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November 23, 2009

Comments

Kate

It's exactly for those reasons that the conservatives are fighting it tooth and nail. They don't want yet another extremely popular piece of legislation that they can't touch without suffering the consequences from voters. I think this is the driving force behind the opposition. I don't want to belittle concerns about the costs but, considering the free ride that most of the conservatives gave the last administration, it's hard to take them as sincere now.

zero

amen, kate! of course the majority of the dems in congress/white house are just as beholden to special interests as the repubs. the problem for them now, as the majority, is they have to "cover". they have to be for what the country needs or be exposed as just more corporate whores. money sucks the life's blood out of everything that matters.

as far as why people still give the "just say no" bunch credibility is the disconnect between what is said and how people view their own needs. when it's general the govt is horrid. the old people saying no to the public option in one breath and then saying don't touch their medicare in the next is startling. there's a guy i know that is a tea bagger and all of "limited" govt and on and on and on. he's recently needed to avail himself to the family medical leave act and he doesn't even get that without the govt and those who pushed for this he would have been left unprotected at his place of work. he honestly doesn't get it. it boggles the mind.

Doug

Chuck, could you please cite somebody other than Rush that believes that things are fine just as they are? I'm also concerned about your statistics, because there is evidence to the contrary.

Doug

Zero, your friend the teabagger... I'm sure his beliefs are that if the government wouldn't have required him and his employer to pay for employment insurance, and had the government not been taxing him so much, that he would have more money to save which could take care of himself without the need for the government program.

That doesn't make his position correct. It just means that people have differing views on social order. His are different from yours. Have you considered that he probably things that "you honestly don't get it" and that it boggles his mind why?

zero

this dude is a mega-christian. to me, even being a mini-christian, means that we take care of each other. if we could, please, think of taxes the way we think of passing the collection plate at church, that we give money to help and support each other perhaps there would be a different perspective on why we all contribute to the common good. no single person could afford to pay for the roads they drive on, the police and fire protection they have, or public education, for examples. we all contribute for the common good. the same goes for when things aren't going well for those among us. if those who are against taxes would think about how much of it all goes to support the wealthy in the form of tax breaks not open to the rest of the population as well as astonishing corporate welfare; plus the "farming out" of government services to private companies that charge far more than the government would pay government workers/departments to do the same work. these are all methods of transferring wealth (note the financial "crisis" of the last year and how much wall street has benefited from tax dollars)from the working class to the already well to do class. thomas jefferson said that it is wrong to force citizens to pay taxes for that in which they do not believe or agree. i would love to have this be the rule. i would make sure that not one cent of my tax contribution to the country would go to war, military, corporations, elected officials having great offices, staffs, and tons of perks and outrageous pensions, to name a few off-limits to my tax dollars. my taxes would go to help people, who through no fault of their own, have found themselves in a bad way and needs the help of their fellow man (and if we got scammed by a few, then so be it. we are scammed daily by those who already have more than enough and don't need anymore but want it all). i actually want society to reflect what jesus said we should do. i want people to get this. because, really, isn't this what it's about? and if it's not, what is it about? what's the point of claiming belief in christ and following his way if we aren't willing to do so completely?

Doug

Zero, I agree with you, especially at your last point about this is "what it's all about." Christianity is a Kingdom-centered mission, and should fulfill its mission by taking care of those in need, and taking care of each other as well as "others." But I don't think government is an extension or an adequate venue for social justice other than that which is protecting others from harm. Every major program the federal government has run is bankrupt: postal service, medicare, social security, education. It charges less because it wastes and poorly stewards scarce resources which we are responsible for taking care of.

It's fine to make a "common good" argument, but the definition of common good is often subjective. Private enterprise has natural incentive to save scarce resources: profit. If they are wasting resources, they will go out of business. This is obviously predicated on the notion that they don't have protected interests to damage the ecosystem or harm individuals, but oftentimes those protections are granted by the government. Hence the financial crisis and healthcare debate we are in.

