06/30/12 — Ailing: Health care ruling turns loss of freedom into chronic condition

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Ailing: Health care ruling turns loss of freedom into chronic condition

It is not just the debacle that is the president's health care plan.

And it is not the politics that seems to be rearing its ugly head.

What makes the Supreme Court's Thursday decision so worrisome is the slow leak that has become the loss of liberty in this country.

And it can be attributed, in part, to the changing way we look at the world.

America used to be a place where personal responsibility meant something.

There was no excuse track for those who did not pay their bills, had children outside of a marriage or family or who did not take care of the ones they had or for those who made government assistance a career.

That was shameful behavior -- and most Americans worked hard to make sure they lived up to their obligations with honor and dignity. It was not the amount of money someone had, either. There was a standard, values to be lived up to -- and it was a message that was passed from generation to generation.

There are still noble people in this world -- and many in the younger generations who are carrying on those family traditions. But truth be told, it is the rest who are changing the way this country works and lives.

So, it is not surprising that someone would think that a decision to require people to carry health insurance would not be such a slippery slope. After all, aren't we protecting those who are not taking the responsibility to protect themselves?

And therein lies the point.

When you etch away at freedom, skimming a little off the top and making concessions, you get a government that makes the decisions, and you lose more of your rights to choose -- and those are the fundamentals that make this country the great one it is.

The American form of government was set up as a republic, with states having the power to make certain decisions on their own, depending on their circumstance and the will of the people who live there. The idea, of course, was to avoid a centralized -- royalty-free -- monolith that sent pronouncements and could tax and spend at will.

That is why Thursday's decision is so scary. It has paved the way for the government to decide what is best for you -- and to force you to comply with that decision.

And that should make you squirm.

What if someone decides some day that riding an ATV is just too dangerous, and that if you want to be allowed to do so, you have to pay a $500 tax per person to do so, in addition to the licensing requirements? And what if you live in Montana and the majority of your fellow citizens don't want the ATV law? Well, too bad, the Supreme Court's ruling has just made it possible for the federal government to force you to comply.

The example is simplified, of course, but you get the idea.

The states' rights aspect of the Constitution and the American system of government is a cornerstone for the freedoms we enjoy today. It allows us yet another check and balance to keep this country on the track that has helped it grow and improve for more than 230 years.

It is a model that does not need to be tweaked, changed or adjusted. It works because of its simplicity and honest respect for the rights of the citizens who are governed by its documents and principles.

Truth is, the American people make much better decisions, usually, than the people they choose to represent them. And we need to make sure there is always a way for those citizens to direct the future of their nation, no matter who is in charge.

So, the decision is in on health care. But what happens after that is still up to us.

And we will make the right decisions, as long as we choose to make liberty our guide.

Published in Editorials on June 30, 2012 11:54 PM