Randy Barnett on the Mandate

In his congressional testimony, he illustrates the difference between regulating activity and inactivity:

Here's a thought experiment. Imagine that I tell you 100 things that you may not do tomorrow. For example, you cannot run on a treadmill, eat broccoli, buy a car, and 97 other things. While your liberty would be restricted, there would still be an infinite number of things you may still do.
Now suppose I tell you 100 things that you must do tomorrow. You must run on a treadmill, eat broccoli, buy a car, and 97 other things. These 100 mandates could potentially occupy all your time and consume all your financial resources.

And also, of course, the difference between negative and positive rights.

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Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

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