An Absence of Courage and Character

• July 2, 2012 • Uncategorized

There is now considerable evidence, reported by Jan Crawford on “Face the Nation” last Sunday, and by others as well, that Chief Justice John Roberts changed his opinion in the Obamacare decision because he feared that the Supreme Court would be damaged — the way it supposedly was after Bush v. Gore in 2000 –if it declared Obamacare — the chief legislative initiative of the president — to be unconstitutional.

If this was the case, then the Chief Justice should resign. He is not a public relations director; it is his job to evaluate cases on the basis of their legality and constitutionality. The Founding Fathers deliberately insulated the courts from external pressure — in the case of the Supreme Court by prescribing lifetime tenure — so that they could, if necessary, ignore the public’s wishes.

The Founding Fathers, however, did not consider the possibility that judges and justices might care so much about what the public thought that they would ignore their obligations and tailor their rulings to what was politically and personally expedient. In short, they did not consider the possibility that judges would lack the courage and integrity to do the right thing.

Nor did they consider that judges and justices might pervert the clear meaning of the English language, as Justice Roberts has done by calling a tax what is manifestly a penalty or a fine. The meaning of these words is clear: a tax is levied to generate revenue necessary for the state to carry out its obligations; a fine or penalty is punishment for unlawful conduct.

Applied to other aspects of our lives, such as sports, Roberts’ exercise in Orwellian Newspeak would require changing the language we use to describe them: The Penalty Box in hockey would be the Tax Box, roughing the kicker in football would be a fifteen yard tax, and so on.

George Orwell could have had the Chief Justice in mind when he commented famously that some ideas are so ridiculous only intellectuals could think of them.

But what the Chief Justice and his four liberal colleagues on the court have sanctioned by their decision should not be trivialized. The cost Obamacare will exact is not only economic, however destructive of our economy, and of our financial security as a nation, even higher deficits will be.

Obamacare will cause people to die. By increasing the number of persons with health insurance without at the same time increasing the number of doctors, health care will be rationed. And rationing will cause people with undiagnosed colon cancer – to take just one example – to die of the disease because the waiting list for colonoscopies will be too long.

The American people should know the consequences of Obamacare, and consider that carefully when deciding whom to vote for this November.

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2 Responses to “An Absence of Courage and Character”

  1. Seer Clearly on July 9th, 2012 4:59 pm

    Let’s say for a moment that Roberts’ decision was indeed informed by a desire not to damage the Supreme Court further after the epic failure of the 2000 election, which people on both sides of the American Polarization now accept was a horrific mistake, apparently.  Your criticism of him however, is based on the assumption that somehow SCOTUS justices should “do the right thing” without taking any external consequences of their decisions into account.  I’m not convinced that the Founders shared that intention.  However, if you truly believe that, then you should also be agitating that Scalia, Thomas, and Alito, who received monetary and non-monetary compensation from groups opposed to the Affordable Care Act, resign as well, since their votes can only be interpreted as taking those external consequences (in this case to their personal financial or political ambitions) into account. Their behavior would make your assertion of Roberts’ failure almost paint him in an altruistic light.
    The tax/fine argument you give does indeed sound like a valid reason for the court to have ruled against the ACA, however it was itself a red herring raised by the anti-ACA groups to force the court into ruling against ACA, irrespective of “doing what is right.”  Ultimately, the question is whether the ACA will provide a net benefit to the US and its citizens, and the tax/fine argument definitely was designed to remove the focus of the court from that question and manipulate it into not considering what mattered.

    Of course ACA will cause people to die.  Doing nothing is causing even more people to die. There is no solution – even Single Payer as implemented anywhere in the world – that will not cause people to die.   Resources are finite, but people’s demands on them are not.  Right now, that results in a system that rations care to those who are sick and provides unneeded care to those who are well, which seems bizarre if you examine it even casually, sort of like a car wash that only cleans clean cars.   Perfect for the provider, maybe, but not for anyone else.  The goal of the health care overhaul should be to offer care based on the spirit of our constitutional guarantees of equality and equal protection under the law that apply in other areas of government’s concern. The ACA does that, albeit imperfectly.

    In your example, you speak of rationing.  But who is being rationed to?  What happens to those who would have to keep giving up all care in order to prevent those people who are potentially being rationed to from suffering any rationing? You’re also assuming that healthcare is a zero-sum game in which resources remain finite forever.  If you also believe in capitalism, which I surmise you do, then in a short time, more resources will be available since the market has expanded.
    The fundamental contested principle of the ACA – mandated health insurance – was created by the Heritage Foundation and implemented by Romney.  It’s a very simple principle: we are all paying (via taxes) for very expensive healthcare delivered in emergency rooms to people without coverage.  Well, almost all of us: those taxes tend to be local taxes, so corporations and individuals who avoid local entanglement will be free of those taxes. So effectively the current system is a form of corporate socialism, in which large employers pass the burden of social responsibility to local taxpayers.

    A great net savings to the nation will result from earlier, preventative care provided within the context of our normal healthcare system. To do this, everyone must be covered.  And once that happens, the total costs will be distributed across many more people, resulting in lower premiums compared to our current system where payment is based on current consumption versus the ACA’s payment based on lifetime consumption.  It is not shifting the cost of healthcare to people who will never pay it like some kind of tax, but rather it shifts the cost in time so that each of us pays for our lifetime’s care across our lifetime.  You can think of it more as a compulsory health care savings account plan.

    Finally, your last sentence is specious.  Since “Obamacare” (the ACA) was modeled closely after “Romneycare”, it is really a manipulative misnomer. Who’s more likely to support its implementation: the man who had a hand in creating it, or the current President who was forced to accept it as a compromise? Your argument really just illustrates the logical fallacy that the President somehow controls the nation’s destiny.

  2. twolaneflash on July 10th, 2012 11:17 am

    Don’t worry about the colonoscopy line being too long.  You can have my place.  Never, ever again.  Worst. Experience. Of. My. Life.

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