Thursday, June 28, 2012

Not proud to be an American

Officially, I'm still on blog break, but I didn't want to skip commenting on today's Obamacare ruling.

Just about everybody knows the Lee Greenwood song, Proud To Be An American. The refrain's lyrics say this: "And I’m proud to be an American,/where at least I know I’m free...."

Well, if "freedom" now means that the interstate commerce clause of the Constitution of the United States (or, rather, Congress's right to tax us apparently with no limits) can be interpreted to mean that the Federal Government has the right to force individual Americans to purchase a consumer product (or face a heavy, heavy tax for failing to do so), then we're still free, and can still be proud. Otherwise? Not so much.

What do you think our founding fathers would have thought of the idea that freedom means being forced to buy something (or face a huge tax as a consequence of failure to do so)? Oh, I know the argument: health insurance isn't just "something." It's not a normal consumer product, like toothpaste or ice cream, but a super-duper special consumer product that only works if everybody has to buy it. Kind of like when the Mob wants every small business on a block or street to buy "protection;" protection's not guaranteed so long as the Vietnamese noodle shop in the middle of the block refuses to pay. It's all or nothing.

In his famous Gettysburg Address, President Abraham Lincoln said these words:
...It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom— and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
Mr. Lincoln, government of the people, by the people, for the people did not go out with a bang in a battle of that Civil War--it went out with a whimper in the wretched chambers of the Supreme Court, still reeking and putrid with the blood of fifty million dead American children who perished at the hands of pusillanimous and craven judges, the fitting predecessors of today's ignoble body. Not only does Obamacare make us all accomplices in similar murders yet to come, but it solidifies the principle that America has become and will forever be a government of the Ruling Class, by the Ruling Class, and for the Ruling Class--because it was the Ruling Class, alarmed that their stock options were being dragged downward by health care costs, who went to their lackeys in the government and demanded that a way be found to force middle-class and working Americans to pay for the care of those who cannot or will not pay for themselves, lest the billionaires and multimillionaires be forced to forego some of their exquisite pleasures and pay a tad more to help the poor, whose jobs they have colluded in sending to China.

No, I'm not proud to be an American today. Who can be proud of serfdom? Is there any other name suitable to give a system in which we must bend in one direction to let the government rifle through our wallets (oh, but it's just taxation, and we even have representation to show for it!) and then the other to pay more at the doctor's office for care we've been paying for all along?

And as a Catholic American, I'm worried. If the interstate commerce clause (sorry; taxing authority of Congress) gives the Feds the right to force us to pay for things, then I have an uneasy feeling this Court will decide that the principle of religious freedom outlined in the Bill of Rights only means that the State should be free of religious people and their bothersome consciences, and order--in the name of religious liberty, of course--the Catholic Church to pay for the hellish birth control the Ruling Class wants the masses to take, lest they grow too much in size to be manageable.

Let's face it. Expecting the Supreme Court of the United States of America to rule on principles backed by the Constitution is a vain hope in an era where decisions like this one are clearly drawn from ideas emanating from the penumbras of the Court's collective posteriors.

UPDATE: Just to clarify, yes, I realize that the Court pretended that the commerce clause had nothing to do with this and that it's Congress's power to tax that makes this thing legal. However, since that argument means that Congress apparently has the power to tax economic inactivity, that is, the failure to purchase something, I fail to see how commerce is not involved.

UPDATE 2: To make it even clearer, I'm amending the original post, with amendments in red so latecomers can see them.


bearing said...

It's not the commerce clause. The justices specifically rejected that argument, as well as the argument under the necessary and proper clause. The mandate is upheld under the taxing power only.

This is, actually, a difference with a distinction.

Red Cardigan said...

Yes, the justices did decide that it was Congress' taxing power that worked here. But the reason I wrote what I did is that we all know that the commerce clause was used as the justification for the individual mandate in the first place.

And how can you be taxed for failing to purchase something? Commerce ends up being involved, no matter what legal fictions are imposed.

I appreciate your comment, though, bearing--you're right about what the court said it was basing its ruling on. I wonder if I can be taxed under Obamacare for failing to purchase whole-grain bread, now?

bearing said...

There is some analysis here that may help:

I am not any happier than you about the outcome. But reading over the decision regarding the mandate, I am not convinced that it is a crazy decision out of nowhere. The Feds have had the power to use taxation to coerce people for a very long time, like it or not; it is politically not without cost to do so, and that will constrain Congress somewhat (now no one can pretend that this is not a tax).

Had it stood under the Commerce clause, we would really be looking at uncharted territory. This really is a difference -- different enough that I feel the entire direction of your post is incorrect. It is actually quite important that the decision was not upholding the administration's primary argument, nor even its backup argument, but it's backup backup argument -- the one that only stands if they were, you know, misrepresenting it.

Red Cardigan said...

Bearing, I think we may have to agree to disagree, here, but there are two things driving my opinion:

1. The Administration has insisted, loudly and vocally and sometimes rather rudely, that the mandate is not a tax. Now, all of a sudden, the Court's job is to instruct them that, well, actually, it is, and here's how it works, etc.? I'm not the only person who finds this extraordinarily lame.

2. Congress does indeed have the power to tax all sorts of things. But it's not an unlimited power. If one person can show me one strong precedent demonstrating that the Congressional branch of the Federal Government of the United States of America has the clear and indisputable right to levy a tax on individual American citizens for FAILING TO PURCHASE something, I'll cheerfully admit that continuing to cast this as a "stealth" interstate commerce mandate is misguided.

Red Cardigan said...

Bearing, I've amended the original post with comments in red. My main point, that this decision makes serfs of us, doesn't change at all by calling a huge fine levied on people who fail to purchase something a "tax."

Tony said...

Erin said: lest the billionaires and multimillionaires be forced to forego some of their exquisite pleasures and pay a tad more to help the poor, whose jobs they have colluded in sending to China.

I really have to take exception to this on so many levels. You are bemoaning the fact that congress is taxing the crap out of the middle class with Obamacare and not taxing the rich. So it's okay with you to steal their money as long as they don't steal yours.

The reason that jobs are being sent to China is because of the war on these businesses from "progressive" politicians. If they would eliminate all but common sense regulations and lower the taxes and operating costs to hire an American, they wouldn't have to go to China.

Catholic social justice contains the doctrine of "subsidiarity" that many "progressives" seem to ignore. This means that the lowest and closest to the people entity that can solve a problem is supposed to do so.

The Constitution does not allow the Feds to have programs like Medicare, Medicaid, EPA, FDA, etc.

The camel has had his nose under the tent flap for a long time, and now you're ticked because he bit your toe. We have to slap him on the nose and that will happen in November, God willing.

Red Cardigan said...

No, Tony, I'm not saying Congress should tax the rich to pay for health care. I'm saying that the rich have charitable obligations, and many of them either make token gestures or think that their contribution to health care is satisfied if they buy condoms for third-world countries, under the "Just enough of me, way too many of you" theory.

And I'm sorry, but the reason manufacturing jobs have left this country is not because the poor, poor multimillionaires just can't afford to operate in nations where businesses can't deny their employees health coverage or other benefits and make them work 12-18 hours a day (to say nothing of ignoring safety, health, and environmental violations). The Catholic Church was an early supporter of unions, remember.

Anonymous said...

Justice Roberts remark that the Court is not responsible for a political decision by the people is well taken. We made a serious mistake in 2008. We must all get to work to fix it. This administration and Congress MUST NOT stand.

My mother always told me that God helps those who help themselves. We need to be active in this election.