Are We Morally Obligated to Follow Obamacare?

 

When people are defending a law they like from moral arguments against it, one common retort is that we are a nation of laws, which creates an obligation to follow laws even when we don’t like them — because we otherwise open ourselves up to anarchy and various other existential consequences.

Rarely do I hear people coming to the defense of a law they personally dislike with the same ferocity as those they feel meet their prefered ends.

If someone had a way to avoid Obamacare illegally and get away with it, would it be appropriate to chastise him as a moral deviant for not following the letter of the law? Should we demand the government do more to prosecute him? Does the person become a criminal as long as he continues to successfully flout it?

Do we have a moral obligation to follow Obamacare, less we cease to be a country where our laws are respected?

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  1. Tuck Inactive
    Tuck
    @Tuck

    Laws earn respect, like people, by being respectable.  You can’t order respect.

    • #1
  2. user_1938 Inactive
    user_1938
    @AaronMiller

    If it was a genuine law, then there would be a moral obligation. But Obamacare was passed without having been even read first, so it is not a true law. The “democratic” in “democratic republic” means nothing if we can’t even expect our “representatives” to know what they’re voting on.

    The requirement to read laws before passing them is not made explicit in either the Constitution or derivative laws because it is too obvious to merit reference. The lack of such a reference is why SCOTUS is supposedly powerless to overturn the farce on those grounds.

    However, the point at which such a reference becomes necessary for any democratic government is the point at which that democracy can no longer be saved by rules, because the fundamental respect for “law and order” has been abandoned.

    And the fact that no prominent Republican has ever said what I just said is the reason why I have no faith in the GOP to restore order.

    • #2
  3. Mike H Coolidge
    Mike H
    @MikeH

    Aaron Miller:If it was a genuine law, then there would be a moral obligation. But Obamacare was passed without having been even read first, so it is not a true law.  

    Are you the arbiter of genuine law? It seems a rather post hoc argument for a law you don’t like.

    • #3
  4. Sisyphus Member
    Sisyphus
    @Sisyphus

    Americans have a time honored tradition of resistance to tyranny, and that is rarely achieved purely within the bounds of the law. Trees, blood, tyrants, etcetera.

    • #4
  5. EThompson Inactive
    EThompson
    @EThompson

    Aaron Miller is correct. This “law” not only has eliminated individual choices, but forced choices upon Americans.

    • #5
  6. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    When the scripture tells us to accept the authority of secular institutions (1 Peter 2:12-25), the emperor that we were instructed to obey (and honor) was Nero.
    If you think that Obamacare is worse than Nero’s abuses, then perhaps there is an argument that we have no moral duty to comply with the law, but assuming you have some degree of proportion, obedience is demanded.
    It is possible, as Sisyphus mentioned, that Obama might be so bad that revolution might be justified. Obviously, one would have to exhaust all other remedies first. If someone spent more than a thousand hours volunteering for Romney, and showed that avoidance of Obamacare was an essential part of a plausible plan to bring the regime down, I could see a vestige of an excuse there. If they sat in their armchair and used revolution as an excuse to make life easier for themselves, I’d struggle.
    Obviously, 2nd Peter is a stronger argument for Christians than non-Christians. For non-Christians with a documented belief system, I’d be happy to respond (most demand compliance with Obamacare). For non-Christians who make up their morality as they go along, I can’t offer much guidance.

    • #6
  7. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    Aaron Miller:If it was a genuine law, then there would be a moral obligation. But Obamacare was passed without having been even read first, so it is not a true law. The “democratic” in “democratic republic” means nothing if we can’t even expect our “representatives” to know what they’re voting on.The requirement to read laws before passing them is not made explicit in either the Constitution or derivative laws because it is too obvious to merit reference. The lack of such a reference is why SCOTUS is supposedly powerless to overturn the farce on those grounds.However, the point at which such a reference becomes necessary for any democratic government is the point at which that democracy can no longer be saved by rules, because the fundamental respect for “law and order” has been abandoned.And the fact that no prominent Republican has ever said what I just said is the reason why I have no faith in the GOP to restore order.

