Chris Matthews, the irritating host of MSNBC’s “Hardball,” was questioning Tim Phillips who is president of Americans for Prosperity on mandatory government sponsored healthcare. As usual, Matthews didn’t want to engage in debate; he only wanted to obfuscate. Matthews tried to compare auto insurance with health care. Here was the exchange:

MATTHEWS: Do you like the idea of requiring people to have health insurance at a young age?

PHILLIPS: I do not. I don’t think it’s good for the government to be mandating and requiring that, so I’m opposed to that.

MATTHEWS: Well, they mandate you buy, when you get a driver’s license to go out on the road, you have to have insurance to drive a car. You don’t like that either? Where are you with that?

PHILLIPS: I don’t want government reaching…

MATTHEWS: Wait, wait, wait. Do you want people to have insurance when they drive a car?

PHILLIPS: I think that’s a decent mandate, absolutely because…

MATTHEWS: And it’s a decent mandate.

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Automobile and homeowners’ insurance are interesting analogies. Mortgage companies require homeowners’ insurance. If your mortgaged home burns down, the finance company wants to be sure that it will get its money back, so it requires you to carry insurance for their benefit. If you own your home free and clear, there is no requirement to carry property insurance. You own the property free and clear, so the risk is all yours. Automobile insurance operates in a similar way. Once a car is paid off, there is no requirement to carry collision insurance, which covers theft, fire, vandalism, and weather damage, because it’s your car. In fact, once a car’s resale price drops below a certain point, many people drop their collision insurance since the cost of the insurance can be more than what the car is worth.

Liability insurance is a different matter. It’s required to protect other drivers and other people’s property. If you are at fault in an accident, and you damage someone else’s property and also hurt a person physically, you are liable. There is no requirement for people to purchase insurance if they swim, rock climb, use a chain saw, skate board, or engage in any other type of dangerous activity since the damage they may do is only to themselves.

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