Doing Nothing - The "Activity" Myth


By Hadley Heath

Do you ever have trouble explaining the health care lawsuits to your friends?  It’s true – a lot of people have bought the myth that the government has the power to force people to buy insurance.

If you need help explaining the right that Americans have to do nothing (to NOT purchase, to NOT buy, etc.) then I can recommend a good new guide from The National Federation of Independent Business. 

In this fact-pattern explanation, the NFIB makes it clear that not buying insurance is not economic activity, and therefore outside of the scope of government’s regulation.  From the article:

If the healthcare law is upheld, the individual mandate would eliminate the constitutional backstop that currently applies to Congress, leaving the federal government with basically unlimited power over our individual lives and decisions. The federal government could easily compel individuals to buy or sell particular goods and services merely because their “decision” not to do so has broader economic consequences. A decision not to sell a house, for example, would be transformed into economic activity Congress could mandate.

Constitutional lawyer Ilya Somin describes it like this: “If I choose to spend an hour sleeping, I necessarily choose not to spend that time working or buying products. Under Judge Steeh's [judge in Michigan who threw out the case against the healthcare law] logic, the Commerce Clause authorizes Congress to force workers to get up earlier in the morning so that they would spend more time on the job.”

Freedom means deciding what you want to do with your time and your resources, and then doing it.  Of course, freedom like that goes hand in hand with the responsibility to make the right choices.  But if the government makes our choices for us, can we really say we are free? In 2014, we won't be free to decide to buy insurance.

That is, unless one of the health care lawsuits is successful.  The National Federation of Independent Business is one of the Plaintiffs in the Florida case.  This case faces a Hearing for Summary Judgment on December 16.  Stay tuned!


Back to Previous Page