The Roberts Ruling on ObamaCare Signals a Turning Point

Have we lost sight of first principles?

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Presently in America, nearly half of all households receive either a salary or substantial benefits from the government. Presently in America, nearly half of all adults pay no federal income taxes. Presently in America, the half that pay no income taxes receive the bulk of their income courtesy of the government, but ultimately from the half that do. This money is extracted involuntarily from the paying half by a permanent bureaucracy that extracts and gives away more each year no matter who is running the government. The recipients of these transfer payments rely upon them for subsistence, so they have a vested financial interest in sending to Washington those who will continue to take your money and give it to them.

It is no wonder that we are now saddled with the micromanagement of health care by the same bureaucratic mindset that mismanages the Post Office and everything else the federal government runs. It should not be surprising to know that presently in America, half of the people actually want the government to take care of their needs. The same was the case under Communist regimes, but here those folks vote.

Hence, we have laws that force us to be charitable to those whom the government designates as worthy of our charity, that limit the amount of salt that restaurants can put into our food, that permit the government to watch us on street corners and subways and in the lobbies of buildings, that let the president fight wars of opportunity, that permit the Federal Reserve to print money with no value and inflate prices and destroy savings, that allow the government to listen to us on our cellphones and use those phones to follow us wherever we go, and, according to CIA Director David Petraeus, that let the government anticipate our movements inside our homes.

And as of the last week in June, the government has a vast new power that was brought to us by the Supreme Court's latest attack on personal freedom. Congress can now lawfully command any behavior of individuals that it pleases—whether or not the subject of the behavior is a power granted to Congress by the Constitution—and it may punish noncompliance with that command, so long as the punishment is called a tax.

Justice Antonin Scalia's whimsical query during the Supreme Court oral argument on the health care law about whether Congress could make him eat broccoli suddenly isn't as funny as it was when he asked it, because the answer is: It can fine him for not eating broccoli, so long as it calls that fine a tax.

Quick: If you call a tail a leg, how many legs does a dog have? Answer: Four, because calling a tail a leg doesn't make a tail a leg.

How did we get here?

We got here because voters and the government we elected, and even the courts the popular branches appointed and confirmed, have lost sight of first principles. When Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence that our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are a part of our humanity, and when we fought and won the Revolution under that premise, and when the first Congress enacted that language as the first federal law, this became the irrevocable recognition of the Natural Law as the basis for our personal freedom and limited government. Since our rights come from our humanity, they don't come from the government.

But you would never know that from looking at the government. In New York City, where I work at Fox News Channel, we are all embroiled in two disputes this summer over the constitutional role of the government in our lives. The mayor, a self-made billionaire who likes donuts and has bodyguards but wants to tell others how to live in private and in public, is trying to ban soda pop in containers larger than 16 ounces and wants the police to be able to stop and frisk anyone on a whim—and all in the name of health and safety. He is actually banning freedom.

Imagine Jefferson being told what to eat or stopped and frisked on a whim. And then imagine the Supreme Court telling him that he must pay a tax if he fails to comport his personal private behavior as Congress—which doesn't believe in privacy or personal freedom—commands.

Here is how you can tell that these are bad days for freedom: Does the government need your permission to violate your rights, or do you need the government's permission to exercise them? The answer is painfully obvious.

Presently in America, what are we going to do about it?

Andrew P. Napolitano, a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior judicial analyst at Fox News Channel. Judge Napolitano has written six books on the U.S. Constitution. The most recent is "It Is Dangerous To Be Right When the Government Is Wrong: The Case for Personal Freedom."

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  1. It’s not a turning point, we’re going to do nothing about it, the authoritarians won.

    The two current “young” generations (including mine) are so thoroughly indoctrinated that nothing would be done even if they weren’t completely incompetent and unmotivated. We’ll generally erode and eventually break up once the financial wrecking ball hits.

    I don’t see any outside force coming in to accelerate or galvanize a resistance so that’s out. Best we can ‘hope’ for is some sort of massive biological adjustment, but those are actually pretty few and far between, and we’re pretty good at fighting them off as a species.

    So, I guess there’s that.

    1. I don’t see any outside force coming in to accelerate or galvanize a resistance so that’s out.

      That is the beauty of resistance; you never know where it will come from or what will spark it. I have a bit more (not much) faith in the people to value their freedom. You never know, with the internet, it could be someone from another country that galvanizes the people here. The best we can do is keep spreading the word and be ready.

