by Jerry Richardson 11/8/14
Words need to mean something; and we have reached a critical time in US legal history that requires words to mean something if our freedoms are to survive.
If charlatans and lawyers—sorry for the redundancy—can simple assign whatever meaning to written words are convenient for their personal ideology, then our liberties are gone, maybe irretrievably.
What has triggered this discourse?
The PPACA, Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is now scheduled for a return trip to the Supreme Court.
And why are we having this rerun?
Because the rogue Obama IRS has been illegally reading their own interpretation into the Obamacare law as it is actually written:
The survival of Obamacare depends on the ability of government bureaucrats to dole out tax credits and subsidies, but the law stipulates that all such assistance must be dispensed via exchanges established by the state. Likewise, the law’s employer mandates can only be imposed by state-created exchanges. Oddly enough, however, PPACA doesn’t actually require states to set up exchanges. And, much to the surprise and chagrin of the Obama administration, 34 states declined to do so. This forced the federal government to set up exchanges in those states and also spawned the legally dubious IRS edict.
—If Words Mean Anything Obamacare is in Real Trouble
So, not surprisingly, the Obama IRS simply decided in their bureaucratic omnipotence that they could simply declare that an “Exchange established by a State” is legally equivalent to an “Exchange established by the Federal Government.”
This entire charade reminds one of a famous episode in Lewis Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland, slightly amended to fit current situation:
‘When I use a word,’ the Obama IRS said, in a rather scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.’
‘The question is,’ said concerned Americans, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’
‘The question is,’ said the Obama IRS, ‘which is to be master – that’s all.’
And of course, Obama has long decided that he and the IRS are to be our masters.
So in the Obamacare law as written, the Obama IRS is trying to use the Alice in Wonderland Defense: Words mean just what the Obama IRS chooses them to mean.
Fortunately in a three-judge panel-decision that ruled against the IRS and the Obama Administration, Judge Ronald White of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, rebuked the Alice in Wonderland Defense with the words: “[T]he government’s interpretation… leads us down a path toward Alice’s Wonderland, where up is down and down is up, and words mean anything.”
The conniving Obama IRS lawyers are trying to change, in broad daylight, the simple literal meaning of words that have been written into a law. They are trying to make the terms “Exchange established by the State” somehow mean “Exchange established by the federal government.”
There is an extremely well written argument in Judge Ronald A. White’s ruling against this twisted logic and against the IRS:
Under 42 U. S. C. §18024(d), “State” cannot mean the federal government. This definition is dispositive when combined with the interpretive hurdle presented by the phrase “established by.”
In other words, the “legal fiction” reading does not appear to comport with normal English usage, as Professor Richard Epstein describes:
“These long and learned opinions should not obscure the fact that at the root of the case is a simple question: Do the words an “exchange established by a State” cover an exchange that is established by the federal government “on behalf of a state”? To the unpracticed eye, the two propositions are not synonyms, but opposites. When I do something on behalf of myself, it is quite a different thing from someone else doing it on my behalf. The first case involves self-control. The second involves a change of actors. It is not, moreover, that the federal government establishes the exchange on behalf of a state that has authorized the action, under which case normal principles of agency law would apply. Quite the opposite: the federal government decides to act because the state has refused to put the program into place. It is hard to see, as a textual matter, why the two situations should be regarded as identical when the political forces at work in them are so different.”
The court holds that the IRS Rule is arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion or otherwise not in accordance with law, pursuant to 5 U. S .C . §706(2)(A) , in excess of statutory jurisdiction, authority, or limitations, or short of statutory right, pursuant to 5 U. S. C. §706(2)(C) , or otherwise is an invalid implementation of the A C A , and is hereby vacated. The court’s order of vacatur is stayed, however, pending resolution of any appeal from this order.
—Understanding the Obamacare Subsidy Rulings
—Extract from Ruling, Honorable Ronald A. White
This slippery disregard for the meaning of words goes back a very long way. In the Bible it goes all the way to the Garden of Eden when Satan tried to change the meaning of God’s words with his own, when “The serpent said to the woman, ‘You surely will not die’! —Genesis 3:4 NASB
In more recent philosophical history, word-spinning goes back to William Occam (sometimes Ockham) who lived and wrote in the 13-14 Century AD. Most people are familiar with Occam because of the so-called Occam’s razor principle. Roughly the principle states that among competing hypothesis, the principle with the fewest assumptions should be selected.
What many people are not familiar with is that William Occam was the father of a philosophical notion called nominalism. Moreover it does not seem to be well-known that nominalism is a serious threat to truth.
Here an extract from what conservative author Richard Weaver has to say about nominalism:
…I turn to William of Occam as the best representative of a change which came over man’s conception of reality at his historic juncture. It was William of Occam who propounded the fateful doctrine of nominalism, which denies that universals have a real existence. His triumph tended to leave universal terms mere names serving our convenience.
The practical result of nominalist philosophy is to banish the reality which is perceived by the intellect and to posit as reality that which is perceived by the senses.
—Richard M. Weaver, Ideas Have Consequences, pp.2-3.
Nominalism is the claim that no real essences (universals) exist; only names (hence nominalism). Let me illustrate:
If I point into a pasture and say “there is a horse”; the word “horse” has a meaning, has an essence—as far as most realists are concerned. If I suddenly decide that words are just names (with no essential meaning) then I can suddenly point to the horse and say “cow.” Why not? Words are just names (labels); no essence is involved. In other words, from “horse” to “cow” nothing is involved for a nominalist except a change of labels. Don’t bother about the utter confusion of communication that will result from such whimsical change of terms. If someone prefers to be considered a female instead of a male, no problem, gender is only a label. We must not have pesky essences.
If there is no real essence (meaning) attached-to or tied to a name (a word) then why can’t someone just use a word to “mean” whatever they want? Voila! Nominalism.
We are seeing that very approach used by the Obama IRS today.
The fruit of nominalism has come to full fruition in our post-modern world. The end game of nominalism is that truth is what any individual chooses to make it. Truth in the academic and political word is today encapsulated in “narratives” and “metanarratives.”
If you have been watching the riotous events that have transpired at Ferguson, MO; you have witnessed how easy it is for the modern media to invent and promulgate a “narrative”; when the label “gentle giant” is applied to a thuggish ruffian instead of someone who has the essence normally associated with “gentle” you create a false “wonderland” narrative.
In a world of stability and truth, words (names) have to mean something. That something is their essence, and if we can simply change word-meanings on a whim then what happens to truth? It is of course gone; it becomes post-modern: There is no such thing as truth—no essences—just names, nominalism.
Realize that this return of Obamacare to the Supreme Court does not involve just your typical ad nauseam case of an attempted legal hat-trick; this is an out-and-out attempt, by the Obama IRS, to change the clear legal and English meaning of words in order to establish their own desired meaning of a clearly written phrase in an existing law.
And you thought the IRS cover-up and lying about the Lois Lerner emails was bad?
© 2014, Jerry Richardson