Saturday, July 06, 2013

Obamacare: The Only Rules Are The Ones We Make Up On The Spot

The strange follow-up to yesterday's post asserting that there are no rules any more when it comes to the government is that the rules are taking over. Dig this tidbit from a doctor's analysis of Obamacare.
(His patients are) complaining their premiums have risen too high, or that the coverage they anticipate getting looks too complex , or that they expect to lose their employer-based health insurance at any time and be made a part-time employee. Many are worried they will no longer be able to afford the plans their bosses are offering and fear being compelled to seek coverage on the state exchanges, where the policies could be impossible to afford.

As a practicing doctor, I would be inclined to raise a bigger stink about all this, and I know many of my colleagues would join me, but we are too overwhelmed with paperwork, regulations and the growing dysfunctional features of health insurance to engage in a concerted protest.
Now consider the bills that have made their way through Congress - all those 1000+ page behemoths. George Will has a good summary of them and what they mean.
This lesson in the Obama administration’s approach to the rule of law is pertinent to the immigration bill, which at last count had 222 instances of a discretionary “may” and 153 of “waive.” Such language means that were the Senate bill to become law, the executive branch would be able to do pretty much as it pleases, even to the point of saying about almost anything: Never mind.
Finally, ponder the recent Supreme Court rulings on gay marriage. California's Proposition 8 is still in limbo and DOMA was overturned. Just why DOMA was overturned remains a mystery as it, like Prop 8, was legally passed and signed into law. There was some mumbling about the Feds not being able to contradict individual states, but that's nonsense. It happens all the time. Some animals being more equal than others in the eyes of the "compassionate" members of the court, DOMA got tossed.

I guess DOMA and Prop 8 being overturned is not a mystery at all. It's part of being in the middle of a bureaucratic termite mound with the queen pushing out rules at an alarming rate being in a nation with a "living constitution" and a legislature that passes ginormous bills which cede decision-making power to the Executive Branch. Once you start down this road can you ever turn back?

Imagine that tomorrow, Congress stopped passing colossal bills and decided to only pass clear and simple ones. So much power has already been handed over to the bureaucracy that it's a safe bet they no longer need new laws to continue to grow and increase their reach into our daily lives. Take a look at what the EPA feels empowered to do. They believe, under existing laws, they can regulate every aspect of the carbon cycle. How do you stop that?

But why engage in hypotheticals? What makes anyone think that, having crossed the 1,000-page Rubicon, we'd ever go back to simple laws? What's the motivation to do that? Everyone in DC is getting fat off these things - the politicians, the civil servants, the lobbyists, the connected industrialists and so on.

Oh well. At least I can still watch my EPL games on TV. That is, provided I pay the extortion fees demanded by that Voice of the People, NBC.

The shape of things already here.


Dean said...

Let me get this straight: The doctors would like to protest the law but they are too overwhelmed by the red tape and bureaucracy of the very law against which they want to protest. Sounds like a hell of a law.

Jedi Master Ivyan said...

I'd like to propose a new constitutional amendment which stipulates a maximum length for bills. Something on the order of 7000 words.

Ilíon said...

Why not limit all bills to however many words can be fit on a standard piece of paper?

No bill may be enacted save it have been (verbally) read, in full, at a normal rate of speech, before the legislators in the legislative chamber(s).

No legislator may vote on the enactment of any bill save he has been present (and awake) at all required readings in the legislative chamber (of which he is a member).

Ilíon said...

All bills must explicitly identify the article or articles of the Constitution, for every section of the bill, which give Congress the authority to enact the same.

K T Cat said...

Ooh, I like that last idea. It has the feel of a mathematical proof!

Ilíon said...

Well, I am a computer programmer -- I earn my daily bread via the practical application of formal logic.

Jedi Master Ivyan said...

Well, Ilion, I thought about that, but then we'd have to stipulate font size.

Ever heard of microdot printing?

Ilíon said...

Yes, I've heard of microdot printing, years ago. I considered making a stipulation to cover that sort of loophole.

But then, I thought, what the heck, if they want to have to sit there while having to listen to the whole thing being read, then go for the tricksies.

Ilíon said...

... also, I wan't focused on the sheet of paper and how it might be used, but upon the number of words on a typical sheet (whatever that number is). That is, you suggested limiting bills to 7000 or so words, whereas I was saying, "That's way too much room for mischief: let's limit bills to a few hundred words."

tim eisele said...

While there is a lot to be said for making Congress suffer for trying to pass bills the length of an unabridged dictionary, I'm not sure it would cure the main problem we want cured. After all, it only takes one sentence to say, for example, "The Department of Homeland Security is authorized to create and and enforce any and all rules that they feel are necessary to prevent terrorist threats to the US". Short, and apparently to the point, but boy would it give DHS a massive slug of practically untrammeled power.(and if you don't like my example, substitute the name of the Federal regulatory agency that gives you the most trouble).

And, as far as I can see, that isn't too far from what congress actually *did* pass to create the DHS, as well as other agencies, so don't tell me they wouldn't do such a mad thing.

Jedi Master Ivyan said...

That's very true Tim. If Congress is given an inch, it will take a mile. And that is what needs to change.

Ilíon said...

Tim Eisele:While there is a lot to be said for making Congress suffer for trying to pass bills the length of an unabridged dictionary, I'm not sure it would cure the main problem we want cured. After all, it only takes one sentence to say, for example ...

Sure, Congress *could* enact a one sentence tyrannical law. But they’re highly unlikely to do such a thing, right out in the open, where everyone can see what they’ve done.

Sure, Congress *could* enact a simple-to-understand law that is in direct violation of the US Constitution. But, WE would be able to see what they've done, and through our States -- who are, after all, the Parties to the compact that is the US Constitution -- we could fix the problem in short order.

JM Ivyan:That's very true Tim. If Congress is given an inch, it will take a mile. And that is what needs to change.

The problem isn't so much that Congress will take a mile if given an inch, but rather that the members of Congress, individually, and thus collectively, are disinterested in doing their duty -- they like having the power and status of being members of Congress, but they hate the responsibility; for, with taking individual responsibility for the votes they personally cast for the laws Congress enacts comes the very real possibility that The People may turn them personally out of office.

So, because congresscritters view the privileges the office they occupy as their own personal sinecure of perks, they have collectively conspired, over many years, to off-load all the responsibilities that naturally come with the office to the executive branch via the permanent bureaucracy.

Ilíon said...

... also:

Even though the Constitution does *not* establish the high-school civics class myth of "three co-equal branches of government" -- for, in fact, Constitutionally speaking, the supreme court, as all federal courts, is a creature of Congress -- the congressmen love that myth, for it helps them further off-load their responsibilities.