On Health Care Reform (The Ayes Have It)

Featured, The Remedy — By on March 24, 2010 at 10:00 am

Webster?

In the fall of 2009, Burnside Writers Collective published an article I wrote on health care reform called Who Would Jesus Heal? The piece was a lightning rod, drawing more comments than any other piece in the history of the website.

This online community became a microcosm for the debate that was happening on the national level.  You had to look no further than the comments section at the bottom of the page to get a feel for the tenor of the dispute.  It was passionate.  Okay, vehement.  Okay, maybe even angry.  Those who opposed it were adamantly against it; those in favor of health care reform were emphatically for it.  Even those who weren’t sure where they stood found a way of expressing their unformed opinion in the strongest terms possible.

The national debate raged on through the fall and on into the winter, where it seemed that health care reform was likely to die.  Support amongst its advocates was waning, and demonstrations against it were rising.  There were angry town hall meetings, loaded opinion polls, Tea Party and Conservative Political Action conferences.  Constituents called, faxed, e-mailed, spit on and screamed at their representatives.

The talking heads on cable news shows from Fox News to MSNBC declared health care reform dead.  But just when the code had been called and everyone started leaving the room, the bill got a heartbeat.  And then another one.  And another one.

The majority leaders of the House and Senate took a renewed interest in passing the legislation.  President Obama postponed a trip to Indonesia and Australia.  He contacted 64 legislators in a day to lobby their support.  And then he postponed his trip again.  Momentum continued to build.  When it became apparent that the language around abortion funding was problematic, President Obama signed an executive order restricting federal funding for abortion.

And then Nancy Pelosi, carrying an oversized gavel, marched into the House chamber on Sunday night with supporters in tow, and they cast the votes that made the idea of reform a reality.

This week I realized with surprise that even in the post-vote world, the debate continues bitterly.  Opponents of the bill say that the bill gets it wrong. It’s too expensive.  It doesn’t go far enough; or maybe it goes too far.  It puts too much control in the hands of the federal government.

The strongest Republican argument I’ve heard is that health care reform was needed, but should have been done in the private sector rather than by the national government.  And you know what?  I think they may be right.  But it’s too late.  Because the time to reform health care privately, either by legislation or by appealing to the consciences of insurance CEO’s was twenty years ago.   The bottom line is, if health care reform was going to come from a self-policed private sector, it would have been done by now.

The first president to advocate a national health insurance plan was Teddy Roosevelt (a Republican, by the way), almost 100 years ago.  There have been 18 presidents since then, 10 of whom were Republicans.  From 2000-2006, when insurance premiums skyrocketed 87 per cent, while inflation increased 18 per cent and wages increased 20 per cent, there was a Republican president and a Republican majority in Congress.

Here’s what I have to say to people who are still decrying the passage of the reform bill:  You had your chance to reform it, and you didn’t.  Tens of millions of Americans are uninsured, and 47,000 of them die each year for lack of insurance.

So the bill may not be perfect.  It may go too far, or not far enough.  It may have been voted in with unusual (though not unconstitutional) means.  But it is fiscally responsible, reducing the federal deficit by $138 billion over the next 10 years.  And even more importantly, it is sure to save lives.

It may even save yours.

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    54 Comments

  • Paul Luikart says:

    Thanks for this piece, Sarah. Thanks also for your other one from October. Very thought-provoking. I wonder if health-care reform could have ever been reformed in the private sector. Like you mentioned, that’s a major Republican argument. But I would say (cynically) that there was never a good time to appeal to the consciences CEO’s of insurance companies for reform. I think that if there were the pulse of a conscience in there somewhere amongst insurance companies (I mean a real conscience that would dare to change things from the inside), that need for change would have already come about and there wouldn’t have ever been a need for the government reform just passed. I think the recent government healthcare reform is needed BECAUSE insurance companies have not and cannot police themselves.

