Thursday, March 25, 2010

Resisting Coercion

Maybe I'm missing something, but it seems to me that the health care bill signed into law Tuesday by President Obama contains the seeds of its own destruction.

First there's the delay for the payout of "benefits" to begin. This was made a feature of the bill to allow the Democrats to perpetrate their Enronesque accounting scam - collecting ten years of revenue for six years of payouts and claiming no increase to the deficit. The delay gives opponents time to mount their campaign for repeal.

Then there are the actuarial assumptions. As I understand it, the bill mandates that all citizens be covered by a federally approved medical insurance policy or pay a fine. Additionally, a person cannot be denied coverage even if he/she waits to be sick before signing up. Since the fines will be much less costly than the insurance premiums, it makes perfect sense not to buy the insurance until treatment is needed. (And then drop the insurance once the treatment is completed). If enough people do this, and I don't see why they wouldn't, the entire system would collapse.

In a commentary (3/24), Shikha Dalmia raises that prospect. Though she comes at it from a different standpoint - that of civil disobedience rather than that of practical choice - the effect would be the same.

The Wall Street Journal ran this excerpt of Dalmia's article today.

Resisting ObamaCare, Gandhi Style

By foisting ObamaCare on a deeply unwilling country he might have set the stage for the largest civil disobedience movement since the civil rights era, which, if it plays its cards right, could undo his legislation and his legacy. . . .

By some estimates, Uncle Sam will need to hire an additional 17,000 IRS agents or so just to enforce the coverage mandate. But even if a few million Americans simultaneously refuse to abide by it [or pay the fine], they could easily overwhelm the system. Self-rule or swaraj, Gandhi said, requires a collective understanding of the immense capacity of citizens to “regulate and control” the coercive apparatus of the state through mass nonviolent resistance.
President Obama and his fellow Democrats are counting on this resistance petering out. That could happen. But it will be a lot easier for opponents to maintain this zeal in the age of social networking. . . . After all, this issue is not just about the fate of an industry. It is about maintaining control over basic decisions about one’s own life and health.

In the original Forbes article, Dalmia also stresses the other avenues available to fight Obamacare - electoral; procedural; juridictional; and legal.

...the perpetrators of ObamaCare must be defeated in November and 2012. But right now it is entirely appropriate for Senate Republicans to stall the reconciliation process as much as possible. They are right in calling every point of order that they can--if only to call attention to the bill's manifest corruption. Likewise, the 30-plus states that are issuing sovereignty resolutions and exploring ballot initiatives that would protect their residents from Uncle Sam's coverage diktat are on the right track. Even if these efforts are ultimately thrown out in court because federal law trumps state law, they will make a powerful statement against the coercive nature of ObamaCare.

But the lawsuits that have a shot at sticking in court are the ones that various attorney generals around the country are preparing under the Constitution's commerce clause. This clause gives the federal government expansive powers to regulate interstate commercial activity. But it has never before been invoked to force Americans to purchase a product as a condition of lawful residence in this country. This crosses a line that might well make five Supreme Court justices balk.

If these tools fail then Dalmia urges playing the civil disobedience card beginning December 31, 2013 - the date the individual mandate goes into effect. She quotes Gandhi,

"civil disobedience becomes a sacred duty when the state has become lawless and corrupt."

WSJ excerpt

Original article

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