Monday, July 2, 2012

Non-Health Results of Obama Care

            Controversy has surrounded Obama's healthcare plan from the time it was first proposed.  Although it may be months or even years (especially since certain elements will not even go into force until 2014) before we know completely how this bill will touch families, two results that will greatly impact families have nothing to do with healthcare at all.
            The first is the justification the U.S. Supreme Court used to legalize the government's ability to force its citizens to purchase a particular product or service.  The Court declared that requiring people to purchase insurance was equivalent to the government's constitutional ability to impose taxes.  As a result, the Court has now opened a floodgate that allows Congress (and state legislative bodies) to require U.S. citizens to purchase any good or service. 
            But you say, "This is different.  Everyone needs health insurance."  How can anyone disagree with that?  I was thrilled when one of my daughter's recently obtained a full-time job that included health insurance as a benefit.  Not having insurance can be very costly for a family.  However, most people I know that do not have insurance cannot afford to purchase it on their own.  My mom used to help my dad with both his construction business and farming, but she also had a full-time job at a nearby retail store.  Why the retail job, too?  Because they could not afford to purchase health insurance on their own.  So, during that window of a few years between my dad losing his job with a large construction company, which provided health insurance, (that closed completely down when the owners decided to retire) and my mom landing a job with insurance, my parents would have been considered lawbreakers under this provision of the Obama healthcare law.  Isn't it ironic that in the past a person may have been tempted to break the law if he didn't have the money to purchase an item, but now a person who needs health insurance and can't afford it will break the law without choosing to break the law?
            Even so, I have strayed.  Regardless of the reason for Congress to require a person to purchase something, they can now do it.  They do not need a compelling reason.  A politician can say, "I won't raise taxes" but can still take money from your pocket by making you buy something.  I find this a dangerous development. 
            Another aspect of passing this legislation that I find dangerous is the fact that most people (including minority leader Nancy Pelosi) who voted for this legislation had not read it completely before making it into law.  Shouldn't you read a contract, even the fine print, before signing it?  Shouldn't creating a law for the land require as much diligence?  Unlike some pessimists, I do not believe all politicians are corrupt, power-hungry people.  On the other hand, I do expect them to take their positions of authority seriously and to be prudent and diligent in their trusted duties.  I do not consider following the crowd and peer pressure to vote for a particular law as being responsible.  If this law is that wonderful, then it deserved the full and careful attention of its supporters, even if it meant taking the time to show America its value rather than rushing it through before anyone could truly know what it said.  I trust my representatives to carefully fulfill their responsibilities but blind trust is a dangerous characteristic.
            For example, former Dixon Comptroller Rita Crundwell from Morris, IL, stands accused of embezzling more than $53 million. Even if she is found not guilty, anyone can do a simple internet search for "embezzlement" and find numerous cases of "trusted" people who took advantage of other people.  The problem of blind trust does not plague just the government.  A local business suffered greatly when an employee embezzled a large amount of cash.  Unlike employees, most government representatives take an oath to faithfully uphold their offices and to fulfill the duties of those offices.  I feel as betrayed by a representative passing a law without reading it as I feel about a person embezzling public funds.  Trust is difficult to rebuild. 
            How can I trust politicians who pass into law words they have not read or who criminalize a person's inability to purchase health insurance or who have created themselves yet another way to "tax" their constituents without honestly calling it a tax?  Despite the healthcare results we are about to experience for the better or worse, the trust that has been broken between government representatives and those they represent touches family more deeply than the law itself.

            Curious about the taxing authority found in the Constitution?  With a quick review of the U.S. Constitution, I found the following parts.  I do not promise this is a complete list of tax-related sections, but in case you do not have a copy of the Constitution handy, this might satisfy your curiosity.

             Article I Section 8 states:

            "The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts, and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States."  (modern spelling and punctuation applied)

            Congress clearly has the right to tax its people, but there is large area of debate as to the limits of that power.  For example, most of the debts of the U.S. at that time were a result of the revolutionary war.  Did the founders believe the only justified debt was to defend (or establish) our country?  What constitutes "general welfare?"  Regardless of the founding fathers' ideas about justifiable taxation, they basically did not legally limit the extent of taxation.  We should take this as a warning to beware of all legislation that is not specific and/or narrow.  Despite the original intent, consequences years later may have nothing to do with the original intent.

            That same section allows Congress "to raise and support Armies," which would require taxing citizens to support the armies.  Yet, this provision does contain a limitation:  "no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years."  In other words, Congress is forced to re-evaluate money spent on "Armies" every two years.  I take that back.  They don't have to "re-evaluate" the situation every two years; they just have to vote every two years to keep spending the money.

            Section 9 of Article I limits the amount of tax states could impose on importing people to its state, but since that section alludes to forced slavery, we no longer have to consider this portion.  Thankfully.

            Section 9 also clarifies that "uniform" taxation should be based on population.  In addition, it prohibits the taxing of products moved from one state to another and the imposing of water port fees at different rates for ships from different states.

            Article VI states that all debts legally acquired by the U.S. under the Articles of Confederation would still be honored under the new Constitution.  (Remember that an earlier article allowed Congress to pay debts through taxation.)

            Amendment 16 gave Congress the power to lay and collect taxes on incomes from any source and these taxes did not have to consider the amount of money collected from each state in comparison to the population of that state.  Some people say income taxes are illegal under the Constitution, but to me it looks like this amendment is the legalization of the income tax.

            Amendment 24 makes it clear that no one can be denied the right to vote based on that person's failure to pay a tax.  Hmm, I wonder if this applies to our newly declared "tax" of purchasing health insurance.  Wait a minute.  A felon can be denied the right to vote.  So, as long as the failure to purchase health insurance does not become a felony, then a person not paying that tax can still vote.

            If you have not read the U.S. Constitution and its Amendments recently, I would encourage you to do so.  It comes back to blind trust.  Are you just "trusting" government officials to uphold the law of the land or are you making sure they do?

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