Thursday, October 15, 2009

Observations on the Health Care Argument

I posted a link on Facebook for people to petition the Democratic Congressional leaders on behalf of the Public Option as part of health care reform. (Yes, some are afraid they're going to abandon it.) So, though I just post these things for people who would want to follow up if they want or to ignore if they don't (I even said that in the post!), some people can't resist commenting/arguing. And the comments seemed to go on and on, and all while I wasn't looking. So, here's a few observations that are specific to comments already posted there on my Facebook wall. Feel free to read. Or ignore.

  1. Jesus died in a political execution. To claim he had no interaction with the political systems of his day is not only to miss that fact, but also to miss the fact that he borrows not only the words but the program of the OT prophets. See his statements in the synagogue in Luke 4, for instance. A thorough study of the concept of the “kingdom of God” will also lead to the prophets and to concepts of justice and mercy.
  2. “The poor you always have with you” was not a social program but an observation about the continual injustice of political (and perhaps economic) systems.
  3. To observe that the present system can be abused, and to argue that a reformed system might or will also be abused, is not an argument against reform.
  4. To argue that we can’t get a perfect system is also not an argument against reform, but better understood as a warning that the process will likely take a long time and go through several stages.
  5. Since capitalism is a conscious effort to eliminate ethical input into the economic system, and Marxism is an effort to put ethics INTO the economic system, it can be argued that Marxism could (if truly employed – which it has never been) is more ethical than capitalism. So, to label a reformed system as “neo-marxist” isn’t an argument against reform of the health care system to make it more ethical. It plays well in Oklahoma as a scare tactic, of course.
  6. As James pointed out, we’re already paying for health care of people who don’t have insurance. But putting some insurance regulations in place has the intention of keeping the costs down for everyone. It will not be free to anyone, except those who are verifiably unable to contribute. The intent of the program is to have everyone contribute and everyone benefit. Certainly good stewardship is important, but from a Biblical perspective no stewardship that excludes justice for the poor would be called “good.”
  7. If we exclude WWJD from the argument, then, yes, we end in moral relativism. I think Harold is right about that. If we don’t have divine input into our ethics, then we’re just making it all up, and then the strong get their way and Mao was right: “truth is found at the end of a gun.” Oh – but that’s pretty close to what we have going right now!
  8. Speaking of stewardship: Jesus statement about giving to Caesar’s what is Caesar’s needs to be understood as the best gag Jesus ever pulled, since Jesus knew, and his opponents there SHOULD HAVE KNOWN, that in reality none of this stuff belongs to Caesar, but it all belongs to God. So Jesus walks away unscathed -- no doubt scratching his head and wondering how his good Jewish opponents could have missed that one. Now, since it all belongs to God, we have to think pretty carefully about what we do with it. I don’t expect our government to be Christian in any way, shape or form, but I do want it to be more just.
  9. Final comment on justice: while we tend to define it as “getting what one deserves,” in the OT prophets (and even in the Psalms) “justice” is equated with taking care of the helpless: the widows, the orphans, the aliens. So, in essence “justice” in the OT means “acts of mercy.” See Isaiah 1:17, for instance, or Psalm 71:1-4.