Another Weak Argument For The Individual Mandate
On the heels of yesterday’s Supreme Court hearing, the Washington Post has whipped up what they think is an unbeatable argument for the individual mandate. The problem for them is, it’s easily beatable.
In the recent past, the Supreme Court has struck down attempts by Congress to use the Constitution’s Commerce Clause to promulgate laws that had no connection to commercial activity, including those involving guns near schools and violence against women. Yet it has upheld Congress’s Commerce Clause power to reach individuals who were not obviously involved in commercial activity — most famously, the Depression-era farmer who grew wheat for his own consumption. The court concluded that his decision to grow — rather than purchase — wheat interfered with the government’s ability to regulate wheat prices.
The same logic should hold true for individuals able but unwilling to buy health insurance: Their absence has a significant impact on the market, especially because it is virtually inevitable that they will need health-care services at some point in their lives.
The way to defeat this argument is to extend it into other areas of life.
- I am able to purchase a Chevy Volt. I choose not to. Should I therefore be forced to purchase one so as not to distort the market?
- I am able to purchase an Xbox 360. I choose not to. Should I therefore be forced to purchase one so that others can enjoy lower prices?
- I am able to purchase cauliflower (let’s get away from broccoli for a bit). I choose not to. And everyone needs food at some point in their life. Should I be forced to purchase cauliflower so that poor people can afford it?
I could go on, and on, and on. You could do this with any item or service, and therein lies the silliness of their argument. Just because I can purchase something, and choose not to, is no reason to force me to buy it for the good of others.
It is, however, very telling that they find it necessary to go to this absurd length to defend what in reality is a naked power grab intended to increase the power of the government over the lives of ordinary people. Apparently they can’t defend it in any other way.