The Supreme Court’s Decision on Universal Health Care
One of the key themes of Civilizing the Economy, and my work since its publication, has been that of clarifying the relationship between the commercial and the civic, Today, the Supreme Court’s ruling on universal health care made an important contribution.
The Court said that Congress did not have the right to require individuals to buy insurance under the commerce clause, but did under their right to require citizens to pay taxes. This makes sense. Governments cannot force people to go shopping. Consumers have the right not to consume. Citizens, on the other hand, have civic obligations, and one is to pay their fair share of taxes.
Behind this ruling are all the distinctions so important if we are to realize a civic economy: the distinction between ownership and membership, between individual preferences and collective values, and between the civic and the commercial. Today, the Supreme Court affirmed collective values and civic membership.
This contest is not over. Just as in 2010 in California, we had a contest between a CEO and a public servant for Governor (Meg Whitman vs. Jerry Brown), we now have a national contest between CEO Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, who could become a public servant if he will draw on the civic energy in this land.