Americans, rejoice! Your royal government has given you a choice!
You get to choose between buying a very specific, expensive product that you may not need or want, and paying a fine ... oops, I mean a tax, instead!
Oh, the blessings of freedom!
The Supreme Court today upheld the government’s ability to impose a fine on individuals who have the gall to refuse to participate in specific economic activity that the government decides is in everyone’s best interest.
The good news for those worried about runaway government power is that the Court did not expand the government’s power to regulate interstate commerce any further. The bad news is that calling the mandate a tax completely cancels out the good news.
From now on, America is a place in which the government can require everyone to buy anything, as long as Congress is prepared to levy taxes on people who do not want to buy the product in question.
The obvious question is: What’s next? What other choices will our royal government bless us by providing? Perhaps a choice between buying a Brita water filter and paying a tax? Or a choice between joining a gym and paying a tax? If my health is so very important to the government, and I am so incapable of making my own decisions about it, why should the government’s control over my health stop at insurance?
And what about behavior? I’m sure the government would think it best for me to stop writing this article. Perhaps I should have the choice to either stop writing this, or pay a tax! Since the Supreme Court decided today that the government’s taxing power trumps any reasonable reading of the Tenth Amendment and the Commerce Clause, the government’s taxing power may just trump my First Amendment rights as well.
With this principle in hand, there is no clear, obvious limit to the government’s power to regulate individual behavior.
What can’t they do now? What other choices do we have to look forward to?