Sunday, March 28, 2010

Thanks, but No Thanks, Mr. Obama

I am an un-insured American. I guess I am supposed to be dancing in the streets today, what with this legislation about to be signed into law supposedly being on behalf of persons like myself. My near-sightedness, my sleep issues, my dental concerns—heck, even my bowel movements—have just been elevated to a subject worthy of federal legislation. And yet, somehow, I am decidedly not in a celebratory mood. Indeed, my feelings on the matter fall somewhere between “pissed off” and “re-secede from the Union.”

I know, I know, that’s extreme. But it’s an extreme action the President and the majority in Congress has taken. We’ll come back to that momentarily. But for now, I’ll establish why I am not feeling euphoric. Despite the fact that I am completely broke, and despite the fact that when I do get sick (which I recently was), it ends up involving debt and aggravation, I simply don’t want anything from government—federal, state, and local—other than for them to leave me the hell alone.

Most of the modern activities of government I have no desire whatsoever to participate in, much less to pay for, and, frankly, I resent the pretence that they are all carried out on my behalf. Bailing out the banks two years ago surely wasn’t for my benefit or yours; neither was that little scheme concerning weapons of mass destruction in Mesopotamia seven trips around sun ago. Why should government run healthcare be any different? Not to mention the blatantly obvious, but the bill just passed includes compulsory provisions that will fine the uninsured (like myself) if we don’t get coverage by such-and-such a date.

Dearly beloved, I am officially calling caca-del-torro on that provision. The company I work for offers decent plans, as I understand it, even for part-timers; but I let open-enrollment pass by without jumping on the bandwagon because I did not want additional money (such that it is, but that’s a separate subject) taken out of my check. Even for a good plan, it struck me as unaffordable with everything else that I am supposed to take care of (but sometimes can’t). Opting out was my choice. I made the intentional decision to bring home more money in lieu of insurance coverage. That is a textbook example of something economists call “cost-benefit analysis.”

At this stage my life, the cash is more immediately useful to me. Again, for emphasis, it was my choice. So this bill—this supposedly glorious, cure-all bill—would preemptively deny me the choice to sit it out and bring home the cash. The options available to me would be get coverage, or pay the stinking federal government a big fat fine—both of which, I suppose, I would have to pay for with funds magically created from sunshine and farts since my whole reason for not being covered is the fact that I can’t spare the extra money to begin with.

That being said, I’m just going to go ahead and say that I have no intention of getting any coverage whatsoever until I can actually afford it; and, I’ll go ahead and add this, since I’m broke as hell anyway, and I have no intention or ability to pay some jackass fine, I’m not going to pay it. It strikes me every bit as onerous and ridiculous as the old debtors prison system; I’m sure if I got locked up in Georgia, General Oglethorpe would be spinning in his grave across the pond.

There are provisions in that steaming-turd of a bill to allow the IRS to garnish wages to pay for coverage—and I suppose if I want to keep working, I can’t keep my company from hitting my paycheck. But you know, if you think it through, forcing any private individual or firm to collect taxes on behalf of government is tantamount to involuntary servitude. So much for the Thirteenth Amendment; but with the way sales and payroll taxes are collected, and with the draft last century, we’ve been ignoring the constitutional safeguards against having the will of others imposed upon our persons anyway.

Now, I could make a pretty strong constitutional case against this bill. It is federal usurpation on the grandest scale, a clear assumption of powers not delegated by the States or the people thereof to the central government, making it a swipe at the reserved powers of the States and the people. I could make that case, and I could easily go onward for many, many pages. But I won’t. Damn near every action of the federal government in the present day is some sort of blatant violation of the Ninth and Tenth amendments, so belaboring the point won’t serve much of a purpose. That and I think the moral argument in this case is stronger than the constitutional argument.

Your health is something that is fundamentally and basically yours. Your well-being belongs to you, and no one else, and if you are physically and mentally able and are no longer child, preserving it is your responsibility and no one else’s. That has everything to do with I quit smoking and drinking, and why I am trying to get the weight off—my own body is mine to take care of. Now, if some other entity, be it a company or a government, or even a spouse, takes control over how I take care of it (or don’t) I am no longer free regarding my own body. Now, to a wife, sure, I’d be willing to cede some of my autonomy. But see, that’s a voluntary partnership that is worlds apart from some bureaucrat telling me what treatments I can and can’t get at my age, or what doctors I can visit, etc. What I am stabbing at here is simple really: your health, being so basic to your existence in this life, is such that whoever controls your ability to maintain it effectively owns you.

I don’t know why that is so difficult to understand. I guess if you are comfortable with the idea of being owned, well, more power to you. I wish we could depart in peace. But that’s just it. No one can be allowed to opt out of participating and paying, because if that were a path open to any of us, who would remain in and pick up the tab?

