approved plans. Given this rather bizarre notion of success, Obamacare will most certainly be working even better next year, when fines are increased again, this time to $695 or 2.5 percent of income. Let’s all agree, coercion works to get people to do what you want them to do. Just ask Tony Soprano.

But then the article takes an even more bizarre turn. First the story, without any sense of irony, quotes Sorien Schmidt, from a group called "Get Covered North Carolina," as saying "having health coverage means a lot to these people."  It then goes on to quote President Obama, who, as usual, conflates health insurance with access to health care, as saying, "It gives you some sense of how hungry people were out there for affordable, accessible health care."

Ms. Helms apparently does not experience any cognitive dissidence in first reporting that the increased numbers of Obamacare health insurance enrollees is "spurred" by the threat of fines and then reporting that Obamacare supporters believe that health insurance "means a lot to these people" and they are "hungry" for the coverage.

I didn’t think it would need to be made explicit, but people who are hungry rarely need to be force-fed.

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