46 Responses to Re-evaluating American Health Policy: A Catholic Democrat's Perspective (Part I)

  • American Knight says:

    Is Part II really necessary? I couldn’t even get through Part I.

    I applaud your effort to share a Democrat’s perspective on ruining people’s lives through control of our ‘health care’.

    My health care is my responsibility. My medical care is my physician’s. Paying for my health care is my responsibility. Paying for my medical care is partly my responsibility and through paying my medical insurance premiums, portions of that risk are transferred to my medical insurance company.

    Helping the truly poor is also my responsibility and I allocate some of the wealth God has given me to help poor people with basic health care like food, clothing and shelter and in some cases through charitable organizations their medical care too. It is my responsibility to do that with that which I have received. I have NO RIGHT to provide for anyone’s medical care, no matter the need, with YOUR money – that is your responsibility to spend as your INFORMED conscience demands.

    The scariest thing I saw in this long, long article is that universal health care for all is demanded by the Church through any means necessary. I couldn’t read much farther after that. Any means? Really? You can’t use evil means for a good end.

    Our faith is totally integrated. We cannot pick and choose which Church teachings we will apply, which we won’t and we cannot consider ALL information that comes from the Church as infallible. Only the magisterial teachings on faith and morals are infallible. Economics, medical care and risk management including insurance are not the Church’s domain. Of course the Church informs us how our moral stance must be as regards these other spheres but she has no expertise in implementation.

    No one in their right mind wants to deprive the poor of medical care. No sane person advocates for that; however, the economic law of scarcity dictates that we allocate resources in the most efficient and effective way to reach the most optimal result. THAT CANNOT BE ENGINEERED. Freely acting humans engaged in individual economic choices (which includes what to give away and to whom) are suited to making the best decisions to provide the most benefit to the most people. Government CANNOT and WILL NOT do that no matter how good the intentions are. That is utopian poppycock.

    If we misallocate resources with no feedback from the free market pricing system we will bankrupt the entire system and then no one will have any medical care whatsoever. Poor allocation of resources is inevitable with any sort of ‘scientific’, command engineering. Resources are only allocated efficiently by a free market pricing system and entrepreneurial innovation and risk taking.

    I think we all agree on intent – providing MEDICAL care for all people. Our disagreement is pertaining to the methods to do that. We have been tinkering with collectivist methods for too long and they DO NOT work. Not in theory and certainly not in practice. Perhaps we should try a truly free market approach and see what happens. We’ve never tried it. We know it will work. If it doesn’t because I am sure many think it won’t (probably overeducated in Keynesian government economics classes) then we can revert to collectivism, socialism or full blown communism rather easily. It is far easier to pass laws than make market decisions.

    If you still have no confidence in a truly free market approach to medical care then why don’t we try federalism (subsidiarity)?

    Y’all can have the Northeast from Maine to Pennsylvania, and as far east as say, Ohio. Set up your single payer system there. From Virginia to Georgia and along the coast we’ll get rid of all government involvement in medical care. The rest of the country will stay with the current socialist/fascist system.

    Who do you think will provide better care and to more people? Would you be willing to take the risk of having flawed economic theories exploded again? I wonder.

    Oh, and we also want out of the Federal Reserve System – the true culprit in destroying wealth, escalating medical costs and depriving poor people of medical care.

  • There’s a certain irony to leaving a very long comment on a post which starts out by saying that you couldn’t get through the whole post. It encourages people to only read the beginning and end of the comment and skip the middle…

    Speaking of which, color me economistic but I really don’t think you’d want out of the Federal Reserve system. Controlled low level inflation has done wonders for our economy over the last 30 years and the downsides have been comparatively small.

  • American Knight says:

    DC,

    That is a very good point about the lenght of my post. I realized my hypocrisy after I posted. I didn’t realize how long my post was until after I posted it. My apologies.

    Nevertheless, my point still stands – we cannot accept any means to provide the intened goal as taught by the Church. We must employ means that are conformed with ALL infallible Church teaching. Free wills require free markets. Free wills ordered to God will provide God-oriented solutions and free wills not ordered to God will be checked by those that are, God willing. Government provides too much unchecked power for disordered wills to destroy.

    As for the Fed, your understanding of its function as inflation-fighter, or regulator, is fasle. It is simply Fed propoganda. This is not an insult to your intelligence, it is designed to confuse the most acute minds. Warburg, the prinicple designer was shrewd and subtle and very, very intelligent. The facts are that the Fed IS the cause of inflation. Inflation is the increase in the quantity of money, which is a decrease in the utility (purchasing power) of money. It is evil and usurious. The Fed does the most damage to the poor and it seeks to eliminate the so-called middle-class, the entrepreneurial class.

