I am not a lawyer and have no specialized understanding of legal matters. I am, however, worried about the impact of the healthcare mandate on me and my family, and I’m pretty well-read on the subject. Despite what the media cheerleaders and supporters in the blogosphere say, the mandate was always the fertile ground for the fight, based on exactly this sentiment articulated by Judge Vinson:
“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.”
This is the first time the federal government has ever enacted a law that penalized inaction, outside of Civil Rights laws that pertain particularly to human dignity and freedom. The mandate does not address this as a civil rights or even a human rights issue; it merely says that nearly every American will be the financial captive of some private insurance entity or another. That is a huge shift, the idea that passivity can lead to penalty. Our whole system is predicated on the notion that you have to do something to find yourself in illegal waters.
Per the NYT:
The plaintiffs in the Florida case characterized the insurance requirement as an unprecedented attempt to regulate inactivity because citizens would be assessed an income tax penalty for failing to purchase a product. Their lawyers argued that there effectively would be no limits on federal authority, and raised the specter of government-mandated gym memberships and broccoli consumption.
Laugh if you must, but the insurance mandate really is no different than a gym membership mandate. If this law stands in its current form, what’s to say that a funereal policy, for example, isn’t next? After all, it’s perfectly reasonable to expect people to plan to do away with their own bodies after they die and to pay for it in advance. We all know we’re going to die. That would alleviate the burden of all those spontaneous deaths on poor families who didn’t plan for it and all those local crematoriums that have to do the unpleasant business of cremating the homeless and indigent. Best of all, we can pass it with the support and action of people who can already afford to pay for their own funeral services and burial plot, so they’ll totally understand!
That’s basically the sum of the government’s point of view, as demonstrated by its arguments. ‘Cause, like, not buying a burial plot is a kind of action! Continue reading