I have a big issue with "taxation" as benevolence, in part due to the disrespect for others' decisions to spend their money that you and I would rather spend differently for the Kingdom. It's not that it's "their money" because they earned it all by themselves. God gives us all something to steward, and some more than others. It's my responsibility to steward that which "belongs" to me, and if I'd prefer the wealthy to give more and be more generous, then it is part of the power of the gospel that should naturally compel others to do the same. Going to the State to take it from them is not very Christian, in my book. Or ethical.

zero

i do not believe for a nano-second that god predetermines that some should have more than others, especially of material things and/or money. that's like saying god sanctioned slavery. it's very easy to say what god wants for us when it benefits us. and i don't believe for a single minute that private enterprise is somehow better than government just because it's private. ronald reagan sold this nation a bill of goods when he said government was the problem not the solution. it was a ruse and a ploy. starve programs or steal from them, be inefficient and inept and prove how horrid government is and then we'll show citizens why they should hate government. w bush perfected the reagan doctrine. and the democrats are equally to blame. all are beholden to corporate power and those of wealth. corporate whores to describe them accurately. and if we are to accept that government is not the venue to take care of the needs of society, then why haven't the churches actually stepped up and taken care of all the needs of those who need so no one would need? can't have it both ways. either christians do what they claim they believe or they are christians in name only.

Doug

I never said that God predetermines that somebody has more than another. But God holds us responsible for what we do have in life. In other words, there are only so many things within my power to act. That could be spending money, that could be charisma, that could be other ways to spreading the good news of the Kingdom. But using power—especially political power—is not the Way of Jesus. It is the way of the kingdoms of this world.

Private enterprise is not better just because it is private. It is better simply because it finds its source in the creative and unique qualities and talents each of us as individuals made in God's image are entrusted with. George Washington said that "government is not eloquence; it is not reason. It is force..." and history has proven that as such. Whatever government does it must take from those who have produced something of value to society. That may well be legitimate, but you cannot defend its superiority over private enterprise without being willing to let government do everything if it is indeed better than private enterprise. The truth is, as you described it, the politicians have screwed us all over by partnering with Big Business. I simply blame the vehicle, whereas you seem to only blame the driver of the vehicle.

I've written my own thoughts on government and Christian action on my own blog: www.liveloud.net Feel free to visit and join the conversations. One you might be interested in is "the myth of good government."

Doug

Zero, I just ran across an article dealing with exactly what we're talking about:

http://www.thefreemanonline.org/headline/the-dangers-of-the-myth-of-merit/

zero

it's doubtful there is really much good in government or private enterprise because both are driven by personal gain of most of the individuals involved, at least those with the power and control. there's certainly the myth that private enterprise is better because of individuals acting in best interests and all that nonsense. alan greenspan bought into that nonsense and was literally stunned, stunned! that the meltdown of last year could happen because he actually believed that best interest nonsense. and because of his beliefs he helped it all happen even though he'd never admit it. all of that is good on paper, in theory, but human nature being what it is, nope, not so much. entities, programs, etc are never inherently flawed; it's how they are carried out that becomes the problem. and what might have been great gets subverted by those who move what was intended in different directions. this component always gets lost when people say that such and such is no good.

as far as people getting what's theirs and keeping it because somehow they earned it, that is true to a degree. people do work hard and push to achieve. but what about the person who works hard at two or three jobs and is still at or below poverty? is this person's labor not as worthy as someone who gets more for theirs? why does society not reward their efforts more fully? after all, there are all sorts of jobs that some would never do but needs doing and just by virtue that someone is willing, they should be adequately compensated. it's not that everyone should have mansions and fancy cars and what not. it's that everyone should be able to live a safe, comfortable life with at least the bare minimum of the essentials of life without constant worry that one bad incident can wipe it all out. this is wrong. it is not what god intended. and there are groups of persons who are kept, by society's structure, from being more by all sorts of tactics that allow for a hierarchy and those who are on top to stay there. but for the grace of god and accident of birth, every person who has "made it by their own effort" (no one actually does, by the way) could have easily have found themselves among the less favored and every minute of every day is a struggle just to survive. we could add the "myth of good religion" to the discussion of the myth of good government when we acknowledge what our society truly does not do enough to ensure a good life for all.

thank you for the links; which will have to await another day.

