Two stories in the last week are painting an interesting picture of what freedom in America might look like in the future.
The first story is the ongoing saga concerning the constitutionality of ObamaCare. A federal judge recently found the mandate to purchase health care, which is the foundation of President Obama’s health insurance plan, unconstitutional.
That decision is at odds with two others that have said the mandate is proper under the omnibus “commerce clause”.
The commerce clause, which gives the federal government power to regulate interstate commerce, has been interpreted very broadly to allow just about every conceivable action the federal government would take. Still, the most recent decision held that the ability to regulate interstate commerce does not include the power to compel people to participate in it. That is a refreshingly novel perspective that could determine if there is a limit to commerce clause powers.
This issue is not likely to be resolved soon. But the fact is, many people, including the President, believe it is appropriate for the government to force people to purchase things.
Here in Washington State, a lesser known issue involves whether the government can force businesses to sell certain products they would rather not sell. Many pro-life pharmacists do not want to sell the “Plan B” drug because they believe it causes an abortion. Therefore, for several years, they have been fighting for the right to refer patients who want the drug to pharmacists who do not object to selling it. However, just last week, the Board of Pharmacy, with the urging of our Governor, reasserted their desire to deny small business owners this right. Instead, they want to compel pharmacists to sell something that violates their conscience if they want to be a pharmacy.
Despite the fact that there is not a single example of a woman in Washington being unable to access “Plan B”, Governor Gregoire and the Board of Pharmacy apparently believe convenience in getting abortion drugs is more important than the right of an individual not to participate in behavior they believe to be immoral.
This issue also is not fully resolved. Pharmacists may proceed with legal action asserting their constitutional rights of conscience. Even the legislature could step in and overrule the Board of Pharmacies decision, and I hope they do.
But for a moment contemplate the absurdity of the fact that we are even having these discussions. If the leftists win these battles, we will have a situation where the government can compel you to purchase products you don’t want and force businesses to sell products they don’t want to sell. But really, they’re big fans of the free market.
Every time freedom is taken away, it is done in the name of a good cause. It’s usually done to provide safety or security for the greatest number; sacrificing the individual for the collective. But if you make that compromise too many times, there is a point at which you cease to be free. Once we allow the government to tell us what to buy and what to sell, the line between slave and free has to be close. If we allow the government to tell us what we can buy and sell, are we really free?