     Do you have any Catholic or Christian authorities for the claim that a law that is not read by legislators is not a law?  I do not agree that the passing of Obamacare was not democratic (the legislators knew roughly how it would work, which is as much as they know with typical laws, and as much as was known in previous eras with shorter laws; this includes the fact that with Obamacare, as with previous laws, the administration has enacted it in ways that were not intended by some of the legislators). Even if it were undemocratic, so was every regime on earth for the first three quarters of Christian history. It is not only democratic laws that carry authority.

    • #7
  8. Mike H Coolidge
    Mike H
    @MikeH

    So, should we demand the enforcement, and coercion in the name of adherence for those who find a way to avoid it?

    • #8
  9. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    I might start having respect for the law when Barry Obama does.  Right now we don’t have laws.  We have impressions of laws, Diktats, Fuehrer Weisung, and  Ukase.

    • #9
  10. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    Like traffic laws, there is too much of the ACA law to not be in conflict with it at some point or another.  Furthermore, parts of it are in conflict with other parts of it. 

    Lawlessness cannot be prevented.  

    It is so bad that it will result in some of its being enforced on the basis of whim alone.

    Welcome to the new health care totalitarianism.  If we are lucky, it will keep the lawyers busy.  If we are not, individuals will suffer at its hand.

    • #10
  11. Spin Inactive
    Spin
    @Spin

    I think we have a moral obligation to fight against and even disobey laws if we feel they run counter to the spirit of personal liberty on which our nation was founded.  Now, we also have a moral obligation to use good judgement.  

    Obamacare is not merely a law that we don’t like because it personally inconveniences us.  It is a law that a great many of us, perhaps even a majority of us, feel is unconstitutional.  So in this case, we are right to disobey the law to the extent we can, and to fight against it.

    • #11
  12. Crabby Appleton Inactive
    Crabby Appleton
    @CrabbyAppleton

    If non-compliance is an act of love,  then no.  No we’re not.

    • #12
  13. EThompson Inactive
    EThompson
    @EThompson

    Spin:Obamacare is not merely a law that we don’t like because it personally inconveniences us. It is a law that a great many of us, perhaps even a majority of us, feel is unconstitutional.

    This is a dilemma indeed. It is a law passed by constitutional measures but agree it is unconstitutional in nature. This isn’t the first time this has happened in our history, but there aren’t even any national security issues to use as a justification in this instance.

     

    • #13
  14. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    When Obama and ALL of the Members of Congress, and the entire Government Bureaucracy are subject to the entire law, as written, no waivers, then I will obey it.  And not one moment sooner.  It makes me very angry when our supposed representatives write a law overturning the world’s best health-care system, and then exempt themselves from all its deleterious effects.

    • #14
  15. user_280840 Inactive
    user_280840
    @FredCole

    I will state clearly that I have no moral obligation to follow any law that I disagree with.

    • #15
  16. Cordelia Inactive
    Cordelia
    @Cordelia

    I refer you to Locke, Second Treatise of Govt. chapter 11 “Of the Extent of the Legislative Power.”

    • #16
  17. Albert Arthur Coolidge
    Albert Arthur
    @AlbertArthur

    What does “follow Obamacare” mean?

    • #17
  18. user_57515 Member
    user_57515
    @TomDavis

    There appears to be some misunderstanding here.  According to a majority of the Justices on the U.S. Supreme Court failing to get the prescribed insurance or failing to furnish your employees with the prescribed insurance is not a crime because Congress lacked the authority to make it such.  According to our Chief Justice, we have two distinct legal paths to follow with Obamacare:  The first path allows us to buy the prescribed insurance for ourselves and for our employees; and, the second path allows us to pay a tax.  Either one of these by itself is legal and “follows the Obamacare law”.  It is sort of like I can contribute to some charity and get a tax deduction or I can pay the income tax on the money that I declined to contribute.

    • #18
  19. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    There was a recent article in the Conservative Chronicle a couple of weeks ago. It referred to an interview by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, in which he stated the cases where we were obligated, or not obligated, to follow a law. I thought it was very interesting. Perhaps you should go to the Conservative Chronicle website, and see if you can find it.  I will look for it tomorrow, and try to find a link I can post.

