Sunday, July 8, 2012

All You Need to Know about the Constitution

HARBESON: Two issues, put simply

> SOUTHERN INDIANA — Today I want to comment on two major news items from last week. Let’s start with the one that caused the most fireworks.

You can probably guess which story I’m talking about. For months, people have been discussing, speculating and making predictions about it. When the papers were finally filed, social media sizzled. The story was so hot you could literally feel the heat here in Southern Indiana.

Some people were celebrating the decision. Some were angry and disappointed. Still others, myself included, were just plain apathetic. I’m talking of course about the breakup of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes.

Holmes filed for the divorce and though I don’t really know for sure what the problems are between the couple, I heard from my secret media sources that at least one issue centered on an annoying habit of Cruise’s.

No, it’s not his propensity to jump around on couches. Yes, I’m sure that could be a potential issue causing irreconcilable differences since it could prematurely wear out the living room furniture, but from what my sources tell me, the problem is not about what Cruise is doing. The problem is focused on what he’s not doing, which is to say he’s not putting the toilet seat down.

Apparently, Holmes tried to settle this by giving Tom a mandate. She even reportedly pasted a note on the bathroom wall reminding him that it was “necessary and proper” to put the seat down and if he failed to do so, he would be charged a “shared responsibility payment” because she had to hire someone to take care of it.

Wait, I think I may be getting my stories confused. Those points are relevant to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act, the second story I wanted to discuss.

Sorry about that. My mind’s a bit rattled after reading just a part of the Court’s opinion. I’m still trying to process the similarities and legal implications of using the words “shall” versus “may” in federal government legislation.

Speaking of similarities, the more I dive into these political controversies, the more the Constitution seems to be like any other old text that groups of people decide to worship — if you work hard enough, you can search through these documents and find plenty of vague phrases that will allow you to interpret them in any way that fits your needs.

The proclamations and interpretations made about the Constitution may be more dangerous than those other texts, though, because these judgments and decisions can end up legitimizing aggression — the initiation of force — upon others.

Once the aggression begins, everyone is stuck trying to deal with the damage. Previous government interventions have created a lot of damage to the health care market and this is one reason why all three branches of our so-called limited government have been spending so much time on this particular issue.

We know there’s a problem because all the concern is focused on insurance rather than health care. Due to the effects and consequences of long-term government involvement that have increased regulations and costs, we now have a system so messed up that no one can imagine being able to provide and access health care without piling on even more government involvement.

Even those who support this law should be able to see that something is very wrong when you find yourself gleefully cheering the fact that people may now be forced to hand over money to either big corporations or big government.

In hindsight, I realize I could have prevented myself from getting so confused if I had just stopped reading the Supreme Court opinion at page five, where Justice Roberts said: “Put simply, Congress may tax and spend.”

To understand our current situation, that’s really all anyone needs to know about the Constitution.

— Clark County resident Debbie Harbeson is slowly coming out of her Constitution-induced confusion.

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