The surprising defection from the conservative canon by Chief Justice John Roberts on the constitutionality of the Affordable Health Care Act — aka Obamacare — has infuriated opponents, some of whom have petulantly promised to defy it.
Devoted proponents of liberty and of limited government railed against the court’s decision to uphold Obamacare. The bitterness of their legal defeat resonated in wide-ranging gnashing of teeth and oath-swearing from conveniently conservative Mitt Romney and congenitally conservative Rush Limbaugh.
Such passion and dedication to principle is admirable. The idea that any government can dictate victimless individual choice and punish citizens who refuse to comply is tyranny, plain and simple.
For decades, 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 roadkill 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 thing often rise dramatically. Notice the profligacy in defense spending where contractors routinely bilk taxpayers.
Obamacare may not be the best solution to the health care problem, but it’s where we will start to address it.
With Obamacare, opponents of growing federal power chose a curious place to begin their vehement defense of liberty. Where were these defenders of freedom when the federal government declared war on freedom of choice in drug use or travel? Why weren’t they marching in the streets when the over-reaching 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, 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 many people are morons, susceptible to propaganda from the political machines of the left and right.
Lately, the right has been most active in exploiting adolescent intellects. Like the Neanderthal, the Republican Party is an endangered political species becoming extinct because it cannot adapt to a changing environment. Desperate for a recruiting issue, it inflates innuendo and anecdotal data into universal truths to convince the public, especially the right-wing nuts, that Obama is some kind of socialist Satan who will deliver America to the dark side, Obamacare being proof of his demonic plot.
Of course, the entreaty is that only 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, Patriot Act and continued attacks on women’s procreation rights.
While Obamacare is 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 bills, but now you have to pay a penalty for that choice.
Santa Barbara County resident Randy Alcorn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.