Freedom or slavery? You make the call

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Health-care reform?

Let’s call it what it is — theft. Or if you prefer, “redistribution of wealth.”

The problem is, no matter what you call it, too many Americans are in favor of requisitioning money from other Americans to pay for the health care of strangers. And they don’t care if it is legal or not.

That’s because most Americans have not bothered to educate themselves about the principles on which our country was founded, nor about the rocks on which it will founder if it abandons those principles.

During the Age of Enlightenment when our nation had its start, both politicians and philosophers grasped the monumental responsibility of the individual to himself and the monumental danger of the government to its people.

As Thomas Paine wrote, “Society in every state is a blessing, but government, even in its best stage, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one.”

For many millions of us in this country, government has long since entered into its worst state, and we find the situation to indeed be intolerable. Most immediately, that oppression can be found in the attempt by Congress and the president to impose mandatory health insurance on the people.

Is oppression too strong a word? How about slavery? For is not slavery the taking of the fruit of one man’s labor and appropriating it for one’s own uses and purposes? We fought a war 144 years ago to end slavery, but yet the allure of ill-gotten gains has its appeal. Now, however, instead of toiling in a field picking cotton for the master’s profit, we find ourselves being told to work an hour or two each day for our neighbor’s benefit. If you object (and don’t opt in to the government’s mandatory health-insurance program) you could be fined several thousand dollars and even go to jail.

That’s what I call an unhealthy use of government power.

Even the Congressional Budget Office, the federal bookkeepers, recognized the unfairness of mandatory insurance back in 1994 when they were considering the impact of Hillary Clinton’s health-care reform proposal.

“A mandate requiring all individuals to purchase health insurance would be an unprecedented form of federal action,” the report said. “The government has never required people to buy any good or service as a condition of lawful residence in the United States.”

Of course, the CBO, being bookkeepers, didn’t try to tell the Congress what it could and couldn’t do; that was supposed to fall under the authority of the Constitution. And back in the grand old days of 1994, someone may have still cared about what the Constitution said. Not anymore. At least not in Congress.

Recently, retired judge Andrew Napolitano asked Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., where in the Constitution it authorizes the federal government to mandate health coverage. His reply was typical of congressional hubris:

“There’s nothing in the Constitution that says that the federal government has anything to do with most of the stuff we do.”

Of course, he’s right. That’s why, from now on, everyone who believes in the Constitution should refer to the Democratic health-insurance bill as “illegal health-care reform.”

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said the proponents of forcing people to buy health insurance do so under the cover of the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, which says that Congress “shall have power to ... regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes.”

Nothing in there about forcing individual citizens to buy anything, is there?

So is the Constitution the law of the land or not?

“If that is held constitutional — for them to be able to tell us that we have to purchase health insurance — then there is literally nothing that the federal government can’t force us to do,” Hatch told a reporter recently.

“When we start having the federal government dictate to us what we have to purchase or buy without some commercial justifiable reason ... we’ve lost our freedoms, and that means the federal government can do anything it wants to us.”

Kind of like the way King George III could do anything he wanted to us until 1776.

That’s why the Tea Party movement is so important for the future of our country. It is a symbol of rebellion against oppression that harks back to the very roots of our national spirit. When Sam Adams and the other “Indians” threw that tea in the ocean, they were telling George III that “enough is enough.”

King George didn’t own the colonists, and the federal government doesn’t own you.

As John Locke said in his “Second Treatise of Government,” “The supreme [or legislative] power cannot take from any man part of his property without his consent... nobody has a right to take their substance or any part of it from them without their own consent; without this, they have no property at all, for I truly have no property in that which another can by right take from me when he pleases, against my consent.”

That was in 1690, for goodness’ sake! Have we forgotten everything we knew?

Locke, who helped inspire the American Revolution, points out with acuity that even though the government may have absolute power over an individual such as a conscript in the army, “yet we see that neither the sergeant, that could command a soldier to march up to the mouth of a cannon ... where he is almost sure to perish, can command that soldier to give him one penny of his money; nor [can] the general... with all his absolute power of life and death, dispose of one farthing of that soldier’s estate or seize one jot of his goods.”

Your estate is being seized! Don’t you care?

By now a vote has been held in the Senate on the illegal health-care bill. I’m writing this column before the outcome of that vote is known, but it is sure to get a majority of votes from senators who swore to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States” and to “bear true faith and allegiance to the same.”

That means most senators, like Rep. Clyburn, don’t care what the Constitution says.

Do you?

It was just last week that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, hijacked Sen. Max Baucus’s illegal health-reform bill and turned it into his own personal vehicle for political suicide. Three days later, a vote was being conducted on a 2,000-plus page bill that contains massive tax increases and illegal restrictions on your freedom. What are they afraid you will see? Is this just another shell game? 

The people of Nevada, who elected Harry Reid, appear to be on to the scam. He’s behind in various polls against various Republican opponents by as much as 10 percentage points. And he’s not alone. In Connecticut, Sen. Chris Dodd is behind by a similar margin. Other Democrats are also starting to worry. Are they more loyal to their own personal power or to the Democratic agenda of “change” at any cost?

We shall see. It is ultimately up to you the people to make politicians pay the price if they violate our values, our principles and our Constitution. You can’t rely on Congress to do it, and you can’t rely on the courts to do it They just don’t care. The truth must rise up from you.

As another famous Harry, Prince Hal of Shakespeare’s “Henry IV,” uttered: “Wisdom cries out in the streets, and no man regards it.”

n Frank Miele is managing editor of the Daily Inter Lake and writes a weekly column. E-mail responses may be sent to

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