    The fact is the market, as a whole, has never failed. Most actors in the market will fail, yet society will be better off, especially the poor, becuase of the few shining stars that succeed. We have to allow flawed risk-takers to fail so that the right risk-takers can succeed for everyone’s benefit.

    We were made to have abundance, spiritually first and materially second (not frivoulous things, necessary things). That abundance is a gift and we should use it to honor the source of the abundance – God alone.

  • Actually, I was joining the Fed’s defenders in their deviousness: I agree with Friedman et al. that a central reserve ought to acheive monetary stability through a constant low level of inflation by targetting a 1-2% inflation rate.

    But that’s an entirely unrelated discussion and I won’t want to derail the thread. Sorry. :-)

  • e. says:

    American Knight:

    Just what is it about the Federal Reserve that you bear such animosity towards it?

    Don’t you realize that if it weren’t for the Federal Reserve working in conjunction with Treasury last year, our economic winter would have lasted for several more months, if not, years?

    Such hostile sentiments towards that very system which has helped to make our economic disaster comparatively more short-lived, such as it is, betrays a lack of understanding of the Fed and, indeed, its very purpose and, above all, its function.

  • Joe Hargrave says:

    Eric,

    This is probably the best piece on the healthcare debate I have read, from a Catholic perspective or otherwise. Congratulations on a most excellent post, which I will use as a reference if someone asks me in the future, “where do you stand on universal healthcare”?

    ::dives into Part II::

  • Hoof, I’m only 2/3 through this one, but having to take off, so a few notes while it’s fresh in my mind.

    Overall, this seems a very good, well thought-out and evenhanded article. (I kind of wish that you’d been shooting out a post or two a week for the last month or two, with each bold-headed section as a stand-alone post, but I imagine that the thing was developing as a whole as you read and wrote.)

    A couple of minor points based on experience and the research that I’ve done thus far (not to suggest you haven’t done lots — but we probably read different folks to an extent):

    - The data I’ve seen suggests that the 25-30% administrative expenses number is a high end (which you mention at one point) rather than standard. It looks like most major insurers are dealing with more like a 12-18% administrative expense model, which as businesses go is pretty good. It’d be questionable how much better a government run program would do long term.

    - You make the point that Medicare is in some ways a bottom rung program elsewhere, but in regards to insurance companies denying coverage, I’ve read a couple places now that Medicare actually denies a larger percentage of claims than insurance companies do.

    - I’m curious how much of an issue fragmentation of the insurance/provider market is in not negotiating costs down. My experience is that small companies are still usually pretty good at negotiating their costs down. I do agree, however, that having one insurance company with a near total hold on a region is problematic for competation — allowing a national insurance market would seem like a great step in that regard. (Sorry, republican personality breaking out…)

    - Very, very good point on incentives. I’d tend to think that the increases in health care spending per year would have to drop down to GDP growth levels soon — but obviously something masking that is that for the 70% or so of Americans with either Medicare or employer-based health care, the fact that both of those have been massively increasing in cost per person doesn’t hit them that much. You may be otherwise angry that your employer raises your contribution or doesn’t give you a raise, but since you don’t pick which plan your employer offers, and you don’t see how much money they put into it (and Medicare recipients do not, I believe see the 10k+ per person per year that goes into that from the government) people don’t have a very personal view of it all. This keeps our normal “whoa, we better spend less” reaction from coming in. Especially because as a culture we’ve been taught not to ask about what a procedure costs.

    More later. Great work here.

  • Peter says:

    What a bunch of bull-puckey. Check again for principals that MUST be part of a Catholic supported health care program:

    -Total restriction on abortion;
    -No allowed curtailing care to elderly in the last three years of life only because of expense (so called death panels of government buearocrates determining who gets care and who doesn’t).
    -Needs to be financially viable (it isn’t….just as medicare, medicaid, social security, the post office, amtrak and a host of other things have not proven viable when managed to death by government waste, fraud and ineptitude;
    -Subsidiarity, as noted by our present and past pope as well as the Catholic Catechism, meaning the central government should abdicate control to the most local entiries able to take care of the problem. This is exactly the opposite of what this health care plan is all about – a power grab by Washington’s black hole of waste and frivolous spending.
    -and on, and on, and on.

    No practicing Catholic should support these present plans being proposed by any of the committees on the Hill. Hugs.

