Mickey Kaus pauses in his relentless career of liberal-bashing in general and Obama-bashing in particular (he’s still hoping for GM to go belly-up) to recall a point that he and Megan McArdle have both made: to maintain a culture of risk-taking, you need a social safety net, including health coverage. Asking people to bet their bankroll on a new venture or a new job is reasonable. Asking them to bet their lives, and their kids’ lives, isn’t.
Update Matt Yglesias makes a related point: high unemployment makes workers less free to resist bad behavior by employers and supervisors by increasing the cost of quitting. (And of course if quitting means losing your health insurance it’s even worse.) To you and Matt and me, that’s a bug. But to Mitt Romney and his fellow malefactors of great wealth, it’s a feature. What’s the point of being able to fire people if firing doesn’t really hurt? (It’s almost as much fun as having your friends hold them down while you cut their hair.) Romney’s personal bullying tendencies aside, there’s clearly an advantage to employers if employees are seriously afraid of losing their jobs.