Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Sacred Right of Purchase

People can be and routinely are compelled to purchase things by government, but the voluntary nature of that purchase is preserved by tying the obligation to such things as owning or operating cars. Meaning that the purchase remains avoidable—if you are willing to do without a car. The compeller is the government, the seller, however, is an insurance company. This is not the case when we pay for a driver’s license or a passport—provided we want to drive or travel out of the country. In those cases the government sells us the goodies. There are slight differences present here.

Those of us old enough also paid for our Medicare—which is, in effect, health insurance—but here again the slight difference is vitally important—we didn’t buy it. We just paid taxes. And while it is our sacred right (seemingly) to purchase or not to purchase as we choose, it is the government’s sacred right to tax us—and we cannot refuse unless government-provided loopholes allow us convenient escapes.

Forcing people to purchase health insurance? Good Heavens, Shriek, Cackle. The heavens will fall in. Some truths are self-evident, among these equality in creation, and unalienable rights, among these life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and the sacred right to purchase or not to purchase as we choose.

How will the Supreme Court rule on Thursday? Will they uphold that sacred right? Probably. Would the health care bill have passed if it had imposed the cost of universal coverage as a tax? Probably not. My own view of that legislation has been negative all along (as documented on here and on the old LaMarotte) because it was a compromise. I wanted a much stronger law, entirely run by government. Congress imposed an indirect tax, in the form of a mandate to purchase, to keep the health insurance industry hale while escaping the charge that it was raising taxes. This law has been called “landmark.” It was nothing of the sort. Its crumbling began long before it passed—when its actual funding was turned into a finesse.

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