I’ve been skimming through the 193 page Supreme Court decision [PDF] regarding the Affordable Healthcare Act and I must say, they’re right. The individual mandate is ruled constitutional through Congress’s power to tax, specifically the penalty fee that must be paid by those without a minimum level of health insurance is seen as a punishment for non-compliance with taxation. I haven’t had time to do a detailed read but I must also face the fact that the Constitution does grant Congress the power to tax, in fact it’s one of the most egregious powers granted to the federal government in the Constitution.
When you think about it this is really an affirmation of what has been done for ages. Every person in the United States is made to buy many things including aircraft carriers, nuclear missiles, Predator drones, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, monuments in Washington D.C., salaries for politicians, roads, armaments for federal agencies, etc. We’re forced to purchase these goods through federal taxes. If we’re forced to purchase aircraft carriers why can’t we be forced to purchase health insurance?
One of the problems with taxation, beyond the fact it’s a form of theft, is the fact it’s a mechanism to force individuals to do business with those they generally wouldn’t do business with. I have no use for a aircraft carriers or nuclear submarines so would have little reason to do business with Northrop Gruman, but through taxation I am forced to do business with them. How many people wanted to do business with Solyndra? Obviously not enough to keep the company afloat, yet we were all forced to do business with them through taxation. Taxation is another form of subsidy as it gives wealth to companies that would likely not obtain it through free markets.
In all honesty little has changed with this Supreme Court ruling. Let’s look at the Solyndra case for a moment. Solyndra obtained most of their funding through various government grants and a bailout. Congress could have funded Solyndra using a different mechanism, namely by forcing everybody to buy solar panels from Solyndra. It wouldn’t be terribly difficult to justify, Congress would merely have to write legislation that purported to advance self-sufficiency and renewable energy or as a mechanism to fight terrorism by decentralizing the power grid. The reason they didn’t do that is because people get upset when they are forced to buy something from a company but are generally complacent when it comes to paying taxes. In other words throwing a layer of obscurity between tax victims and receivers of tax money keeps the public happier. This Supreme Court ruling merely removed that layer of obscurity, which allows people to see where their tax money is going directly.
What has really changed with this ruling? Nothing. Congress and the Supreme Court have merely decided to flaunt their powers openly instead of from the shadows. Given time we’re all going to learn precisely how “free” we are in this country.