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 A few years later, the California Personnel Board rescinded her firing and awarded her three-years back pay.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.
Psychiatric technician Gregory Powell was working at a government center for the mentally retarded when he hit a severely disturbed individual with a shoe so hard that the impression of the shoe's sole was visible on the victim three hours later. A psychologist who witnessed the attack said the patient was cowering on the couch before being struck.
Powell was fired, but, again, the California Personnel Board ordered him rehired.
Now, let's turn to New York City and look for any clues about why it might be the highest-taxed city in the nation.
For years, the New York City school budget included $35 million to $65 million a year to place hundreds of teachers in "rubber rooms," after they had committed such serious offenses that they were barred from classrooms. Teachers accused of raping students sat in rooms doing no work all day, still collecting government paychecks because they couldn't be fired.
After an uproar over the rubber rooms a few years ago, Michael Bloomberg got rid of the rooms. But the teachers still can't be fired.
Wherever there is government, there is malfeasance and criminality -- and government employees who can never be fired.
In 2010, 33 employees of the Securities and Exchange Commission -- half making $100,000 to $200,000 per year -- were found to have spent most of their workdays downloading Internet pornography over a five-year period. (Thank goodness there were no financial shenanigans going on then, so the SEC guys had plenty of time on their hands.)
One, a senior lawyer at SEC headquarters in Washington, D.C., admitted to spending eight hours a day looking at Internet pornography, sometimes even "working" through his lunch hour. Another admitted watching up to five hours a day of pornography in his office. (Would that Bernie Madoff had posted naked photos of himself online!)
Not one of the porn-surfing employees of the SEC was fired.
In 2009, the inspector general of the National Science Foundation was forced to abandon an investigation of grant fraud when he stumbled across dozens of NSF employees, including senior management, surfing pornographic websites on government computers during working hours.
A senior official who had spent 331 workdays talking to fully or partially nude women online was allowed to resign (but was not fired). I hope they gave him his computer as a parting gift.
The others kept their jobs -- including an NSF employee who had downloaded hundreds of pornographic videos and pictures and even developed pornographic PowerPoint slide shows. (And you thought PowerPoint presentations were always boring.)
They weren't fired or even embarrassed. One appealed his 10-day suspension, complaining that it was too severe. The government refused to release any of their names.
These are the people who are going to be controlling your access to medical services if Obamacare isn't repealed. There will be only one insurance provider, and you won't be able to switch, even if the service is lousy (and it will be).
Obamacare employees will spend their days surfing pornography, instead of approving your heart operation. They can steal from you and even physically assault you. And they can never be fired.
That's one gargantuan difference with "Romneycare" right there: If you don't like what your insurer is doing in Massachusetts, you can get a new one.
Now, wouldn't you like to be able to fire people who provide services to you?