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March 30, 2010


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Well, I guess that settles it, then. ;)

(Going back to 1792 to find a relevant parallel is almost the definition of an exception that proves the rule, isn't it?)

I stand corrected.

I should not have said the mandate represented a *new* relationship between the American government and the American people.

Instead I should of said the mandate represented a return to a type of relationship between the American government and the American people not seen since the US was a unstable republic that had to put down rebellions in its own backyard.


The second I hit post I realized the "rebellions in it's own backyard" snark might be seen as a reference to the Hutaree. I assure you it wasn't.

When it is convenient, commentators call on the “founding fathers” for inspiration, such as when it comes to limiting government. Hence, commentators all over the blogosphere insist that a health mandate is suspect because it isn’t part of what we agreed to back when we formed the constitution way back. But when historical data is presented to show just the opposite, it is interesting that no one wants to say... hmmm... perhaps I was wrong.

Jonathan Haidt, at UVA, has done extensive fMRI work that shows why people rarely change their minds based on rational arguments: it is because moral judgments (of right and wrong) are based on instantaneous emotional tags. Later, people come up with a rationalization to support their predetermined viewpoint. If one rationalization doesn’t work out, they’ll come up with another, and another. :)

So, dear readers, is there any evidence or argument that could change anyone’s mind on the health mandates?

I see your point about appeals to the authority of the founding fathers, Jonathan, but I've never done that (in part because you can always find one of them to support almost any view you might have!).

And there are many simple explanations for why rational arguments don't change people's moral opinions--they are based on values, which for the most part aren't dependent on empirical circumstances, and much be debated on the level of values. But most so-called rational arguments take their own value judgments for granted, so people just end up arguing past each other.

Jonathan, you are right, in this debate I have appealed to Constitutional authority and it does appear that I was wrong to do so in this case.

However, it should be noted that - even if Constitutional - an individual mandate operates on a logic different from the vast majority of regulation enacted and enforced in living memory.

I am explicitly not saying this is the first step to Maoism or even that the mandate is a bad thing. The fact that this precedent has existed for over 200 years without being abused shows that the slippery slope might not hold.

But in the spirit of compromise, proponents should admit that this is something exceptional, even if not unique. I guess I am equivocating, just like Haidt's research would suggest. :)

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