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The Expansionist
Sunday, October 18, 2009
 
Grassley Is Right about the Unconstitutionality of an Individual Mandate. Keith Olbermann poohpoohs Senator Charles Grassley's statement that the Federal Government does not have the right under the Constitution to force people to buy a product, of any kind, from a private company. Olbermann uses the example of car insurance to argue that of course Government has the right to compel people to buy a product from a private company. He is wholly wrong. And even Senator Grassley can be right about something.
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Car insurance and health insurance are in no way comparable. Not everyone drives. Driving is not a right. You have to get a license to drive. But you do not have to have insurance to drive. Only the owner of a vehicle has to have insurance. That is a condition to using a car on a public road, which is a privilege, not a right. I imagine you don't even need insurance to drive on your own property.
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Health insurance is entirely different. Healthcare is not a privilege; it is a right. The only conditions to this bill's mandate is that a person breathe and reside in the United States. That is entirely different. Breathing is a right. Residing in the United States is a right of all citizens. What the individual mandate is really comparable to is this: requiring pedestrians to have automobile insurance, indeed, requiring everyone, from infant to senior citizen, to have automobile insurance so that the rates on auto insurance can be brought lower for people who own cars. Why should pedestrians have to pay for automobile insurance so that drivers can have lower rates? Oh, you could put forward an almost-plausible excuse: pedestrians are involved in accidents with automotive vehicles, so they should have to share in the responsibility for paying for those accidents. Oh, that's fair: run somebody over and make them pay for the costs of the accident too!
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Why should the poor, and young, and healthy have to buy health insurance so that other people's rates are lower? That is indeed unconstitutional, to say that one person should have to pay for someone else's private insurance. Government cannot require people to buy any product or service from any private company just because Government wants them to. Limited government does not have that right. Totalitarian government has that 'right' — if one concedes that totalitarian government exists as of right, something I do not for an instant concede.
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Keith Olbermann and everyone else who says that everyone should be required by Government to have health insurance is 100% wrong. What next? Life insurance? Homeowners or renters insurance? Fire insurance? Flood insurance? A car? A house? A college education? Where does it stop?
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If Government can tell us what we must buy, it can tell us where we must live and what job we must have or education we must complete. There doubtless are people who would argue that this would be a better and stronger country if everyone were required to finish college or a vocational school (and go into debt to the tune of thousands or tens of thousands of dollars to do so), and buy a house so feel a stake in their community, and on, and on. But Government does not have any right whatsoever to seize control of people's lives and private economic resources and direct them into "approved" purchases, whether people want to make those purchases or not.
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Health insurance takes something and provides nothing to the healthy. That is called "stealing". A scam. A con. A racket. There are many terms for taking money and giving nothing in return, and none of them is anything like "fair".
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The Social Compact. There has developed, in the recent Republican era, a notion that most people are deadweight, a drain on society we would be well rid of. Never mind that we pay our taxes and do our jobs. All that is what we are expected to do, but the only benefit we are to get from our job is what it pays. The importance to society is irrelevant. You've been paid; that's all you're entitled to, is the notion of the day. And it doesn't matter if you are paid $8/hour, while someone who doesn't work nearly as hard, nor as long, nor as smart — if they even work at all — makes $500/hour or $10,000/hour or more. The person who makes $8/hour is only worth $8/hour; the person who makes $500/hour or more is worth that, even if all s/he does is inherit wealth and see interest on it compound every hour of every day.
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The unequal distribution of goods, services, and rights that has developed in the post-1986 world of Reaganomics is now thought of as the highest point the social order has ever achieved. The poor are miserable because they deserve to be miserable. The rich live a life of luxuriant leisure because they deserve it. And there's no such thing as "noblesse oblige" or "richesse oblige". The rich paid for everthing they have, even if the rate at which they "earned" that money bears no relation to effort, skill, or knowledge. We are not to look under the surface at effort or duration of effort, only at the money that fixes the value of things.
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But money does not measure real value, only artificial value. Nurses and teachers make only moderate incomes but stock brokers and professional athletes make a fortune. That's not a fair measure of the contribution different people or occupations make to society.
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There's got to be a better way. Using "time dollars" is one such way. The premise here is that each and every person has only so many hours in the day, and in life. No one has more than 24 hours in a day, tho many people have many more hours of life. Still, this is about as close as we can get to true economic fairness.
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The rich benefit from the work of the poor and middle class. Everything they own was made by people who don't "earn" a lot of money. The rich would be living under leantos made of brush, and sh*tting behind a bush and wiping their ass with leaves if it weren't for "the little people" who built their house and bathroom, made their toilet and toilet paper, installed the plumbing, drove the toilet paper to the store, and on and on — all the myriad little contributions made by "little people" at every step of the way. The rich couldn't make a phone call if there were no telephone instrument, nor cell tower, nor electricity-generating plant, all of them built by "little people". They wouldn't have a car to drive, nor a road to drive it on without the "little people". "I did it all"? No, you stupid rich bastard. You did NOTHING, absolutely nothing, save with the help of literally countless "little people" who built every last thing you used to make "your" money. And it is only OUR name on that money that gives it any value whatsoever. Without our name, without the economy we sustain with our work and spending, "your" "money" wouldn't be more than decorative bits of paper or electronic zeros in a make-believe bank account.
