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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Political Reality and the Supreme Court

     In listening to the arguments on the health care legislation before the Supreme Court I couldn't help but wonder how the arguments come down to interstate commerce, what is "necessary" and "proper" and a limiting factor for individual mandates. This is how lawyers talk when talking about the crisis of health care in this country.  In our country it is estimated that 45,000 people die each year needlessly because they lack health insurance and it comes down to a question of interstate commerce?  Now we learn that if the penalty for not having insurance was a tax then the legislation would be constitutional.  To hear supposedly intelligent judges comparing requirements to purchase health insurance to being forced to buy broccoli or a cell phone is bizarre.  The comparison would only be accurate if people could demand merchants to provide them the items and charge the cost to other customers.
     Our country is the only modern Western country that doesn't consider health care a right but privilege that only  comes when you have an employer to provide the benefit or when you turn age 65.  What was passed in 2009 was minimal in addressing the health care issue in this country.  We will someday have a "Medicare for all" type of single payer system because our present system is breaking down.  Employer provided health insurance coverage is now coming with large deductibles and other changes to lessen the financial burden on employers.  We have the worst of both worlds---expensive health care and fewer people with insurance to access the system.
     It is sad to see the ideological divide that we have in this country being played out in the Supreme Court. It is apparent that even supposedly "impartial" judges using legal rationales as cover for their political opinions.  The Bush v. Gore was the first indication of this Court's politicization. 
    For the past couple of weeks I have been reading a book on James Madison and the Constitutional Convention.  Hearing the arguments this week in the Supreme Court made me think of passages from the book.  One of the key debates in that Convention was how strong the Federal Government should be.  The delegates saw how the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation divided the States against each other and threatened the safety of the States from foreign intervention.  State rights threatened the "general welfare." In a similar way I see the opposition to the individual mandate of the health care program as also ignoring the general welfare. It was reassuring to finally hear Justice Kennedy say that health care maybe one of those "special circumstances" that makes a mandate necessary and constitutional.  Maybe that and the 45,000 needless deaths each year.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Since you must not read the news, let me drop a knowledge bomb on you. Medicare is a broke ponzi scheme. Once the fed govt defaults on the national debt we'll finally have less govt in healthcare and things will be better. The reason HC is so effed up is b/c of of government.