  • American Knight says:

    e.,

    This is not a Federal Reserve thread and there is too much else here to go off on a tangent.

    I would not seek a cure from the physician that gave me the disease in the first place. The Fed is the cause not the solution.

    As regards health care, the Fed is the single biggest reason that medical costs rise.

  • Eric Brown says:

    American Knight,

    I have read through your comment and though you changed your “tone” (we are on the internet), I would appreciate more charity.

    I explicitly stated that the Catholic Church has no official stance on “how a health care system ought to be structured, but rather presents enduring moral principles that must be present in public policy.”

    Moreover, Catholics are obligated to more than the infallible teachings of the Church. The Catechism states: “Divine assistance is also given to the successors of the apostles, teaching in communion with the successor of Peter, and, in a particular way, to the bishop of Rome, pastor of the whole Church, when, without arriving at an infallible definition and without pronouncing in a “definitive manner,” they propose in the exercise of the ordinary Magisterium a teaching that leads to better understanding of Revelation in matters of faith and morals. To this ordinary teaching the faithful “are to adhere to it with religious assent” which, though distinct from the assent of faith, is nonetheless an extension of it,” (892).

    We can disagree with the Holy Father about the application of capital punishment or the “justice” of some war — it doesn’t mean we ought to. It doesn’t mean we have to either. I find that too many Catholics ignore statements, infallible or not, made by the Church when it isn’t convenient for them. I don’t think that’s wise. Even if you aren’t going to agree in the end, no presumption or point of view should go unexamined.

    That said, I merely asserted that I saw no reason why any Catholic, regardless of political philosophy, should oppose “universal” health care, which by it, I meant, any sort of scheme–market solutions, government assistance, third sector and “co-op” alternatives, and any combination or idea that can be dreamed up, that is practical–that could create the best environment where medical care is affordable and quality is worthy of human dignity. This definition does not even necessitate government involvement.

    I honestly thought I had gone out of my way to make non-partisan statements. A lot of the times, I divorced myself from the words, saying things such as how “the political left” sees it, “as the argument goes,” and “so forth.”

    Really my goal in “re-evaluating” the situation was to strike a debate totally and entirely different from the disconcerting national circus I’ve been watching for the last few months — participated by everyone across the aisle.

    Moreover, I went out of my way to criticize the model, which is the current proposal — and even insisted that I thought it was bad public policy.

    A point where you and I are markedly in disagreement (as far as I can see) is in regard to markets. I made a post a while back arguing for markets and in Part II of this very issue, I blatantly point out that the government cannot respond to market variations efficiently or most prudently in many situations.

    But I stand by my point that markets are mechanisms–means to an end. If such a thing refuses to subordinate itself to any higher law, then it is inherently laissez-faire and utilitarian which does not necessarily yield nature justice. Natural law theory, which has been the developing moral perspective of the Church since the first century is alien to such a mechanism — and this is an area, in terms of not just intellectually acknowledgement, but in seeking to apply these moral principles that Catholics cannot escape.

    I think a Catholic might be capable of making an argument for laissez-faire markets. In my view, such an argument would never be a good one because I cannot conceive of how libertarian, Enlightenment borne-schemes dressed up with Catholic terms or phrases like “freedom” really sees through the moral imperatives that drive us to action — even to this very debate we’re having now. I’m not even sure what definition of “freedom” such a philosophy works from.

    For example, I’m a Democrat and I am constantly arguing with my Democratic friends about what the word “freedom” means. As far as I can tell, American notions of “liberty” really do not add up to a Catholic notion of “liberty.” Are there overlaps? Sure. But they are not the same.

    I think philosophical presumptions and refusal to address the underlying disagreements are why our country cannot truly progress on many issues.

    Thank you for your comments and for your criticism. In the end, I maintain that you have misunderstood my position — perhaps, I have misunderstood yours.

  • Eric Brown says:

    Peter –

    I suspect that you didn’t read anything or tried to, if my post is a “bunch of bull-pucky.”

    1. I argued that abortion is non-negotiable and is virtually decisive in whether a Catholic can support such legislation.

    2. I pointed out that I saw no reason to think that the bill would, by necessity, lead to government-sanctioned “death panels.” I didn’t deny the possibility–in fact, the bill in practice could create de facto death panels. But, I did describe already existing private-sector “death panels,” particularly like in Virginia and Texas, the latter of which made way for the euthansizing of a six-month year old infant. This is a death panel. No government involved — our pro-life consistency demands that we have a problem with this too, yes?

