Why do politicians mandate that no one be allowed to drink unpasteurized milk?
There would presumably not be a need for a mandate if everyone, through their preferences and free will, decided not to drink unpasteurized milk.
The only reason a mandate, and a penalty to back it up, in case people fail to do as they're told by politicians and bureaucrats, exist is because, some people choose to drink unpasteurized milk.
The purpose of the mandate and the penalty is to make people do something that would make them less happy than drinking unpasteurized milk.
This is economically equivalent to increasing their taxes by X dollars.
The number X depends on the individual's preferences and constraints, but it is conceptually very easy to find.
It is the tax amount that would make people indifferent between the alternatives A) having the tax taken out and having the freedom to drink unpasteurized milk versus B) not having the tax taken out, but also not having the freedom to drink unpasteurized milk.
Likewise, it is straightforward to show that, economically, pretty much any effective mandate or proscription (i.e. one that is backed by a real penalty), is equivalent in its effects to a reduction in the wealth of an individual decision-maker (i.e. a tax).
This is the case regardless of the legal language used to describe the politicians' designs.
However, the law is not economics.
Even if the economic effects of X% of an income tax might be equivalent to a $Y excise tax, legally, it matters whether one is dealing with an income tax or excise tax or some other type of tax.
Lawyers cannot ignore the letter of the law even though economists can cut through the smokescreen and call a tax a tax even if el Jefecito claimed otherwise.
Supreme Court justices are not allowed to claim something is a tax when the plain language of the law in question explicitly refers to it as a penalty:
(b)(1) Section 5000A(b)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as added by section 1501(b) of this Act, <<NOTE: 26 USC 5000A.>> is amended to read as follows:
``(1) In general.--If a taxpayer who is an applicable individual, or an applicable individual for whom the taxpayer is liable under paragraph (3), fails to meet the requirement of subsection (a) for 1 or more months, then, except as provided in subsection (e), there is hereby imposed on the taxpayer a penalty with respect to such failures in the amount determined under subsection (c).''.
``(1) In general.--The amount of the penalty imposed by this section on any taxpayer for any taxable year with respect to failures described in subsection (b)(1) shall be equal to the lesser of-- …
So, call the individual mandate what you will, I don't care. The ObamaDontCare law is bad for your health because central planning always results in extra scarcity, and Roberts' reasoning is bad for us because it says the U.S. is now one of those countries where there is no limit on what the government can do to the people.
Congratulations! We are all subjects now.
Even though I hate what Romney did in Massachusetts, he did not have to cajole the U.S. Supreme Court into nullifying citizens' rights, and he says he wants to repeal and replace the ObamaDontCare law.
He and the Republicans are the only real alternatives, and I'll take them.
Trust, but verify.