“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
The discussion about reversing the trend from collecting taxes that are spent on individuals, rather than on common use, is considered by some as revolutionary as the July 4, 1776 Declaration of Independence. Along with everyone else, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to this in light of last week’s Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. As with any law or tax, the conversation about “ObamaCare” must begin with the basics of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.
A decade after the Declaration of Independence, the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution of the US to “secure” the inalienable rights of the people from infringement by the government and to prevent the growth of interference by government except where necessary to prevent or punish the infringement of inalienable rights. The Constitution included a way to make changes that the People find necessary through the Amendment process. We can’t allow anyone, whether the United Nations, the World Health Organization, or “progressives” to fundamentally alter our Constitution by law, legal ruling, or bureaucratic regulations without going through the proper, Constitutional, amendment process.
The inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness carry through to all aspects of life, whether it’s working for day to day expenses, saving for the future, or making choices of foods to eat and entertainment. Rights create a non-delegable duty of personal responsibility, which means that each of us must pursue happiness for ourselves without infringing on anyone else’s rights. We cannot kill, enslave or limit others’ pursuit of happiness by forcing them to do our will or give us their property. This is true even when we face consequences that aren’t the result of our choices: accidents, natural catastrophes, bad luck or bad genes. If it makes you happy, you can freely give what you want to charity or service for the benefit of others, but even this is limited by the fact that your rights are inalienable: i.e., you can’t give away or sell your right to life or liberty.
One way that people exercise personal responsibility is to purchase insurance. Traditionally, insurance covered unexpected or catastrophic costs. There is no Constitutional justification – and certainly no economic justification – for the Federal government to turn health insurance into tax funded pre-paid “health care coverage” to pay for everything from first dollar.
When the People agree that a given purpose will secure what the Constitution calls our “Safety and Happiness,” we have allowed our governments to tax us for “public goods,” like roads, education, and defense. Social Security and Medicare are different, in that individuals were taxed and told that the money would be used for their own and their family’s future needs, rather than for common use.
After the passage of the Social Security Act in 1935 precipitated a near-Constitutional crisis, these funds were spent over the years by subsequent Congresses. They were also used to justify more taxes and spending for other people and purposes; what we now call “redistribution of wealth”. Bit by bit, good-hearted Americans have allowed the scope of both State and Federal entitlements to grow until more than half of our population receives tax funds paid by other people for food, housing, healthcare and even free cellular phones. And then came the Affordable Care Act or “ObamaCare,” which will “tax” or penalize every American if they don’t purchase government approved health insurance.
Obviously, our Nation shouldn’t break the contract with all of the people whose payroll taxes were collected over the years for Social Security and Medicare. However, the Accountable Care Act is the latest step toward the unconstitutional federalization of an industry in a way that wasn’t envisioned by the Founders of our Nation for ANY industry. What better time to evaluate Constitutional taxes and spending than Independence Day ?