    3. I argued that much of what is being crafted by my party might not be sustainable and that subsidiarity must be respected.

    I don’t see how I advocated for anything to the contrary of what you said or why you insist I must “check again” Catholic moral principles?

  • Eric Brown says:

    Darwin –

    On your first point, probably so. I repeatedly saw that figure. That is the problem with objectivity in this regard. It is the never-ending battle of the “facts.” I tried to accomodate most statistics by saying “as high as…” or giving the most conservative or liberal estimates I found. And I agree — we don’t know how well the government would do in the long run.

    You are correct on the Medicare part — I think I talk about it in Part II. I forget. I have read that and I don’t remember thinking it false or the reasoning problematic.

    I talk about letting insurance companies cross state lines, if I remember correctly very briefly, if not in passing, in Part II.

    I suspected that incentives would be the point of near absolute agreement between us. And you’ll find that much of your reasoning was my own on that matter.

    And I wish I had the energy or committment to break it into parts — but everything was overlapping. The problem with health care is that it is such a large topic that touches every aspect of society — from profound ethical questions, to the role of government, to social justice and preferential option for the poor, to economics.

    I think I reasoned that to divorce the subjects wasn’t worth it. For example, I see people saying the problem with health care is tort reform. Others say that it’s the insurance companies. I think it’s largely a problem of incentizes and how we ultimately finance the care. The problem is no one talks about the bigger picture and I didn’t want to be apart of that crowd.

  • American Knight says:

    Eric,

    Please accept my apologies my Netiquette is lacking and I am a technological incompetent. In person, I am much more charming and charitable. Ok, that’s probably an exaggeration. I try to be charitable but I am an opinionated bastard. I actually appreciate your post and I am rather long-winded (or is that long-worded?) myself. My comment about the length of your post was unnecessary and hypocritical. This topic gets my blood boiling because I see it as an extension of Communism and Fascism, which are both inherently eugenic and as a Catholic, who tries to be faithful, that irks me beyond my ability to control. Thank the Lord for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. None of what I posted was intended to be a personal attack on you.

    I am aware that you stated that the Church has no official stance on structure outside of necessary moral truths. Yet, you did posit that some form of government intervention was possibly necessary. I completely disagree with that sentiment because government is SANCTIONED MONOPOLY FORCE and that is too tempting for greedy, power-hungry and immoral men to not abuse. Is government necessary? Yes. Should government be limited and checked? Absolutely. Giving government too much of our God-given sovereignty is way too dangerous. Especially in matters of life and death and so-called ‘health care reform’ is exactly that. Additionally, I have an aversion to the word ‘reform’, it stinks of Luther and we all know how well that worked out.

    I am familiar with the Catechism and infallibility and it does not apply to the technical vagaries of economics. It most certainly does apply to the morality of economics and I don’t think any of us on here dispute that and I seriously doubt that any of us have a disagreement about the moral intent as regards caring for our fellow man. We disagree on means and some means are incompatible with our faith no matter how benign they may sound or how much assurance we are given that our morals will be respected. Power-hungry ideologues LIE.

    So-called ‘universal health-care’ is NOT something a Catholic can advocate. Not because we should not want to provide care for everyone, especially those in most need – we most certainly must. We cannot be for it because the term ‘universal health-care’ does not mean the same thing outside of a Catholic context and our country and most certainly our government is NOT Catholic. ‘Universal health-care’ means providing government control of decisions of health and life – that is NOT a proper role for government and most certainly NOT for a government with ‘social engineering’ intentions. The Orwellian sounding title is designed to confuse and confound much like the intentional confusion over the word ‘freedom’ that you lucidly pointed out. Most of the time the word freedom is used when permissiveness or license are far more appropriate. Authentic human freedom can only be defined in Light of Truth and, without sounding chauvinistic; we Catholics are the only ones with that authentic definition.

    Free market capitalism is NOT a libertarian, utilitarian, Enlightenment invention. Free market capitalism is a NATURALLY occurring economic order; in fact, it is the ONLY naturally occurring economic order. Perhaps we can attribute the formal discovery and technical terms to the so-called Enlightenment, but free market capitalism has been the economic system we have naturally employed since we were evicted from Eden. Without it NO other man-made economic system can exist. Capital is just a fancy word for resources. Free denotes man’s God-given free will. Market is simply the exchanges of freely acting humans. All of those exist because God made them.

