The surprising defection from the conservative canon by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts in his ruling on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act (aka Obamacare) has infuriated opponents of that law, some of whom have petulantly promised to defy it.
Outside of the Supreme Court building and across the nation, devoted proponents of liberty and of limited government railed against the court’s decision to essentially uphold Obamacare. The bitterness of their legal defeat resonated in wide-ranging wailing, gnashing of teeth and oath swearing from conveniently conservative Mitt Romney and congenitally conservative Rush Limbaugh down to the whirling dervishes of the Tea Party mob.
To the extent that it derives from devotion to individual freedom, which is the keystone in the foundation of America, such passion and dedication to principle is admirable. The idea that the federal government, or any government, can dictate victimless individual choice and punish citizens who refuse to comply is tyranny, plain and simple.
And, for decades now, by severely stretching and contorting the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, the federal government has imposed its will far beyond intended constitutional limits. The various sophistries it has employed to do so would be laughable if the resulting erosion of balanced federalism and of personal liberty were not so deep. There is nothing humorous about being subject to imperial Washington with its putrescent Congress and increasingly imperious presidency.
But, of the many impositions by the feds over the states and citizens, health-care reform is not the most onerous. While most of us do not want to be enslaved by the benign intentions of the nanny state, neither do we want to be road kill on the freeway of capitalist health care. Among the most callous cannibals in our economic jungle are many of the health insurance companies. Death is a high price to pay for someone’s right to profit.
Nevertheless, government sponsored universal health insurance is inherently problematic if for no other reason than it can drain public treasuries. When government funding is available for anything, prices for that anything often rise dramatically. Notice the profligacy in defense spending where contractors routinely milk and bilk taxpayers.
And, there are always certain portions of the population that are irresponsible free-loaders. For instance, people who have children when they cannot afford to support them and then expect society to provide for them. And, people who persist in choosing known health risks like tobacco use, gluttony or jackass stunts, yet expect treatment for their resulting illness or injury to be paid by someone else.
Obamacare may not be the best solution to the health-care problem, but it’s where we will start to address it.
With Obamacare, the opponents of growing federal power chose a curious place to begin their vehement defense of liberty. Where were these fervent defenders of freedom when the federal government declared war on freedom of choice in drug use, or in travel? Why weren’t they marching in the streets when the overreaching Patriot Act was imposed on the nation? Do they believe that the trillions of dollars spent on dubious wars of presidential preference and the billions spent on subsidies to astronomically profitable private corporations are sound economic policy? And, talk about federal shackles attached to your personal life, how about the diabolically labyrinthine IRS tax code?
There are so many more pressing places to push back the federal beast, why the big fuss over Obamacare? Because, sad but true, many people are morons susceptible to propaganda from the political machines of the left and right; each wanting to control the federal beast for its own purposes, which too often is not the preservation of individual liberty.
Lately, the right has been most active in exploiting the adolescent intellects of the gullible wad. Like the Neanderthal, the Republican Party is an endangered political species becoming extinct because it cannot adapt to an inevitably changing environment. Desperate for a recruiting issue, it inflates innuendo and anecdotal data into universal truths with which to convince the public, especially the right-wing nuts, that President Barack Obama is some kind of socialist Satan who will deliver America to the dark side — Obamacare being alarming proof of his demonic plot.
Of course, the entreaty is that only the Republicans can save us, so be sure to vote Republican in the next election. Never mind that some of the most egregious assaults on personal freedom have been initiated by Republicans: the War on Drugs, the Patriot Act and continued attacks on women’s procreation rights.
While Obamacare is definitely federal expansionism, the only personal freedom it chafes is the choice not to buy health insurance without a tax penalty. So, you can still choose to allow others to pick up your doctor’s bills, but now you have to pay a penalty for that choice.