By Monica Frede
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) gave a celebratory speech to Congress on Wednesday, the same week as the two-year anniversary of the Affordable Health Care Act, evoking the core principles of the Declaration of Independence— life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. She could hardly contain her glee:
Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is exactly what the Affordable Health Care Act helps to guarantee. A healthier life, the liberty to pursue happiness, free of the constraints that a lack of health care might provide to a family. If you want to be a photographer, a writer, an artist, a musician, you can do so. If you want to start a business, if you want to change jobs, under the Affordable Care Act, you have that liberty to pursue your happiness. And that is why I am so pleased that this week we can celebrate the two year anniversary of the Affordable Care Act.
Time to start the party.
If you want to pursue your dream career, change your job, or start your own business, the government is here to say you can do so! (Imagine the commemoratory events planned in offices around the country this week: colorful streamers falling from drop ceiling tiles, balloons strung from fire sprinkler heads and Obama’s glowing smile supplanted on “Happy Birthday” sheet cakes.)
I have another idea of what could help those Americans trapped in dead-end jobs, shackled with their inevitable pursuit of depression: capital. Anyone who wants to start their own business needs capital. Why not create a law that anyone who writes a persuasive letter to the federal government, expressing their heartfelt plea for the funds needed to cover start-up costs such as three years of salary, equipment costs and legal fees, will receive a check in the mail? Mrs. Pelosi certainly would support that idea. After all, having sufficient capital to start your own business is the very definition of pursuing happiness.
Although we have many Americans who do not want to be small business owners, their letter would look slightly different. “I have not been on a family vacation in two years, and my kids really want to meet Goofy at Disney World. Can you send a check for $3,000?”
Critics quickly poke holes in my suggestions: but we’re not talking about free vacations; we are talking about providing health care. Health care saves lives. And that provides all Americans life, liberty and the ability to pursue happiness.
Daniel Webster (1782-1852), a leading American statesman and senator from Massachusetts, as well as a U.S. Congressman and U.S. Secretary of State, presented a testimony before the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention in 1840, persuasively arguing for the people’s rights to establish qualifications for their elected officials. Early in his testimony Webster said, “No man can be said to have a right to that which others may withhold from him at pleasure.”
That statement, another harbinger for our times, like so many of our Founding Fathers’ words, rebukes our modern-day governmental philosophy that more is better and much more is best. The temptation of holding office coincides with the temptation to trade handouts for reelection. Webster continued:
There may be among legislators strong passions and bad passions. There may be party heats and personal bitterness. But legislation is in its nature general: laws usually affect the whole society; and if mischievous or unjust, the whole society is alarmed and seeks their repeal. The judiciary power, on the other hand, acts directly on individuals. The injured may suffer without sympathy or the hope of redress.
Nancy Pelosi and her counterparts grossly augment their realm of legislative authority by extending “the pursuit of happiness” to include health care coverage. Again, no citizen is denied health care when needed. But that same citizen is required, by law, to pay for services rendered. But the damaging ramifications of the Affordable Health Care Act “benefit” only a portion of the public, rather than protect the general welfare of the whole.
(What better protects the general welfare of the whole than removing government from health insurance? Just look to the housing market as our “lesson learned.”)
Additionally, handing out checks to entrepreneurs does not benefit the whole. The same can be said for food stamps, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, unemployment insurance, child tax credits, Earned Income Tax Credit, student loans and government-subsidized housing.
No limits exist on the government’s ability to grant a benefit, cloaked in the right to pursue happiness, so long as the government denies the spirit of the Constitution and their limited legislative powers. And no elected official can pervert their legislative ability amongst a society that seeks their repeal.
Like Webster asserted to his Convention, “If he dislikes the condition, he may decline the office in like manner as if he dislikes the salary, the rank, or any thing else which the law attaches to it.” And if he chooses not to decline, we the people can remove. Because we are the government.