Friday, March 26, 2010

Universal health care

I know universal health care is not an option in the US right now, but I've been thinking about it, and I hope it one day is an option. A friend of mine said something about it yesterday, and I can't remember exactly what he said; nor what were his thoughts and what are mine... but I think he said there were basically three reasons people are against universal health care, and I agree:
  1. They don't feel certain people DESERVE IT. They feel it wrongly benefits people too lazy to work, or too poor to afford it.
  2. They don't like the HIGH COST.
Now, I don't want to "Christianize" the thing, but I do think those of us who are Christ-followers should try to look at everything we do from a Christian perspective. So in that regard, none of these reasons really make sense (imho).

As far as people deserving anything... every Christian ought to know that NONE OF US deserves anything. That is basic grace and mercy stuff - foundational elements of our faith. The Good News is that we don't get what we deserve, and we do get what we don't deserve. Which is to say nothing of all Jesus' commands to look after the poor and less fortunate. A "deserve it" mentality is the making of capitalistic greed, and I don't find many examples of that in Scripture (in a positive way).

In regard to the cost... well, let's see, how much have we spent on the "war on terror" to date? Do we really want to talk about cost? Or the space program? We Americans spend money on some of the stupidest things under the sun anyway: $4 cups of coffee; $2 bottles of water; $6 packs of cigarettes; the list could go on forever. Our houses need to be bigger, our cars need to be shinier, our clothes need to be nicer. Again, a society built on capitalistic greed is not going to have a very good grasp on legitimate stewardship. So to me cost is irrelevant, especially in the name of health care. The rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer is not an inalienable right; nor is it very Christian. You know, there's that "serving two masters."

And, finally, trusting the government... Yes, this one is hard to argue. Unless, of course, the alternative is to trust Big Business - whose only consideration is making money any way they can. Which is what our system is built around now. Drug companies, insurance companies, frivolous medical lawsuits... it's no wonder these fields are all opposed to universal health care. They would be the big losers. So, no, we can't really trust the government; but I think we can trust big business even less. Pick your poison. At least government has to be somewhat accountable for what they do; and they are ultimately supposed to be about serving the people, rather than lining their pockets.

I'm sure this is a somewhat simplistic view of the situation, but I really wish the American public would just stop and think for a minute. We have been sold too many lies, we have been worked up into too much of a frenzied panic, we seem to be putting our faith in too many conservative talk-show hosts...

What would Jesus do? What would he do with those who are passing lies off as truth? What would he do with those spreading deceitful gossip? What would he do with those making death threats against congressman? And... what would he do about the poor... the "least of these"???

I dunno. Just some thoughts. Peace out, my friends; and in.


Milton Stanley said...

Dan, you seem to see only two alternatives: trusting big government or big business to provide healthcare. If my memory of history serves, the very institution of hospitals was founded by the medieval church. Now, the church seems content to hand over this most fundamental of physical ministries to the world. The saddest element of the whole healthcare debate is that the church is no longer the light in this area.

Milton Stanley said...

Also, you don't have to look all the way back to the middle ages to see the church's continuing influence in healthcare. I'm pretty much exactly your age, and when I was born, there were four main hospitals in my area (Oak Ridge & Knoxville, Tenn.): Methodist Medical Center, Ft. Sanders (Presbyterian) Hospital, Baptist Hospital, and St. Mary's (Roman Catholic) Hospital. I think that's pretty indicative of other areas at the time. In other words, there is a third way other than big government or big business for providing healthcare. Why, do you think, in our generation are churches no longer a part of the picture?

Isaac Horwedel said...

Probably because people trust the church about as much as they do big business and the government.

Carrie Jade said...

amen. but what do i know?

Pastor D said...

I’m not convinced the present proposal set forth by the Congress is the best approach but something has to be done. Like you I’m serving a rural parish and my benefits which include a health plan, the fair rental value of the parsonage, and an auto allowance which is maxed out at 25K miles a year is MORE then my salary. Churches, Christian schools (we are in a parochial school association with two other churches) and small businesses are facing the harsh and hard reality that providing heath care coverage for their workers is ever increasing at such an alarming rate. I have the luxury of having a health savings account which is saving our parish a ton of money yet it is still extremely expensive. The insurance premium for the teachers at our school is reaching close to six figures! And unemployment in our community is still at 11%. On the bright side -it’s Holy Week – I think I have the people’s attention!

Pastor D said...

On a positive note - NASA has, over time, proven to be a money maker. For every dollar spent on our exploration into space we have reaped $15 in profit with respect to goods and services. Teflon, the sleeping on air mattress, microwaves, Velcro, TANG (OK TANG might be an epic fail) and the GPS system, have all been developed by our exploration into space. We haven’t solved our country’s health care coverage crisis but we’ve learned how to expand our horizons. If our nation’s greatest and brightest can get their heads together possibly we can work ourselves out of this mess. I have hope for our future yet I remember that all of us are by nature - poor, miserable sinners dependant on grace.

dan horwedel said...

You make a good point, and I certainly don't disagree that I wish the church had more of a say. Unfortunately, Isaac makes a good point too.

I guess - to be honest - I just don't really know how we would get from here to there though. And in regard to this post - I was merely addressing the only two options currently being presented: Obama's plan (though the current one can't really even be called "Obama's" anymore), and the Republican plan which is to just say "no" to anything anyone else presents.

I also wonder though - when all these churches started these hospitals and whatnot - they certainly didn't offer services for free on a large scale. So, again, I don't know that there still wouldn't need to be some kind of government intervention. And I don't know that Jesus ever really speaks of circumventing the government. He seems to teach a much more subtle form of working 'through' systems, or 'under' systems, or 'outside' of systems. But he never seems to oppose the systems. So... I just don't know. :)

Pastor D - that was a good point about NASA too. It is hard to be black and white on any of these issues.

I appreciate the comments, folks.

Anonymous said...

Great rational thoughts. I also find it quite interesting that the same people who complain the loudest about government workers having high salaries don't, on the other hand, see any problem with the huge bonuses given to executives. If the way to attract the brightest and best is to pay them generously (which the modern business mentality holds to), why can't the same be true for public servants? Or don't we want the brightest and best?

All in all, I'd say it's just an ugly time in the world.

Jim said...

Good points, Dan.

I have some things to say about healthcare, but have decided that I need to be more positive, so I can't say them. :o)