    • #19
  20. user_11047 Inactive
    user_11047
    @barbaralydick

    A plethora of laws breed disrespect for the law.  It is impossible nowadays to know every one of them.  And the number has grown to the point that one cannot go through a day without breaking more than a few of them (federal, state, and local).  Is it immoral to break those impossible to know about? 

    From the Daily Caller:  “The 1936 Federal Register was 2,620 pages long. It has grown steadily  since then, with the 2012 edition weighing in at 78,961 pages (it has topped  60,000 pages every year for the last 20 years).”This year’s edition estimates the total federal regulatory burden at $1.8  trillion per year and growing — the first time ever that the cost of regulation  has exceeded half the size of the federal budget.”

    Becaused a huge number of people signing up will be subsidized, this law is going to cost the nation billions of dollars – and that is immoral.  There were simpler and less expensive ways to help these people. 

    • #20
  21. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    James Of England:When the scripture tells us to accept the authority of secular institutions (1 Peter 2:12-25), the emperor that we were instructed to obey (and honor) was Nero. If you think that Obamacare is worse than Nero’s abuses, then perhaps there is an argument that we have no moral duty to comply with the law, but assuming you have some degree of proportion, obedience is demanded.

    But again, assuming you have some sense of proportion, not all laws are worth obeying to the letter.

    For example, it’s breaking some law, I’m sure, to help people obtain certain controlled substances without a prescription. Nonetheless, I have no problem giving someone in pain a Vicodin tablet, if I happen to have a spare one handy.

    And what about speed limits? Disobeying them is technically breaking the law, yet I do it all the time, and I’m not even a particularly zippy driver. I just drive at the speed of traffic.

    • #21
  22. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    This law was passed in a way that is Unconstitutional. Spending has to start in the house. It was passed in such a way to violate normal rules as well. Further, it is Unconstitutional in what it requires people to do, and, frankly, it well beyond the powers granted to Federal Government.

    I have no moral obligation to respect this law, than I do any law that abridges freedom and liberty.

    • #22
  23. The Mugwump Inactive
    The Mugwump
    @TheMugwump

    A republic can only exist when its citizens perceive the laws to be fair and equitable.  The result is voluntary compliance by a populace, not just to the rule of law itself, but to the behavioral norms that ensure order, domestic tranquility, and prosperity.  Socialism, on the other hand, is a system where coercion is the law of the land.  Whether duly voted on and ratified by a legislature, or passed by executive diktat, the result is the same.  Socialism benefits those in charge of redistribution.  Such a system must be maintained by threats, fines, punishments, and eventually incarceration in order for the ruling class to prosper.  Socialism teaches the poor to steal, the middle class to cheat, and the upper class to seek influence rather than produce goods and services of value.  Once the rule of law has been thoroughly subverted, the next step is the creation of a police state in order to manage an unruly and uncooperative populace.

    • #23
  24. user_280840 Inactive
    user_280840
    @FredCole

    Look, I don’t want to be a jerk, but these claims about not respecting the law because you take issue with the process of how it was passed are a cop-out.  If that’s a standard on dismissing laws, to be honest and apply the principle uniformly, you’d have to throw out most of our federal laws, including most annual budgets.

    If you’re going to claim its unconstitutional, that’s fine, but take issue with its unconstitutional merits, not the sausage making that went into it.

    • #24
  25. AR Inactive
    AR
    @AR

    Fred Cole: Look, I don’t want to be a jerk, but these claims about not respecting the law because you take issue with the process of how it was passed are a cop-out.  If that’s a standard on dismissing laws, to be honest and apply the principle uniformly, you’d have to throw out most of our federal laws, including most annual budgets.

     Who’s arguing that most of the federal laws are valid? Most of our fore fathers certainly wouldn’t.

    • #25
  26. user_3444 Coolidge
    user_3444
    @JosephStanko

    One may well ask: “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.”

    Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law.

    -Martin Luther King, Jr, Letter from a Birmingham Jail

    • #26
  27. user_1938 Inactive
    user_1938
    @AaronMiller

    Mike H:

    Aaron Miller:If it was a genuine law, then there would be a moral obligation. But Obamacare was passed without having been even read first, so it is not a true law.

