ObamaCare and the middle class: Hard-working Americans might wonder, “Why bother?”

It is bad enough that self-employed and individually insured Americans are being dictated to from a faraway city. After all, there is neither a moral nor legal provision in the United States Constitution that allows the executive to decide what free men should choose to buy. And yet it gets worse when one acknowledges that the services that the government wishes to foist upon the individual market are generally inferior. “President Obama will soon become the country’s biggest purveyor of second-rate coverage,” doctor and former FDA official Scott Gottlieb (no relation to Lori) wrote in the New York Post. “Many of the policies sold in the exchanges are ‘narrow network’ plans with very limited choice of doctors.” Hard workers could be forgiven for looking at their efforts and wondering, “Why bother?”

One of the things that has distinguished America from the social democracies of Europe is that its safety net was just that: a net into which one might fall but in which one would not be enveloped. In Europe, one is pushed into interaction with the government as a matter of course — and even encouraged to engage. In America, there was traditionally help if you really needed it, but you had to be old or poor or disabled first. Obamacare changes that, interfering in the lives of the millions of Americans who had no intention of getting involved with the state and saying breezily to the self-sustaining middle class that there is no escape from the insidious meddling of a corpulent Uncle Sam — even if they do work hard and play by the rules every day. I agree with the president: America’s hard workers do “deserve a government and a financial system” that is responsive to their sacrifice, their conscientiousness, and their sense of duty. But I’m afraid that this isn’t it.