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On the eve of the Supreme Court ruling on "Obamacare"...

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Autolykos Posted: Thu, Jun 21 2012 1:07 PM

I'd like to offer a prediction.

Should the Supreme Court rule the individual-mandate aspect of "Obamacare" constitutional, it opens the door to the following: People could become required by law to purchase drugs prescribed to them by doctors. Furthermore, people could become required by law to take those drugs. There could be even more to it than that. This is why I say that government-controlled medicine leads to people being increasingly managed like cattle instead of treated like human beings.

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Yeah,  I've thought this too.  If you read Jonothan Gruber's "Public Finance and Public Policy"  (Gruber was an economist that helped write the bill) you can see that he supports mandatory vaccinations based on the "social cost" of universal health care.  My review was only one star (Obfuscatory and Propagandist).

From my brief review,

Chapter 1, Section 4. Something For the Whole Family

Here the author discusses the merits of, you guessed it, flu vaccinations. To get people's minds in the right state of emotion, he starts by saying there are 45 million Americans without health insurance. He says that people who do not take flu shots increase the risk of contaminating others. This carries more negative externalities in the form of causing a rise in medical costs and, because the author is a professor, students grades drop. The definition of a negative externality (from the book [for clarity]): "When a decision imposes on others costs that I don't bear." Seems like my forcing medicine down someone's throat might be a decision that imposes costs that I don't bear, no?

Gruber is assuming that utility is properly measurable, which is not true under scrutiny.

- If i get my flu shot I do decrease the risk of others getting it, assuming I am around people who do not have the vaccine, but I do not cause a rise in medical costs in general. After all, if I don't get my vaccine then i am not consuming a unit of it. This technically will drop the price, or not change it, because I'm leaving my unit on the market for others, effectively ensuring that the market is +1 unit no matter what because i am not buying one. Costs generally lower here.

- My flu shot has nothing to do with other students grades, regardless of the complications of externalities. This is not an economic argument that one would make with verbal logic. His logic says that, by my getting a flu shot, then others school performance would rise and would lower the costs associated. This is absurd. My getting a flu shot consumes a unit on the market meaning that there are less available for others to purchase and consume and my consumption, or lack of, has nothing to do with other students grades. After all, they can get the shot or choose not to, so it cannot be entirely my 'fault' for someone else getting sick. Get it?

He is, supposedly, an economist, are we not considering correlation and causation? Post hoc ergo propter hoc.

The bulk of these pages were written as evidence that mandatory vaccines are beneficial and perfectly "rational." Economics says so.

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Autolykos replied on Thu, Jun 21 2012 1:25 PM

Really, this individual mandate, if ruled constitutional, could open the door to requiring people by law to take any sort of treatment (pharmaceutical or otherwise) prescribed to them by a doctor. We could also see regulations on what treatments doctors are allowed to prescribe in different situations. Managed like cattle, indeed.

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Anenome replied on Thu, Jun 21 2012 5:28 PM

If ruled constitutional, it's a tipping point for America into real tyranny. It's the establishment of positive rights and there won't be any limits after that to government paternalize.

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"Really, this individual mandate, if ruled constitutional, could open the door to requiring people by law to take any sort of treatment (pharmaceutical or otherwise)"

The otherwise being essentially unlimited. One could be forced to buy a treadmill, a diet could be forced, taxes of things deemed harmful to health could reach new levels (things like sugar, tobacco, alcohol, fats, etc.)... I repeat, we would be cattle indeed.

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I'm pretty sure they're going to rule the whole thing Constitutional.  I don't think we'll ever have non-profit govt run health care, but like Dr. Paul said, everything the government does is a mandate... which means that there is really no limit.  That said, I don't think this starts any completely new precedent as John Marshall set it.

I also think Obama's team changing their defense from interstate commerce to necessary and proper is ominous.

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Why is everyone so pessimistic about the court now?

The last time this made news it was because there were so many criticisms levied at it by the Justices themselves.

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Anenome replied on Thu, Jun 21 2012 6:05 PM

I don't think they will rule for it.

I listened to the oral arguments, etc., seems even Kennedy thinks the idea highly suspect. And I know Roberts won't vote for it, though the libs have been pinning their hopes on him in the face of Kennedy's skeptical questioning.