    2. ^This. Unfortunately, this.

      1. I blame Ke$ha for this somehow.

        On topic, WG is correct, IME. I am firmly convinced people will trade liberty for an alleged guaranteed favourable outcome. Even when it turns out to be a ruse. Looking at you, O’RomneyCare.

        1. No matter how much I try to break them out of it I see signs in my kids regularly. My 17 year-old daughter hates going to restaurants because the menus have too many choices and she can’t decide what to have. She usually just drops the menu and asks somebody else to pick for her.

          1. She usually just drops the menu and asks somebody else to pick for her.

            Then pick something she hates and make her eat it (I jest). Maybe then she will get the point that if she doesn’t choose for herself, then someone will choose for her, and it may not be something she likes.

            1. Now *that’s* good parenting. Seriously.

            2. I generally just tell her to pick something on her own or don’t eat. My wife however is much more forgiving.

              1. Harsh, I know, but tell your wife to grow the fuck up so your daughter can, too. She’s almost an adult and can’t make a choice so simple as picking a meal off a menu? Scary!

                1. Grow a set of nuts and give them both a good cuffing. Then you’ll be truly free to dine alone.

        2. an alleged guaranteed favourable outcome

          Outcomes, guaranteed or not, should be objectively tested. If they do not pan out, the engineers of the the schemes should fall on their swords, or at least resign and be banned from public office forever.

          1. Not in this country. Intentions are all that matter here.

            1. You give the opposition too much credit. Intentions don’t matter, either. Libertarians have both good intentions and good outcomes. All that really matters is petty emotion or traditions, and we don’t do so well in either of those arenas.

              1. Take Keynesian economics, for example. The whole theory behind it is based on the idea that you can lower wage rates through inflation. How is those intentions any different than people who want to let market forces drive down wage rates? Easy. They tell people that they care oh so much about the unemployed and they’re going to do “something” about it. It’s pure emotional bullshit.

                1. It is different in that your average idiot does not perceive inflation the same way as he does wage reductions.

              2. Fair enough. I suppose I really meant raw emotional appeals masquerading as stated intentions. “For the children, the poor, the old, the environment, whatthefuckever.”

    3. “The two current “young” generations (including mine) are so thoroughly indoctrinated that nothing would be done even if they weren’t completely incompetent and unmotivated.”

      I don’t get this complaint. Young people have always been socialists. It’s not hard to figure out why. Social interaction is the currency of youth, and socialism appeals to that, if superficially. When they get older, they start to see other people not as intrinsically good but as an outcome of their choices and actions, and all that mysticism fades away. Hell, I was like that. I was never a socialist but I had hatred for self-interest, consumerism, corporations and all those bullshit catchphrases. It wasn’t until I really started to think about what I found so unappealing about that that I realized it had more to do with my own selfish desires than anything else and I couldn’t maintain that internal contradiction over time so I had to redevelop my worldview. I imagine a great many people go through the same transformation. Its all part of the naivete of youth.

      1. In addition to all of that, schools are the most socialist structure in our society and kids spend more waking time there than they do anywhere else for twelve to seventeen years.

        1. Not mine

      2. When they get older, they start to see other people not as intrinsically good but as an outcome of their choices and actions, and all that mysticism fades away.

        Teenagers don’t consider people to be good, hence their desire for top down control. They want enforced fairness becuase, at their stage of life, everything seems entirely unfair.

        Things don’t improve as they get older. Look at what was spewed by Occupy Wall Street. The whole movement was about freeing people from the burdens of their own poor choices.

        Sure some people stray from the path. Maybe life taught them some tough lessons – it’s hard to beat the free education provided by the School of Hard Knocks. Maybe they stumbled across The Road to Serfdom, or Anarchy, State and Utopia and realized it just isn’t possible to do everything, everyone wants. But these people are by far the exception and not the rule.

        I would like to think libertarian principles are on the cusp of a preference cascade, but let’s be honest most people don’t identify with a philosophy requiring self direction.

        1. most people don’t identify with a philosophy requiring self direction

          de Tocqueville strikes again

        2. “Teenagers don’t consider people to be good, hence their desire for top down control. They want enforced fairness becuase, at their stage of life, everything seems entirely unfair.”

          What I meant by that was that they see people as intrinsically good, and so all of their problems must of course be somebody else’s fault. But after a while, reality has a way of revealing how much your choices impact your happiness, and their naive outlook gets put to the test.

