When Does The State Have A 'Legitimate State Interest' In Telling Someone What To Do

By Frank Hill

The recent furor over the Obama Administration's mandate to the Catholic Church to include birth control in any insurance plan offered by the Catholic Church to its employees has brought up a very interesting debate over the extent of what is or is not considered a 'legitimate state interest'.

President Obama and his Administration are saying that the 'state', meaning the federal government, has a 'legitimate state interest' in making sure that every women in this country has access to birth control, regardless of whether or not it violates the tenets of the sponsoring agency, in this case, the Catholic Church which opposes family planning on religious grounds...

Set aside the technical finer points of the law such as the 'rational basis test' or the 'strict scrutiny test' for the moment (we are not 'lawyers' in case you haven't noticed yet but 'budgeteers', 'wonks' or whatever you call people who are concerned about fiscal matters) and let us think together about the implications of this principle if carried out consistently throughout the federal government's budget.

If the federal government has a legitimate state interest in telling people they have to offer birth control to all of its members, why shouldn't the federal government be able to tell everyone who receives one dime of federal support, assistance, grants or appropriations what to do and when to do it in return?

In fact, that is generally the case throughout the federal government today.  When a farmer receives agricultural assistance from Washington, he/she has to adhere to a myriad of federal standards and 'promulgated regulations' (love that word) regarding environmental protection and process or else they forfeit the right to get further funding.

Same with education.  Same with transportation. Same with virtually every other federal program...they all come with major strings attached.

Except 2.  Medicare and Medicaid.

For the most part, Medicare and Medicaid come with virtually no strings attached to the person who is using those federally authorized and spent taxpayer dollars. In fact, we can almost think of no federal restriction on what a person on Medicare or Medicaid can or can not do in return for receiving what is essentially an 85%+ federal subsidy for their health care.

There are plenty of restrictions on what a university medical center can or can not do with Medicare funds for, let's say, the Direct Medical Education program or any grants they might receive to build a new wing for gerontological research.

But not so for Medicare or Medicaid.  A person receiving such direct subsidies from the federal government to support their Medicare or Medicaid benefits can continue to eat Twinkies by the box; smoke a carton of cigarettes every day and night; drink beer or alcohol until dawn and never lift a finger to get more exercise than to push the button on the remote control.

Shouldn't the federal taxpayers who pay 100% of the funds for Medicaid and 85% of the funds for Medicare be able to dictate to such individuals that they have to clean up their act and start a reasonable diet and get some exercise in return for continuing to pay their health care costs as a matter of 'legitimate state interest'?

We think there is.

Health care experts and administrators used to come into our offices on Capitol Hill and routinely tell us this astounding fact:  35-50%+ of ALL health care costs in America could be eliminated overnight if the American public did just these 4 things on their own:

  1. Lost an average of 25% of their body weight
  2. Quit smoking.
  3. Quit drinking excessively. (a glass of red wine from time to time seems to be 'healthy' for some reason)
  4. Get off the couch and at least walk at a fast pace for 30 minutes per day or climb the stairs instead of taking the elevator or the escalator to get to the Ben & Jerry's on the second floor of the mall.  (hey!  it would be a 'start' for some people)
Now, we know there are millions of people out there who are eligible for Medicare and Medicaid who do take care of themselves and their families.  We know one spry octogenarian who essentially walked to Boston from North Carolina a couple of years ago during his regular daily walks during the year as they recorded the distances he walked each day.  That is over 712 miles he walked or about 2 miles per day.

How many miles a day do you walk by contrast?  This man is 83 years old today and will probably live to be 133 years old if he keeps this up!

But we also know there are millions of others who are not as motivated to keep trim and eat well or who may not know how to go about doing so in these days of being surrounded by fat-food (not just fast-food) restaurants and Super Duper Bug Deluxe Gulpers all the time.