    The confusion is that we have been conditioned to think that only free market capitalism is Capitalism and that it is a new invention. ALL ECONOMIC SYSTEMS are capitalist. Economics is the social science of free human choices as pertains to the allocation of scarce (finite) resources – capital. The only difference is the qualifier: free market or coercive (socialist, corporatist, communist, etc.). Additionally the market is not some independently created entity. The market is just the interaction of humans with each other exchanging resources that are either extracted from the earth and mixed with man’s labor or acquired from each other. This just occurs because we are here and we have been given dominion over the earth.

    We institute governments in order to ensure the fair, just and equitable production of goods. That is NOT to say that government produces anything; rather, government is supposed to ensure that men are free to make decisions as regards their private property (which includes their labor) free from coercion. All government powers are derived only from powers men have been given by God. If God had not given us a power then we could not give it to government. We have no right to steal but we can if we so choose and have the might to do it. Government, in order to be moral, can only have powers we are sanctioned to give. Government can steal (plunder), but we are not morally permitted to give government power to plunder.

    All of government’s moral powers come form the power to keep us free from coercion. Can government, morally speaking, go to war? Yes, to prevent the plunder by another entity. Can government punish murderers? Yes, because murder is NOT morally permitted. Can government plunder in order to provide health care? NO! It has no right to plunder, because we have no right to plunder. Can the market provide health care? Of course. Will it? That part is up to us. If you choose to provide medical care as a market service then do it. If I choose not to then I won’t. One day we will be called to judgment. The point I am trying to make, probably poorly, is that the market can provide all the moral benefits we SHOULD provide. Whether it will or won’t is NOT a function of the market; rather, it is our own moral disposition – that is as it should be.

    When government FORCES us to comply with providing something when we DO NOT have the resources or technical capacity then it is forcing us to do something we cannot do. There is no innovation in force. When government protects our lives and property then we are free to innovate and provide benefits which are socially and morally good.

    I’m tired and I don’t even know if I am making sense and now I am about to rival the length of your article – sorry. I’ll stop here.

  • ‘Universal health-care’ means providing government control of decisions of health and life – that is NOT a proper role for government and most certainly NOT for a government with ‘social engineering’ intentions.

    I’m not a supporter of the left-leaning health care proposals, because I don’t think they’d work very well, but just to be excessively fair for a moment here: Universal health care would not necessarily mean the government having control over decisions of health and life. For instance, the Church used to strongly support (and still accepts in several European countries) direct, mandatory tithes collected as taxes by the government. Now, I would (as an American) tend to argue this has historically resulted in the government wanting to get its hands into who runs the Church the Church and what it does. However, this has not always happened. And if the Church considers it acceptable for the Church itself to be funded through universal taxation by the government, I’d have a hard time seeing how the Church would see it as unacceptable for the provision of health care to be funded that way.

  • American Knight says:

    DC,

    That’s true, universal health care does not necessaily mean that government will have control over life and health, but it could.

    If this country was a Catholic monarchy and the Chruch was the only Church and we were not infested with Protestant theology and liturgy, then yes, the government could be the provider of universal medical care.

    But, that is not the USA and probably never will be. In this country, at this time, based on our founding documents, historical precedent and over 800 years of English common law – the last entity I want having control over my life, health and medical care is government.

    It is way too dangerous in a neo-pagan world. Do you think the Roman Emperors would have provided unviversal health care well? I suppose if sending Christian martyrs to their death is a good we desire then why not let Pelosi, Reid, Sibelius, Baucus and all those wonderful czars lord our health care over our heads – as long as we can keep them.

    I am a hopeful person, I am also realistic and I don’t trust men, my self included, with that kind of power in this world, at this time.

  • Actually, my skepticism is pretty even: I’m not convinced that a Catholic monarchy would do that great a job of providing centralized health care either. Looking at the Spanish monarchy, the French monarchy and the Austrian monarchy — it’s not like the record for competance (or even holiness) is all that high.

  • BTW, just finished this post and headed on to Part II, Eric. Sorry for being so slow, it’s been a busy week…

    Reading the last section, I found myself wondering: What exactly is the right thing to do when someone wants to run up large bills for the rest of society on “futile care”. It’s clear the solution we have right now is in many cases the wrong one, but my impression from dealing with end-of-life care for my grandmother and father within the last few years is that it wouldn’t be hard for people to spend a lot of money very unproductively — and indeed sometimes only make suffering greater without extending life much as a result.

    If that’s “your own” money, that seems like it’s pretty clearly your perogative, but it seems to me like the issue gets fuzzier when you’re dealing with insurance or public funding — situations where the might might legitimately be needed more elsewhere.

