A dear friend wondered aloud on his Facebook page recently why so many of us are upset by the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling on the constitutionality of most of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), including the individual mandate. I don’t have the heart to respond. I suppose our political worlds are just too far apart.
Political disagreement doesn’t bother me in any philosophic or personal sense. It is in the nature of our existence as humans that we’re going to disagree about what makes life good, and about morality in general, and about the forms of government to which we ascent. I truly do understand that.
On the other hand, we citizens of the United States have a form of federal government that is already in place. We can argue and debate many things, but one thing seems clear to me and it seems so clear as to be beyond debate: the only way the Founders were able to get sovereign states to sign on to the compact known as the US Constitution was by guaranteeing that their sovereignty and the rights of their particular people would be respected. So, while I’m not upset that people disagree about government and its purposes, I’m terribly distraught and at this point quite frightened and somewhat disillusioned that so many fail to understand the context, purpose, and intent of the Constitution. But even worse: I’m startled and disturbed by the manner in which the Constitution is ignored or misrepresented by most of those in the federal halls of power–now including the Supreme Court. They appear to think that the mere passage of time has invalidated the limits placed upon the federal government.
As is well known at this point, it was the vote of Chief Justice John Roberts that brought victory for the individual mandate since the court was otherwise split on the matter. It now appears that in the Court’s deliberations, Roberts originally found the mandate to be unconstitutional. He agreed on this matter with Alito, Kennedy, Thomas, and Scalia. But when they insisted that the unconstitutional mandate required the striking of the entire law, Roberts switched sides and upheld it in order to preserve the law itself. According to the online Insurance Journal, he did this because of “a traditional Supreme Court principle that if the justices can find any constitutional grounds on which to uphold a law, they should do so.”
On that slim argument the Chief Justice of the United States gave the upper hand to an overreaching Congress and President against the liberties of the nation’s citizens.
Finding a reason to preserve a challenged law that has come before it is, constitutionally speaking and without a shade of doubt, NOT the job of the Supreme Court. The job of that court is to judge the constitutionality of the law before it. Or, as the Supreme Court said in its decision, “whether the Constitution grants Congress the powers it now asserts.” One wonders how it can genuinely fulfill this self-stated responsibility while simultaneously attempting to uphold the matter being judged. Would this qualify as schizophrenic jurisprudence?
If you find my argument less than convincing, imagine how such a lack of objectivity would function in any other court in the land. Imagine if a judge or jury, supposedly disinterested and unbiased in order to guarantee a fair trial, were to decide that their job is to find a way to put you in jail no matter what the facts are. See my point?
Whatever happens next with regard to Obamacare, so-called progressives will not rest until the United States has a centralized single-payer system administered by the federal government. That was the goal of the Affordable Care Act and it remains the purpose toward which its implementation is moving us. Federal regulations on insurers, limitations on insurance contracts and provisions, and even changes to the military insurance program (TRICARE) are designed with this end in sight.
Here are a few things we can look forward to if Obamacare if not overturned and if we continue moving toward a single-payer system as we are doing now. My predictions aren’t the product of gazing into a crystal ball, but come simply from studying the record of government involvement in other issues of our lives, and from looking at similar programs in other welfare nations.
First, the goal is that private insurance and private medical arrangments–even if paid for by one’s own personal funds–will be illegal, and will result in severe penalties. Waiting times will increase dramatically and the wealthy among us will simply go to other countries for the medical procedures they need. The United States will no longer be the country where the wealthy of other countries come for surgery unless they are able to take advantage of my second prediction.
What is my second prediction? That’s easy: our elected officials will have access to better and quicker healthcare than the constituents they supposedly represent. You can count on that. No matter what happens, they’ll see that they get the best for themselves and their loved ones. That’s one of the perks to being among the political elite.
Third, the entire plan will cost far more than anyone has even begun to suggest. The process to realizing this has already begun.
Fourth, in an attempt to control costs, the federal government is going to insist on massive new intrusions into our personal lives. By federal law, our health records are already being maintained electronically. And progressives in some states and cities are already putting intrusive food-related measures into place. We can expect all sorts of new regulations and limitations on any substances considered unhealthy: alcohol, edible fats, salt, types of carbohydrates, sizes of food containers, and an eventual absolute ban on tobacco.
I can easily imagine that, under a nationalized healthcare system, we’ll be forced to undergo certain medical tests to ensure that we are complying with the law. Simple blood tests will be the espionage system that gives the truth of our activities to the government (in other words, our bodies will be tattling on us to government representatives who will then take the necessary measures to punish us through taxation or worse). I can already imagine the conversations between doctors and patients.
Doctor: “Mr. Smith, I thought you told me you quit smoking six months ago. Your blood test says otherwise.”
Patient: “Well, doc, I tried. I stopped for a week or two but the habit was too strong. I went back to smoking … but hey, I was able to cut back to only half a pack a day.”
Doctor: “Nonetheless, you realize that the law requires me to report this fact to the national health agency. Otherwise I’ll lose my medical license.”
Patient: “No, wait … please, doc, I can’t afford another increase in my taxes … they’re getting outrageous. Ever since my cholesterol went up and you told the feds about it my health-related government fees are eating me alive. My family and I are looking to sell our house and get a smaller one just so we have more money to send the government for cover our lifestyle fees.”
(By the way, if the part about downsizing a home in order to have more money to give to government sounds ridiculous, then you need to take note of the rising number of retired elderly people who are selling their homes because they can’t afford the property taxes.)
For now the part about government “lifestyle fees” is just a horror story. But before now who would have thought that the highest court in the land would say that it’s ok for the feds to force us to buy something under penalty of law? Justice Roberts says it’s just a tax. I feel better already. After all, we have massive taxation on cigarettes. Let’s tax the heck out of butter, whole milk, and cooking oils. While we’re at it we can impose a targeted federal tax on all fried foods and all caffeinated beverages the same as we’re targeting a federal tax already on tanning salons. All of this stuff is just not good for you.
I guess there is no need to worry about this anytime soon. When the economy collapses we’ll all be getting skinny one way or the other. I note that the latest reports from Europe state that unemployment in EU nations is higher than it’s ever been before and the entire continent is racing toward recession. There’s nothing to worry about, I’m sure–except that our federal government seems to be emulating EU economic, financial, and regulatory policies. I’m sure economic collapse will never happen here. After all, our Constitution and our Supreme Court will protect the liberties that would prevent such a thing in this country.
How many of us still believe that fairy tale?