That said, it won't stop much. A society predicated on socialism can only tend towards socialism.

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Wheylous replied on Fri, Jun 22 2012 1:28 AM

I'm not sure that this bill will lead directly to that, but the idea you present in the OP actually sounds like what progressives might try to pass.

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Autolykos replied on Fri, Jun 22 2012 7:40 AM

No, I wasn't implying that it would lead directly to that - only that, once the precedent has been established that the federal government has the legal authority to order US citizens to purchase one thing, it effectively has the legal authority to order them to purchase anything else it wants them to.

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Wheylous replied on Fri, Jun 22 2012 10:04 AM

Mmm - gotcha. Precedent. Yeah. I agree.

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jodiphour replied on Fri, Jun 22 2012 10:15 AM

People can already be forced to buy medication and/or take medication in certain circumstances... e.g. a schitzo having a public mental breakdown or someone rescued unconscious from an accident.

But translating the Obamacare ruling to general or arbitrary forcing of consumption of medication is a bit too much of a logical leap. The issue is a tax issue. Of course you can argue is the forced purchase of medication issue, but in that vein we are already forced to purchase medicne and have been so ever since any tax money was ever used to buy medicine. But that argument isn't very pragmatic. 

For the govt to start forcing people to take medicine in usual circumstances, it will have to take a much more complex argument about federal powers. And this is why I'm glad people like those of you on this forum exist. Even though I disagree with most of you on the vast majority of your opinions probably, I'm glad you are free to think and speak. If everyone was a submissive socio-liberal, we might very well live in a world where forced medication is the norm. Thankfully there are still those out there who remind us of our natural independence.

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For the govt to start forcing people to take medicine in usual circumstances, it will have to take a much more complex argument about federal powers.

I disagree.  Look at the way that the general welfare clause is interpreted...

Liberal: "Well, it says general and welfare.  I take that to mean ... ya know, general, and uhhh, welfare."

Or the commerce clause...

Liberal: "By not engaging in commerce, you effect effect!"

I'm telling you the economists that helped form this bill think you should be forced to take seasonal flu vaccinations since if you do not get it you could potentially increase the cost of universal health care recipients by spreading contagion.

You have no incentive to keep healthy (diet and/or exercise) if someone else is subsidizing your increased health care costs down the road.  You are more likely to smoke et al as well.  If the government tries at all to prevent this behavior it has to put limits on behavior.   This is a necessary fact.

The issue is a tax issue.

The issue is whether or not the government can compel private individuals to contract with other private individuals.

Of course you can argue is the forced purchase of medication issue, but in that vein we are already forced to purchase medicne and have been so ever since any tax money was ever used to buy medicine.

This made little sense to me.

Where am I compelled to purchase medicine by government decree?  I volunteer for vaccines to get into University (those may be State/Federal rules)

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Aristophanes:
You have no incentive to keep healthy (diet and/or exercise) if someone else is subsidizing your increased health care costs down the road.  You are more likely to smoke et al as well.  If the government tries at all to prevent this behavior it has to put limits on behavior.   This is a necessary fact.

This is yet another area where the statist argument breaks down.  In this instance, they probably will use that excuse...that people will be more reckless with their health because they don't shoulder the cost (financially anyway) for their unhealthy decisions.

However...when you point out how this same logic destroys their argument for a "guaranteed safety net", they'll claim the opposite.

As in, here, you have a progressive claiming you need to force people to take care of their body because if they don't have to pay the cost when it breaks down, they won't bother taking care of themselves in the first place.  But if you appy the same argument, and point out how, if everyone is guaranteed a minimum "living wage" (whether they do anything or not), and a house, and health care, and education, and all the crap included in Dumbassevelt's "2nd Bill of Rights" and everything else these people think they are entitled to...then no one will work for any of those things—meaning there will be no one to provide them, meaning everyone will have a "right" to them, but no one will have them—the same progressives will claim "That's not true!  That wouldn't happen!  No one wants to live at the bottom!"  (Basically implying that there will always be people who actually produce that you can take from.)

