Mortal Sins

Obamacare emerged from the U.S. Supreme Court wounded but still breathing. Now that Justice Roberts has called the penalty for not buying health insurance, a tax, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is ramping up their hiring process for thousands of new agents to police us all.

Governor Paul LePage of Maine is calling the new army of IRS agents, reportedly 16,500 strong, the “New Gestapo.” If you do not buy health insurance you must report it on your tax return, and consequently, the IRS can enforce a tax penalty. Whether we can afford it or not, healthy, taxpaying Americans will be footing the bill for approximately 50% of the population who neither pay for health care, nor pay taxes.

The tax for those not buying health insurance in 2014 is said to be $95.00 for a single person and $285 for a family. By 2016, a single person will pay $695 and a family will be taxed $2085. If you don’t pay, the IRS will penalize you, and start adding monthly interest to your tax bill. Wall Street Journal senior economics writer, Stephen Moore, says that these taxes will impact families making $120,000 a year and maybe less.

That’s a far cry from President Obama’s 2008 campaign promise not to raise taxes on families earning less than $250,000 per year. Where I come from, it’s called flat out lying. First, the President said the Obamacare mandate was not a tax; then his attorneys went to the Supreme Court and argued it was a tax. After promising not to raise taxes on the middle class, he hid the fact that his health care legislation taxes the hell out of them.

The Catholics call lies that harm others, mortal sins. Aristotle said that a person who lied could not be believed in anything they said. St. Augustine, Immanuel Kant and St Thomas Aquinas all condemned lying in any form. One could be tortured, murdered, jailed and still have no excuse to lie.

Seems like we’ve gone a long way backward in standards of morality when the President of the United States can spout lies with abandom. Still, certain Members of Congress and some media talking-heads support him. I guess they haven’t read the 2700 page Obamacare bill yet.

 I rather like Freidrich Nietzsche’s opinion in his work, “Human, All Too Human,” when he concludes that some people refrain from lying simply because they don’t have the wherewithal to maintain their lies, that we tell the truth out of our own weakness. Of course, the President doesn’t have that problem because he has dozens of staffers to keep him on course.

One summer, when I was six and my brother was four, we went down the road to visit our friend, Elizabeth, whose family owned the local dairy. There were rolls of quarters on the dining room table that her father had been stacking up to take to the bank. When our friend left the room to get us sodas, my brother quickly stuck one role in his pocket. For days afterward, we bought too much ice cream, and too many candies.

When our parents noticed the weird change in our eating habits as well as the amount of time we were spending away from home, they questioned us. We lied through our teeth. My father was concerned that some child molester had been giving us money. Mom was angry that we weren’t eating her dinners.

After a few days of parental interrogation, both my brother and I plummeted into the depths of depression. Not only did we complicate our lies, but we plum forgot what we’d said the day before, and so, we confessed. After a good spanking administered by Dad, we were sent to the dairy to make amends.

Ashamed, we became slaves to the dairy owner for a week. We cleaned the horse poop in the stable, ran errands, pruned rose bushes, washed dishes, and mopped floors, all while listening to Elizabeth’s gleefully delivered insults. My father thought lying was a felony, and the farmer was determined to teach us the consequences of theft. 

Looking back, our six and four year old selves must have been lousy workers. Nonetheless, both my parents and the dairy owner were interested enough in our moral welfare to teach us a lesson. It worked!

Politicians lie badly, just like kids. I’d like to give them all a good spanking and then consign them to week’s work in the Whitehouse gardens, in full view of their opponents and the press. Never mind Virginia, you don’t have to remind me that the child-abuse police would probably jail me.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “A child is a curly, dimpled lunatic.” Nowadays that seems to apply equally to bankers, politicians and bureaucrats who lie, cheat, and steal with no thoughts of the consequences. Just saying…

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