Good News for the Health Care Resistance Front

Amid the orgy of insanity sweeping the country, we sometimes see a glimmer of sense coming from our government. In this case, it is the judicial branch that has slapped Big Government upside the noggin. Kudos.

The cause for a moment of celebration in the long battle against the Leviathan comes in the form of another court decision against Obamacare. The judges’ reasoning echoed what many of us have wondered for some time. Is there still a limit to the reach of government under our Constitution?

In this decision, both a Democratic and a Republican-appointed judge ruled the individual mandate unconstitutional. This almost ensures that the case will reach the Supreme Court, possibly during the 2012 election cycle.

At issue is the range of the Commerce Clause. The Founders surely never envisioned that this seemingly benign element of governance would leave the door open for so many thieves. Historically, the clause has been used to regulate everything from a farmer growing his own wheat to medical marijuana, along with its legitimate purpose–to regulate interstate commerce.

The gist of the Obamacare issue is whether the Federal Government can force an individual to purchase insurance in virtue of the fact that they exist. In other words, there is no pretense that the mandate regulates commerce. It regulates thought. Supporters have argued that (stay with me here) one’s decision not to purchase something may be regulated under the Commerce Clause. Let me set this up as a logical argument for clarity:

I do not want to purchase health insurance
Not wanting to purchase health insurance is an act of interstate commerce
Congress may regulate acts of interstate commerce
Congress wants me to have health insurance
Therefore, I must purchase health insurance

My recently departed logic professor is spinning in his grave right now. Even if I were in favor of Obamacare, which I am decidedly not, I would have to wonder to what other things I might be agreeing if I support this bill. For example, try on the following:

I do not want to purchase a gun
Not wanting to purchase a gun is an act of interstate commerce
Congress may regulate acts of interstate commerce
Congress wants me to own a gun
Therefore, I must purchase a gun

Silly? Well, yes, but it can surely be reasoned that gun ownership would reduce crime and that guns (and thieves) often traverse state lines. Forcing everyone to own a gun would reduce the costs associated with law enforcement.

All this hullabaloo really gets to the heart of what is wrong with our current notions of governance. First, we have come to believe that any perceived injustice or lack among our citizens must be addressed by government. Second, we have abandoned (or at least some of us have abandoned) any pretense that the individual reigns supreme in deciding how to live his/her life. Forcing individuals to participate in any scheme like Obamacare is wrong. It is doubly wrong in virtue of Congress’s farcical assumptions about its effect on our health care system and our economy in general. If upheld, it will do little except hasten the collapse of our economy. See how sick people fare then.

There is hope, given this and other decisions on the law, that Obamacare will not survive. Let us hope it dies quickly so we can all get on with the business of curing the rest of our ailing health care system.




About Terry Noel

I am an Associate Professor of Management and Quantitative Methods at Illinois State University. My specialty is entrepreneurship.
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