Earlier this week, Mitt Romney got into trouble for saying, "I like being able to fire people who provide services to me." To comprehend why the political class reacted as if Romney had just praised Hitler, you must understand that his critics live in a world in which no one can ever be fired -- a world known as "the government."
(And a tip for you Washington types: Just because a person became rich without working for government doesn't mean he is "Wall Street." A venture capital firm in Boston that tries to rescue businesses headed for bankruptcy, for example, is not "Wall Street.")
Romney's statement about being able to fire people was an arrow directed straight to the heart of Obamacare. (By the way, arrows to the heart are not covered by Obamacare.)
Talking about insurance providers, he said:
"I want individuals to have their own insurance. That means the insurance company will have an incentive to keep you healthy. It also means if you don't like what they do, you can fire them. I like being able to fire people who provide services to me. You know, if someone doesn't give me a good service that I need, I want to say I'm going to go get someone else to provide that service to me."
Obamacare, you will recall, will be administered by the same people who run the Department of Motor Vehicles. They will operate under the same self-paced, self-evaluated work rules that have made government offices the envy of efficiency specialists everywhere.
And no one will be able to fire them -- unless they're caught doing something truly vile and criminal, such as stealing from patients in nursing homes.
Oops, I take that back: Government employees who rob the elderly also can't be fired.
The Los Angeles Times recently reported that, after a spate of burglaries at a veterans hospital in California several years ago, authorities set up video cameras to catch the perpetrators. In short order, nurse's aide Linda Riccitelli was videotaped sneaking into the room of 93-year-old Raymond Germain as he slept, sticking her hand into his dresser drawer and stealing the bait money that had been left there.
Riccitelli was fired and a burglary prosecution initiated. A few years later, the California Personnel Board rescinded her firing and awarded her three-years back pay. The board dismissed the videotape of Riccitelli stealing the money as "circumstantial." (The criminal prosecution was also dropped after Germain died.)
But surely we'll be able to fire a government employee who commits a physical assault on a mentally disturbed patient? No, wrong again.