We think the US taxpayer, through their contributions each year in the form of tax dollars to keep Medicare and Medicaid afloat not only have the right but the duty to demand that their elected representatives in Washington figure out a way to make sure that every recipient of Medicare and Medicaid know how to take care of themselves in return as part of their 'legitimate state interest' in continuing both programs.
Many seniors and poor people are too sick and too poor to take care of themselves and go to the local Whole Foods Market and buy the latest tofu or organic vegetables, we get that.  They present an entirely different set of problems to address in a different, serious manner.
But with the heaviest and perhaps most 'unhealthy', in many ways, generation of Americans about to retire over the next 10-25 years, we had better do something almost immediately, like today in Congress, to help change the behavior of millions and millions of sedentary and obese fellow citizens or else we are going to be in a lot, lot worse financial trouble in 2025 than you can even imagine today.
If you don't believe so, just take a good hard look at this recent publication from the Concord Coalition called 'Structural Deficits' and why they matter.  And then call us in the morning when your Stage 10000 migraine headache subsides and you can speak coherently again.
We all have a 'legitimate state interest' in driving down the cost of health care before it totally swamps us as a nation. Helping people live healthier lives is not just good for them but it would be great for all of us.

(Editor's Note: Frank Hill's resumé includes working as chief of staff for Senator Elizabeth Dole and Congressman Alex McMillan, serving on the House Budget Committee and serving on the Commission on Entitlement and Tax Reform. He takes on politics from a fiercely independent perspective at the blog Telemachus).


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  2. Q: When does the state have a "legitimate state interest" in telling someone what to do?

    A: When--and only when--that someone is attempting to violate another person's absolute right to his/her life, liberty, or property, and what the state is telling that person to do is to cease and desist such violation.

    There is no moral or rational justification for enslaving a person (forcing a person to utilize his/her life, liberty, or property for a purpose that the person did not voluntarily choose).

    Our duty as taxpayers and (supposedly) free people is NOT to get the federal government to enslave us more efficiently or effectively (through reform of Medicare or any other coercive, tyrannical program). Our duty is to reject that slavery, always and forever.

    You know, like the Founding Fathers did.

    So, the question of whether we should be able to tell people on Medicare how to take care of themselves isn't really the issue. The issue is that my physical well-being and liberty are being held hostage to force me to pay for those people in the first place.

    1. without being argumentative, except to play the Devil's advocate for illustrative purposes, then: 'Do you plan on taking and using any Medicare or SS benefits then when you retire?'

      Both are entirely supported by taxes paid by current workers, NOT funds coming from any sort of fiduciary instrument or funds set aside to grow over time like in any 'real' investment fund.

    2. Conservatives - real conservatives, not the Democrat-lite big government brand that want to run our lives as well as the entire world - ask questions like, "why should I pay your bills?" However, with this smug soliloquy, Mr Hill has shown us he represents the wing of the party that the Democrats sent over. He and his ilk have done damage to both the brand and the country that we may literally never recover from. Their spin on that question, "why should I have to pay your bills if you don't behave in a manner that suits me?" is exactly the same argument that the Democrats are now beginning to make - how health care needs to be rationed to benefit the thin, the young and the workers.

      First of all, aside from the cost to the proud legend of rugged American individualism and self-sufficiency, the approach he is suggesting, that government "trim the fat," undermines market forces. It provides the health care market absolutely no incentives to develop new, less expensive treatment options. For that reason alone, most of the readers would happily opt of of their future benefits if they were allowed that option. But since our generation (Hill's and mine) depend on those young beefcakes to fund our health care programs, he's not ever going to recommend that approach.

      Instead, he's saying that the state has an interest in ensuring that my children, who will soon be entering the workforce, not provide benefits to me in my old age. Instead, their contributions should be routed to him because he considers himself a more-worthy recipient of the fruits of their labor.

      As to the question, "Aren't you going to draw from it when you're old?" I suspect that most of the readers of this blog would happily opt out of they were only given the option, a choice that would also benefit the system in multiple ways. However, what Mr. Hill suggesting with that snide misdirection is that although we're forced to pay into a system we don't want to contribute to, we're somehow hypocrites if we remove our contributions at a later date. Seeing as that it's very likely we're also going to take spend more federal money that we contributed to the program, one has to wonder why you feel entitled to make a case for depriving people of their entitlements based only on your criteria of choice?

