Since Thursday, June 28, 2012, the Supreme Court’s decisions relating to Obamacare has caused no less than full-scale panic among many Americans. For most, it is not the sheer horror of adding an economic boondoggle to an already depressed economy so much as it is the opening of the Pandora’s Box of Congresses ability to regulate and tax almost anything. It is a reminder to the masses that there is indeed a new plantation in this country. Only this time, America herself is the plantation, and we know who are the new masters and slaves.
I find that the decision on Dred Scott has a lot of similarities to the decision in National Federation of Independent Business, et al., , v. Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, et al., otherwise known as the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. In a nutshell, Dred Scott was a repudiation of all law that went before it that a slave was anything other than a piece of property. In the Constitution itself, for the purpose of apportioning representatives to the House, the slave was counted as three fifths of a person for population purposes. While there have been many misconceptions over why the founding fathers decided to demean slaves in this way, the purpose of counting them this way was obvious to all at the time. They were not in any way classifying the slaves as subhuman or of lower humanity. The purpose of this restriction was to decrease the political advantage of owning a large number of slaves. Southern plantation owners would find it to their political advantage to hire freemen. This was in keeping with the Constitutional mandate that would ban foreign slave trade 20 years after the date of the ratification of the Constitution, which indeed took place.
When Dred Scot was announced, it remove from slaves their constitutional status as people. It consequently removed any right of people in the states to uphold and guarantee the rights of enslaved men and women to be free within the boarders of any state, since slaves had lost their status as humans. The result was the same general panic that is felt over Obamacare. In effect, the Judiciary had removed from the states and the people within them their right to self-determination in this matter. It became clear that in would no longer be possible to contain slavery, and that it would have to be abolished entirely or allowed everywhere.
Much like the Dred Scott case, the present Judiciary has created a completely new interpretation of constitutional rights. Until now, it was a given that, while Congress had the power to regulate transactions between parties in interstate commerce, it has no power to mandate that any individual participate in any commercial transaction. In a rather feeble attempt to sidestep the issue that congress has indeed done this with the personal and business mandates of Obamacare, the Supreme Court chose to call Obamacare a tax, and not a commercial transaction.
Regardless of what they decided to call it, the fact remains the same. Never before was it within the power of Congress to tax anyone based on one’s failure to participate in an activity. Income taxes are based upon one’s activity that generates personal revenue. Excise taxes and tariffs are based upon one’s activity in trading a certain commodity. The Obamacare taxes are based upon not participating in an activity. In this sense, it is clearly a penalty which intends to coerce an individual or business into participation.
Here we lie upon a slippery slope. Tomorrow, the government may decide that all people should quit smoking. If you cannot quit, then you will have to pay a $3000 tax. Or maybe the Government will pass the Green Grass Act, which requires that all people must keep their lawns to a certain level of greenness or pay a $3000 tax. (I’m sure this could generate untold revenue during this drought year.) Or how about the Computer Upgrade Act, forcing you to buy a new computer every two years or pay a tax. Or the New Car Act. Buy a new car every two years or pay a $3000 tax. I’m sure you can think of some more insidious scenarios. Under the Supreme Court’s new ruling, nothing is really beyond the scope of possibility anymore.
Dred Scot was a primary impetus in gaining the Presidency for Abraham Lincoln in 1860. Everyone new that Lincoln held no love for slavery. Certainly the people of the South knew it. Despite his constant assurances to them that a peaceful legislative solution to the slavery problem to be achieved, the writing was on the wall. Anti-slavery forces had the legislative clout to act without regard to the concerns of the Southerners. Southerners decided that the only way to protect themselves was by revolution and seceded. Although history holds a very dim view of this attempt to break the Union, it was at least an honest attempt to forever solve a seemingly unsolvable problem and still allow the South to remain economically viable.
Ironically, George Washington was from the South–Virginia. He owned slaves through marriage. His understanding of the problem was that slavery really wasn’t an economic boon but a hindrance. He understood that the cost of managing the lives of uneducated and unmotivated people was much higher than providing them education and allowing them their freedom. He took it upon himself to provide for the freedom and future education of all of his slaves. Unfortunately, the less far-sighted among his fellow Virginians and Southerners could not see that it was in their best interests to do the same. Out of fear that they would lose control of the economy to the ever-growing slave population, they forbade the education and emancipation of slaves. This lack of creating a free and educated people ensured the eventual impoverishing of the entire South.
Today, the situation is similar. I believe that a lack of education has allowed a new kind of slavery. This time, though, the slavery is not limited to one particular delineation of people. This time, the slave owners are not individual citizens, but the very government itself. Certainly, the imposition of slavery has not happened overnight. Certainly, there have been many attempts to stop it before. But now it has reached a critical stage. Now there will be no one who can opt out of this slavery. Now, instead of the South seeing their very economic survival in jeopardy, we all face it.
It is about time for all of us to stop pointing fingers of blame at each other . It is no longer about white, black, hispanic, native or immigrant; South or North, richer or poorer, Republican or Democrat. These conflicts are all the elaborate smokescreens designed to dupe an undereducated people into looking the other way while a handful of greedy and arrogant people enslave us all. It’s time to figure out the truth and fight back. Unless we want to fight another civil war, we had better be at the polls removing our slave masters from power. So we’d better educate ourselves enough to recognize the difference between those who want to serve us and those who want to make us their slaves. If you can read, then read. If you know someone who can’t read, teach them to read. If you can’t read, find someone who can teach you to read. It’s easy to be a slave. I’d rather take the harder road. At least, then, I still have a choice.
Note. After I wrote this article, I searched and found the various related articles. They agree with my analysis. This would lead many to put the cart before the horse and say that I was parroting or somehow influenced by others. While it may be hard to believe, I came up with my conclusion based solely on my study of history and law. This is the beauty of being educated. You can reach educated conclusions without coercion or influence. Those who will try to vilify should try enlightening themselves first.
- Chief Justice Roberts’ Dred Scott Moment (pjmedia.com)
- Supreme Court: Dred Scott Decision (tarpon.wordpress.com)
- Dred: Waiting for the Supreme Court (newyorker.com)