          I would like to think libertarian principles are on the cusp of a preference cascade, but let’s be honest most people don’t identify with a philosophy requiring self direction.

          I don’t think that either, but I’m not all doom-and-gloom, either.

          1. In my experience, people ever grow out of externalizing their failures.

    4. Unfortunately I think you’re correct. I’m a late gen x-er (b. 1978), and it was my generation and gen y that voted for Obama in droves. I’d like to think we were duped by a fast talking con man, but given how many are going to vote for him again this year, I suspect that most of my generation knew exactly what they were getting themselves into and didn’t care. All they cared about was “MOAR FREE SHIT”.

      1. I’m a late gen-x-er as well and I don’t see it that way. Sure, a lot of people I know are Obama maniacs but it’s all because of shit like foreign policy and gay marriage, more than it is “give me free shit!”. I actually see our generation as quite libertarian, but in a casual way. It’s Gillespie libertarians more than Rothbard or Friedman (like our parents) libertarians. Gen-Y is different, though. They’re majority “MOAR FREE SHIT” like you said. But at the same time, they drove the whole Ron Paul thing, as well. I’d say only about 30% of them are libertarian, but they’re fierce and passionate, moreso than anybody else. They’re going to win converts.

        1. My kid’s early twenty year old friends are some kind of weird give me free shit libertarians.

          The don’t want limits on their behavior, hate paying taxes, hate bureaucracies of all sorts and yet somehow think that the government can and should be daddy warbucks that gives them free shit.

          I think that as they mature they’ll come to realize that the free shit is shit and not an acceptable trade off for the things that they hate.

      2. It’s easy to forget how awful Bush Jr was, how McCain looked like more of the same, and that Sarah Palin was the VP for a guy who many expected to keel over if elected. Against that awful downside, Obama said a lot of right things — end the wars (Iraq, Afghanistan, Drugs), end the spying, end the spending.

        I think everyone except the fanatics has been surprised at how much Obama flipflopped on just about every singe promise. He did go for the universal health care, but even that was for a version which he had campaigned against.

        Obama didn’t win because people expected great things. He won because people were tired of Bush and hoped for change.

  2. “Land of the free and home of the brave.”

    What a freak’n joke that is. What lies we tell to puff ourselves up.

  3. I prefer to image Andrew Jackson being frisked and bossed around – while he’s carrying a hickory cane and a dueling pistol.

  4. I hope some lefty wanders by to read this and get the vapors about its eliminationist rhetoric.

    1. Tony! Shrikey! Come out and play!

      1. “Warriors Left-tards! Come out to play-ee-ay!!!

  5. Gotta luv it.

    We all want to be taken care of, and we all want free stufffffffffffffffff.

    Representative democracy = Fundamentalist Paternalism

  6. Presently in America, what are we going to do about it?

    Nothing. The makers have lives outside of govt, the takers don’t. Their income, self image, identity, etc come from govt. They won’t rest. They can’t rest. Govt is all they have.

    They have an ideology that says that they are the moral elite no matter what they do, so they’ve thrown all ethical restrictions on what they do for power out the window.

    They have an ideology that says they’re the intellectual elite who must save us from ourselves, thus giving moral cover for anything unethical they have to do to get power (they can’t very well give us any control over their ability to save us from ourselves, now can they?).

    1. Nothing will happen because so many people get something from the government. It is so woven into our lives that very few are willing to upset the apple cart even if there’s a tunnel to freedom underneath it.

      I myself would give up all savings and never retire if a truly minimal government were the reward. But not even 1% of the population wants to chance a minimal government, and not even 1% of them would make the same trade.

      We will muddle thru, never becoming a nazi or communist dictatorship, just gradually handing over more and more daily control to the government. I doubt even a Greeced exit would change things fundamentally.

      1. We’re headed for We by Zamyatin

    2. So, we get elected, and then take away their ability to vote.

      We could even be direct about it. “Our one campaign promise is to take away the franchise of anyone whose paycheck comes from tax money. If you’re not paying for it, you don’t get a say in how it’s run.”

  7. Presently in America, what are we going to do about it?

    *transition wipe*
    Meanwhile Babibooma the Hutt celebrates the success of his latest extortion scheme.

  8. Imagine Thomas Jefferson being told what to eat or stopped and frisked on a whim.

    No, I’ll do no such thing. The Supreme Court also has upheld obscenity laws so I can’t think about clearly pornographic situations like the above.