Kate

This is an interesting debate but I do want to clarify that Health Care Reform is not about government-run health care system. The public option is a government sponsored insurance policy.

Doug

Kate, with all due respect, may I ask why the government needs to force an insurance policy option into the mix? Why not simply remove the restrictions on companies who cannot compete across state lines?

And why only one more competitor? Why not two, or a dozen? Again, if competition is one part of the problem of high insurance costs, why not remove the restriction that prohibits competition? It would cost virtually nothing, and would need no wait time for enactment.

Philip Koplin

Doug

What does being made in the image of God have to do with the harmful effects of human greed on the community? The notion that private enterprise is better is precisely what's up for question--my wife just had to pay thousands of dollars for medical testing because there was more profit in it for the insurance companies not to pay, even though her physician said the procedures were necessary. You seem to assume that because they were made in the image of God, corporate managers will do a better job than government officials--are the latter not also made in the image of God? If my wife had had Medicare, she wouldn't have had to choose between her bank account and possible life-threatening conditions (fortunately, the only damage has been to her finances).

"Whatever government does it must take from those who have produced something of value to society." So?

"You cannot defend [government] superiority over private enterprise without being willing to let government do everything if it is indeed better than private enterprise." A complete non sequitur. One can claim that the government can provide for the common welfare in certain areas without being logically obligated to favor a government takeover all the functions of private enterprise.

Finally, I get regular mail delivery; my Social Security check is deposited every month; Medicare pays my medical bills; and the last time I looked at "education," the public schools were still open.

Doug

Philip, there's not much I can say to help you see things from my perspective. But suffice it to say that I don't think greed is good. You can play all of the "what if" scenarios, and propose the solution is the government, but there are ethical problems involved.

As for your last paragraph: SS and Medicare are $55 trillion in unfunded liabilities. The money you receive and the bills that are paid are either from debt or printed money (thanks to a government-sanctioned banking cartel). The mail you receive was delivered by a "business" that lost $3.8 billion last year, and plans to lose more. The government-run education system in our nation is failing to deliver a decent education, even though they are oftentimes funded up to 4x the costs to run a private school. I'll concede that I used a non sequitur, but that doesn't negate the examples above of the massive waste in our government.

As for your health care, it's amazing to me that you are complaining that somebody else isn't paying for what you believe you rightly deserve from them. Have you ever stopped to question the paradigm of insurance in the first place? If we treated health services like we do other services, and if government didn't place so much regulation on the industry (both health services and health insurance), costs would be much lower, and services would be much more affordable and accessible. This is how competition works in every area of a market economy. It's historically a proven fact—one notable example is the tech industry: computers in the 1980s were sometimes ten times more expensive than today, and that is in dollar amounts before accounting for inflation! Even in health care, services that aren't covered under insurance are dropping in price because those firms (laser eye surgery) have to compete for the business of those who want it. Why would it be any other way in other areas? If costs are so high and wasteful, then why not remove incentive for people to waste the dollars?

 jerry

Hi, Philip.

Sorry to hear about your wife - hope she's ok.

The "solution" I think is a hybrid of the points both you and Doug are making - yes, healthcare services are better delivered in a "privatized" manner, but the combination of lawyers, accountants and now Wall Street have run up the costs beyond reason. To boot, many/most major medical decisions have been taken out of the hand of the doctors and made by the accountants and executives that are answering to the shareholders. Btw, "big pharma" is a whole other discussion!

The government's job (sans lobbyists!) should simply be to keep the (excessive) greed of the accountants, lawyers and Wall Street in check. We also need to find a way to get the medical decisions back into the capable hands of the doctors. For me, I have a HDHP and HSA, which if you can afford it (and I think many more people can than realize), is an excellent way of getting (much) more control back to the patient and the doctor.

As for people who truly can't afford a HDHP/HSA - they probably can't afford healthcare altogether - let's find other ways to get them the care they need. No "one-size-fits-all"!