      If we go down that path, we quickly find that people are financially forced into those programs, because government intervention has driven the price of cost up beyond anything rational. Allowing the small government minded to opt out of Medicare and Medicaid would lessen the burden long term, as well as allowing at least a small section of the almost-dead free-market to function in the way it was intended.

      The "state has an interest" is a horribly frightening phrase, and here's why: The state doesn't have a legitimate interest in me, you or my Aunt Millie, nor should they. You're making the case for specific welfare, while pretending it's the definition of the general welfare. All you're really saying here is "I want a bigger piece of pie, and I want the government to take it away from someone else !!!"

    3. Angela: I am afraid you have completely misunderstood my entire argument or read it in some form of Mandarin translation on your computer.

      My POINT is that the government really has zero 'legitimate state interest' in anything we do on a personal basis. As long as we don't main, hurt, damage or kill someone else, we should be free to speak, do and worship as we please as guaranteed in the First Amendment and Natural Law.

      However, generations upon generations of Americans have blindly accepted the role of enhanced and increased guvmint in our lives, most notably starting in 1933 and then jumpstarted in 1965...and we have never gotten off the gravy train that Alan Simpson now calls 'America with 310 million teats.'

      Virtually EVERYONE is getting some form of grant, appropriation, loan, or tax break from the government. It may be 'our money' to begin with but when the government gives you a tax break to buy your home or deduct your health insurance, that is a government bennie, no matter how you slice or dice it.

      And, just because our parents and grandparents pilfered our paychecks to pay for their rather generous Medicare benefits, does that mean that you think it is OK to pilfer our children's paychecks, at a time when to continue to do so will in fact bankrupt our nation?

      That...I can not agree with under any circumstances. We should convert to a Chilean-style plan for Social Security tomorrow and start means-testing Medicare and SS today to start lowering the level of spending immediately as we embark on a generation's long journey to reform all entitlement plans to make them more of the defined contribution variety, not the defined benefit variety.

      'If not us, then who? If not now, when?' Ronald Reagan said.

      I am willing to be part of the Glorious Generation that actually sacrifices for our children and our nation's future.....Aren't you and if not, why not?

    4. >when the government gives you a tax break to buy your home or deduct your health insurance, that is a government bennie, no matter how you slice or dice it.

      I don't agree. In such cases, the government is not adding anything to my condition. It is not benefiting me with anything that was not mine in the first place. It is merely refraining from worsening my condition in that instance. If the government takes $10 from me against my will, then gives it back to me, have I gained anything? No. I've merely moved closer to where I was to the extent of $10. If that is considered to be a "benefit," then the definition is so broad as to be meaningless and unhelpful as a word.

      Now, some might say that I still receive certain tax-financed services even though I got my $10 back. If those services were ones that I actually wanted and received through voluntary exchange, such an argument might have some legitimacy, but almost every program, etc., operated by the federal government consists of services that I neither want nor receive, and often find to be immoral, distasteful, and destructive. (Call me old fashioned, but I don't believe that I benefit from being offered immoral, distasteful, or destructive services.) Even with a refund of part of my property, I still pay far more in taxes (on both the state and federal level) than is needed to do the ONLY thing a government can legitimately do: protect the rights of each individual to his/her life, liberty, and property.

      Maybe it's just an issue of semantics (and I realize that you're not some totalitarian collectivist wacko) but politicians play games with semantics, and it's dangerous if we begin accepting their use of the word "benefit" when we're merely regaining our own stolen property. (Just look at what happened to the word "entitlement." It used to mean an actual right to something. Now it means whatever of my stuff that the government wants somebody else to have.)

  3. By the way, I linked at Red State Eclectic: http://bit.ly/ydmV9I

    1. This is a very good response, Angela. I like Frank (the author) and although he is a strong independent thinker, I don't always agree with him. From my conversations with him and most of his work, I wouldn't peg him as a progressive.

      I put the premise of "the government is in this area of industry, that area of individual's lives, therefore it has an interest in controlling it" in the slippery slope and inevitable outcomes columns(s) of overbearing government intrusion in every aspect of our society and individual lives. I don't think that once the government is in our bedrooms, healthcare, neighborhoods, families, businesses (the list goes on) that that unjustifiable intrusion gives them any more right to unjustifiably intrude even more.

