February 2, 2011

“Congress Passes Socialized Medicine and Mandates Health Insurance -In 1798”

Am I missing something? Is Rick Ungar really comparing a mandatory fee on a particular industry (one entered into voluntarily by citizens otherwise unaffected by the “individual mandate”) — one that soon after became a part of the military (the Merchant Marines), to boot — to a federal law requiring all citizens to purchase a particular product from a private vendor, as directed by the federal government?

And is Greg Sargent really pretending he’s understood the article? (Sargent suggests the law levied a “tax” on these sailors; Ungar claims it wasn’t a tax. In the current debate on a health care mandate, the Obama Administration told us it isn’t a tax while arguing in court that it is. Had the legislation been passed as a tax, proceeding from the House, presumably we’d be having a different debate.)


Also, per Ungar:

Let me add one more thing – I agree completely that since we really can’t fully know all the intent that went into the Constitution, we should focus on the best reading of it. However, is it fair to say that the best reading of it can only happen when we keep it relevant to today’s applications, taking into consideration that life is very different than it was in the early 18th century?

For what should be obvious reasons to regular readers of this site, here we have the gist of Ungar’s actual argument.

The rest is shiny bits festooned to the argument to keep your eyes off the dull machinery behind it.

(h/t JHo)

Posted by Jeff G. @ 1:13pm

Comments (19)

  1. To make it work, they relied on . . .

    Y’know, I despise shit like this.

  2. we really can’t fully know all the intent that went into the Constitution


    Oh, if only the delegates to the Constitutional Convention had kept notes or something, or engaged in some manner of public debate on its merits as it was being ratified. How short-sighted of them!

  3. dirty socialists are remarkably picky and choosey about which maritime laws are respectable

    Thomas Perrelli, an associate attorney general in the Department of Justice, told a Senate panel Tuesday that they have already informed Transocean that its invocation of Limitation of Shipowner’s Liability Act of 1851, best know for its use by the owners of the Titanic, “is inappropriate.” He declined to comment on any current or pending investigations the DOJ may be conducting on Transocean.*

  4. life is very different than it was in the early 18th century

    Indeed. That was the case aas early as the late 18th century.

    If only there was some constitutional mechanism for amending the Constitution!

  5. So the left bobs and weaves. The Framing Socialists.

    Speaking of calling things what they are:

    [Sarah Palin’s “g]overnment takeover,” like “death panel,” is a true description of ObamaCare’s essence. These phrases are “inaccurate” only in that they cut through formal distinctions designed to deceive the public. (We wish we could use a barnyard vulgarity in place of the unwieldy clause “formal distinctions designed to deceive the public,” but The Wall Street Journal is a family newspaper.)

    “Death panel” was especially effective at cutting through the hockey. Lots of people warned about rationing, but, as PolitiFact grudgingly acknowledged, it was Palin’s vivid language that “launched the health care debate into overdrive. The term was mentioned in news reports approximately 6,000 times in August and September, according to the Nexis database. By October, it was still being mentioned 150 to 300 times a week.”

    Many of these media mentions were disparaging, “raising issues,” as PolitiFact prissily puts it, about “the bounds of acceptable political discussion.” In other words, Palin’s statement was widely propagated by journalists who thought it “unacceptable.” Americans recognized the essential truth of Palin’s words and strongly opposed ObamaCare.

    Palin got the truth out with the help of journalists determined to bolster the deceptions at the heart of ObamaCare. She was instrumental in winning the political argument that looks increasingly likely to render ObamaCare’s legislative victory a Pyrrhic one. Sarah Palin outsmarted the formerly mainstream media simply by being blunt and honest. That is why they burn with a mindless rage against her.

    Apparently the hilljack snowbilly — with the scant, unqualifying experience of being Governor — somehow got the word out to all the voting hilljack snowbillies and may just have pressed the debate into overdrive.

  6. That might be one of the most disingenuous aggressively mendoucheous defenses of Beelzebub Obumblefucks health care takeover I have seen in a while. At least since the deficit neutral claims, or the claims that repealing it will increase the deficit. Not spending billions and trillions of dollars will increase the deficit. Inactivity is activity. If you like your insurance, ou will be able to keep it.

  7. But Jeff, in the spirit of medical originalism, we agree but require them to acknowledge that the government can only pay for that medical treatment available in 1798. Leaches, bleedings, and herbal poultices are relatively cheap. So win win.

  8. And wait till you see the George Washington dental health plan!

  9. Anyone guess that the founding generations were well on their way to absorbing and understanding that 1776 document on political economy by 1789? I’d bet they were.

  10. A commenter gets in a devastating blow early in the comments, to wit:

    They clearly did not seek to extend such authority to areas such as manufacturing and farming, which produced the same potential for physical harm. By not doing so, it is just as feasible to state the reason to be, “they knew they did not have the Constitutional authority to do so”.

    Typical of lefty “intellectuals” everywhere, Ungar ignores the argument and focuses on the commenter’s use of “Nazi” elsewhere in the comment.

    Ad hominem to the end, amirite?

  11. The law in question not only didn’t place a mandate on individual sailors (leaving that duty upon the operator or owner), but it specifically was limited to international (not just inter- or even intra-state) commerce. That’s clearly within Congress’ purview under Article I’s enumerated powers.

    Furthermore, the lying liar claims it was a “1%” levy on those sailors’ wages, when in fact it was a flat $.20/mo. I really doubt that sailors only made $20/mo. even back then. But even if that were the average, he’s stating it as if it were tied to income.

  12. Pingback: “Congress Passes Socialized Medicine and Mandates Health Insurance … | Health Insurance News

  13. Hospitals in 1798 were not privately owned and operated. They were, universally, the result if the confluence of industrialization in urban centers and were operated, usually by cities, occasionally by states. It was common for the funds to come from the collection of taxes on the residents of those cities and the practice was known as public charity. There was no such thing as private health insurance.
    One objection raised in debate was that many sailors, who live in cities that have such institutions, would be paying for their share of public charity twice.
    The Congress, with this law, displayed a lack of imagination–simply carrying forward the model fo the time to the Federal level. I might also point out that te 5th Congress had a decidedly statist bent anyway–these were the men who formulated and passed the Alien and Sedition Acts.
    At least, Senatory Varnum of Massachusetts, did raise Constitutional questions in debate, though I haven’t found where anyone answered his concerns.

  14. Senate Dems vote down Obamacare repeal, party line vote. Ben Nelson sounds a bit scared at the end of the piece.

  15. It was Bill, but yes, your comment applies just as well geoffb.

  16. This fellow ignores the fact that the merchant marine were quasi-military before the US government even existed. The Continental Congress issued letters of marque to merchant captains during the US revolution.

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  18. The Continental Congress issued letters of marque to merchant captains during the US revolution.

    Remember this the next time some anti-gun zealot rhetorically asks if you think you should be allowed to have your own personal howitzer.

    “If I can have cannon on my ship, then why not in my yard?”

  19. I thought Ungar was much funnier in The Odd Couple.