    Don’t know what the answer is there.

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    Foolish rulers are foolish rulers whether they are Catholic or Protestant. I would much prefer to be ruled by Protestant George Washington than uber Catholic Philip II of Spain. The Church is our guide to getting to Heaven but it dispenses no special grace as to the governance of a state. Catholic rulers have demonstrated time and again that they have no special charism for ruling wisely. The papal mismanagement of the papal states, with certain honorable exceptions such as Sixtus V, should put paid to the notion that a Catholic state necessarily will be better ruled than some other polity.

  • American Knight says:

    DC, I agree, perhaps my post was unclear. I was referring to authentic Catholic monarchies. We don’t really have any of those today. That went with many of the good things from the Middle Ages. Now before anyone jumps on me, I am not proposing that we go back to the Middle Ages. Even though I am relatively ‘conservative’, I am happy with the ‘progress’ we’ve made since then in many, many areas. I do lament what we have lost and we’ve lost a great deal.

    Again, my position, and I think it is right and I am happy to change my mind if presented with a compelling argument against my view, is that government cannot be trusted becuase it is too much power in the hands of men.

    Is there a solution to that problem? Yes. We need a king, but not just any king, we need the King of kings. Until He chooses to come and reign and liberate His people from the enemy-occupied territory we live in, we’ll have to make do and do our best to conform ourselves to Him.

    That means we need to diffuse power but not fall into anarchy. In the area of providing goods to people and medical care is a good irrespective of the aspects of Catholic social justice it includes that means being free to find the best production and delivery methods. In practical reality medical and health care are goods, we should try to provide medical care to everyone as a matter of Catholic social justice; nevertheless, the means to do it have to account for the fact that it is a good and all goods are scarce.

    Goods are best distributed by the free, voluntary exchange of uncoerced people. I am becoming very resistant to using the word ‘market’ although that is the correct word, becuase it invokes some abstract concept and the derission of many becuase we have been told over and over again that the markets have failed. Markets cannot fail, people can. Markets do not exist apart from man and man’s labor mixed with the natural resources provided by the Creator of both.

    Take all the passion over this issue and apply that to the economic exchanges of freely acting, creative, risk-taking individuals and we will find ways to fullfil our moral obligation. No, not all of us, many people don’t want to provide medical care for certain classes, which is why it is dangerous to consolidate power. If the moral actors in an economy can succeed in providing Catholic social justice and medical care to all that is wonderful and I am confident that we can, but we have to get the government out of the way. If we cannot find a way to do it, then we are failures, we are not a moral people as a whole and we deserve judgment for that.

    I just don’t understand the absurdity that if you think we cannot provide medical care for most if not all people in a free market then how would asking government to do it using the same resources be reasonable.

    Governments can only operate in arenas that require sanctioned force and ours has been hijacked by people that want to use that force for ill. We legally kill millions of the most defenseless human beings, we rob the creative producers and make those who benefit from the producers wards of the state and a host of other evils. How can a body with that kind of record be trusted to provide anyone with medical care?

    I am very wary of relying solely on an entity that thinks it is OK to choose to murder a human being simply because of location or age for my medical care. Aren’t you?

  • American Knight says:

    Great point DC,

    “If that’s “your own” money, that seems like it’s pretty clearly your perogative, but it seems to me like the issue gets fuzzier when you’re dealing with insurance or public funding — situations where the might might legitimately be needed more elsewhere.”

    Resources are scarce and allocating them is a very serious responsibility. Human history has proven and rational thinking has supported the fact that an authentically free market is the best means for equitable distribution. Not simply as a matter of profit but also becuase free markets free more people and more wealth to engage in Charity.

    Not all of the insurance companies’ money is their own to use anyway they like. Insurance companies sell contracts and when the sale is made both parties have pre-determined contractual obligations. If you own a $5mil policy with broad parameters for what will be paid for, then you have the right to use every penny of that $5mil within the contractual limits. You don’t have a right to use one penny more than $5mil and you do not have a right to take other resources from elsewhere through legalized plunder AKA government. Furthermore, the insurer, the medical provider or any other free person or entity is free to give you all they have if they choose. You are also free to choose that you want food and water provided and no other medical treatment so that God can decide when you should die. If that is a choice one makes to free up resources either through the insurer, the hospital, by refusing charitable donations or simply leaving a larger estate for charitable purposes then I am fairly confident that God would find that pleasing.

    Just to be clear in the above I am using the authentic definition of ‘choice’ to mean the excercise of our God-given free will.