      In other words: two wrongs don't make a right.

    2. Thanks LCR. I just left a response with Angela about her incorrect characterization of my and my political philosophy (admittedly, she said it was caffeine-induced so I guess I will have to take her at her word on that and give her a pass...this time) but judging from her response above, I had to conclude that her browser posted my posting in Mandarin on her screen...which she could not read either.

      My main point is that ANYTIME the government gives you someone else's money, in the form of coerced confiscation through taxes, that means that the government can also tell you what to do with it. We do it all the time in agricultural programs, transportation programs and education programs.

      But is she actually making the case that in return for us shelling out $821 BILLION PER YEAR!!!!! in Medicare and Medicaid benefits, we, the taxpayer, through our duly-elected government representatives and senators, are FORBIDDEN from telling such recipients of our largesse they have to stop smoking, getting drunk, eating Twinkies and they need to exercise every day as a quid pro quo?

      That is not called 'freedom'. That is called sheer 'lunacy!'

      and with a $16 trillion debt heading towards $20 Trillion REGARDLESS OF WHO GETS ELECTED THIS FALL......(except Paul and he has as much chance of winning the WH as I do in winning 'American Idol' and I am done-deaf and can't carry a tune in a bucket!), it is simply impossible to believe that we should continue doing everything the same way we have always done it...because that has not worked out very well for us yet, has it?

      I hope Angela calms down and drinks some decaf and maybe re-reads my post and maybe some of the other postings on your page or mine (www.telemachusleaps.com, Angela...there are 274 pretty detailed articles there that almost 10000000% refute your characterization of me as a 'Progressive Conservative', whatever that is.

      I will accept the moniker of Thoughtful Conservative, though which is not an oxymoron...there are some left...but not many. Sadly.

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    6. An excellent post, and argument for proper limited constitutional government.

      Unfortunately we may be too far gone to recover. Demographics and years of statist indoctrination has succeeded I fear...

  4. >'Do you plan on taking and using any Medicare or SS benefits then when you retire?'

    No. The fact that I'm being victimized by the current government/system/takers does not in any way justify me in victimizing others.

    1. Then at least....you will be one of the handful of folks who will be consistent in philosophy then. Glad to meet ya...you and maybe 5 others.

      You will have difficulty getting out of Medicare Part A though...You will be automatically enrolled when you turn 65 just as you will be automatically enrolled in SS at age 67 (depending on when you retire). The stories I have heard about people fighting for 2-4 years to get OUT of SS and Medicare...it is near about impossible.

      You might as well start making sure you have the right forms and applications to do so. Any congressional or senate office can help you do so...although there may not be such a form since hardly anyone has ever taken such a brave stance before.

      Again, like I said...perhaps 5 in all of American history since 1933.

    2. Well, I'm confident that there are more than five or six people of integrity in the United States, people who believe that stealing and coercion are wrong, and who do all in their power to act in accordance with that belief.

      I know more than that many people personally, people who have not taken advantage of government services and their fellow citizens, even though they have qualified for such according to the relevant laws and regulations, and were in legitimate need (need typically caused by the loss of their property to the greedy hands of government).

      Believe it or not, there are actually a lot of people in this country who know that wrong is wrong, regardless of the circumstances or attempts by others to rationalize those wrongs. Such people tend to get lost in the blaring self-centeredness of those who take a "Do unto others before they do unto you" type of approach, but they're there, living quiet lives of honesty and decency. If we didn't have enough of those people among us, the United States would already be gone. If we didn't have enough of those people among us, the United States would DESERVE to be gone.

      The federal government may be able to enroll me in its power games against my will, but it can't make me use the services.

      As for retirement, I don't foresee having that luxury (not that I see a point in retiring anyway). The federal government has taken what could have been my retirement fund (or, heaven forbid, could have been spent on the necessities of life for my family) from me every year for decades and given it away, and I'm certainly not going to get back anywhere near what has been stolen from me.

    3. Oh yes it can, wrongfully so, however Frank is correct. My wife just went through the process. You're enrolled whether you like it or not. In other words the "system" has ya, just as planned.

