Column on A Stupid Analogy

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.

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