And yes, we were made in the image of God, but very early on we decided we could do things on our own! Thankfully, God made provision for that :-)

Philip Koplin

The leading diagnostician in the community told my wife that she needed to undergo a certain testing procedure in connection with a potentially life-threatening condition. My wife's insurance company said they wouldn't pay for it. Why are you amazed that I'm upset?

What is amazing is that you think the situation could have been fixed if my wife, faced at that critical moment with a refusal by her insurance company that she had no way of predicting, would have taken the time to shop among the many competing insurance companies already present in California in the hope of finding one that would be willing to ignore her preexisting condition and approve a procedure that her original insurer had denied. Go from insurer to insurer to try to get a preexisting condition covered and then come back and tell me how it's just like shopping for a computer.

Having liabilities isn't the same as being bankrupt, and your judgment that the education system is a failure isn't just a non sequitur, it's an opinion masquerading as an argument.

Finally, you would rather say that you can't help me see things from your perspective than try to offer some explanation of what, after all, is the foundation of your position. If you want to leave the basis of your argument--that private enterprise is superior because humans are made in the image of God--so incomplete and unsupported, fine, but don't expect anyone to grant the conclusion you draw from it any logical or moral force.


Philip Koplin

Jerry

Clearly, my response was aimed at Doug. Your comment slipped in just before mine.

You say that healthcare services are better delivered in a privatized manner, but then point out why that doesn't work.

My wife is OK, though her recommended follow-up probably won't be covered either. In fact, she does have an HDHP/HSA, but the insurance company refused to count the procedure toward her deductible in spite of the fact that her doctor said it was necessary.

Kate

Doug, my comment wasn't saying anything other than we should be talking about the public option for what it is instead of going into an argument about government-run healthcare.

The total healthcare debate comes down to a question of 'Who do you trust?'.

Philip, I'm glad your wife is okay and was able to get the procedure she needs.

Doug

I suppose I wasn't clear in trying to be concise. I didn't intend to say that you should go shop for insurance companies that will accept a pre-existing condition and all would be hunky-dorey. My point was, specifically, that you are outraged/upset/frustrated/hurt because somebody else won't pay for something you want and/or need... and in this case, I don't doubt for a second it is a need. But before we start being outraged at the possible greediness of the insurance company, why not question the apparatus in the first place? Why are we blaming the insurance company for doing exactly what it was setup to do: make a profit?

As somebody earlier commented, the goal is to get more control back into the hands of the patient-doctor relationship. Insurance companies, love 'em or hate 'em, exert control into the decision. Why are we going to insurance companies to pay for things we need? First answer is generally, "because it's too expensive for me personally." Great, but why is it too expensive? Costs and expenses are indeed high and unaffordable, but that's a symptom. Why do those costs go up? What influences have forced medical costs to skyrocket, while other goods and services, after a period of time, go down in cost? Even President Obama acknowledges a lack of competition, which will keep prices "in check" from the supposedly greedy insurance industries (who, by the way, only earned a 2% profit last year).

The point I was trying to make about competition is that it drives costs down. But in a society where the government protects insurance companies, grants monopolies to Big Pharma, and requires small, mundane, and routine medical services to be administered by physicians when a less-educated by qualified nurse could do the same service, it makes me very skeptical that more regulation and government involvement in health care would make things better.

By the way, how many insurance companies are in California? And why aren't there more? In PA, there are 2 or 3. Imagine only two choices for cellular phones. Or maybe two choices of automobiles.

Doug

It's easy to be callous and appear unsympathetic to the needs and strife of others. I'm sure words in a blog comment system come off that way more than they intend. I write with passion and sometimes it comes out worse than if in person.

I truly feel for your situation. My wife and I work hard to save, give, and build up some resources so that we can help those in need. In my heart of hearts, I really want your medical needs taken care of, and I wish I personally had a way to do it, whether from my own pocket or from my ability to help others see things my way and discover the benefits of generosity. So if I sound/read unconcerned, I don't intend it that way.

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