Health insurance is not broccoli
Listening to news updates on the oral argument currently taking place at the Supreme Court is getting a bit scary. If the ‘slippery slope’ argument is being taken seriously, then the dispute over universal health care is taking an odd turn, surprisingly odd.
Reportedly Mr. Justice Scalia posed a question to government lawyers something along the lines of this one: If the government can make you buy health insurance, what’s next? Broccoli? Can’t the government then make the argument that since broccoli is good for you, you will have to buy broccoli?
The simplest, clearest answer to this question–assuming it has been reported accurately–is that there is no analogy between health insurance and broccoli. There are plenty of foods with the nutritional value of broccoli. If we’re talking about healthful diet–and where I am right now, in the lovely state of Louisiana, there is little discussion of that–there are plenty of substitutes for broccoli.
There are no substitutes for health insurance.
(N.b.: My own judgment is still that single-payer would be better. If Mr. Justices Scalia, Alito and Roberts come down in favor of eliminating the insurance industry as middlemen/gatekeepers to health care or medical attention, I have to admit that I will feel a certain sympathy for them. I’m only human.)
Slippery-slope arguments are usually feeble.
One problem with them is that they can usually be reversed. They cut both ways, not to hash a metaphor farther.
Take the broccoli question. The underlying argument seems to be that government cannot force us to do something just because it’s good for us. The oddity in this position is that all law, government, and justice is based on an (Aristotelian) concept of good. If we are not better off with law than without, why have law? If we human beings are not better off with the forms of government, why have government? If we are not better off with a justice system, why have a justice system?
So let’s try the slippery-slope argument on that one. If government cannot require something of us BECAUSE it is to our good, then can we have law? No. If government cannot require something of us because it is to our good, then can we have government? No. If government cannot require something of us because it is to our good, then can we have a justice system? No.
No justice system, no courts. No courts, no judges. Q.E.D.
I assume Mr. Justices Scalia et al. have sufficient saved up to live on.