aefenglommung (aefenglommung) wrote,

Calling things by their right names

At the core of the legal battles over Obamacare is the concept of the police power of the state. In American legal theory, the several States have virtually unlimited power to interfere with private conduct for the public good -- except where they are restrained from doing so, by, e.g., the State or federal Constitution. On the other hand, the federal government has only minimal power to interfere with private conduct for the public good -- except where it is specifically granted such power by the U.S. Constitution. An example of this is the area of law governing bankruptcies. The power to make laws concerning bankruptcy is specifically granted to Congress by the U.S. Constitution, and that therefore restrains the States from making laws in this area.

So, Massachusetts' health care law has an individual mandate. You may like that or not, but the courts have so far held that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts can make people buy insurance at its direction as an expression of the police power of the state. If the people object, they can elect a new legislature, which can repeal or modify the law. On the other hand, the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution does not extend so far as to empower Congress to interfere with Americans' private conduct to that extent. So, the individual mandate in Obamacare has been ruled unconstitutional by two different federal judges; the latest has gone so far as to say that without this component, the entire law is void.

I commented on a friend's FB that I thought Obamacare was "tyranny." I still believe that. I was slimed in return by some progressive whose method of disagreement was basically to call me a liar while criticizing my intemperate speech. But when the government infringes upon our liberty, that is the textbook definition of tyranny. It doesn't matter if you agree with the goals of the law*, if it attempts to regulate our conduct without warrant, then it is tyranny.

We rebelled against George III for less. What could the Stamp Act hurt, after all? Supporters of the Crown in the 1760s and '70s (including John Wesley) constantly pointed out that the goals of the British government were benign, spreading the costs to provide important benefits. Why were all these colonists so upset about paying taxes in return for government services? Why care about voting? Englishmen paid taxes and most of them couldn't vote -- what's the big deal?

Well, we thought it was a very big deal then, and it's a big deal now.

*For the record, I don't know of anyone, conservative or liberal, who doesn't want our health care system reformed and poor people assisted. Republican ideas on how to do that were overridden in the last Congress in order to pass the worst possible, most intrusive, gawdawfullest expensive bill into law.


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