The principles that rule this blog

Principles that will govern my thoughts as I express them here (from my opening statement):

  • Freedom of the individual should be as total as possible, limited only by the fact that nobody should be free to cause physical injury to another, or to deprive another person of his freedoms.
  • Government is necessary primarily to provide those services that private enterprise won't, or won't at a price that people can afford.
  • No person has a right to have his own beliefs on religious, moral, political, or other controversial issues imposed on others who do not share those beliefs.

I believe that Abraham Lincoln expressed it very well:

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do, at all, or cannot
so well do, for themselves — in their separate, individual capacities.”

Comments will be invited, and I will attempt to reply to any comments that are offered in a serious and non-abusive manner. However, I will not tolerate abusive or profane language (my reasoning is that this is my blog, and so I can control it; I wouldn't interfere with your using such language on your own!)

If anyone finds an opinion that I express to be contrary to my principles, they are welcome to point this out. I hope that I can make a rational case for my comments. Because, in fact, one label I'll happily accept is rationalist.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Even more thoughts on the health care decision

Some conservative bloggers/columnists are assailing Chief Justice John Roberts as a “traitor to the conservative cause.” Others consider it a brilliant gambit, ranking with Marbury v. Madison, where Chief Justice John Marshall gave President Thomas Jefferson a short-term victory in exchange for vastly increasing everyone's willingness to concede important powers to the Supreme Court. I don't think either group is correct — but the second is closer to the truth. For it is certainly true thatPresident Barack Obama got a short-term victory, but in the long term it helps those of us who might have preferred Chief Justice Roberts to have joined Justices Alito, Kennedy, Scalia, and Thomas in striking down the bill. It's true that I would have preferred a decision to strike the bill down, but this decision — especially the way it was worded — is, on balance, a victory for a more conservative approach.

First of all, this decision made it clear that the Commerce Clause has limits. It may not be used to regulate inactivity. This is exactly what the people challenging the “Obamacare” mandate were trying to have the Court say. This part of the decision is a big victory for constitutionalism.

Second, although it validated the mandate under the “lay and collect taxes” clause, it does not — as some conservatives tried to make it the case — mean that Congress can compel you to do anything at all by simply levying a tax on all people who do not do so. If you read the decision, it passed muster by levying a tax so small that anyone who does not want to buy an approved health insurance policy still comes out ahead, comparing the amount of the tax/penalty to the cost of a typical policy. It is quite clear that Chief Justice Roberts might have ruled differently if the amount of the tax/penalty were such that it were a real compulsion.

Thirdly, as some people have posted, it makes the election of Mitt Romney in this November's vote more likely. President Obama cannot run against the Supreme Court — it gave him a pass on “Obamacare.” He cannot say he has not raised taxes on the middle class — claiming it was not a tax won't wash, because the Supreme Court has said that the only reason it is constitutional is that it is a tax — whatever the President says. And since the Court has given notice that it is a constitutional exercise of the power granted to elected officials under Article I, Section 8, the only way to kill Obamacare — which is what the majority of Americans want — is to elect a President and Congress that will vote to repeal it, and in the case of the President, that means Mitt Romney.

No, it's not the decision I had wanted to see. But on balance, it produced more good than harm.

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