28 June 2012


The Supreme Court’s decision on health care legislation was announced this morning, and in the best possible outcome it upheld the Affordable Care Act, but explicitly not for the reasons its supporters argued for. In the last congress the argument was made that the government could compel people to buy insurance under the Interstate Commerce clause of the constitution. The court rejected this out of hand, and instead upheld the law on the basis of the government’s power to tax, effectively naming proposed penalties what they are- a tax. The Democrats under Nancy Pelosi had claimed virtually unlimited power for the government by interpreting the commerce clause so broadly as to render it meaningless. The court decided that the government does not have the right to compel individuals to behave a certain way under the clause, thereby sharply limiting its application to actual commerce. 
Chief Justice Roberts made the right decision, given the political dynamics of the day. If he had sided with the four dissenting judges, all Republican appointees, it would have been characterized as a political decision. The President has tried to undermine the court through outrageous, unprecedented attacks, and one can only imagine the reaction if the court had overturned his signature piece of legislation. In this decision the court reasserted the primacy of the constitution, which the left is increasingly prepared to ignore in pursuit of their agenda. By their reckoning if the constitution stands in the way of some supposed “higher good,” it should be ignored or stretched to oblivion. 
Civil society is only possible to the extent that all sides agree on a basic framework of rules. But if one side does not accept the legitimacy of the rules the entire basis of social co-operation is undercut. There is a disturbing trend on the left towards claiming powers for the state it does not possess under the constitution. But in the absence of the rule of law such power becomes arbitrary and abusive. Thus we have legislation proposed, the content of which remains a mystery, until, as Pelosi stated, the bill is passed. This kind of contorted logic has characterized the whole process with regard to the act. What they do not seem to understand is that if the limits of the constitution are abandoned by one side, the other side can do the same, to their detriment. 
The health care issue is far from settled. It remains a piece of legislation passed over the objections of a majority of the public, but now it has been restored to the democratic process. It will now be discussed and debated as it should have been in the first place. Each side has a clear position diametrically opposed to the other, and it will now be an issue in the November election. Thus. it will likely be resolved by the political process. That is why we have elections. 

25 June 2012


With the summer heat comes pool season here on Long Island. Owning a pool is like owning a boat- it's really much nicer when someone else owns it and you get to use it without having to deal with all the maintenance hassles and expenses. With a pool they add up. You have the opening, vacuuming (necessary because of all the sand that blows up from the beach here), and all the various chemicals that go into balancing the water properly. Then eventually you have the closing. 
In between they always offer to test your water for free. Although the water may appear to be nice and clear, it always turns out you need yet more chemicals for things you've never heard of to achieve proper "balance." I don't do that any more because I've been in the water without any adverse effects. I'll settle for chlorine and Ph. After all, people have been immersed in ponds, lakes, and swimming holes for generations in water that is totally unprocessed, and they've managed to survive. 
Then it rains and the temperature drops and the water chills down. In this area the pool is only usable on warm, sunny days. There's a storm and the pool fills up with debris I have to fish out. It is too cold to swim, but I still have to run the motor several hours every day anyway, now that it's open, to maintain balance.  So now while waiting for summer temperatures to return to normal I'm starting to calculate the rough cost per swim, but I stop because it is too disturbing.  Boat owners ought to do the same thing. I would think the results would be even worse, which is why I've refused to own a motorized vessel here. Too much trouble and expense. But again, like a pool it is nice to use if someone else owns it! 
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As soon as I get away from the city everything seems more remote. The news seems far away and not that interesting. One's attention becomes more localized and immediate, and you wonder why you give things the time and attention that you do in the city. Some of the things you spend money on suddenly seem ludicrous. It becomes possible to step back and see things from a broader, more detached  perspective.  The natural world is closer, and it's sounds are carried with the summer breeze. I'm still fully wired-up here, but I don't give the same attention to it. Absent the fast pace and cacaphony of the city, everything seems clearer. So I begin to wonder; which is the "real" world?