Seamanship Quotation

“In political activity, then, men sail a boundless and bottomless sea; there is neither harbour for shelter nor floor for anchorage, neither starting-place nor appointed destination.”
— from Michael Oakeshott's
Political Education” (1951)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

For the good of America, eat your broccoli

If liberals didn’t scare so easily, they’d have savored the pure nuttiness of US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s slippery slope affection for the case against making individuals pay in advance for necessary future health services.

“The argument got going when Justice Antonin Scalia asked Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. if the government could compel Americans to buy health insurance, could it also mandate that they eat healthy food, like broccoli. “Could you define the market — everybody has to buy food sooner or later, so you define the market as food, therefore, everybody is in the market; therefore, you can make people buy broccoli?”

“Mr. Verrilli tried to put the question behind him, saying, “No, that’s quite different. The food market, while it shares that trait that everybody’s in it, it is not a market in which your participation is often unpredictable and often involuntary.” But the justices returned to the example again and again.”

Let’s, for a moment, take broccoli as seriously as the US Constitution takes Antonin Scalia.

Imagine a Supreme Court case on Affordable Broccoli-Care.

Let’s assume that Scalia was using broccoli as a broadly reasonable substitute for nutritious food, rather than candy or colored wood pulp. And let’s assume that there was widely accepted evidence that millions of Americans—including thousands of pregnant women—were not eating/buying adequate amounts of broccoli/nutritious food to sustain life.

If Congress passed legislation to interfere in the broccoli/nutritious food market to favor life over immediate pleasure or the perfect operation of the price system, would Scalia and Roberts as easily ask: Will bicycles be next?

Would Republicans just as easily side with Pro-choice advocates or Pro-life advocates—who, on this question, might recall regrettable but widely accepted state interventions like food stamps and ration books?

The Court isn’t being asked to liberate seniors from socialized medicine or the destitute from socialized medicine when they show up at emergency wards. The Justices are being asked to worry about a precedent—to protect bicycles and automobile consumers from state interference.

Surely, this slippery slope argument can be entrusted to the good sense of the electorate and the desire of politicians to get re-elected. Surely, the government doesn’t have to socialize the entire medical industry to ensure universal access while avoiding a dangerous precedent for other markets.

Incidentally, no one’s taken the Patriot Act to the Courts suggesting that Congress will soon mandate that Americans install picture windows on all new housing.

No comments:

Post a Comment