All Your Economic Decisions Are Belong to Us - Hit & Run : Reason Magazine
Judge George Caram Steeh, who was considering the constitutionality of the PPACA?s individual mandate, which requires all Americans to purchase private health insurance, said the requirement is constitutional. The judge?s reasoning boiled down to the argument that even though the decision not to purchase health insurance may not be economic activity, which the federal government is allowed to regulate under the Constitution?s Commerce Clause, it is an economic decision, because it has ramifications across the entire health care market. The decision noted that in United States v. Lopez, the Supreme Court ruled that, under the Commerce Clause, the federal government has the authority to regulate ?those activities that substantially affect interstate commerce.? The choice not to purchase health insurance meets that criteria, according to the judge, and therefore the federal government has full authority to regulate it.
So does that mean the Federal government could force you to buy a home? Or a car? Or a boat? What can't
the Federal government compel you to do (at least in the eyes of this brain-donor judge), to benefit the economy?
Originally, the interstate commerce clause was concocted because goods coming across state lines under the Articles of Confederation had tariffs imposed from other states. It impeded growth and the Framers were concerned. They wanted to ensure there were no insidious barriers to trade. So the Federal government was granted the authority, by the Constitution, to regulate interstate commerce. That is, to make sure that goods flowed freely across state borders, and certainly not to impose further impediments on trade.
In the 1930's, the interpretation of this clause changed.
In Wicker v. Filburn
, the question was raised: Does Congress' power to regulate interstate commerce extend to activities which are not interstate and not commerce? The answer would seem to be self-evident, but the answer was not self-evident to the Supreme Court.
Mr. Filburn grew crops on his own farm. He didn't buy his food, he grew it. He didn't sell the food he grew, he ate it and used what was left over to feed his livestock. But the Roosevelt administration wanted to curtail personal production to boost prices during the depression, and Filburn was told, basically, "you have to cut back on your production of crops".
Filburn said "Under what authority?"
The government responded: "Interstate commerce regulation."
Filburn, quite sensibly, said "This isn't interstate -- it's all on my farm, and by the way, it's not 'commerce' -- there's no buying or selling. I'm not buying, I'm growing. And I'm not selling, I'm eating."
The Supreme Court said, basically, "Filburn, you don't get it. If you weren't out there growing, you would have had to buy food. And if you weren't eating everything you grew, you'd have something left over to sell. So by not buying and not selling, you're obviously having an adverse impact on the supply and demand of crops on the interstate market."
Steeh's screwed up reasoning is an extension of this inane ruling.