Sunday, April 15, 2007

Bad, Bad, Bad Laws

Via the Agitator comes this news of California's plan to require everyone in the state to have health insurance. People whom the state tracks down who are not enrolled in a health insurance plan would be forced to enroll and face fines.

Before anyone tells me that they think this is a good law, or a good idea, I'd like to hear that you'd be perfectly comfortable if somebody went to jail over the violation of a law like this. The thing is, laws are serious business. When people break laws, punishment for willful violations is absolutely essential to the integrity of our criminal justice system. What if someone were to ignore this mandate- and what if, after they were caught, they were to refuse to the pay the fines and refuse to pay a dime for health insurance. At some point, individuals who violate the law and violate orders to obey the law need to be put in jail. So I ask again, is there anyone out there who would be happy putting someone in jail for refusing to get health insurance.

To continue with our theme of "feel goodism," it seems to me as though we've become inundated in recent years with laws that may be well intentioned, but that ultimately make us a bit to squeamish to actually throw people in jail over their violation. Health insurance is a big boy, but generally we see these sorts of laws in more minor veins. What about plans to ban incandescent light bulbs- Or the already passed bans on trans fats in several major cities? There may be those among us who would like the government to be more active in regulating our lifestyle in the name of public health and the environment, but anyone who takes such a position has to reconcile the fact that you could be putting the baker, the old lady who likes her old fashioned light bulbs, and the guy who doesn't want health insurance behind bars.


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