  9. We got here because voters … have lost sight of first principles.

    Voters could be tested at the polls. Five simple questions about first principles. Each wrong answer would diminish the vote by 20%.

  10. I don’t have any faith that Americans will grow a spine any time soon. I finished A Distant Mirror by Barbara Tuchman. If humanity can survive the 14th century, it can survive most anything.

    The serfs of america don’t know they are being just stupid sheep because thinking and being a fucking sheep is all they know. They are too busy with their fucking noses in their phones (what exactly are people doing on these phones that is so god damn time consuming anyway?) and buying cheap china made shit to worry about boring stuff like freedom, federalism, and self respect. It is like screaming at J.S. Mill’s pig for acting like a pig. It’s all he’s ever known.

    The only people that this soft totalitarinism is going to bother are shitheads like y’all who like to think for yourselves.

  11. Presently in America, what are we going to do about it?

    Is this a call to arms? To arms! Havoc!

    If only.

    1. This is interesting. I have no doubt that millions would answer a credible call to arms. But how is such a call made?

  12. Imagine Thomas Jefferson having sex with a woman because he owned her. Imagine that!

    1. The founders had odd interpretations of limited government too.

      I think the Judge is being naive, the founders aren’t the best example of limited government.

      1. I really wish libertarians would get of the whole “Founders” fetish. It’s creepy and embarrassing. How can you bash the statists’ appeals to emotion when you’re constantly appealing to authorities? Hell, it’s not even an appeal to authority so much as it is an appeal to cultural icons, which is a disturbingly collectivist approach, by the way.

        1. So who is our best historical example? Locke? Mill? Spooner?

          Most Americans don’t know who the Founders were. Extolling the lesser known characters doesn’t seem to be an effective method of gaining converts and changing minds.

          1. Try to push the ideas, not the men. If they like the ideas, you can have them read the men.

            1. Unfortunately, people respond more to anecdotes and personality figures than they do to ideas. But your point is well taken.

        2. Excuse me, but what a load of CRAP! The founders weren’t perfect. OH MY GOD! I guess we should just completely dismiss them and ignore their arguments. We shouldn’t respect or admire anyone who isn’t God Almighty.
          If imperfect, the founders laid out a vision of governement that was radically more favorable to limited government than that of any prominent politician we’ve seen in the last century. That vision of government formed the very basis of our nation. And it was a vision of government that proved wildly successful for much of this nation’s history. For much of the country, that buys a lot of leverage to those extolling the virtues of maintaining and extending those principles of limited government. And respect for that example is hardly misplaced.
          Don’t misunderstand me. I get it. The founders are “hokey”. They won’t get you an invite to the cool cocktail parties. And the chicks won’t dig you like they will the dipshit with the picture of Che on his t-shirt. Fine. But, honestly, there’s a huge difference between acknowledging the worth of the vision of limited government set forth by the founders and substituting their judgement for your own.

          1. I didn’t say ‘hokey’ I said ‘creepy’. I often hear “The Founders said it” used as a justification in itself, and worse, often as a response to an empirical argument by a statist. It’s those cases where it’s creepy, not as a response to some squealing Occutard in a Che shirt. It actually comes off as mature compared to those freaks. Maybe its about picking the time, but anybody can babble on about founders. In the long run, reasoned arguments win the day, so better to carry an armament of those.

            1. Okay, my apologies on that last paragraph. I do see where I may have gone off a bit half-cocked. But, I really don’t see too many libertartians running around using the founders as a trump card for an argument. But, then I’m in New York…

    2. Imagine most any man in those days having sex with a woman because there was no such crime as raping one’s wife, wives being treated pretty much like slaves by the law back then.

      As for Sally Hemmings, I would imagine she enjoyed every minute of it – or at least, made sure that Thomas did. Why else would he have kept at her for so long?

      1. Except that there’s no evidence he had any sort of relationship with Sally Hemings.

        http://online.wsj.com/article/…..lenews_wsj

    3. You can imagine it if you like, but there is no evidence that it actually happened.

      http://online.wsj.com/article/…..lenews_wsj

  13. The prose in the Constitution does not help. It is amorphous and vague.

    All “limited governments” eventually expand. There’s no great way to prevent this.

