Will Single-Payer Solve the Obamacare Problems?

The popular response among progressives to the Obamacare trainwreck (higher costs, dropped coverage, incompetent mismanagement) is to suggest that all of this would be better if we had just enacted single-payer (i.e. nationalized/socialist) health care in the first place. But do you really think the same government that was too incompetent to manage a website and run the health insurance industry will be competent enough to run the entire health care industry directly?

If you nationalize all of this, those additional costs that Obamacare created through centrally-mandated inefficiencies won’t just go away. They’ll get worse as the government takes more of the decisions away from the health industry professionals, replacing their time-tested judgements with those of politicians. The only thing that will change to make anyone’s life easier is we’ll be paying for it through taxes rather than through insurance companies. But shuffling the costs around like that doesn’t make them go away. We will have to pay those costs, or our country will default, and then we’ll all be facing total economic devastation.

Socialist health care doesn’t fix fascist health care. It only sweeps the costs of inefficient centralized management under the rug and pretends they aren’t there.

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The Dictatorship Begins on Jan. 1st, 2014

On January 1st, 2014, the Individual Mandate contained within ObamaCare goes into effect. This mandate will make a dictator out of the US President overnight.

I do not make this claim lightly. For a power being granted to a leader to be considered dictatorial, there are three requirements that must be fulfilled:
:bulletblue: The power must give absolute power to one individual.
:bulletblue: The power must be totalitarian in scope.
:bulletblue: The power must be irrevocable.

Absolute Power for One Individual

When the Individual Mandate goes into effect, all Americans will be required to purchase “proper” health insurance plans, or will be forced to pay a tax. All health insurance companies will be forced to only offer “proper” plans to their customers. It will be considered illegal to offer an insurance plan that is not considered “proper.”

So you ask, what’s wrong with proper insurance? There’s a catch: The Secretary of Health and Human Services has sole authoritative power (Section 224(b), on pg. 123) to determine the contents and requirements of a “proper health insurance plan.” The Secretary of Health and Human Services (currently Kathleen Sebelius) reports directly to the President, must follow all of his Executive Orders, and can be fired by him at any time, so that he can appoint a new one of his choice.

In other words, the President maintains a dictatorship over the definition of the “proper health insurance plans” that we are all forced to buy. The President can also force health insurance companies to boycott any health care providers (doctors and hospitals) that try to cater to individuals who choose not to buy health insurance. They already use this method to force health care providers to offer major discounts to Medicare patients, and they could easily use this method to prevent those resisting the Individual Mandate from obtaining any form of health care at all.

So the choice we all end up with is: buy one of these “proper” health insurance plans defined by the President, or be punished through the complete deprivation of health care. This is the enforcement mechanism.

Totalitarian in Scope

But this only affects health care, and health care is special, right?

Wrong. There is no legal requirement in the ObamaCare law that the definition of a “proper health insurance plan” must only include measures relating to health care. Already, Obama has declared that every health insurance plan must provide contraception, which is only as relevant to health as our choice of food, car, home, or any other choices we make in our lives.

The President can easily decree any other purchasing mandate, requiring us to buy a GM car, or buy broccoli, or buy houses in specific areas, or buy certain newspapers, or subscribe to a propaganda newsletter touting the president’s achievements, or join a union. The President can also use his power over insurance coverage to retaliate against groups who do not support him. For instance, the President might put clause in your insurance plan that states that you lose coverage for some number of conditions if you buy a gun, or spend too much money supporting his opponent, or live in a wealthy neighborhood.

From a legal perspective, this law gives the President the totalitarian power to force any activity, or punish any activity, under the threat of loss of health care. All he has to do is say that it’s a part of your insurance plan (which would rapidly lose all relation to health care other than through its enforcement mechanism).

Irrevocable Power

What about the separation of powers? Checks and balances? Congress has already surrendered its power by delegating the power to define “proper” insurance plans to the President’s appointees. The Supreme Court has already taken a whack at this law, and bizarrely ruled the Individual Mandate constitutional so long as it only makes use of economic incentives, rather than prison sentences to enforce its goals. But of course, those economic incentives can be just as damaging as prison sentences. The only branch of government that has the power to stop this law from becoming a dictatorship is the Executive Branch. Only the dictator can prevent the dictatorship (or a 2/3rds majority in both houses of Congress to override vetoes, but that’s the stuff of legend). The separation of powers and all the checks and balances have been thwarted.

As humans have learned throughout history, once a leader gains dictatorial power, it is extremely difficult to remove him, even if he is subjected to periodic elections. Under a dictatorship, information is controlled, and political opponents are destroyed, as in Fascist Italy or Nazi Germany. The means of production are given to political allies, and elections are stolen, as in Mugabe’s Zimbabwe and Chavez’s Venezuela. The citizens may even begin to worship their leaders out of a sense of dependence, as in Stalin’s Soviet Union, Maoist China, and North Korea.

Our only hope for avoiding dictatorship is to get ObamaCare repealed before January 1st, 2014. Obama will not do it. If we cannot remove Obama from office, either in the November election, or through impeachment prior to 2014, the United States government will become a dictatorship.

