So let me get this straight: Congress can mandate how my house is lit and what TV channels I can watch, but lawmakers are not allowed to help save my life?

Arguments before the Supreme Court earlier this week focused on whether Congress has the authority to force people to buy a product. The product in question, of course, is health insurance and the individual mandate that people must purchase it as part of the healthcare reform law.

Wait a minute. Don't lawmakers already mandate that we purchase certain products including those far less important to our well-being

Think back to 2008, when Congress spent more than a billion dollars to inform the American public that analog TV was going the way of the eight-track and that we would need to buy digital converter boxes if we wanted to see the final season of 24 and to keep tuning in to The Jay Leno Show. (The latter proved unnecessary.) And this was all mandated as part of the Deficit Reduction Act, mind you.

Energy-efficient light bulbs are yet another product Congress is requiring me to buy. I will miss my Full Monty incandescents and have only recently adjusted to the humbling glare of compact flourescents. But I will gladly pay to help save our environment.

Interestingly, the light bulb directive takes effect in 2014, when the individual mandate required by healthcare reform is also scheduled to launch. If the individual mandate is stricken, at least 2014 will be a watershed year for something.

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