Another morning in the car recently, listening to some shrill old harridan(*) on NPR deliver a scolding lecture about just ridiculous, how laughable, how stupid it is to imagine that Obie's buy-insurance-or-else ukase could possibly exceed the powers of Congress as defined in the Constitution.
Of course she's probably right in the narrow sense that the Supremes, I should think, will almost certainly uphold the foul thing, though it would certainly make my day if they don't. And I personally cannot imagine how any plausible construal of the commerce clause could extend so far; though of course opportunistic readings of the Constitution are as universal as opportunistic readings of the Bible, right across the political spectrum -- a very narrow spectrum, by the way; near as dammit to monochrome.
I knew it was coming, and I wasn't disappointed: the NPR finger-wagger inevitably deployed the argument that hey, we make people buy car insurance, don't we? So why not health insurance?
A fine example, among many, of the depravative effect on our culture of the fact that driving a car has become the paradigmatic human activity.
Americans -- notwithstanding our 'yelps for liberty', as Dr Johnson called them -- have in fact a very strong authoritarian streak, a love of regimentation and control. Maybe this predates the automotive age, but I feel sure that automobility has made it worse. Driving regresses people to the anal-sadistic stage of development, and a lot of 'em stay regressed after they park the car.
(*) A former Supreme Court correspondent for the New York Times: two of the most insufficiently-disliked institutions in America.