If you’ve been wondering what would drive a libertarian like myself to support a conservative like Mitt Romney, this is why. After the Supreme Court upheld ObamaCare, the gravity of the situation became clear: it’s all on us to pick the right president. Unlike Gary Johnson, Romney can beat Obama, and unlike Obama, he has pledged to repeal ObamaCare. Certainly, there is always the chance that Romney is lying and would keep ObamaCare. But if he does, he loses the support of his base, and the legendary 2/3rds majority in Congress may manifest and repeal the dictatorial powers over his veto.

This is our last chance. We, the People of the United States, must remove Barack Obama from office in order to save our freedom from an untimely death.

EDIT (6/11/13): Added a link to the section of the Obamacare bill that gives the Secretary of HHS this power.

Here’s what Obama is gonna do if he stays for 4 more years

He will continue doing much of what he’s done for the last 2.5 years. That means:

:bulletblack: More indefensible bureaucratic expansion. [link]
:bulletblack: More regulation of company mobility to prevent profitable enterprises from fleeing Democratic majority states to search for more freedom elsewhere. [link]
:bulletblack: More economic failure, leading to Carter-style stagflation. [link]
:bulletblack: More debt growth, as he resists all attempts to steer the country away from an imminent Greek-style crash. [link]
:bulletblack: More moralistic nationalization, enforced through militarization of the US police forces, pushing us towards a Soviet-style police state. [link] [link] [link]
:bulletblack: More corrupt abuses of executive power, bordering on illegality. [link] [link] [link]

If you want to continue these disturbing trends, to disregard liberty in favor of a Soviet-style socialist nation under a government with totalitarian control over your personal life and endeavors, then by all means, vote for Obama in 2012. But if you want change- economic recovery and the restoration of the values of liberty -then for your own sake, vote against the Democrats!

Government is Violence

What is government?

An answer I hear a lot is, “It’s an elected body of individuals to represent the interests of a body of people.” It’s not hard to find exceptions to this definition. We call many unelected groups “government” (such as any dictatorship), and there are many elected entities which we do not call government (such as the members of a board of trustees). The point is, the writing of laws, operating through elections, or representing the interests of a group of people does not make a government.

There must be something else; something which uniquely gives a group of individuals enough control for them to be called a government; something which allows them to impose laws and have others listen. So why do we follow laws dictated by “the government”? Is it because we agree with them in all cases? Certainly not.

We listen because we don’t want to be arrested and imprisoned. If you defy a law and get caught, the government will use violent force to deprive you of life or liberty. No other entity can impose that upon us. If they try, “the government” declares war on them. Government is the only entity which can use violent force to control our actions. And that’s what defines them. Government is a monopoly on violence. “Government” and “violence” are synonymous.

That’s not to say that all government is wrong. Is violence always wrong? It’s certainly not wrong when used in self-defense, or in defense of the lives of our family members. There are many other situations where violence can be justified, but these situations are still very specific and limited.

So we all must ask ourselves, are we using government only for the things for which we would use violence? Or have we lost perspective, forgetting the connection between government imposition of laws and imposition through violence? Should we use violence to punish that guy who got high for fun in his own home, hurting nobody but himself? Should we use violence to force each and every person to make a contract with a health insurance company, whether it’s a good financial decision or not? Should we use violence to force charity? Should we use violence against people who make decisions leading to their own obesity?

These are all things we currently use government for, and there are many more examples of questionable uses. Is it right?

In this sense, Libertarianism is pacifism tempered by the right to self-defense (disclaimer: this is a quote I got from this dude). It is a philosophy of ethical treatment of human beings. Though libertarians often find themselves arguing on pragmatic grounds, in the end, it all comes down to a question of whether or not the ends justify the means.

Ezra’s Point About Vinson’s ObamaCare Ruling

In this article, Ezra Klein argue that the weak point in Judge Vinson’s ruling resides in his use of argument from first principles to suggest that power without logical limit cannot be a correct interpretation of the Necessary and Proper Clause.

Klein points out that Vinson’s argument contradicts the Supreme Court ruling in the case of Gonzales v. Raich, according to the dissenting opinion. In Gonzales v. Raich, Justice Stevens concluded that the power to ban marijuana growing locally existed because it is necessary and proper to help control interstate commerce. Justice Thomas disagreed, saying that granting this power allows the government to regulate “virtually everything.” Ezra is arguing that since this ruling stands, and since some Supreme Court justices think this ruling grants unlimited power to the government (albeit, different justices), then an argument against the Necessary and Proper Clause granting unlimited power to the government cannot stand until the Raich precedent is overturned.

First of all, Justice Stevens is a making a pretty weak argument here- the Necessary and Proper Clause specifically only allows powers necessary and proper for “bringing into execution” Congress’ other powers. His reasoning is that enforcement of bans on interstate trade becomes difficult when the product can be produced within the states. This alone is a stretch- the same logic would allow the government to massacre the entire populace, under the presumption that this would be the only way to get rid of all the murderers. This reductio ad absurdum is a logical problem the Supreme Court will have to deal with someday, so it wouldn’t be out of line for a District Court to question Stevens’ logic.

