Tuesday, February 01, 2011

the Mandate

Inspired by Ezra Klein's usual indecisve musings.

I find the arguments regarding the mandate to be really quite odd. I'm liberal on most issues, but there are things about the arguments being used to justify that mandate that strike me as being quite wrong.

For example:
'This judge is a textbook case of judicial activism if I've ever seen one. The decision not to purchase health insurance is not an "inactive decision" at all. It's very much an active decision to not purchase insurance and it's one that threatens the national health care system and a paying member's premiums. Open and shut. Perfectly constitutional.'

No, it's not "an active decision" to not do something. You are standing common usage of language on its head. And I have no moral or constitutional obligation to buy insurance that I may or may not need solely to provide you with an economic benefit.

I find it amusing that such a large slice of the left have bought into the framing of this issue presented to us by Obama and the insurance companies.

"And you know what? If you don't want to buy the insurance, then you pay the tax. Sounds like a perfectly reasonable consequence for driving up my premium."

Again, boo-hoo. The relationship between you and your insurance carrier is your own business and not my concern.

The government is mandating that I participate in an industry that I may or may not want to support. There are many sound reasons why I might prefer to avoid health insurance. If I were independently wealthy, I wouldn't dream of wasting my money on insurance. On the flip side, if I have severe economic difficulties, health insurance might rationally be a cost I want to avoid.

In any case, what's happening here is that a private industry is calling upon the power of Congress and the Federal government to provide it with an increase in its customer base. What next? What industry will next convince the nation that it should be able to use the power of the government to gather in more customers?

And sadly, too many of the arguments about health care reform focus entirely on whether the person making the argument thinks that the mandate is a good idea, with absolutely no regard as to whether it's sensible to argue whether the law is actually _Constitutional_. I can think of all sorts of good laws that are not actually Constitutional.

The problem is that the Interstate Commerce Clause has been stretched far beyond its original intent. It's been abused in the past for purposes such as supporting a Federal ban on marijuana.

A mandate that I be forced to purchase a product from a private entity truly represents a new infringement on my liberty. People really need to think this through, in terms of the expansion of government power.