One of the most annoying things for me is how the government imposes laws and then it changes its mind later. It is not the changing of the policy but rather the punitive costs of the never mind mentality. I am no expert on the structures of governments across the world but I have experience on how laws work in the United States and México and how they affect me personally. What I have noticed is that the laws tend to be consistent across México and contradictory in the United States. For example, there are parts of the United States where marihuana is legal and in other parts it remains illegal. What is worse is that while it may be legal in the local jurisdiction you can still be charged federally for the criminal act of using or possessing marihuana.

Very contradictory.

Personally, I believe that marihuana should remain an illegal drug. But the contradiction in laws and the fickle application of public policy creates a hardship on people that should not be tolerated. The most recent example is the Affordable Healthcare Act better known and ObamaCare. We now have the American Healthcare Act better known as ObamaCare Light.

Although the two opposing viewpoints on healthcare in the country are still arguing over the details, there is one specific issue that is affecting everyone. It is an issue that should be considered unfair and against the foundation of the country’s standard of fairness and the rights of citizens as afforded by the constitution.

The issue is the penalty for not having health insurance.

Yesterday, the House Ways and Means Committee pushed through the repeal of the tax penalty.

The tax penalty is on the way out.

However, I have paid the tax penalty the last two years, in 2014 and 2015, for not having health insurance. It remains unclear whether the penalty is still due for the 2016 tax year but I have made plans to pay it nonetheless. I have explained before why it makes better financial sense for me to pay the penalty rather than pay for the health insurance. The issue is not whether I should carry health insurance but rather the punitive penalty that many, including myself, have been forced to pay and now will not have to endure any longer.

Punitive penalties are designed to discourage bad behavior and thus they should be consistent. Bad behavior should be bad behavior today, tomorrow and beyond. It should not be bad behavior today and suddenly become good behavior the next day. Consistency is the key to teaching children how to behave. If they are punished for something they did wrong today they should also suffer the consequence for repeating their bad behavior in the future.

But not under the willy-nilly policy making of the United States.

Me, and many others, have been penalized for not having health insurance and now all of a sudden, we are not in trouble anymore. That includes the many individuals and companies that were forced to provide or carry insurance for the last few years.

How is that consistent? How is that fair? How can that be considered good public policy?

Whether you support or are against the health insurance mandate is irrelevant. The question you should be asking yourself is how can something be wrong today and fine the next days just because two divergent public policy viewpoints are unable to come together to make good governance the single most important mandate.

The United States is a divided country today because it is a loose union of divergent political viewpoints. Each state is a mini-fiefdom imposing its will over the others. The federation umbrella imposes the public policy of the two major parties at odds with each other and the weakened judiciary, that is supposed to be the glue between them all, has become politicized to the point that it too imposes its will upon the collective instead bringing order to the chaos.

Until the United States understands the roles that each fiefdom, i.e.: the states, the federal government and the judiciary are supposed to play; then the country will remain divided unable to build a cohesive and fair public policy agenda for all.

Martin Paredes

Martín Paredes is a Mexican immigrant who built his business on the U.S.-Mexican border. As an immigrant, Martín brings the perspective of someone who sees México as a native through the experience...

3 replies on “The Reason the Country is Divided”

  1. Like it or not the reason you will no longer be penalized by a fine is President Donald Trump. What you see is inconsistency, I see is voters changing bad policy through their votes. Part of the reason you see less of that in Mexico is that the rich can achieve different treatment under the law by getting an amparo and the poor don’t have much of a voice at the ballot box.

  2. We call it Federalism, the reason why states can make their own laws distinct but not contradicting the Constitution. The states have being and power by virtue of being states, i.e., Americans distrust centralized power like the nanny state.

    Obama forgot about that.

  3. Very good comments or reactions to your piece on inconsistency. Mexico federalizes everything. In the US, the states allow what the federal powers should be delegated to the federal government. We have a federal govt, in my opinion, to create a unification of ideas that would be in place throughout the US, but not overrule the rights of the states. Mexico doesn’t have that. Whatever the centralized Mexican govt. says, everyone has to follow.
    Paying the penalty really is your choice. There are options to not pay it through forms and situations. But the forced legislation was basically unconstitutional, which was made “lawful” by a bias in the Supreme Court. The question from that is, how do 9 justices in black robes dictate the lawfulness of laws from the legislature that 435 made a decision on? Aren’t some of those in Congress lawyers?

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