Religious freedom and alternative medicine have been placed in the cross hairs of the Federal government, and weapon of choice is so-called health-care reform. This most recent plot to criminalize people who mind their own business floated to the surface earlier this month with a bill proposed by Senator Max Baucus which would include a fine for those who refused to purchase health insurance.
My first thought was that Bacchus had a bit too much wine and the plan would sink. For one thing, Obama had opposed such fines. Without presidential support or enough support in Congress such a bill would be dead in the water. But no! In a true-to-form flip-flop our President has decided that fining people who have previously been law-abiding citizens is OK.
This is wrong on so many levels, that it is hard to know where to begin. Fines are customarily imposed to punish people for actions, not inactions. Even the “inaction” of not stopping at a stop sign is a type of action. I am actively driving a deadly machine. By choosing a course of action that has intrinsic hazards, I am accepting the responsibility to do it in a manner that does not endanger others. One can call “failure to stop” an inaction, but driving through an intersection and endangering my neighbors is an action. This stands in stark contrast to the action of existing. Simply being alive without buying health insurance is to be an infraction.
The precedence of this abomination is profound. The only equivalent, in my memory, was when involuntary servitude was sanctioned by the Federal Government in the form of the draft. Now we slip down the slippery slope into a realm where civilians can be penalized for not obeying specific orders from their commander-in-chief. At least the advocates of the draft could claim an exception on the basis that the President had the right to raise an army (an argument that I find insufficient), but no Constitutional sanction is sought after here. After ignoring the Tenth and Ninth Amendments for decades, the politicians arrogantly think the public will comply when they say BOHICA, and I fear they may be right.
In addition to fining people who would rather mind their own business than follow orders, this law would force people to become customers of an industry, rather than have that industry reach out to them in the free market. Soon every industry will have it’s lobbyists on Capital Hill asking that people be required to purchase their over-priced products, or face penalties. Never before has our government forced people to buy an expensive product as a requirement for existing. In a sense we are to be fined for the crime of being born. Our sentence is to buy an insurance policy or pay a fine. I have not yet read about the penalty for rejecting both options. If the fine is taken by force, it will violate the Constitutional prohibition on confiscating personal property without reasonable compensation.
Obama has made a fallacious comparison of coerced health insurance purchases to the requirement that drivers buy auto insurance. First of all, auto insurance is imposed by the states, not by the Federal government so there are no ninth or tenth amendment issues so long as the feds stay out of it. Second of all, states have consistently enforced a number of controls on drivers (including the requirement that one carries a license) under the claim that driving is a privilege rather than a right. There are reasonable objections to this claim, but so long as it stands, one cannot use it as precedence for coerced health insurance purchases. So far, existence has been regarded as a right rather than a privilege; perhaps the plan will change that distinction as well. Finally, I could discontinue my auto insurance immediately, and I would never get a fine for being without it, that is until I got caught driving without it (which would be an action not an inaction).
This idea is also offensive on the level of common decency. Many people want to be insured but can’t afford it, or are simply rejected by the insurance companies regardless of ability to pay. I suspect this is where the “public option” comes in. The idea of prodding people into it, with the threat of a fine, smacks of blaming and punishing the victim.
Others may be able to afford the health care that works for them, but not be able to afford buying insurance that doesn’t cover what they need. A poor person who has been helped by chiropractory, homeopathic-medicine, herbology or acupuncture may be forced to chose between becoming sick and buying insurance he or she doesn’t use, or becoming a fugitive.
Of all the reasons this is a bad idea, one lights the fire in my belly more than any other. What about people who reject health insurance for religious reasons? I know it may seem rather cute to bring up that desecrated piece of parchment again, but there is supposedly such a thing as freedom of religion in this country. While I have no religious objection to modern medicine, I respect the rights of those who do. The key word being “rights.” This is right up there with other rights like freedom of the speech and freedom of the press. Members of many religious denominations and sects reject the type of medical treatments that this law would require them to purchase. Forcing them to purchase a product, that is against their religion to use, is a violation of their religious freedom. It would be like forcing traditional Muslims and Jews to purchase thousands of dollars worth of pork. This outrageous idea would never see the light of day, yet statist politicians have no problem forcing members of The Body, Bible Readers Fellowship, Bible Believers’ Fellowship, Christ Assembly, Christ Church, Christ Miracle Healing Center, Christian Science, Church of God Chapel, Church of God of the Union Assembly, Church of the First Born, End Time Ministries, Faith Assembly, Faith Tabernacle Congregation, Followers of Christ, Full Gospel Deliverance Church, General Assembly, Holiness Church, Jehovah’s Witnesses (only objection today is to blood transfusions), Jesus through Jon and Judy, “No Name” fellowship, Northeast Kingdom Community Church, and The Source to purchase insurance. Perhaps it is because many of them are not involved in the political process: Another right I respect.
Some may argue that these people will benefit from forced health-care. That misses the point. Consenting adults have a right to make decisions about their own bodies because it is THEIR bodies, not somebody else’s. Perhaps this simple self-evident point now falls on deaf ears because so many people have tolerated the plethora of laws that have told people what they can eat, drink, eat, smoke, or inject. They have tolerated laws that have told them what times they can do these things. They have tolerated laws that tell consenting adults who they can have sex with, what positions are allowed and whom they can marry. Ironically, many people have used religion to justify such laws. A few people who thought religious freedom only applied to their particular belief, set the stage for many innocents who will see religious freedom disappear completely.
What will happen when people reject forced health-care for religious reasons? What will the czars in DC decide must be done when they refuse to pay the fines? I know they will wish those people would just go away. Will they try to make their wish come true?
How far must this go? When average citizens are fined for rejecting random rectal exams, will they finally say, “Enough is enough! Get your laws off my body!”