Obama, Sebelius: 'We're just like Apple'

Regardless what President Obama and HHS Secretary Sebelius say, the government isn't anything like Apple. Photo: Obamacare vs Apple/ AP

WASHINGTON, October 2, 2013 — When the healthcare exchanges predictably crashed on the first day of enrollment, President Obama and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius both compared the launch of Obamacare to the launch of an Apple product.


SEE RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Obamacare state enrollment Magical Mystery Tour


Obama, referring to the September 18 launch of the Apple mobile operating system, iOS 7, that had a lame fingerprint ID “security” feature, said, “Consider that just a couple of weeks ago, Apple rolled out a new mobile operating system, and within days, they found a glitch, so they fixed it.”

The president was disingenuous. The “they” who found the “glitch” — a fatal flaw, in fact — referred to some hackers, not Apple. The second “they” was Apple. Whether it’s truly “fixed” is still up for debate.


SEE RELATED: Like comparing Apple to Obamacare


He continued, “I don’t remember anybody suggesting Apple should stop selling iPhones or iPads or threatening to shut down the company if they didn’t. That’s not how we do things in America. We don’t actively root for failure.”

HHS Secretary Sebelius said, “I clearly have an iPad and I also have an iPhone and about 10 days ago I got the prompt that the operating system had changed.” She upgraded to the new OS. It wasn’t great, she said, but “everyone just assumes ‘well there’s a problem, they’ll fix it.’” She continued, “We’re building a complicated piece of technology, and hopefully you’ll give us the same slack you give Apple.”


SEE RELATED: Obamacare experiences widespread failure on launch day


Matthew Yglesias, writing on the Sebelius comment in Slate, said, “Apple has a long track record making technology products. What’s more, lots of people — most people in fact — don’t buy Apple’s technology products. So Apple’s customer base consists of a self-selected minority of people who based on Apple’s long track record in the industry choose to buy its phones, tablets, and computers.”

There’s a lot more in that comparison.

First, no one can fine you, tax you, or ultimately send you to prison for not buying Apple products. The government has plans for all that in Obamacare.

Second, Apple, like any private business, is customer-driven. Apple knows that if it doesn’t provide good products and services, the public will exercise its options, and go to Samsung and Android, or Windows, or even Blackberry.

Third, Apple, the world’s most-valuable brand, has a reputation for producing quality products that work. The government has exactly the opposite track record. There is no public confidence in government programs, whether they be in veterans’ affairs, the postal service, the stability of Social Security, containing spending, managing contracts, rooting out fraud, the IRS, the NSA, the EPA, immigration, self-investigating, protecting our Embassies and personnel — you name it.

Fourth, Apple’s management has what they call “qualifications.” The people in Apple are there because they understand the customer and the product. They are devoted to both. In government, the only “qualifications” to run things are that the rulers get elected or appointed by those who got elected — elected by a largely-uninformed electorate whose choices are limited and dictated by party politics. Apple can’t afford to be so sloppy, and isn’t.

When Obama compares his trainwreck Obamacare to an Apple product, there is no valid nexus. Unlike government, Apple has a good reputation; Apple products work; Apple is not a monopoly; Apple can’t force you to buy its products; Apple can’t send you to prison.

Sebelius expects “the same slack you give Apple,” but she overlooks all the reasons we shouldn’t.

The government isn’t Apple.


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Tim Kern

Tim Kern taught economics for fifteen years, and discovered that understanding life is easy; it’s recognizing reality that takes practice. He holds a music degree, and later earned an MBA in finance from Northwestern University. He has lived across the US, and now makes his home in Anderson, Indiana.

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