In the health care debate it’s interesting to come up with examples illustrating the potential reach of a government which can “compel individuals to engage in commerce”. But while eating broccoli and buying funeral insurance are nice examples of the absurdity of the mandate’s possible effect, it is also useful to think about some more practical and chilling actions a newly empowered leftist government could take.
For instance, what’s to stop a newly empowered EPA to require individuals to purchase carbon insurance? The idea is that we need to insure against the possible health and economic impact of global warming. The argument would be that requiring individuals to buy carbon insurance has unique and compelling justification. First, it’s a proper use of federal power because carbon consumers engage in interstate commerce and their emissions cross state lines, and because of the precedent of Florida v. HHS. Second, if we don’t regulate carbon effectively the world will end. Third, it’s now possible for individuals to freeload, imposing the effects of excessive carbon use (such as flying in planes, driving trucks, living in big houses…) on others. Fourth, if we wait until the effects of carbon emitting are obvious, it’ll be too late. Fifth, everybody knows global warming is real, it’s established fact, end of discussion.
Of course, since it’s insurance, the government will be able to tailor the policy purchase requirements to meet additional compelling social needs, namely to achieve further transfers of wealth; to create a new, fraud-ridden trading market controlled by the Usual Suspects on Wall Street; to transfer additional wealth to other countries (especially China, which would further tilt an already uneven global trade playing field); and to fund the growth of a global rule-making and fee-collecting organization which would further clamp down on… well, whoever and whatever it wants.
Further, the insurance fees could be required to favor various interest groups and, especially, minorities. After all, there is a disparate impact of carbon pollution on minorities, because they tend to live in cities which suffer more from carbon pollution. We need to compensate particular minorities for the relatively excessive consumption of carbon by nonminorities in the early, unfortunate history of our Republic. Farmers should be exempted because they grow all that corn for ethanol, and so on.
Use of the funds will be to subsidize green technology companies; to improve inner-city infrastructure because of the heavier impact of carbon emissions there; to develop the information systems necessary to track all of the carbon-emitting activity of individuals; and to hire the legions of federal workers needed to enforce the essential insurance mandates.