When the Supreme Court ruled that Cherokee land couldn’t be ripped off, Andrew Jackson supposedly said, “The judges have made their decision; now let them enforce it.” President Obama didn’t go quite so far in dissing the Court, but came close in suggesting it would be somehow illegitimate to overturn Congressional legislation. Isn’t that exactly what we have a Supreme Court for? The Administration has now clarified that, yes, the Court does have authority to hold laws unconstitutional (Marbury v Madison, 1803). And Obama once taught constitutional law. Shame on him.
Liberals keep bleating that the Court is partisan (click here for a typical example). Alan Chartock, head of the local NPR station, loves saying the justices are “bought and paid for.” Shame on him.
Here again we see refusal to accept that opponents are acting out of sincere conviction as to what’s right. Of course, it’s only the conservative justices who are partisan or “bought and paid for.” The liberal judges act according to their liberal philosophy; why can’t liberals accept that conservative judges act according to their conservative philosophy? And that it’s an honest and legitimate point of view?
I recently discussed here Jonathan Haidt’s book, The Righteous Mind, and linked to William Saletan’s Times review. Saletan deemed the book a wake-up call that liberals need to hear, showing how they fail to understand the conservative mind, and that conservatives actually utilize a broader spectrum of moral ideas than do liberals. Predictably, Saletan’s review provoked a flurry of furious letters from liberals, arguing basically that those conservative moral principles are not moral at all. As ever, they don’t see legitimate or sincere disagreement but, rather, virtue against vice. Shame on them.
It’s said we have a government of laws, not men. But men (and women) make the laws, and interpret them. The Supreme Court is made up of human beings too, whose decisions are affected by their human differences. I don’t always agree with them (the latest, on strip searches, I hated; the Obama administration supported it), but I solemnly respect the process, in which they struggle with hard issues and strive for what they see as the right answers. And they have to justify their answers in written decisions whose quality of argument is closely scrutinized. The judges are judged, and will not sacrifice their reputations to serve someone else’s agenda. That’s the virtue of the Supreme Court, and it took humanity a long time to develop institutions like this, that do give us a society of law. Those who attack the institution’s integrity play with fire, and undermine one of the bulwarks of our way of life, at a time when there is already too much cynicism about governance.
If Obamacare is struck down, it will be because it’s an unprecedented stretch of federal power. Quite simply, if even in this constitutional republic of purportedly limited government, it can force you to buy a product you don’t want, then what limit is there on the government’s power after all? And this liberals don’t think is at least a legitimate issue?
Our health system is fubar, and unfortunately Obamacare will do little to fix it, and may well make it worse. Do you know about the “Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight” created by the bill – a monster new bureaucracy to rule on requests for mandate waivers, with no accountability. Surely a recipe for influence peddling, political manipulation, and special interest corruption. Already it has doled out billions worth of waivers for labor unions while rejecting requests from business organizations. (Talk about “bought and paid for.”)
My review of The Righteous Mind noted the key problem afflicting American health care – it doesn’t function like a market where providers have to vie for customers through price, quality, and service. Most people don’t have to shop around, and the system in fact makes shopping around impossible. Even with insurance, we actually often wind up paying part of the tab, but just try to find out in advance of a procedure how much you’ll pay. And when the bills arrive, they are an incomprehensible mess, and the amounts don’t pass a sanity test. No competitive business could get away with such high-handed nonsense. (Oh, I forgot. The free market is evil. Sorry.)
Meantime, our whole concept of health insurance is cockeyed. As Haidt’s book observed, you don’t make a claim on your car insurance for a routine oil change. Insurance was invented to protect people from rare catastrophic costs they couldn’t afford, by pooling risk. Applying it to all health care just serves to screw up the market.
And it gives us the idea that our health care is something we basically shouldn’t have to pay for. But why not? Isn’t it fantastically beneficial? Someone in my family takes a medicine that literally makes the difference between a crappy life and a happy life. And modern health care gives us lives twice as long as a century ago. Isn’t all that worth paying for – paying quite a lot for?
Of course, it does have to be paid for, by someone. Why do most of us think it should be someone else?
Or is paying one’s own way another of those quaint conservative moral values that liberals disdain?