      It will take an army to change it. As Frank so aptly put it, few will volunteer. It is not 1776 and demographics have certainly changed since. That and national philosophy. As sad as that may be it remains reality.

    4. Oh, I know that I'll be enrolled, but are they going to march me off to the doctor at gunpoint, or put me in shackles and drag me to the bank to cash a Socialist Security check? My name in a system and my body using the "services" are two different things.

    5. Bastiatarian: I think most people just don't cash their SS checks or return them to pay down the federal debt through a special debt retirement fund at the US treasury

      I think one year...$3000 was collected to pay down the then-outrageous $5 trillion national debt then in effect. total

      The Kool-Aid drinkers who 'insist' that EVERYONE HAS GOT TO BE ENROLLED, or else public 'support' (sic?) for SS and Medicare will dwindle to nothing....are crazy! Bill Gates has got to be enrolled? HE MAXES OUT HIS PAYROLL TAX CONTRIBUTION IN THE FIRST 10 SECONDS OF EVERY CALENDAR YEAR! He will pay it and never miss it.

      We need to act like the famous Apple commercial '1984' where the woman famously threw a hammer at Big Brother's face on-screen. Everyone is so unbelievably brainwashed by the SS/Medicare Monolithic state it is beyond belief.

  5. Mr. Hill,

    I thoroughly enjoyed this posting.

    I do wonder, though, why can't I, as a 43-year old American, opt out of SS and Medicare payments, telling the Fed that I want nor need either of these programs. Why can't they just give me what I have already paid in, cut me from being enslaved to them, and let me deal with my life on my own terms?

    Has anyone, ever, in Congress or the like, gone before the ruling elite and made this suggestion?

    One Guy 2012

    1. >Why can't they just give me what I have already paid in, cut me from being enslaved to them, and let me deal with my life on my own terms?

      Because then you would be out of their control, and able to use your life, liberty, and property as you see fit, and those who lust after power just can't stand that.

    2. "...lust after power..."

      Oh, you mean American politics. Can we not simply return to proper governance, and remove all political machinations from our Nation? Are the American people nothing more than the spoils of this ridiculous and futile war between the establishment GOP and the anti-American Democrat Party?

      It's time for a change, folks. It's time our current government(s) leave us the hell alone, and stick to their 3k dollar a plate fundraisers and smiling for their photo-ops. I have a really real life to attend to, with bills, budgets, and concerns.

    3. One guy: Because none of the 'money' you have paid into either the fictitious SS or Medicare Trust (sic!) Funds are still there! They went out in a nanosecond the moment your payroll checks were cashed at the US Dept of Treasury after your company mailed in their quarterly payments (or you paid self-employment taxes yourself....twice as much as employees of bigger companies I might add)

      Check out the Chilean SS system...that is the way to go.

      check this out: http://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=4161781017528873219#editor/target=post;postID=9010565189464310731

  6. .

    "If the federal government has a legitimate state interest in telling people they have to offer birth control to all of its members, why shouldn't the federal government be able to tell everyone who receives one dime of federal support, assistance, grants or appropriations what to do and when to do it in return?"

    Corporations are not people (no matter what Mr Romney and the Supreme Court may say)! Corporate entities must follow the laws, regulations, rules, and customs established by the people's government where the corporate entities operate. Who pays the piper, calls the tune.


    "Shouldn't the federal taxpayers who pay 100% of the funds for Medicaid and 85% of the funds for Medicare be able to dictate to such individuals that they have to clean up their act and start a reasonable diet and get some exercise in return for continuing to pay their health care costs as a matter of 'legitimate state interest'?"

    No. The people's government of USA is limited in this area. The people's government's authority is clearly defined and limited. Your 'one size fits all' gibberish has never been a part of USA government.

    Ema Nymton

    1. I do believe Emma you have proven your excellence in providing outstanding gibberish.

      For entertainment purposes no doubt. Right?

    2. Um...yeah. I think I lost IQ points by reading Ema's words. Time to get them back and read some Constitution.

    3. Ema: All I can say is: 'Take the king's shilling. Do the King's billing'.

      You either don't take any government money...and do whatever you please as long as it doesn't hurt, maim, disadvantage or murder anyone.

