Who Will Guarantee ObamaCare Rights When the Duty-Bound Refuse?

If ObamaCare rights were in a horse race against duties necessary to sustain and pay for them, duties would be losing by several furlongs. And rights would come up lame soon thereafter, because rights in the long run can prosper only with equal duties alongside. But what if the duty-bound are insolvent, or, in horse-racing lingo, worn out "bleeders"? Or what if the duty-bound are unwilling to pay for another round of rights when the beneficiaries outnumber them ten to one and have no skin in the game? What if the duty-bound spit the bit and refuse to take a saddle? 

Political rights, and especially social contract rights, as distinct from natural rights, need intrinsic value to make them worth securing and defending. And only those rights worthy of a fight would justify corresponding duties demanding personal sacrifice, sweat, equity, or treasure.

Historically, duties always preceded rights. In the Hebrew Bible, God imposed the duties of the Ten Commandants on Moses as a precondition to the covenant of salvation for His chosen people. In the New Testament, Jesus imposed the duty of belief in His incarnation, death on the cross, and resurrection in order for believers to enjoy grace and everlasting life.

The founders of this republic pledged their "lives, fortunes and sacred honor." These were duties of the ultimate order, with signatures affixed prominently to the Declaration of Independence to secure the rights to private property, due process, and freedom of speech. The signers of the Declaration knew that the stakes were enormous and the outcome doubtful. Those pledging announced that the rights to be secured and defended were neither trivial nor non-negotiable. Shared and significant duties came first and were willingly underwritten because the commensurate rights were fundamental and worth securing and defending.

Since the post-WWII period, duties as the enabler of rights have been conveniently and deliberately dismissed or harnessed only to a fading minority. The most expensive newly created rights have been of the social contract entitlement variety, imposed by unelected judges, executive orders, or one-party votes. ObamaCare is the latest, most dramatic expansion of rights-centric social contract provisions for beneficiaries who shoulder none of the burdens. These newly created health care rights with sweeping social welfare giveaways for a few are also accompanied by diminished rights for the many -- most acutely, confiscation of property, loss of due process, and diminished personal liberty.

All rights, whether natural, political, or social contract, need a guarantor. Hobbes suggested a benevolent monarch empowered by those governed be the guarantor. John Locke, and later James Madison and the founders of American liberal democracy, insisted that the guarantor be the people themselves through their elected representatives.

So, whose duty will it be to guarantee ObamaCare rights? Some 80% of Republicans and 60% of independents -- 55% overall -- want ObamaCare repealed, according to Rasmussen polls. Does that sound like the consent of the governed? No -- simply beleaguered taxpayers unwilling to ante up more.

A tiny minority of the entire productive population is expected to pay for all of it. Last year, nearly 45% of Americans paid no income taxes at all, according to the Tax Foundation. Another 10% pay taxes amounting to less than 5% of their incomes. Essentially, we have half of the U.S. population in the zero-liability bracket who vote for entitlements financed by someone else. 

The top 10% of all earners pay over two-thirds of the income tax burden. The top 25% pay 85% of the freight. Larry Kudlow says that the top 1% of earners account for 80% of capital gains and over 60% of interest and dividends. And Obama would like to increase taxes on those earnings, along with the higher Medicare taxes from ObamaCare on top of the Bush tax cuts expiring.

How can those rights in the form of social welfare contracts and economic redistribution be guaranteed and sustained by such a minority in a shrinking economy? Only if they are willing and able, but both are now in doubt.

Huge chunks of wealth destruction have been announced by some of the nation's largest employers in the wake of ObamaCare, signed by the president, as they implement the higher liability consequences. Will these companies be able to invest or even maintain their businesses? Emerson Electric's CEO David Farr, noted by Bloomberg in a speech last November, was already fed up:

"Washington is doing everything in their manpower, capability, to destroy U.S. manufacturing, ... Cap and trade, medical reform, labor rules."

Companies will create jobs in India and China, "places where people want the products and where the governments welcome you to actually do something, ..."

"What do you think I am going to do?" Farr asked. "I'm not going to hire anybody in the United States. I'm moving. They are doing everything possible to destroy jobs."

So when the duty-bound run out of money, what happens to ObamaCare? Will the duty-bound gradually fail to show up and, like David Farr of Emerson Electric, pull up stakes and go elsewhere? Or will they simply refuse to part with the remainder of their dwindling savings, investments, and capital needed to finance the bottomless pit of entitlements?  

For decades, liberals have insisted that democracy cannot be imposed on reluctant inhabitants of developing countries through the barrel of an M-16. Yet they are quite willing to destroy rights and impose duties through the enforcement powers of the IRS on a nation of reluctant American citizens.

It's easy for beneficiaries of ObamaCare to pledge someone else's "lives, fortunes and sacred honor" as the guarantor.

Geoffrey P. Hunt is a senior executive in a multinational firm.