Court Challenges to Obama’s Health Care Program

18:26 Tue 01 Feb 2011
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I like the idea of public health care; in fact I think health care is one of the legitimate uses to which the state apparatus can be put. That being said, I consider Obama’s proposal to be a mockery of real public healthcare, and I find it reprehensible both in theory and in implementation. On top of that, in the context of American politics in particular, it’s also governmental overreach, and today’s court decision seems entirely reasonable to me:

If Congress can penalize a passive individual for failing to engage in commerce, the enumeration of powers in the Constitution would have been in vain.

That seems quite evidently true regardless of what one thinks of the Constitution’s relevance (or of the proposition that the Constitution’s enumeration of powers has been in vain).

I’m not even necessarily in disgreement with the argument that health care and health insurance are special cases that require society-wide buy-in, without the possibility of opting out, in order that costs can be effectively shared and managed. But, in the American context, the right way to do that is to tax the entire population and provide health care directly (with a lot of democratic oversight). The right way is definitely not to force individuals to buy health insurance from private providers against their will.

In any case, whatever your views on health care and corporate welfare, the whole point of a Constitution is to limit the powers of government. Granted, the US Constitution has been hugely diminished by government-friendly precedents over the centuries, but some limits haven’t yet been eroded, and despite its history the Commerce Clause isn’t quite yawning enough to let the federal government force individuals to directly subsidize health insurance congomerates.

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