China’s One Child Policy is offensive to those who believe that individuals should be free to control their own destiny and that families are the central most important unit in society. While the Chinese government insists that it is a necessary law for population control, the One Child Policy is a prime example of a government mandate that directs the will of a few on many. Having recently returned from Beijing, I was able to learn quite a bit about how this law works, and what I found was that conditions in America are not as far away as one might think from allowing for a similar law here.
Understanding the opposition to Obamacare
It has been difficult for those who support Obamacare to understand why so many Americans are opposed to the government’s nearly-complete takeover of the health-care system. What is telling is that even attorneys who support Obamacare admit that it is an expansion of power. They support, of course, the constitutionality of the statute, but they acknowledge that this law represents an unprecedented exercise of power.
So, what are the limits of this newly-defined taxing power? What other types of mandates can the government impose on us via the taxing power? Let's take a look at Obamacare and China's One Child Policy. Though the scope of the two laws are different, the similarities are striking.
Both compel citizens to make a decision they may not have otherwise made
Obamacare, of course, directs that virtually all Americans purchase health insurance that is approved by the government. Americans who wish to avoid the mandate are charged a penalty (or as the Supreme Court calls it, a tax) for non-compliance. Pre-Obamacare, those who find themselves without health insurance tend to make an economical decision regarding what path to take. Some individuals may choose to purchase individual insurance. This can be costly. Some may make a rational decision, based on their age and health, to not purchase insurance. However, with Obamacare, those individuals do not have that choice. They are forced to purchase government-approved insurance.
Further, Obamacare compels companies to make decisions they may not make otherwise. Consider the directive that basic insurance cover contraception. For religious institutions that have previously benefited from America’s deep respect for freedom of religion, this directive is out of sync with their beliefs. They are being forced to insure something that is directly opposed to their religion.
China’s One Child Policy is also a mandate from the government. Implemented in 1979, Chinese families are only allowed to have one child. Recently, the Chinese government loosened the policy in some areas to allow certain families who each come from one-child families to have a second child, if that child is born 5 years after the first child, with some exceptions. This represents a massive family-planning directive that commandeers the choices of parents to choose for themselves how many children to have. Consider the Chinese parents that desire larger families, the children that grow up lonely, or the parents who believe that strong families are the bedrock of a strong society. The policy removes the choice of individuals.
Both are enforced by a tax
For Chinese families that choose to have a second child (or in the case where a second child is allowed, a third child), the enforcement is surprisingly similar to the Obamcare tax penalty (though much more severe). The parents that choose to have an extra child are charged an initial hefty fine. Then, the parents are responsible to pay all charges that the government may otherwise pay for the child (school fees, hospital fees, etc.) And, as if that isn’t enough, the parents must pay 15% of their income to the government until that child turns 18.
With Obamacare, individuals who choose not to purchase health insurance are taxed (Despite how much Obama wants to call it a penalty, he can’t have his cake and eat it to. For it to be Constitutional, he has to admit that it is a tax.) The amount of the tax equates to approximately 2-3% of one's annual income. And, as anyone can guess, this amount will likely only increase over time.
So, certainly there is a difference in the amount being charged, but the bottom line is that the enforcement of both mandates is through taxation.
Both were justified by their respective government for the “good of all.”
Obama and the Democrats who passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (a title which becomes more ironic each day) claimed that this massive takeover of the healthcare industry was necessary to ensure that health care is available for all. They assured us that the ends justify the means and any freedom lost is for the greater good.
As for China, it was facing a population explosion (it is interesting to note that after World War II, the Chinese government encouraged its people to have large families to establish a stronger China). Given the expanding population and inability to keep up with the expanding infrastructure and food distribution needs, the One Child Policy was the remedy concocted by the government.
Certainly those supporters of Obamacare who read this will be outraged that such a comparison is being made between what seems to be an extreme policy in China and Obamacare. However, the point that needs to be understood is that once we accept and allow the government to take these sort of liberties to make decisions at a national level that should be made at an individual level, America is on the same road to the offensive state of affairs we now see in China. Is it really that far off that environmentalists who support population control suggest a tax on families that have more than one child? Now that the precedent has been set by the Supreme Court and Democrats are celebrating what they view as a victory, the course has been set.
If the Supreme Court believes that the taxing power is this expansive, then Americans need to diligently ensure that those elected to higher office are only those who would never use this power. None of us wants to be China.