  • Eric Brown says:

    Darwin,

    End-of-life issues are very complex. I address the issue of financing in the second post. Nevertheless, I think we all know that euthanasia and/or physician-assisted suicide is never the answer. So, if it is either massive bills or killing people — I choose, at least in the short term, massive bills. This can be fixed. We cannot restore life — not that you’d disagree.

  • e. says:

    Human history has proven and rational thinking has supported the fact that an authentically free market is the best means for equitable distribution.

    Really?

    And to think that the free market had been said to be primarily responsible for how 1% of the people in the world happen to control 90% of the world’s wealth!

    Hey, personally, I might myself be a fan of free-market capitalism; however, I’m not so disillusioned by it that I end up subscribing to such fairy tales as the one above manufactured by the likes of American Knight.

  • Eric,

    I obviously agree that euthanasia is never the answer. I do think there is sometimes a point when funding more heroic measures which are unlikely to achieve much is probably not a moral requirement — or perhaps even a moral option.

    I don’t really trust either business or government to be good and answering that question — I’m just not sure that endlessly funding is the answer either.

  • Eric Brown says:

    The issue is in the scope of public policy, yes, but I think the reality is deeply cultural and moral. The reason people wish to prolong their life so much, I’d assume is because of the agnostic-Enlightenment worldview that has dominated Western society. To put it in the words of a Canadian doctor I once read: Americans think death is optional.

    And precisely, e. Good point.

  • American Knight says:

    e.,

    “And to think that the free market had been said to be primarily responsible for how 1% of the people in the world happen to control 90% of the world’s wealth!”

    Those numbers are probably close to accurate but I don’t think the reason for that consolidation of wealth and power is the free market.

    Since free markets diffuse power, wealth and decision making it is unlikely that such a small percentage would be able to control that much. Even if it were to happen it wouldn’t last long.

    That level of consolidation can only occur through force and plunder. The best tool to achieve that level of control is monetary manipulation leading to waste of people’s resources (think $1000 toilet seats, blowing up the moon and a massive unsustainable welfare program for just about everyone except the truly poor) and of course the best way to control a population and destroy wealth – war. At least so long as your financing all sides.

    The owners of the debt accrued to finance social security, medicare, welfare, warfare, etc. are the only ones who gain in all of these transactions. So-called ‘health care reform’ is just another in a series of good intentions being hijaked by the transnational money elite to ensalve us with more and more debt.

    Over two-thirds and rising of US tax-confiscations are used only for debt service. Who owns the debt? Listening to the media you’d think it was the Chinese government – that is a ruse. The owners of ALL of the debt no matter what foreign or domestic intermediary they use are the same bandits that you referred to as 1% in your post. These are the people who own the Federal Reserve Bank, IMF, International Bank of Settlements, World Bank, etc. essentially these are all different facets of the same crime organization. They are the feudal lords and we are just expendable serfs. They are concerned that their are too many surfs to control, hence the global population reduction agenda: eugenics, abortion, euthanasia, manufactured pandamics and war.

    Whoever controls the money, controls everything except our hearts. Taking an issue like education or health care and making it into something that can only be provided by government forces the issue to be polarized. Either you are for education or you are against it, you are either for health care reform or you are against it. Who wants to be against education or health care or feeding the poor? No one in their right mind. So it is accomplished that we are all for it or we are evil and the government is the only source. Done.

    Now government must provide the NEEDED benefit since no one else can becuase the market has failed. How does the government finance such a massive endeavor. It borrows money from the same financiers, mires us in debt and then confiscates what little wealth we have left to service the debt.

    Modern governments have been reduced to a wealth transfer device. A massive wealth transfer from God’s children to a few, greedy, evil misanthropes who seek to be gods. This is the same sin that sparked a war in Heaven and got our parents evicted from Eden. There is nothing new under the sun. Just don’t be fooled into thinking it is anything but pride and death.

    I won’t support it, I will fight it and God-willing that can be accomplished with words only.

  • e. says:

    Those numbers are probably close to accurate but I don’t think the reason for that consolidation of wealth and power is the free market.

    Well, I was really being modest then because the prevailing research cites that it is actually less than 1% of the people of the world who happen to control 90% of the world’s wealth.

    Since free markets diffuse power, wealth and decision making it is unlikely that such a small percentage would be able to control that much. Even if it were to happen it wouldn’t last long.

    It wouldn’t last that long?

    Uhhhh… I believe history would indicate otherwise.

