There are so many things that our federal and state governments would love to require us to purchase.
Or not purchase, given that the mayor of New York City wants to classify Big Gulps as deadly weapons.
With Thursday's ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, government now has the tool to do so, provided the mandatory purchase can be considered a tax.
I want to be clear that I'm not weighing in on the merits of the Affordable Care Act, but rather on the precedent set Thursday on the power of government. I'm weighing in on government's annoying tendency, whenever it gets a new power, to find every possible creative and exciting way to wield it.
Most of the opponents of the mandate I quoted in my story in today's paper on the court's ruling cited the easy example of requiring us to eat more vegetables or join a health club. Talk about unimaginative. The people we elect can have a lot more fun – and do a lot more damage – than that.
So let's have some fun ourselves and take a look at how government, both in Washington and Springfield, will responsibly (cough, hack, harrumph) handle the fact that it is constitutional to require us to purchase something or pay a tax.
• Let's start with the Too Big to Fail Act. Under this law, every American will open an account with the bank of their choice that received bailout funds under the Troubled Assets Relief Program, or pay a fine. Said fine will go to a fund to help defray the costs of giving out bonuses to the executives.
• Slightly more expensive for taxpayers will be the General Motors Revitalization Act. Under this law, every American household with an adjusted gross income of $75,000 or more will buy a GM automobile or pay a fine.
A last-minute rider to the bill will require these cars to come with the decal of the kid from "Calvin and Hobbes" relieving himself on the Ford logo.
• I was toying with proposing the Everybody Deserves to Own a Home Act, but we already tried that one, and just look where it got us.
The above examples are bipartisan, seeing as how our current economic and debt malaise is a bipartisan product decades in the making.
Now let's have some partisan fun. Both parties could get very creative with this new power, depending on which party is in control in what year in this new hyper-partisan age.
• Under a Democratic Congress, conservatives would really love the Well-Informed Public Act. Journalism has been suffering through tough financial times, thanks in no small part to a well-coordinated conservative campaign to discredit any journalism that comes from a news agency that doesn't start with "Fox".
Under this new law, every American household will subscribe to at least two newspapers – a local paper and one from the nearest major metropolitan area – or pay a fine. All collected fines will help subsidize National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting Service.
• Two years later, when the scales tilt to the Republicans, liberals will likewise love the Home Defense and Safety Act. In an effort to lower the local and national cost of law enforcement, every American household will own at least one firearm or pay a fine. I haven't figured out where the fines will go, but I promise they won't buy guns for Fast and Furious.
• We can further stimulate the economy with the Dining and Appetite Stimulus Act. Every American family, once a month, will eat at the restaurant of their choice. Menu choices, of course, will be dictated by the majority party.
Rather than a fine for this one, homes that don't comply will receive a burger and fries for each family member from the nearest eatery, with the cost automatically deducted from the family's next tax refund. What you do with the burger under this law – just like your mandated newspaper and firearm – is your business. You don't have to eat it, read it, or shoot it, just buy it.
• Looking back on things, we were chumps for pleading with people to buy war bonds to finance World War II. But have no fear when the next war breaks out, thanks to the Support Our Troops Act. In the event any shooting war starts, every American household will pay $100 to support the war effort, or have the money automatically deducted.
And I haven't even touched how Illinois, the most corrupt state in the union, would handle the power to mandate purchase. With its Wild West campaign finance laws, the products we will be required to buy will, of course, depend greatly on which lobbying groups give the most to our General Assembly members.
I'm not looking forward to the All Property Tax Appeals Must Go Through Speaker Madigan's Law Firm Act, or the Buy Something From Sears Act.
Senior Writer Kevin Craver can be reached at email@example.com.