A Stupid Analogy
Tibor R. Machan
Now that Judge Henry E. Hudson of the Virginia district court ruled that the Obama health care measure violates the U. S. Constitution by forcing people to make purchases they may not want to make, there are innumerable sophists who want to refute the rationale for the ruling. They trot out the “argument” that since people living in states may be required to carry auto insurance, they can also be made to purchase anything the government, including the feds, decides they must.
But this analogy fails because people do not have to drive! Yet under Obamacare by simply being living citizens, they would have to purchase health insurance. Never even mind that the state regulations requiring people to purchases auto insurance aren’t universal across the country and different states have the constitutional authority to handle the issues involved in their own way, with no federal mandate dictating to them what they must do.
Furthermore, one rationale in support of the state requirement that citizens who choose to drive carry insurance is that nearly all driving happens on state roads. There is no requirement to get insurance if one stays off them and confines one’s driving to private thoroughfares. And this is because it is the states that claim legal ownership of roads and they then get to set the standards for what those using the roads need to do for the privilege. (Yes, it is deemed a privilege, not a right, because of the state’s collective ownership of most roads.)
So the analogy with state requirements to carry driver’s insurance is fallacious. But when that’s pointed out, another tack is put forth, namely, that ill health is contagious like the plague or leprosy. This is desperate since it is blatantly wrong. One can have all sorts of ailments that will not be communicated to anyone near or far. One can contract ill health, injuries, maladies and so forth without the involvement of others. Sometimes it is just misfortune that brings this about, sometimes it is one’s own reckless conduct, sometimes the recklessness of people with whom one freely associates and rarely because of injuries sustained from what others do. In no such cases are those left out implicated and thus no one should be legally required to foot the bill of the health care measures, including insurance, that may be need to fix or treat things.
The sophists who bring up this line of shabby reasoning are capitalizing on the common sense idea that when people emit harm from their private activities--such as manufacture, smoking, reckless driving, and so forth--they ought to shoulder the burden that befalls others in consequences of it all. In short, no one ought to dump on other people the cost and liabilities of one’s own malpractice.
But this doesn’t apply to having to cope with most of one’s illnesses. A viral infection need not have come from someone else, nor a broken leg or nosebleed or upset stomach. When these occur people are supposed to be prepared to deal with it all, including foot the cost of getting them taken care of. Other people should not be placed into involuntary servitude so as to bail one out of either bad luck or misconduct that creates medical problems for one.
It is always a puzzle to me that so many people who are notoriously righteous about the past enslavement of millions of people around the globe, including in America, have no compunction about partially enslaving others so as to get their own agendas fulfilled. But if slavery is wrong, then so is imposing on others the negative consequences of one’s own life, just as it is wrong to deprive people of the positive consequences of the same.
This is the central issue in so many public policy debates not only in our time but from time immemorial. People are not for other people to be used against their will. Never, nohow, under no circumstances. Until this is learned good and hard everywhere, the world will be very far from having become truly civilized.