      You take the taxpayer's money..and the majority of the Members of Congress and the Senate pass a bill and the POTUS signs it...and we can tell you to do anything we want you to do, including doing the hokey-pokey until you shake yourself all about.

      that is just the law of the jungle in the wonderful world of civil democratic republicanism and rule of law.

    4. That position is horrible, and defending it as reality does not make it any less horrific. I paid into a system, and I have produced two male children that will be paying into the system. To say that I have no right to recover the contributions I made, or to the contributions they will make, is socialism.

      Seeing the reigning GOP making a case to side with Michelle Obama, and touting the use of entitlements as a tool for social engineering just gives me another reason to vote third party until the real conservatives are back in control.

  7. Mr. Hill, it was the lack of caffeine that drove me to hit "enter" before I proofed my response. My snarly reaction to all big government "solutions" won't ever change. I am not a diplomat, I won't ever win a Ms Blogger Congeniality award, and frankly most people don't like me even when they agree with me. I am not your friend, I won't ever fit in at beltway cocktail parties, and nobody is ever going to vote me into office. Having said all that, I stand quite firm behind by sentiments.

    You pointed out mandates that accompany voluntary participation in assorted government programs and made a case to apply those standards to a program that is certainly not voluntary.

    Look at the statistics behind obesity, and you'll see that blacks and Hispanics are far more likely to be overweight than whites. Women tend to be affected more then men. So what you're essentially saying (even though you obviously didn't intend it that way) is that because white males are the least likely to be obese, they should have the first rights to the limited health care resources. That's a form of selective genocide - good luck adding that to the GOP platform.

    Of course, maybe you can reach across the aisle, and develop some sort selective standards. White men can be held to a much higher standard, blacks and Hispanics can get a pass based on race, and women will have yet another chart to decide their eligibility. I mean, equal opportunity planning worked so well in academia and the workplace, we should obviously move towards incorporating it in out national health care system.

    Of course Medicare and Medicaid are going to fail. We've known that for a couple of generations. That's just another reason that the responsibility should at least be returned to the states ASAP. 50 different approaches are far more likely to produce at least a single success than a DC bureaucratic nightmare that's already failed repeatedly.

    If a private firm had failed on such a spectacular level, it would be bankrupt (or bailed out) and a flurry of market alternatives would arrive. Instead, Washington DC has created a virtual monopoly in the health care system, and is now seeing why politics and business don't tend to mix well outside of K-Street.

    1. Angela: I think I would lay off the caffeine, and the Jolt Cola and the 5-hour Energy drinks then while you communicate on-line and in blogs.

      The whole world can see what your are saying, if they want to find it. It is like what I tell my college-aged sons and collegiate people we are training to run for public office: DO NOT EVER PUT ANYTHING ON FACEBOOK...that you don't want to come back to haunt you later.

      You are trying to use the old tried and true 'exception' theory to prevent anything of important substance from being done to change SS and Medicare.

      It will not work anymore. Both 'Trust Funds' (fictitious as they are in reality)are being drawn down today as we speak...even though there were not supposed to be touched until the mid-2020's. We are going flat broke on every front in the federal government...and you are saying that because of racial disparities in life expectancy, we can not do ANYTHING?

      are you serious?

      Like I said above: 'You take the King's shilling...you do the King's Billing!'

      Meaning: 'You have every right to live as you please (without harming anyone) if you choose not to take any federal grant or subsidy. However, the SECOND you cave in and take Medicare, we, the taxpayer have every right to DEMAND that you stop smoking cigarettes, drinking cases of beer and booze every night, over-eating fat and fattier foods and slurp up grease with a straw if you want and get some exercise if you are able-bodied and of sound mind.'

      that is just called plain outright 'responsibility' on the part of the citizenry...something we have all seemed to conveniently forgotten over the past 50 years.

      Please explain to me just how and why and where we should allow anyone on any federal health system the abject 'RIGHT' they are entitled to to treat their bodies with contempt and send the bill to us, the taxpayer, to pay for it.

