Challenging the Premise

August 17th, 2009

To begin: An excerpt from a discussion about National Health Care that frames my argument.

Beyond the political and economic considerations in the debate regarding national health care are questions of whether citizens in the United States possess the right to such care. Few people question that Congress has the power, both under the Commerce Clause and Spending Clause of the Constitution, to enact national health care legislation, but some maintain that health is one of the basic Human Rights that the Constitution impliedly protects. Other commentators disagree strongly, noting that no citizen has the inherent right to health care and that health care providers deserve to be paid the market value for their services. Other critics add that the intervention required of the government in a national health-care system would make citizens too dependent upon the state, which could lead the government to take excessive control over its citizens’ lives.

The cost of the proposals made by the Obama Administration for their health care solutions are so high they are almost beyond the comprehension of the average citizen, and “We The People” have gotten so involved in these numbers that we seem to have lost sight of the big picture — the real problem.

We have a President of the United States with a goal. He genuinely worries about certain aspects of life in the United States — one of which is health care — and he will do virtually anything to correct things that he feels need to be corrected.

What can a president of the United States do?

Many things. This President, however, apparently believes that the only answer to America’s problems is expanding the scope and power of the government, i.e., smothering perceived problems in a layer of bureaucratic control.

Consider the ramifications of that and then ask yourself: Is that what you want? Do you want the U.S. government to be able to dictate to individuals and private companies how they run their lives and businesses? Does that, in the context of the United States, even sound right?

Well, in the case of proposed health care legislation, that’s exactly what our government is attempting to do to citizens and to insurance companies (and what they are attempting to do to virtually every other business and industry with the proposed cap-and-trade legislation), and it looks like they will get away with it unless they are challenged.

Yes, the people are starting to rise up at town hall meetings all over the country. They are starting to ask questions and are getting very angry when all they get in return are scripted responses. There are, however, two types of people at these meetings: There are those who have accepted the premise and are only angry over the details (i.e., the “what are you going to do for me” mentality), and there are growing numbers who are angry about a president, a legislature, and an administration that have displayed this much arrogance and this much contempt for its citizens and for private industry — these are the people who understand the real problem in the health care debate.

The real problem is not that Obama is willing to weaken our economy even more by adding billions per year to our already large debt (yesterday he spoke of the money as if it were only $10 billion per year) — that is a symptom or a possible result of the proposed solutions, but that is not the real problem.

The real problem is threefold:

1) President Obama has a name for it: “crisis!” This is not just a debating trick; this is the real Barack Obama — the community organizer from the Saul Alinski school of community organizing. Words are important, and as a “crisis” the health care situation appears to move up several notches in urgency. This gives the Obama administration an excuse to use the power of government to correct it. Obama is selling this concept of health care being in a crisis mode and many Americans are buying it.

2) President Obama, and liberal thinkers in general, as I said before, see more government as the only solution to this (or any) problem.

3) President Obama does not seem to understand, on any level, that a primary cause of America’s health care problem (and many other social problems in this country) is too much government — not too little. (A perfect example of this: One of the key factors that started our current economic recession was government encouraging banks to make sub-prime home loans.)

It’s time — way past time — for us to stop focusing on the details and the cost of the Obama Administration’s proposals and start challenging the very premise — the premise that government should be allowed to run roughshod over individuals and over the free market.

The legislature has the power to make laws that give the government much more power than the Constitution allows and, if those laws go unchallenged, “We The People” becomes a meaningless phrase — a relic of what this country used to be because “We The People” will have lost our country to an ever-expanding government.

Links:

Why the Mortgage Crisis Happened, American Thinker
National Health Care, The Legal Dictionary
Saul Alinski, Wikipedia

(This article was also posted at My View from the Center.)


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11 Responses to “Challenging the Premise”



  1. larry |

    AMEN


  2. Brian Bagent |

    As far as rights, this kind of boils down to “you have to right to have whatever you can pay for.”

    The first amendment recognizes that you may say whatever you wish. It does not, however, impose a burden on Tom Carter or any other media outlet to transmit what it is that you have said.

    The second amendment recognizes your right to self-defense and to resist a tyrannical government with deadly force. Again, though, it imposes no burden on Winchester, Browning, Glock, or anybody else to give you, for free, that tool of self defense.

    Of course we have a right to health care. It falls under the 9th and 10th amendments. No right, however, can impose a burden on anyone else. The imposition of a burden is involuntary servitude born on the shoulders of the provider, and is the antithesis of a right.


  3. Tom |

    Hmmm…. “The second amendment recognizes your right … to resist a tyrannical government with deadly force.” Nope. Not to resist the U.S. federal government, the government of a state, or the government of a foreign country. Citizens (and states, for that matter) have no right or authority to wage war. Do it on your own (like blowing up a federal building and killing a lot of children and average citizens), and you’re a criminal headed for prison and maybe a lethal injection. Do it as an organized group taking on the federal government (this is the stuff of wild-eyed militia losers hiding out in compounds in places like Montana) and it’s still criminal, just maybe with a different charge.

    Whatever “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State…” means, it isn’t that a citizen or a group of citizens can take it upon themselves to declare some government (probably meaning the federal government) as tyrannical and then to resist that government with arms. If you have a competent authority, like the Supreme Court, that interprets the Second Amendment in that way, I’d like to read it.

