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Mar. 25 2010 - 3:03 pm | 102 views | 0 recommendations | 0 comments

Hoosiers declare selves ’sovereign citizens’; Governor shouldn’t fan the flames

The hits just keep on coming.

I’m not sure which is worse: incidents like these, in which we see an alleged “uptick” in Indiana residents who, in protest of Obamacare, have declared their homes “embassies” and themselves “sovereign citizens” (thus, exempt from paying taxes, and, presumably, from using paved roads) …

… or news stories that don’t qualify what an “uptick” actually means. Especially given the fact that, by the story’s own acknowledgment, “about 10 people every month ask the state to put a seal on a document so that they can claim freedom from taxes.”

Whether this is a trend or just media-driven wishful thinking, either way it’s getting pretty poisonous out there. The long, ugly road we’ve traveled to get meaningful health care reform seems only to have gotten uglier — even dangerous — given the derision, destruction and death threats we’ve seen materialize from the opposition.

The road, one fears, could be headed for the edge of a cliff.

But while congressional Republicans and Democrats attempt to outdo each other in political haymaking, citizens in my home state of Indiana, and their elected leaders, would do well not to fan the flames. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be happening.

Case in point is Governor Mitch Daniels’ recent announcement that he would immediately suspend enrollment in the state’s Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP). As reported by the Associated Press, as many as 40,000 Hoosiers are on the HIP waiting list, hoping for health care.

Even if the federal changes cost Indiana more, as Daniels fears (and indications are it won’t), we won’t really know for several years, when Obamacare is fully implemented. In the meantime, it’s hard not to interpret this as a scare tactic. It may be good politics for a governor contemplating the national stage for 2012. But it needlessly stokes the fire here at home by possibly denying coverage to those who need it.

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    Born and raised in Indianapolis, I've spent my adult life trying to understand where I came from by living in other places. I worked for the International Herald Tribune, in Paris, The New York Times and the Queens Chronicle, in New York, and I studied in Dublin. As a freelancer, I've written about books, cars and travel for those and other publications, including the San Francisco Chronicle, the Chicago Sun-Times and Publishers Weekly. I've reported from Dubai, Bahrain, the Philippines and Kentucky. Since October, I've lived in Los Angeles, with several month-long stints in Indianapolis mixed in for good measure. Somewhere along the road I got the Indiana state flag tattooed on my left arm.

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