    Are you the arbiter of genuine law? It seems a rather post hoc argument for a law you don’t like.

     “We have to pass it to find out what’s in it.” In my lifetime, I do not recall such a blatant declaration being applied to any other law. Certainly, many other laws have delegated Congressional authority by questionable degrees to unelected bureaucrats. But the method by which Obamacare was passed, regardless of its contents, was plainly undemocratic. 

    Democratic systems exist to honor free will. A choice cannot be free without knowledge. Any toddler can make a blind choice. Do we allow toddlers to vote? It is awareness which enables judgment and accountability. Democrats passed Obamacare knowing only that it would authorize persons appointed by Democrats to act under rules determined by Democrats to achieve their own goals. Without having even read the full bill, let alone understood it (or debated it), they were voting only for a power grab.

    James Of England: Do you have any Catholic or Christian authorities for the claim that a law that is not read by legislators is not a law? 

    I appeal to logic, not to any authority.

    Or, rather, I appeal to the authority of citizens in a democratic republic. Do you acknowledge such authority? Have we abandoned the philosophy, so fundamental to the American order, that the authority of government derives from the people? Are we willing to relinquish such authority in the wake of the District of Columbia’s increasing assertions of power?

    James Of England: Even if it were undemocratic, so was every regime on earth for the first three quarters of Christian history. It is not only democratic laws that carry authority.

    It is only democratic laws that carry authority in a democratic society. 

    American citizens must make a choice. Either demand your natural rights as declared in the Constitution, along with all the basic expectations on which a democratic republic must stand, or stop pretending that your rights and freedoms are defined by anything other than power. America is here to stay, but it will be reformed into something monstrous and antithetical to its founding virtues if citizens’ only demand is that the system persists uninterrupted. We will receive only so much freedom as we demand. How much lower we will set our expectations in preference of peace and comfort over justice and freedom?

    Can our representatives authorize legislation without even knowing what it is? Our collective answer to that question will determine if we remain a republic of free citizens, rare among the many nations of history and of the world, or if we are content to relinquish that exceptionalism now that it is threatened.

    • #27
  28. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    barbara lydick: A plethora of laws breed disrespect for the law. It is impossible nowadays to know every one of them. And the number has grown to the point that one cannot go through a day without breaking a few of them (federal, state, and local). Is it immoral to break those impossible to know about? Because a huge number of people signing up will be subsidized, this law is going to cost the nation billions of dollars – and that is immoral. There were simpler and less expensive ways to help these people.

     I took out the quote only to stay under the 200-word limit.  I agree with every word of this. When I was a kid a million years ago, we were taught Europe had so many laws that no one paid any attention to any of them.  We have gone the same way.  At least I hope so.

    • #28
  29. user_1938 Inactive
    user_1938
    @AaronMiller

    Joseph Stanko: To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. -Martin Luther King, Jr, Letter from a Birmingham Jail

    From a Christian perspective, I’m not sure it’s as simple as that. David’s king unjustly wanted him killed, but David threw himself at the unjust king’s mercy because Saul was king nonetheless (1 Samuel). 

    We can at least distinguish between the rule of ancient kings and democratically elected government. If a nation exists because a king made it so, then an argument can be made that the king’s authority does derives from power. But if a nation exists because the people made it so, then the authority of elected officials depends upon the consent of the governed.

    Certainly, to some extent, democratic Christians must endure unjust laws in prudence and humility to honor the free determinations of their neighbors. But the will of the majority is never offered total authority. 

    It is a corruption that so many modern citizens believe laws alone provide the foundation and limits of society. As freedom depends on laws, laws rely on freedom. If we give up the moral but non-legal sanctions and incentives which underly any legal system, laws cannot adequately or justly replace them.

    • #29
  30. Dmath Inactive
    Dmath
    @DaveMatheny

    I would add, to the other arguments that have presented, that Americans were blatantly lied to in order for this law to pass. We were repeatedly assured, by the Prez himself, that if we liked our health plan, we could keep our health plan, period, and if we liked our doctor, we could keep our doctor, period. How can a law be regarded as a just law under those circumstances? I feel no moral obligation whatsoever to follow a law that was passed by means of outright deception.  JMath

    • #30
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