    Yet, if I were to engage in more elaborate discussions here, I would no doubt monopolize this very thread which its author quite obviously intended for another subject entirely.

  • American Knight says:

    e.: “Uhhhh… I believe history would indicate otherwise”

    When in hisotry have we had a free market economic system that produced such a consolidation?

    Rome? Feudal Europe? Tribal Africa? When and where exactly have we had a free market economic system other than brief momements during the first century and quarter of the Old American Republic?

    For that matter what other economic system produced the expertise and technology in medicine and medical care that we can even have a discussion about who should provide health care and to whom?

  • T. says:

    I don’t think that one can be a democrat and a catholic at the same time. They are juxtaposed. One cannot follow the Church’s teachings and pull the lever for a democrat. When one does this, they are excommunicating themselves. If one can’t follow the Church’s teaching then find a religion that fits your views.

  • Eric Brown says:

    I beg to differ. First, being a Democrat doesn’t mean you vote for Democrats. Second, I could vote for Senator Nelson who is unequivocally pro-life. Such analysis is overwhelming simplistic, particularly with Democratic Congressman like Bobby Bright who voted against the stimulus bill, the budget, the cap and trade bill, the health care bill, and in favor of the Stupak amendment. Such a general and simplistic comment makes me wonder if you read anything I said. I repeatedly affirm the sanctity of human life.

  • JMJ says:

    It is not up to the government to provide charity. When the government provides charity, it robs the citizen of doing a charitable work (it has been forced on them and is no longer a charitable act); it reduces the amount of money left for them to provide charity; and it robs them of their possessions (money). The recipient of charity cannot thank a government, they can however be greatful to a charitable person. People who’s hard earned money that gets taxed and given to another has the opposite affect on the giver than what should be desired. Rather than being moved and giving of their heart and feeling compassion for the recipient, they have either ambivalence or disdain for their fellow human who is the recipent. It is up to people and like minded charitable organizations to provide charity. It is not in the constitution that the Federal Government should even be in this business – leave it up to the States. It is easy to feel compassion with other people’s money, it is also immoral to take their possessions.

  • T. says:

    Eric, you are an exception to the rule. I am truly happy for you. In these times, a pro-life democrat is an enigma. It didn’t used to be like this. It is unfortunate.

  • T. says:

    That “tradition” has ended. I hope, as you, that it will return. In fact until the 1930′s, it was a “tradition” that most Americans held. I hope we get back to that again also.

  • Donald R. McClarey says:

    Not quite ended T. I was surprised, pleasantly, by the 64 Democrat votes that the Stupak amendment got. That elected Democrats are largely pro-abort no one would deny, but I think we stand at a period in history when that may begin to change.

  • Tito Edwards says:

    There are more pro-life Democrats than you may think.

    It’s the extremists in the party that are doing all they can to quiet or kick out the pro-lifers. Unfortunately, opinion and demographics are turning against them and they needed up to 64 pro-life Dems to take back the House.

    It’s an entertaining dilemma watching pro-death Democrats go hebephrenic over abortion in the bill.

    Our mighty President Obama that was so willing to “hear our voice” on the issue now wants to eliminate all the pro-life amendments in the Senate bill in order to water down the final committee bill.

    I can’t wait for 2010 and 2012.

  • T. says:

    I guess we will see how pro-life these democrats are shortly. The Stupak amendment will be taken out of the final bill. We will see how they vote then. I agree, the entertainment value is priceless. I think that 2010 and 2012 will be good years. Apparently we need a little insanity every few years to help us remember what our country is really about and how far removed from reality the left really is. They are, for the most part, good intentioned people, but feelings are not the basis for conducting government. The demographics, in the long run will favor us, as we do not kill our children and they do. I also think that the liberal stronghold that the left now enjoys in our used-to-be-great universities will loosen and the propagandizing of our youth will lessen. If we can last long enough, this all bodes well for orthodoxy.

  • Jack Mender says:

    It seems like business is still getting hit hard. Is anybody seeing an upswing in their respective niches? Health reform seems like a mess. I generate long term care insurance leads and annuity leads for the insurance industry, but volume has been terrible in the last two months. I am afraid the worst is yet to come, but maybe it is just my attitude.

  • Tito Edwards says:

    Jack M.,

    It seems to be a mixed bag.

    I hear the same thing you are saying from others. On the other hand I also hear that real estate has gone up again in the worst hit, ie, Las Vegas.

    These are signposts that the economy’s downturn may be on its last leg heading downward and possibly the beginning of a recovery this time next year.

    My amateur analysis for all its worth.

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