Throughout the months of August and September, President Obama and other Democrats in Washington, D.C. have been in a political battle with Republicans, who are seeking to defund Obamacare by attaching a measure to a continuing resolution to keep government functions funded. The measure was removed in the Senate, but the House Republicans appear unwilling to pass a clean continuing resolution. Let us examine some of the statements that have been made by various Democrats over the past several weeks from a philosophical libertarian position.
Claim: Obamacare is the law of the land.
Response: Let us consider the true nature of a statutory law. A statute is an opinion enforced at gunpoint by agents of the state with the threat of kidnapping and imprisonment, with murder as a possibility if such actions by agents of the state are resisted by the citizenry. Thus, a statute is the philosophical equivalent of a murder threat. This is immoral because it violates the non-aggression principle, which is a corollary of the most fundamental logical right, the right of bodily ownership. Therefore, a statutory law is not truly worthy of being called a law at all, in the sense of Frédéric Bastiat’s definition of a collective organization of the individual right of self-defense; rather, it is a whim of rulers inflicted upon everyone else.
Claim: The Tea Partiers are a bunch of anarchists.
Response: The etymology of the word “anarchist” comes from the Greek ἄναρχος (anarchos), meaning “without leaders” or “without rulers.” An anarchist advocates a form of spontaneous order in which there is no monopoly on the enactment and enforcement of rules. Very few members of the Tea Party movement take such a purely anti-state position. Most want to have a limited government within the confines of a strict interpretation of the Constitution, which is to say that anything which is not expressly authorized for the government to do is forbidden for the government to do. Most want to have leaders, but would like their leaders to behave differently.
Claim: Repealing Obamacare would deny health care to millions of people.
Response: Obamacare does not grant health care to people. The law mandates that people either purchase health insurance or pay a penalty. We have already shown in the first rebuttal why any mandate is immoral.
Claim: A government shutdown would throw the economy under the bus.
Response: While a reduction in government activity would certainly cause a noticeable short-term economic downturn, the claim that there will be a long-term net job loss after cutting government spending is an example of the broken window fallacy. This fallacy, first explained by Bastiat in his 1850 essay Ce qu’on voit, et ce qu’on ne voit pas (That which is seen, and that which is not seen), illustrates why destruction is not a net-benefit to society and why it is important to consider opportunity costs. In the case of cutting government spending, the broken window fallacy explains why jobs will not be destroyed over the long term. A decrease in government outlays sets in motion a decrease in the diversion of real savings from wealth-generating activities to non-wealth-generating activities, which leads to economic enrichment and recovery. Such cuts are bad news for jobs that only exist because of government spending, but after a short correction period of perhaps one or two quarters, new private sector jobs will emerge to replace them.
Claim: The American people voted to uphold Obamacare in the 2012 election.
Response: This argument is an example of a cum hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy. Mitt Romney lost the 2012 election for a variety of reasons, and there is no way to know whether his stance on Obamacare (which was not even consistently against Obamacare) was the deciding factor. Also consider that the number of people who could have voted but chose not to was larger than the number of voters who supported any particular candidate. These people did not vote, and therefore did not consent to be governed by the result of the election. This is hardly a mandate from the American people, and even if it were, we have already shown in the first rebuttal why any mandate is immoral.