      You can't do it...because it is simply an indefensible position.

      And we should pass laws and regulations that tie responsible behavior to the acceptance of any federal tax dollar paid out in Medicare/Medicaid and any other federal program including the VA and the military branch.

      It will help make these people feel better, which is the most important thing in it all, BUT it will save the American taxpayer TRILLIONS in health and medical costs we will not have to pay in the future...across EVERY generation of Americans to follow.

    2. "Please explain to me just how and why and where we should allow anyone on any federal health system the abject 'RIGHT' they are entitled to to treat their bodies with contempt and send the bill to us, the taxpayer, to pay for it.

      You can't do it...because it is simply an indefensible position."

      Subsidies are voluntary. Contributions to Medicare and Medicaid aren't. You're talking about a form of selective genocide, and rewriting the entire social contract at the expense of people who won't have the time to react to the changes.

      The deal was simple: I pay into this program, and I pay for the health care of the seniors. Even though I thought it was a bad idea, you and yours said "too bad, so sad - we're voting us a portion of your paycheck."

      So, predictably, I planned accordingly - putting aside enough money to take care of all the things that won't be covered in my old age. So now, right before I'm getting ready to retire, you're going to change the terms of the contract and cut me out to save yourself. And you won't allow my offspring to opt out and use their money to help me cover the extra either? Nope, you need their money too.

      And again, how will you explain the racist implications of your plan? Women and minorities are far more likely to be obese, while people who have lower incomes are far more likely to smoke. What you're suggesting is that rich, white males are the people most likely to quality to get government benefits. Good luck with that.

      Again, if the program was voluntary, I could care less what stipulations you attached to it. But using mandated contributions to government medical care as social engineering tool certainly shouldn't be considered a conservative position.

  8. Angela:

    Here are the plain honest facts, as painful as they may be to hear and comprehend:

    1) Medicare is broke
    2) Medicare is not a 'insurance program'
    3) Medicare is paid 100% by payroll taxes on current workers for Part A; 85%+ for Part B. God only knows what is will be for Part D and the E-Z parts coming on-line now from ObamaCare
    4) Once you take $1 of taxpayer money from any of the rest of us, we get to vote on how you use that $1. And if we find out that you are sticking needles in your arm with heroin in them on top of smoking cancer-causing cigarettes and drinking gallons on moonshine and eating tons of fatty food, we have a right, nay...the OBLIGATION to tell you to stop doing any and all of that in return for chewing up our taxpayer dollars in very wasteful spending ways.

    I know you can't be seriously arguing that you have that 'right', can you? it goes against every precept of responsibility and honor in human life.

    You are pretty much over-generalizing here since the last time I went to a mall, obesity is about as diverse of a problem as we have in this nation. I saw fat white people; fat African-Americans, fat Asians, fat Latinos, fat women, fat men. Heck, I ever saw a fat homosexual couple holding hands! Obesity....knows no boundaries in modern American life.

    They ALL need to be put on diets and restrictions in return for us, the American taxpayer, to continue paying their health care bills. NO one is arguing we throw them out on the street. We are saying that these people need to be held responsible, trained, talked to, hypnotized or constantly harangued by someone from Weight Watchers who is paid by the Medicare Bird Dog Task Force to constantly harangue these people to start taking better care of themselves.

    they will live longer...and our Medicare bills will be cut...in half if we get everyone back to some 'normal' weight, on a decent diet and working out regularly.

    You have no right to my money or anyone else's money through the form of coerced taxation and do with it what you please. ESPECIALLY if it leads to the guvmint taking more of our tax dollars to pay for MORE health care for you because you don't take care of yourself.

    That is the true libertarian position. Your right to do anything you want...ends when your actions 1) hurt me or 2) cost me more money through taxes.

    Plain and simple. How can you argue against that being the freedom-loving 'conservative' you seem to be saying that you are?

    because you simply are not a 'small government conservative' under your terms. And certainly not when we will be paying 100% of your Part A Medicare benefits (which is total 'welfare' strictly defined) and 85%+ of your Part B Medicare benefits.

    You better not be smoking, drinking and eating Twinkies by the boxful when you are reading this.


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