    I would also question the idea that no right can impose a burden on anyone else. Free speech means I may not be able to avoid hearing someone spout offensive ideas; freedom of assembly means I have to put up with a noisy mob marching on and littering the streets; freedom of religion means I can’t avoid politicians, preachers, and other citizens promoting ideas that I may consider absurd. Once when I was shopping in a Wal-Mart (probably serves me right) I was accosted by an elderly couple who wanted to know if I’d heard the good news, and it was difficult and burdensome to get away from them. Folks have awakened me with a knock on the door, trying to talk about religion and give me a copy of the Watchtower or the Lighthouse or whatever the heck it was. These people are all exercising their rights, and it’s often a burden on other people.

    I would say that rights need to be protected because they often impose burdens on others who would very much like to see them taken away.


  4. Tom |

    Apropos my comment above, I just read an article in The Wall Street Journal, Why I Defend Goat Sacrifice. It was written by a lawyer who successfully defended his client in federal appeals court on the basis of freedom of religion. His primitive wackadoo client is a priest or poo-bah or whatever of Santeria, and in order to ordain new priests, he claims, he has to sacrifice goats in his home in Euless, Texas.

    Naturally, the city and his neighbors don’t think much of this practice and would like it to stop. I think this exercise of freedom of religion would be pretty burdensome to the people of his neighborhood. Imagine the conversation next door:

    “Daddy, Daddy, what was that weird screaming last night? It scared me! And why does it stink so bad out in the back yard?”

    “Don’t worry, honey, that’s just Mr. Merced next door exercising his freedom of religion and sacrificing another goat.”

    Brian, I would think that you, of all people, would stand up for the right of goats not to be sacrificed!


  5. Harvey |

    Tom,

    Your interpretations of “burdens” imposed by basic freedoms are distortions. Once the exercise of a freedom reaches the point where it burdens others (not talking about personal discomfort levels) it stops being a freedom and becomes, instead, illegal.

    Anyway, this post was not about how our Constitutional freedoms work, it was about a president who is on an Orwellian journey toward statism.

    (As for “Mr. Merced” and his goat, I don’t understand why people get upset over animal sacrifice. The lower animals are only here for the pleasure, enjoyment or use of higher animals.)


  6. Tom |

    Harvey, I was responding to Brian’s earlier comment about rights, not to the post itself.

    “Once the exercise of a freedom reaches the point where it burdens others … it stops being a freedom and becomes, instead, illegal.” I don’t understand that. Could you give me just one specific example of what you mean?

    I’m not too concerned about the goats, although I think they probably have more social value than your average Santeria priest. I just wouldn’t want them being sacrificed by a bunch of weirdos in the house next door.


  7. Brian Bagent |

    Tom,

    Have you ever read the Federalist #46? No, not law, but it is the reason why the 2nd amendment exists – to resist tyranny in government, and why, I might add, that Madison believed this republic to be superior to every state in Europe. If we were to ever get to that point, a great many things would be illegal. Legalisms do not change the fundamental nature of rights. Rights may be outlawed and abrogated, but they cannot be abolished. They simply exist in the same way that logic does – in the abstract, to be sure, but their results are real.

    Do the women of the middle east have no less right to avoid abuse than women in the west? Those rights are being trampled, but they certainly exist or we would not be horrified at what is being done to them.

    As far as sacrificing goats, how is what these “wackos” do any different than what I do? I’m not sacrificing mine, but they still end up being “put to the sword” to go in my freezer. Their religion would only be imposing a burden if it required the neighbors, who find the practice so abhorrent, to sacrifice the goats. Freedom and rights do not impose burdens on other people.

    I would suggest that you are confusing “distasteful” with “burdensome.”


  8. Brian Bagent |

    Harvey, that is precisely the point: this is a constitutional issue, an issue of philosophy.

    The president believes that it is justifiable to legally impose burdens on “the rich” (whatever that is) to take care of “the poor” (whatever that is).


  9. Harvey |

    Tom,

    The most classic example of a freedom, that has limits is freedom of speech — the worn out example is yelling fire in a crowded theatre but that doesn’t really apply to this conversation.

    More apropos is making a false accusation (e.g., accusing someone of having inappriate sexual contact with someone). You’re free to make the accusation but, if you’re taken to court by the accused person, you had better be able to prove the accusation is true.


  10. Brian Bagent |

    The thought occurred to me that my use of “burden” might not be clear. The word “burden” means a legal imposition, as in “the neighbors were required to sacrifice the goats that belonged to the practitioner of santeria. Under penalty of law, if they don’t, they can be fined or imprisoned.”

    This entire exercise of trying to foist nationalized health care upon us is just another example of a government exercising naked power without the moral authority to do so. As I have said previously, one may easily believe that there is a moral obligation to take care of the indigent. I don’t have a problem with that. If you are convinced that it is the proper path to take, then lead by example and persuade people to follow you.

    However, where I part company with that train of thought is when the proponent of that position takes it a step further and gets that moral obligation codified. Is the argument so weak and uncompelling that it requires force/coercion to “convince” people of the rightness of it?

    Frankly, it is a cynical path because it no longer relies on man’s inherent goodness, but upon his fear of punishment. One may obtain obedience that way, but too much stick and not enough carrot tends to wear thin over time.

    Is that really the sort of society in which we wish to live?


  11. Harvey |

    Brian,

    Totally agree!

    “Is that really the sort of society in which we wish to live?”

    No! Absolutely not — but without a LOT of opposition (like the kind that got Obama to back down from his statement that he would not sign a healthcare bill unless it had a public option) we may just be dragged kicking and screaming into that sort of society.


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