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At end, it's all make-believe. We believe that the "money" we have in paper or electronic numbers will buy things, and as long as other people believe the same thing, everything works. But as soon as people STOP believing that the money is good, it stops having value. And then a wheelbarrowful of paper money won't buy you a single stalk of celery, and all the zeros in the world won't keep the electricity or water flowing. For that, you need the "little people", and if they decide you shouldn't have it, you won't get it. Let's see you then "do it all": grow your own food, generate your own electricity by pedaling a human-powered generator. And you still won't be able to make a fone call or flush your toilet. More to the point, you'll starve long before you can grow your own food — if anyone will even let you have seed with which to do that.
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So the Big People indisputably NEED the Little People. The reverse is not at all true. We don't need billionaires or millionaires. A lot of bosses don't know half what the people on the manufacturing line or in the cube farm know about crucial parts of any enterprise. If every millionaire in the country were to die Monday nite from some mysterious Millionaire's Flu, 99.5% of all the businesses in the Nation would find new leadership before the week was out.
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Let's return to Keith Olbermann and other supposed liberals who take the entirely illiberal, totalitarian approach of saying that Congress is entitled to say that everyone must buy health insurance — from an industry he DESPISES! How on Earth can he say that this would be proper? Health insurers can deny treatments, impose astronomical deductibles and co-pays, but Government would STILL require everyone to buy from this "cartel" — Olbermann's own word! Astounding. We have an evil industry controlled by inhuman monsters who are HAPPY to have people DIE so they can increase their profits, but Olbermann wants to FORCE everyone to buy from them! That is insane.
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Olbermann wants a "public option", but has not said that if there is no public option, people should NOT be required to take health insurance. With or without a public option, Olbermann seems to think, a universal individual mandate is just fine. It violates no fundamental principle of human rights, and Government may — or may not — subsidize the poor, according to a schedule of Government devising. Government would be the sole arbiter of what is "affordable". So if a family is trapped in debt and just barely holding on to their house WITHOUT health insurance, and Government forces them to buy health insurance from this monstrous, evil cartel, and the Government does NOT subsidize them completely but leaves them on the hook for $100, $500, $1,000 a month that they simply cannot afford, it's OK with Olbermann if they lose their house, and have to go on welfare and be housed in a welfare hotel — or live in their car (if it hasn't been repossessed) or on the STREETS because they are too proud to take welfare, or simply don't know how to get welfare.
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There is no such thing as "affordable" health insurance if you are going deeper into debt every month WITHOUT the added burden of health insurance premiums. No such thing. When you have to BORROW $2 just to get to work to pick up your check, there is no such thing as "affordable health insurance". NO SUCH THING. I am soon to turn 65, at which time I will be forced to pay $95 a month out of my Social Security check for Medicare Part B. At present, I have $308.96 after my mortgage payment (which includes property tax and homeowners insurance) for everything else: auto insurance (about $140/month), electricity/gas, water/sewer, phone, oil heat in winter, food, clothing, and every other necessary expense — and forget about entertainment, travel, or any other non-necessity. I cannot cover all my expenses now without dipping into small IRA's. Once $95 is deducted from my check, I will have $213.96 to cover every other expense. Impossible. And if I refuse Part B, I will be PENALIZED and charged a fee for absolutely NOTHING, no benefit of any kind to me. I haven't read all the info on this disgraceful imposition, which is practically contrived to drive the elderly into penury or an early grave. Where is my Federal subsidy? People who have hundreds of thousands of dollars in IRA's, and who get more from Social Security than I do — if you made more during your working life, you get more in Social Security, so economic inequality is perpetuated and even intensified by Social Security — pay the same $95/month. This is the Federal Government's idea of "fairness" in a long-established healthcare program. What the Feds are doing now to low-income seniors, it proposes to do to low-income people of all ages in the future: ruin us, to bring down the cost of healthcare for the rich.
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Since the rich benefit from the work of the poor and middle class, and are paid ridiculous and indefensibly absurd amounts of money on wholly artificial bases, it is only fitting that the rich pay back some of what they owe by paying higher taxes to take care of everyone's healthcare. They can afford it. And that's the most contemptible thing: these bastards have all the money in the world and don't want to take care of the people who made it possible, without whom they would have NOTHING. They couldn't survive for 60 days without the food that other people grew; they couldn't survive for 5 days without the water that other people provide. But they are content to have the people on whom their very lives depend, DIE if they can't afford health insurance.
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Nobody NEEDS more than $5 million a year. Nobody NEEDS 13 houses and 20 cars. There is absolutely no social injustice in Government's simply confiscating 99% of everything over $5 million that anyone makes. That would still leave $10,000 of every million. $4M over a base $5M and the multimillionaire already has more left after tax than the typical American makes before tax. And our super-rich are so obscenely rich that $9M is a pittance to them. What is the point of making more money than you could ever spend on personal needs? We could permit certain expenditures as tax-deductible before figuring 99% income tax on everything above $5M a year, so that legitimate investments in businesses that create jobs or build housing or otherwise advance social purposes would be permitted; and contributions to approved charitable organizations or projects would also be permitted. But idle wealth for the idle rich? No. Government should take it and use it to provide universal healthcare — which would include the rich, mind you — and fund other human needs. Realize, if you will, that all money COMES FROM the Government, so if you think about it, the Government would only be taking back SOME of what it put out to begin with.
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Since beyond a certain point, money is only a way of keeping score, the super-rich can brag about how much money they give to charity and how much tax they pay. That is a better use for money than another Mercedes, Armani suit, or Prada dress. Decent people, if there be any, among the super-rich will be proud to brag that their money built a hospital or saved x number of lives. And the United States would no longer have to hang its head in shame at being the only industrialized country on Earth that does not provide healthcare for all its citizens. Good deal.
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(The current U.S. military death toll in Iraq, according to the website "Iraq Coalition Casualties", is 4,349 — for Israel.)



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