Obamacare & Individual Mandate

I’m libertarian about society, communist about the environment, and intellectually intrigued by the large middle ground. Government-mandated health insurance is not in the middle ground; it has nothing to do with the environment. So, as a matter of principle, I oppose it. Of course, by that same principle, I oppose public education. I wonder why all the protestors denouncing the Affordable Care Act as socialism aren’t also screaming at first-graders attending public school.

To continue this theme of consistency in our society: There is nothing unprecedented about the government forcing people to buy something. Every act of income taxation is an example. Unless people are free to choose not to have income, it is nonsense to argue that taxing income and then buying stuff with it is not forcing people to buy stuff.

So, the Supreme Court’s comparison of the individual mandate to forcing people to buy broccoli is dumb. The government does, in fact, force people to buy broccoli: It forces them to pay taxes on the process of earning a living, and then it spends some of that tax revenue on school and military lunches, some of which undoubtedly include broccoli.

The comparison is also dumb because the government forces hospitals to provide emergency room services, regardless of an ability to pay. It doesn’t force grocery stores to hand out free food, regardless of an ability to pay.

There are certainly ways that the individual mandate fails to make sense. Most of its advocates are prone to saying that healthcare is a fundamental human right. Well, a fundamental right is, by definition, something it’s wrong to make you pay for. You don’t have to pay the government for a speedy trial, or to exercise free speech, or to avoid cruel and unusual punishment. So, if healthcare is a right, why are liberals trying to make us pay for it?

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One Response to “Obamacare & Individual Mandate”

  1. Tony Guo Says:

    “You don’t have to pay the government for a speedy trial, or to exercise free speech, or to avoid cruel and unusual punishment.”

    Pretty sure the government forces you to pay for those things, just like it does for broccoli, like you said.

    Difference is you pay the government first, then it spends the money on courts, police, and societal upkeep. This power is enumerated by the taxation and spending clauses in our Constitution.

    With the individual mandate, the government is affirmatively compelling you to do something (something the courts said the federal government cannot do to individual states under separation of powers, but it can indirectly do so by withholding federal funds).

    It seems like a mere technicality, and if the end result is the same, it would be better to avoid the whole taxation->spending loop–more efficient.

    But what if the government decided to, instead of taxing you to repair roads, to pass legislation of an individual mandate compelling every able-bodied person to go out and build the roads themselves?

    They won’t of course (unless it’s a matter of national security–war conscription), but there is a difference, between indirect taxation and individual mandates. Forcing you to buy broccoli is different than taxing you then deciding to buy broccoli.

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