Yesterday, I was researching the deeds of Theseus for my dissertation, fascinated by how frequently the goddess Athena stands behind the hero in vase paintings depicting his deeds, despite the paucity of references (indeed, one could say absence) of her support in the surviving narratives. One of his triumphs most frequently depicted in classical art was his match with Procrustes.
Living near the road at Erineus, not far from Eleusis, this son of Poseidon invited travelers in to stay the night. He put each traveler in one of his two beds, the first quite short, the other long. To make sure his guests were perfectly comfortable, he thought each should fit the particular bed perfectly. If his legs dangled a bit over, well, the host would just chop them off. If the guest were too short, well, Procrustes would stretch him out.
Not much different from the Democrats’ proposed health care plans, with their insistence that each American have an “acceptable” level of coverage. So, if your current plan doesn’t mean the government’s requirement, well, they’ll have to stretch it out a bit, requiring your employer perhaps to drop coverage or you to pay a little more. As Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) observes:
Unfortunately, this bill makes things worse rather than better by imposing federal government mandates on coverage that, for example, in the Whole Foods in Austin, Texas, headquartered in Austin, Texas, they won’t be able to keep their current health coverage now because it doesn’t meet the minimum—minimum actuarial value because it’s a health high-deductible plan with wellness accounts that people like, but they won’t be able to keep it. Millions of people won’t be able to keep what they have.
Well, when Procruste invited the son of Aegeus in, that great hero gave the punctilious host a taste of his own medicine, forcing him to abide by his own rules of hospitality. And certainly Republicans have tried to treat proponents of the government overhaul of health care in the same way, proposing amendments requiring members of Congress to participant in the public plan of their crafting.
For as long as our forebears have heard the tale of Procrustes, we know that one size does not fit all, despite the attempts of well-meaning statists over the years to make it so.