  • Marty Martin says:

    As an American living in Canada, I can tell you this is a mistake. we have OHIP, and we can not believe the shabby health care provided here. My sons broke his arm and had to wait two days to see the bone doctor (once we go an appointment we waited 5 hours in the waiting room). Over 250 thousand people cross the border every month from Ontario alone to get health care in the US. My wife is not 50 so she can not get her yearly mamogram. We had to wait 8 months before we could even be “assinged” a doctor. Many people wait years. You have to pay $10 to park at any doctor’s office – same as my copay in the US. When a new doctor comes to town there is huge line-up to sign-up. 15 to 20% of people have no family doctor here in Canada. If your doctor is a jerk or doesn’t do his job, you cant leave to a better doctor. You have ne choice or freedom. On top of that I pay about $15,000 more a year in taxes than I did and my employer has to carry about $8,000 worth of extra insurance on me to cover all the holes that the government insurance does not carry.

    Is this the kind of compassion we as Christians want to force down people’s throats? PErosnally I thought Jesus was about freedom and taking the yoke off of people’s necks, not dumping more on them. Good luck my fellow Americans with the “free” health care you just got!

    • EmilyTimbol says:

      Canada is a different country, that undoubtably ran things differently than America will. Just because something is a “disaster” there, doesn’t mean it can’t work elsewhere.

    • Steve says:

      As a Canadian living in Canada I cannot understand how it is that you had to wait two days to see a bone doctor when your son broke his arm.
      My daughter experienced a serious arm break and dislocation. We went to the hospital emergency and were processed quickly. We received excellent care without delay.
      Things here are by no means a “disaster”. As a parent of a child with a serious medical condition I am continually thankful for the excellent medical care that we receive. In the US we would be bankrupt. There is little “freedom” is impoverishment.
      I am sorry if your experience is poor here in the Great White North;all medical systems can produce their horror stories. I see and experience no disaster here in Canada.
      BTW the impetus for our universal healthcare system is based on the Social Gospel movement of the last century. It was a faith based initiative aimed at taking a burden off of ordinary people.

    • Jordan Green says:

      @Steve:

      Considering the useless employment of quotation marks, misspellings, and overall message (“PErosnally I thought Jesus was about freedom and taking the yoke off of people’s necks”), I can assure you this person is not actually an American living in Canada.

      Unless Greg J lives in Canada, of course. And is also named “Marty Martin”.

  • dave montei says:

    unfortunately and statistically speaking, the mortality rate is higher where the health care is better than ours..

  • annie says:

    to say that it is too late is naive. right or wrong, the battle has, in many ways, just begun.

  • JamesW says:

    I agree with your post in general, Sarah. Our (conservatives) leaders didn’t do squat about our core issues when we had control of both Congress and the White House. This is what we have to live with. I have to hand it to the Democrats: they got stuff done barely a year after regaining control.

    I dispute your “47,000 die from lack of health care” number, though.

  • JamesW says:

    By the way, the last line in the above post is not passionate, hateful, angry, or vehement. I just remain unconvinced about the stats that the D’s were offering up.

  • Jenna says:

    Thanks for the thoughts, Sarah Well spoken. I am afraid that the battle will continue to rage as well. What remains important, at the end of the day, is to remember those who are suffering because they do not have healthcare or access to it for whatever reason may exist. We are all equals, there is nobody that deserves care anymore than any other, and finding that perfect balance between providing that care and managing costs continues to challenge us to continue seeking better answers for ALL Americans.

  • Jenna says:

    PS. sorry, Marty. 2 days to see an ortho was not inappropriate for a fracture (in most cases) and would not have been any different in the good old US of A.