So basically, people will get morbidly obese, and destroy their heart and lungs, to where they can't get around but in a scooter, and can't speak but for a mechanical larynx, because they know they won't have to pay for those devices...but people will go out and get a job and work to earn a wage to pay for their food and housing, even though they are guaranteed those things too.

Got it.  Leftists make total consistent sense once again!

 

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John James:
So basically, people will get morbidly obese, and destroy their heart and lungs, to where they can't get around but in a scooter, and can't speak but for a mechanical larynx, because they know they won't have to pay for those devices...but people will go out and get a job and work to earn a wage to pay for their food and housing, even though they are guaranteed those things too.

I mostly agree with you guys but I think you have committed a bit of a slippery slope with regard to the actual results of such policies. I do think you are over stating these a bit. These "rights" will certainly decrease the incentive to live healthfully, and, should these things become "rights" then certainly those on the margin will become the kind of people you are talking about. However, I do not think that just because someone would be willing (or forced) to pay for my mechanical larynx, that I would then take that as a signal to go start huffing my exhaust pipe just because it gets me a little high. I have health insurance and it pays for literally everything besides a $20 co-pay on all prescription drugs. My deductible for major medical procedures is $1000, and that deductible is also used up if I need to buy equipment such as a wheel chair, oxygen, or mechanical larynx. This is a laughable expense for me. So, pretty much, I fall under the category of person you are talking about (in medicine at least).  

Living with a real larynx is still preferable to living with a mechanical one, even if it is "free". Again, there will be those on the margin of bad health anyway who will go out and be that stupid, but if we are going to say that individuals are perfectly capable of raising their children without the aid of the government, then I think we should be consistent enough to, at least, give most people the credit of being smart enough not to go totally bonkers into abysmal health, despite what is "free".  

But, in the area of food or living wages: totally correct. If food and wages are given to me for free, I will not go out and get a job. Of course, once I find that there is no food because no one is producing it, and the wage I am paid is laughable (if existent) then I will start to work. Perhaps such a crazy policy would be good for us in the long run, kind of like letting the currency and economy totally collapse. If NO ONE is producing, the government then has no money and therefore no power over us. They would become irrelevant and all markets would become, in essence, black markets with no way for the government to stomp them out.  

Anyway, you all are right in that I think we will see a general degradation in over all wealth and health by comparison should policies like the second bill of rights come to pass. That is obvious.  

"If men are not angels, then who shall run the state?" 

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You're just illustrating my point.  They try to argue it both ways.  Can't have it both ways.  But that's the only way their worldview would actually work...if the world were Oppositeland Simultaneousville.

 

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An interesting point from Institute for Justice:

The Supreme Court just held that workers can’t be forced to subsidize political speech by unions, but if Obamacare is upheld, all Americans may be forced to subsidize political speech by health insurers. Can this be constitutional?

Knox v. SEIU, Citizens United, and the Obamacare Individual Mandate

 

To me this offers a good glimpse into the ruling on Obamacare...It is doubtful the Court would contradict itself in the exact same session.

 

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Autolykos replied on Tue, Jun 26 2012 2:06 PM

If the individual mandate is ruled constitutional, then this could be a portent of things to come:

Obesity screening urged for all U.S. men and women

All adults should have their height and weight measured during checkups and anyone who is obese should be referred for intensive diet and exercise programs if needed, according to new U.S. guidelines for physicians.

The government-backed U.S. Preventive Services Task Force said Tuesday that its latest recommendations on screening for obesity reflect evidence on how adults can successfully shed pounds and keep them off to gain health benefits.

[...]

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Autolykos replied on Thu, Jun 28 2012 10:35 AM

Given recent events, what does everyone think about this now? cheeky

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I think we should just have movements that don't require us to work.  Let's tax the people who want to work, so that we don't have to.

 

I am serious.  They have their total State.  So, let's use it.  I want free health care, housing, food, education...shit I DON'T want a job.  The government can give all of it to me.  Why should anyone work if they can just tax everyone for not doing something?  Tax people for not not working.

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Autolykos replied on Thu, Jun 28 2012 10:58 AM

Ironically, the Soviet Union adopted this as one of its fundamental principles: "if a person does not work, then neither shall he eat".

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