The Individual Mandate

January 8, 2011

     Perhaps the most unpopular component of the Healthcare law going into effect in 2014 is the Individual Mandate. The special interests have been working to declare the individual mandate as unconstitutional. They profess that our sainted Founding Fathers never intended that the government require citizens to purchase a commercial product. These references to our early days as a nation are sprinkled with calls for liberty, freedom and independence. These modern day “Sons of Liberty” wannabees missed one nasty little complication from the earliest days of the new Republic. Those same patriots who forged the revolution then had to govern. And govern they did. The Congress passed and President Washington signed the Militia Act of 1792. To wit,

“That each and every free able-bodied white male citizen of the respective States, resident therein, who is or shall be of age of eighteen years, and under the age of forty-five years (except as is herein after excepted) shall severally and respectively be enrolled in the militia, by the Captain or Commanding Officer of the company, within whose bounds such citizen shall reside, and that within twelve months after the passing of this Act. That every citizen, so enrolled and notified, shall, within six months thereafter, provide himself with a good musket or firelock, a sufficient bayonet and belt, two spare flints, and a knapsack, a pouch, with a box therein, to contain not less than twenty four cartridges, suited to the bore of his musket or firelock, each cartridge to contain a proper quantity of powder and ball; or with a good rifle, knapsack, shot-pouch, and powder-horn, twenty balls suited to the bore of his rifle, and a quarter of a pound of powder; and shall appear so armed, accoutred and provided, when called out to exercise or into service, except, that when called out on company days to exercise only, he may appear without a knapsack. That the commissioned Officers shall severally be armed with a sword or hanger, and espontoon; and that from and after five years from the passing of this Act, all muskets from arming the militia as is herein required, shall be of bores sufficient for balls of the eighteenth part of a pound; and every citizen so enrolled, and providing himself with the arms, ammunition and accoutrements, required as aforesaid, shall hold the same exempted from all suits, distresses, executions or sales, for debt or for the payment of taxes.”

That’s right, your Defenders of Liberty mandated their fellow white male property owners to equip themselves with items prescribed by the “guv’ment” at their own expense. All this before Karl Marx, before Trotsky, before Lenin, before Obamacare.

Why don’t the self-described conservatives express the same concern over this incursion on their precious liberty? I expect most don’t know enough history to identify the Militia Act, but those who do and most of those currently informed would still not object. Could it be that the Militia “individual mandate” required the citizen to buy weapons with their potential for physical violence, while the Healthcare act will require citizens to buy health insurance, a component of improving the wellness of society at large?

 Currently reading The Ascent of Money by Niall Ferguson and Supreme Injustice by Alan Dershowitz


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