Which comes to crux of the matter: Taxation comes with the implied threat of force. You are compelled to pay, and if you were to resist with a sufficient amount of, shall we say, chutzpah, the government, in claiming a monopoly on the use of force posits a right to kill you. So, therefore, we are seeing erected a healthcare system based not on the doctor patient relationship as in the days of old, or upon the damnable corporatist model presently existing, but upon the implied threat of force. The federal government will engage in banditry supposedly on behalf of the uninsured, and will serve as an engine of redistribution, and if you say “hell no” and fight back, they claim the right to pull the trigger in your direction.

Fine; perhaps such is unstoppable. That American healthcare would come to be based upon the implied threat of force should surprise no one, given that since at least the end of the War Between the States, the organizational principle of the federal government is the implied threat of force. But really, Mr. President, can you and your party spare us the pious rhetoric that pretends this is for the poor? We’re not as stupid as you and your predecessor in office think we are. We can look at this and ask the question “qui bono?” (who benefits?), and, as plain as the nose on my face, it can be shown, unequivocally, that the insurance and pharmaceutical industries supposedly to be punished by the measure are, in fact, poised to be its primary beneficiaries. If the government means to force everyone to get a coverage plan, and those plans are to be offered by these companies, then who the hell else could possibly stand to reap the windfall?

Additionally, in a sense, it’s to be a type of jobs bill as well, in all the new agents that will have to be hired for various agencies (including the pernicious IRS) to be employed in an enforcement capacity.

Now, examine if you will who owns the largest insurance companies, and who holds significant stakes in the pharmaceutical industry. GASP! Some of the same damn banks which were bailed out two years ago. Surprise! Could it be? Could it really be that some politicians would or could cynically use the issue of our health as a means to foist a system that would loop through the back door a continuing revenue stream to these same criminals?

Say it ain’t so!

While I agree with the sentiment, lawsuits in the federal courts aren’t going to do a bit of good, a fact arising from the sheer stupidity committed by an earlier generation of Americans who came to think it would be just a peachy idea for one branch of the federal government to be trusted with exclusively deciding the extent of the powers of said government.

The states and their ability in their organized capacity as bodies political to interpose between the individual citizens and unjust, unwarranted, and unconstitutional actions have been severely crippled. It’s time to resurrect that the old understanding of Sovereignty, that We, the People, are supposed to be ABSOLUTE RULERS of ALL OF OUR GOVERNMENTS, and as far as the federal government is concerned, that We, the People, in our organized capacity as THE STATES, are SOVEREIGN ABOVE IT. It was not meant to own us; we were not meant to serve it. It was designed to be a servant of the people and the States. In essence, I am suggesting, strongly, that it is time to rediscover the authentic and original, pre-Civil War conceptualization of federalism and popular sovereignty, and to invoke as vigorously as possible the principles enunciated in Mr. Jefferson’s Kentucky Resolution of 1798:

“Resolved, That the several States composing, the United States of America, are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their general government; but that, by a compact under the style and title of a Constitution for the United States, and of amendments thereto, they constituted a general government for special purposes — delegated to that government certain definite powers, reserving, each State to itself, the residuary mass of right to their own self-government; and that when-so-ever the general government assumes un-delegated powers, its acts are un-authoritative, void, and of no force: that to this compact each State acceded as a State, and is an integral part, its co-States forming, as to itself, the other party: that the government created by this compact was not made the exclusive or final judge of the extent of the powers delegated to itself; since that would have made its discretion, and not the Constitution, the measure of its powers; but that, as in all other cases of compact among powers having no common judge, each party has an equal right to judge for itself, as well of infractions as of the mode and measure of redress.”

Now, the fact that I assert that the time has come for nullification and interposition opens up a whole different can of worms. And I’ll answer that right out of the gate: States Rights arguments have been abused in the past relative to racial issues. I don’t deny that. It is sad and unfortunate, and I regret the fact that earlier generations couldn’t see the error in tangling sound, constitutional principles with unsound, immoral, and unjust assertions about race.

I couldn’t care a damn less about the race of the President. I heard Wanda Sykes the other evening state that the only reason anyone was opposing the plan is that President is black. Bull. Fiscal insanity is fiscal insanity, regardless of the color of the individual proposing it. And to tell the truth, when it was clear Ron Paul mathematically would not be able to take the Republican nomination, based strictly on his then asserted pledge to leave Iraq within a year (a promise already well-broken), I considered voting for the guy now in office (I didn’t vote for him, but I considered it). And, taking into account that Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi are equally as responsible for spearheading this bill through, and that they are whiter than I am, attempting to make a race issue out of this would be profoundly ignorant and remarkably silly.

I will go ahead and tie this shut by saying all I want to do is to live my life as peaceably as possible. I’d like to live it out as I see fit, earn enough to take care of myself, and, if I can ever find a woman who’ll put up with me, a wife a few kids. And I’d like to be able to do that without having to concern myself with whether or not some damn lying politician is going to hatch a big idea he or she wants me to help pay for, or which will leave my hypothetical children less free than they otherwise would have been. All the flag-waving, chest thumping, swaggering, and jawing about how we’re the greatest and freest country ever doesn’t and won’t change the fact that we’re not as free as we used to be or could be.

And we won’t be, so long as others presume to plan our lives one way or another for us.



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