Thursday, June 28, 2012

Initial Thoughts On Today's ObamaCare Ruling

Today's SCOTUS ruling upholding ObamaCare is an obvious disappointment to the Right, but--at least to me--not at all a surprise. It's not that I expected it: I had no opinion as to which way the Supremes would go.

And that's the problem. It should have been a slam dunk for freedom, what with most of the nine justices being Republican nominees. Instead, we got another sad chapter in George W. Bush's horrible legacy. His own chief Justice John Roberts sided with the liberals, citing the taxing powers of the federal government as constitutional grounds for upholding the individual mandate (more on that below).

Now, we have the last Republican president--through his appointment of Roberts--and the current presumptive presidential nominee, Mitt Romney--through his Massachusetts "RomneyCare"--as the key culprits responsible for the creation and advance of ObamaCare.

There are many lessons to draw from this development. Over at The Objective Standard Blog, Ari Armstrong cites these two:

The political lesson is that “ObamaCare,” while spearheaded by the president, is not the product of “liberals” only. Conservatives played a significant role in paving the way to the legislation and in today’s court decision. The moral lesson is that altruism—the notion that individuals must self-sacrificially serve others—inexorably leads to collectivism in politics.

Another political lesson is that the Republican Party needs a thorough housecleaning--a revolution, in fact. It's time to sweep the old guard into the dustbin of history. The twin heads of the party--Bush and Romney--are part of the problem, not the solution.

Another lesson is philosophical. If the individual mandate is constitutional, then we have no constitutional constraints on federal power: The government that can force a private citizen to buy a private product can force him to do anything. And if the source of this unlimited power is the taxing powers granted by the constitution, then that very authority must be added to the list of foundational cracks that turned that document into an engine of tyranny, alongside the commerce clause, eminent domain, and a few others.

Rather than a means of funding the legitimate functions of government as envisioned by the Founders--to protect individual rights--the tax clause has now morphed into an engine of extortion: Do this, or we'll levy another tax on you. This is another vindication of Ayn Rand, the philosophical voice of America, who cited voluntary taxation as a vital ingredient of a free society:

In a fully free society, taxation—or, to be exact, payment for governmental services—would bevoluntary.The principle of voluntary government financing rests on the following premises: that the government is not the owner of the citizens’ income and, therefore, cannot hold a blank check on that income—that the nature of the proper governmental services must be constitutionally defined and delimited, leaving the government no power to enlarge the scope of its services at its own arbitrary discretion. Consequently, the principle of voluntary government financing regards the government as the servant, not the ruler, of the citizens—as an agent who must be paid for his services, not as a benefactor whose services are gratuitous, who dispenses something for nothing. [Emphasis added]

Thus, by granting coercive--i.e., forced--taxing power to the government, the Founders unwittingly granted the government the "power to enlarge the scope of its services at its own arbitrary discretion." With that door cracked open, the statists have now thrown it wide open, and walked right through it, taking America with it.

Of course, the Founders could never have envisioned these developments. They laid out the philosophical framework for the constitution in the Declaration of Independence. I have often said that the constitution can not be understood or upheld outside of that context, and if the overall philosophical context of our Founding was still respected, we wouldn't have ObamaCare or the regulatory welfare state.

Which brings me to a final lesson for this post: It's the philosophy, stupid!! The abandonment of philosophy and principles by most Americans--from presidents and Supreme Court justices to the voting man in the street; from the schools to congress--paved the way for this ruling. There is no way that the individual mandate or ObamaCare can be construed as consistent with the principle of inalienable individual rights. But understanding that requires the particular individualist philosophical perspective that relates to our Founding--a perspective all but abandoned today. The result: collectivist ideology has filled the philosophical vacuum.

To turn the tide of statism, all  who advocate a return to freedom must realize something that Objectivists have always understood--philosophy matters; principles matter; morality matters; consistency matters.

As the fight now shifts back to the political/electoral arena, it is of paramount importance to grasp that victory there depends upon victory on the much more crucial battlefield of fundamental ideas. We must grasp--as Craig Biddle explains--what it means to be on the Right, which means to be in the right.


Mike Kevitt said...

If it should'a'been a slam dunk for for freedom, then we wouldn't'a'been so far down the statist road already, and still galloping along down it.

This "development" started over 100years ago. Philosophy, and the philosophical context of the Decl. of Indep. couldn't have been sufficiently understood by the Founding Fathers themselves, let alone by succeeding generations to the present. Otherwise, why the foundational cracks in the Constitution, and the failure to repair them to this day, and the never ending widening of them, the latest widening being the individual mandate, and the never ending altruism?

Thus, the need to RADICALLY change the Republican Party, starting with philosophical fundamentals: de-infesting it of non-reason (plenty close enough designation), altruism and statism (collectivism) in favor of reason, egoism and individual rights, and all which that implies, like capitalism and, ultimately, voluntary "taxation".

This radical change is needed for any substantive change to come out of the upcoming election, little over 4 months from now. Of course, that can't happen. We probably need decades, at least. Americans of today are "water over the dam". Look at what's gonna happen in the next few years. Elections, today, will only reconfirm mandates for statism. What chance does it leave for reason, egoism and rights, even in the long-run?

Mike LaFerrara said...

But the Founding Fathers did give us that foundation. And Ayn Rand gave us the tools to fix it. It may indeed take decades, a time frame that likely extends beyond my lifetime. It may be longer. Or, it may happen a lot more quickly than now seems likely. But, it won’t happen without our activism.

“What chance does it leave for reason, egoism and rights, even in the long-run?” you ask. What chance did the Founding Fathers have?

Mike Kevitt said...

True. We've been left the foundation and the repair tools. And true, despite short- and long-term circumstances, our activisn is needed.

What chance did the Founding Fathers have? True, again. Their chances kept decreasing, too, from 1763, for at least 15 years.

Despite my question about our chances even in the long-run. I would never suggest giving up and giving in, but, to continue activism. I consider educational and intellectual efforts to be preparitory and supplemental parts of the activism.