Available Now! (click cover)

America's Counter-Revolution
The Constitution Revisited

From the back cover:

This book challenges the assumption that the Constitution was a landmark in the struggle for liberty. Instead, Sheldon Richman argues, it was the product of a counter-revolution, a setback for the radicalism represented by America’s break with the British empire. Drawing on careful, credible historical scholarship and contemporary political analysis, Richman suggests that this counter-revolution was the work of conservatives who sought a nation of “power, consequence, and grandeur.” America’s Counter-Revolution makes a persuasive case that the Constitution was a victory not for liberty but for the agendas and interests of a militaristic, aristocratic, privilege-seeking ruling class.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

The Taxing Power and the Mandate

Not withstanding what I said below, I see nothing objectionable in the Supreme Court's mandate ruling when judged in conventional--as opposed to libertarian--terms. The government plausibly contends that people without insurance impose some burden on others (through cost-shifting due to uncompensated care or government assistance). Therefore it proposes to tax uninsured people to make up those costs (in advance). If you buy insurance, there is no reason to tax you. If you don't, there is. (This doesn't mean I accept the analysis. The system that induces most people to have comprehensive health insurance actually puts a burden on those without it.)

Thus if you accept the State and the taxing power as legitimate, what's wrong with the argument that the mandate "penalty" is indeed a tax and not merely punishment?

To reject Roberts's reason, you have to reject a lot of premises. If you reject those premises, you just may be an anarchist.


Anonymous said...

"The government plausibly contends that people without insurance impose some burden on others"

I don't find that plausible at all.

The uninsured person is not the one imposing the burden on the insured, the government is, when it requires hospitals and physicians treat the uninsured.

If somebody doesn't want to bear that cost, the response should be to remove that requirement from the hospital. If you can't stomach that (which is reasonable), then don't complain about the cost.

Sheldon Richman said...

I agree entirely. I've written that the government can't claim it needs the mandate to protect the insurance market because (as you suggest) it's protecting that market from its own interventions. It can't properly create the conditions that "necessitate" regulation and then use those conditions as justification.

Here I was trying to look at the matter through the eyes of those who think those interventions are legitimate.