Even so, Justice Thomas is also incorrect, because the Raich line of reasoning doesn’t apply to the question of forcing people to get health insurance. People going without health insurance doesn’t make it harder for the government to enforce any of the other provisions within the PPAC Act. The Act does not legislate a requirement that all insurers must stay in business. Including such a requirement would violate the 13th Amendment. As stated numerous times by the defendants, the Individual Mandate provision is necessary to prevent prices from rising, and/or to prevent insurers from going out of business. Yet, neither of these effects aids in enforcement of other components of the law. So the Raich ruling, while being of questionable logic, doesn’t actually provide the precedent for truly unlimited regulatory powers as Justice Thomas feared. It may allow virtually any regulation to be put in place, but not for any reason. The reason must be a matter of enforcement of independently-granted constitutional powers, as opposed to an attempt to bring about a desired effect.

In fact, the entire defense of ObamaCare relies on ignoring this distinction between desired effects and enforcement capabilities. However, to do so has absolutely no precedent and no justification. Judge Vinson’s ruling is entirely consistent with the ruling in the Gonzales v. Raich case.

Virginia Federal Judge Rules Individual Mandate Unconstitutional!

The arguments are based on the Commerce Clause, the Necessary and Proper Clause, and General Welfare Clause of the Constitution, which I reproduce here:

[The Congress shall have Power] To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes

The Congress shall have Power – To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

Here’s the gist of the ruling:

The Necessary and Proper Clause coupled with the Commerce Clause lets Congress enforce any law assisting in the enforcement regulation of interstate commerce. However, it does not allow Congress to enforce any law necessary to make a certain regulation have a certain effect.

So, Congress has the authority to do whatever is necessary to enforce the “preexisting conditions” coverage mandates on insurers, but if that makes the market “implode” as Kathleen Sebelius’ representation argued it would in the absence of an individual mandate, that doesn’t give Congress an excuse to implement an individual mandate not otherwise allowed by the Commerce Clause. Enforcing the individual mandate may help the market function better when the other, constitutionally-allowed regulations are simultaneously in place, but that has nothing to do with the actual enforcement of those other, constitutionally-allowed regulations. Hence, the Necessary and Proper Clause cannot be used to argue for the constitutionality of an individual mandate as a necessary component for “carrying into Execution” the Commerce Clause regulations.

Additionally, the ruling states that the Secretary’s suggestion that an individual’s inactivity on health care inevitably leads to economic activity later on “lacks logical limitation” and “could apply to transportation, housing, or nutritional decisions,” putting it outside the realm of Commerce Clause jurisprudence.

Finally, the mandate is not allowed under Congress’ power to lay taxes, because it is structured as a penalty, not a revenue-gathering measure. If this measure were to work perfectly, then it would generate zero revenue, as everyone would avoid it by buying health insurance. The Secretary made exactly this argument with regards to her Commerce Clause defense. Hence, it cannot be construed as a tax, must be considered a regulatory penalty, and is not allowed through the General Welfare Clause.

So there you have it. That is why a Virginia Federal Judge has ruled the individual mandate unconstitutional.

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On a side note, I also would like to call attention to this line:

“The unchecked expansion of congressional power to the limits suggested by the Minimum Essential Coverage Provision would invite unbridled exercise of federal police powers.

While making this exact same assertion over the past year, I’ve been called crazy, a reactionary, a nutjob, a racist teabagger, a violator of Godwin’s Law, etc. And now a Federal judge who has reviewed this case extensively is coming to the same conclusion. I don’t think people realize how the entire idea of constitutional limits on federal power resides on this case.

ObamaCare Has Not Won Yet

Supporters of the Democrats’ health care bill may think that now that it’s been signed into law, it’s safe from further attack. Don’t be too sure.

Many elements of this bill are of questionable constitutionality, the most notable of which being the “Individual Mandate.”
This mandate is entirely unprecedented. Never before has Congress mandated that private individuals agree to a contract with another private entity just because they’re alive. Certainly, the purchase of a car is mandated to coincide with the purchase of car insurance. However, the purchase of a car is understood by past courts to be a form of commerce, which falls under the “Commerce Clause” of the US Constitution. Thus, the real question at hand is this: is the non-purchase of health insurance a form of “commerce” that can be regulated under the Commerce Clause? If the power isn’t specifically delegated to the federal government by the Constitution, the 10th Amendment can, and will, be applied to deem it unconstitutional.

Some less-informed Democratic Congressmen have also tried to justify the mandate under the “General Welfare Clause.” However, this clause only states that Congress may “lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises” to provide for the general welfare. It does not state that Congress may force private individuals to make contracts, and it actually specifies that all taxes laid by Congress “shall be uniform throughout the United States,” making the use of tax as punishment of those without health insurance entirely unconstitutional.

So is this “Individual Mandate” unconstitutional? I certainly think so. I think it’s only a matter of time before it, along with other questionable components, are struck down in the Supreme Court.