It is odd, perhaps, that just as the federal (read: national) government moves to take primary responsibility for our medical lives, the several states are moving in the other direction. The right to self-medicate is, increasingly, being seen as important. First medical marijuana — a slap on the face to federal nannies — and now recreational use, sees advocacy and advance at the state level.
Any advance in taking full responsibility for medicine, on the part of citizens, individuals, goes against the grain of our collectivist age, and sparks some hope.
Of course, in a sense, it seems 35 years behind the time. [Keep reading…]
The economy gained 162,000 jobs for the month of March and the President, of course, has attributed this success to his stimulus package. He was in Charlotte, North Carolina today discussing the economy at a manufacturing company that received $50 billion in stimulus money to expand one of its facilities and open another elsewhere in the State. Regarding the future of the economy, the President said:
Government can’t reverse the toll of this recession overnight, and government on its own can’t replace the 8 million jobs that have been lost….The true engine of job growth in this country has always been the private sector. What government can do is create the conditions…for companies to hire again.
Just how government can create these conditions for companies to hire again is left unsaid. I seriously doubt the nationalization of the banking sector and the government takeover of GM are favorable conditions for the private sector. In fact, if Robert Higgs is correct about regime uncertainty, these government actions create unfavorable circumstances for investors. Investors who are unsure that their private property rights are going to be respected in the future are loathe to invest in any long term-projects. If the government is willing to take over an entire sector of the economy by passing such legislation over a weekend, clearly investors would be fearful that the government might takeover any sector it wishes in the future. This lack of real investment means that there will be less jobs in the future and ultimately less consumer and producer goods. Our standard of living will fall. [click to continue...]
But I’m not sure it means what the Democrats think it means:
The penalty [for not carrying insurance as required by the new health care bill] is assessed through the Code and accounted for as an additional amount of Federal tax owed. However, it is not subject to the enforcement provisions of subtitle F of the Code. The use of liens and seizures otherwise authorized for collection of taxes does not apply to the collection of this penalty. Non-compliance with the personal responsibility requirement to have health coverage is not subject to criminal or civil penalties under the Code and interest does not accrue for failure to pay such assessments in a timely manner.
So the IRS might gaze at you sternly and maybe wag a finger or two, but there’s nothing they can do at this point to collect the non-compliance penalty. Megan McArdle lays out the possible consequences:
It would mean that in practice the mandate would only apply to people who get tax refunds; otherwise, just write the IRS a check for everything except the mandate. And since you don’t have to get a tax refund–you can have your employer change your withholding–anyone who doesn’t want to pay it, wouldn’t have to.
But it’s not clear that this is what’s actually going to happen. If the IRS can reorder the priority of the tax dollars they take from you, then they can simply put any funds towards the mandate first. That way, if you attempt to go without insurance and then pay the IRS everything except the mandate penalty, you’ll end up with a tax liability the exact size of the mandate penalty . . . for which they can now garnish your wages, put tax liens on your house, and otherwise do all the nasty stuff that they are authorized to do under Subtitle F.
Naturally I’m all for not providing government revenue agents with more authority to steal money from me, although I suspect that the enforcement problem will be fixed sooner than later (the personal responsibility clause itself doesn’t begin until 2014). But just imagine how much revenue the IRS would collect, if it could not threaten taxpayers with imprisonment. It might just be enough to cover the printing costs on Obama’s health care bill.
In the meantime, to paraphrase Captain Barbossa, consider this rule more like…a guideline.