    1. Well, you can take comfort in the fact that all big governments eventually collapse.

      1. Its a bummer that we have to wait for this to happen.

        1. Probably gonna be a bigger bummer in the middle of the collapse.

          1. Since when is the Constitution vague? “Make no law”, “shall not be abridged”, etc. These all seem pretty fucking clear.

            1. Or “No state shall make any Thing but gold or silver coin legal tender in payment of debt”. It’s so clear that the socialist indoctrination centers (public schools) refuse to teach it.

              1. “promote the general welfare” ?

                Commerce clause? Necessary and Proper Clause? No it isn’t clear and the prose is not straightforward.

                Further even if the prose were perfect, “limited governments” tend to expand anyway. Most of the Libertarians here are extremely undisciplined and constantly make exceptions for everything.

    2. Perhaps Ginsburg has a point about the South African Constitution then.

    3. Such as explicit mentions of freedom of press AND speech. I have never been able to understand how anyone back then could think both were necessary or what difference they perceived.

      Then the second amendment has that weird beginning clause, and says “shall not be infringed” instead of “Congress shall make no law”. Does that mean it should have applied without the 14th amendment?

      Sometimes I think all of the 1-8 amendments could have been replaced with the single fundamental unalterable right of “control of self and property”.

      1. Agreed, the founders could have written the bill of rights much better, and shorter.

  14. Congress can now lawfully command any behavior of individuals that it pleases?whether or not the subject of the behavior is a power granted to Congress by the Constitution?and it may punish noncompliance with that command, so long as the punishment is called a tax.

    That’s false. They an completely and explicitly avoid calling it a tax and it’s still ok. Just like you call that a picture even though it has no alt-text.

  15. Yesterday I was standing in the express checkout line in wal-mart(20 items or less). The woman in front of me (Black, mid-sixties, using a walker) had a full buggy with probably 100+ items. When the cashier had all of them run up, the woman decided she had forgotten some things. Her son, who was mid twenties went back into the store to get them….one at a time. First he brought some corn on the cob, then went back for two sides of pork ribs…one at a time…Then a forth trip for something else that I dont remember. He moved in the slowest of slow motions.
    While he was gone the forth time the woman left the checkout herself and went for more items….using her walker. When she finally paid…..you guessed it….she paid with a louisiana purchase card.

    We are doomed.

    1. Watermelon?

      1. Going forward I will starve before I go into a Walmart during the first week of the month.

  16. What a blenderized mess this article is.

    CIA surveillance, soda-pop bans, stop-and-frisk and Obamacare butthurt … all thrown together into one mindless howl of outrage.

    Sometimes, you can try a little too hard to “connect the dots,” friendo.

    Take note: the “constituencies” for these various infringements on liberty could not be more different. The nanny-state soda-haters are not clamoring for CIA surveillance. The stop-and-frisk-crazy cops probably hate Obamacare — and anything else that gives a break to low-income people — even more than you do.

    Until you recognize the complexities and nuances of the present situation of American politics, you can offer little more than an unincisive screed.

    So far, Libertarian alliance-making has given us the “fusionism” that brought Bush/Cheney to office, and the stillborn “Liberaltarian” moment. Got any better ideas?

    1. Got any better ideas?

      deixa eu dan?ar pro meu corpo ficar odara – minha cara, minha cuca ficar odara

      http://www.odarabrasil.com.br/index.html

    2. Well said.. I marvel at the title “Reason” vs the content and commentary sometimes.. (though a lot of it is great.. so I stick around).

  17. Judge, you can also add that Roberts’ reasoning here corresponds exactly to the theory behind the jizya from Sharia: You don’t have to convert to Islam, but you’ll pay a tax if you don’t.

  18. In all fairness the post office is actually a highly successful business model . . . except that all of its profits are put into a slush fund that congress robs.

  19. I disagree with Mr Napolitano, as I think the SCOTUS has been pushing the USA up the creek for a good 70 years now. Otherwise, he is spot on.

    http://www.foramberwaves.us/

  20. the micromanagement of health care by the http://www.maillotfr.com/maill…..c-3_9.html same bureaucratic mindset that mismanages the Post Office and everything else the federal government runs. It should not be surprising to know

  21. heard of something like this for the first time. thanks for sharing it.cheap sunglasses

  22. Presently in America – we need to exercise OUR power, that is to vote.

    Vote for representatives that adhere to their oath of office to uphold the constitution.

    Isn’t that ultimately what the Roberts decision encourages us to do – Use wisely our power of choice?

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