  • Greg J says:

    Sorry, but this article missed the point completly. There are so many things wrong with this health bill, and how we got it, that it staggers the imagination. Marty stated clearly and accurtly some of the problems, and soon we will begin to read about all of the back room deals and arm twisting that went on, and the to our sorrow we wont even be supprised (but after all, it is the “Chicago Way”). In almost every poll taken, most Americans were apposed to it (only one poll had it at 50/50). And I assure you that if the Republicans and pushed thru a bill in this “slick ass, Pursian Bizarre” (to quote “A Few Good Men”) manner, they would have been crucified.
    There is no question the Republicans BLEW, that they just ended up looking pathetic, but to conclude that because they blew it, this is what WE deserve, sounds like a child chiding the other kids on the block who didn’t get their way.
    And the idea of “47,000 dying for lack of health care is just plain non-sence. And anyone who believes that the federal government can run this program correctly, or cheaply is high. Sorry Sarah, just like your other article, this was the worst reasoned article I have EVER read in Burnside.

    • Dan Gibson says:

      You may or may not be right about the bill itself, Greg, but to say that the Republicans never used techniques of this sort is just ridiculous. Nearly all of the Contract With America legislation under Gingrich as Speaker were passed through reconciliation, and the first round of Bush tax cuts were as well. Be as upset as you like about the content of the bill, but politicians are only upset by these sort of means to pass bills when they’re on the losing end.

    • Nathan M says:

      Greg,
      I respectfully take issue with your post on two grounds. First, while you are welcome to your opinion about the reasoning in the article, it seems rather disingenuous to claim that this article “missed the point completely” and is “the worst reasoned article” without backing up your statements with any facts or statistics. For example, you dismiss the idea of 47,000 people dying because of a lack of health care as nonsense but provide no rationale for this statement. If you provided evidence for your claim (sample size too small, researchers biased) then this could contribute to a healthy debate. Otherwise the statement is unreasonable. Also, the kind of rhetoric that dismisses someone as “high” who believes that the government can run the program correctly is what has kept the debate at a heated emotional level and precluded meaningful dialogue. Finally, the “Sorry, but” is very condescending – obviously you’re not sorry becase you go on to disagree with the article! Let us at least treat each other with respect even when we disagree.
      Second, I disagree with the claims that you make. You claim that Obama is just using the “Chicago way.” While some of the political deals that are part of this bill are repulsive, the Republicans are actually the ones who are now blocking the Senate amendments that would do away with some of these deals, such as the Federal government paying some of Nebraska’s Medicaid costs. You also state that Republicans would be “crucified” for passing a bill in a similar manner. They passed Bush’s tax cuts using reconciliation, the same procedure that the Dems are now using to pass health care. Also, Bush used executive orders to circumvent the legislative branch on such issues as limiting access to presidential records and allowing for methods such as waterboarding in interrogating detainees. You say that the Republicans blowing it in this argument does not mean that this is what we deserve. Well, we live in a republic, and we elected these officials and this President to make and enforce legislation. Therefore, yes, this is the legislation we deserve. If you disagree with this decision, then you have the opportunity to make your voice heard in November. Finally, you dismiss those who believe that the government can run this cheaply or correctly. What is the alternative? Leaving everything to the free market resulted in tens of millions of people being one diagnosis away from financial ruin. While certainly not perfect, government programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid have extended the lives and well-being of many Americans. Perhaps the answer is to now pressure the government to make the health care system more efficient.
      Thanks, and God bless!

    • Greg J says:

      So what Bush did it that way, did that make it right? Of course not, so don’t use what he did to justify what Oboma did, and dont assume because I dislike this bill and have no use for the policies of this president, that I voted for Bush or was a Bush supporter, or am a “Republican” for that matter, because you would be wrong on all counts. I dislike the bill because in reality it has to do with freedom, and who has a right to decide what I should do with my money, and to some degree my life. My dad had his own business and he worked until May of each year just to pay his taxes. And now this bill is to be administered by those warm hearted people at the IRS, touching. Oh by the way, I would vote for Dennis Miller for President.

    • Dan Gibson says:

      Greg, you wrote: “And I assure you that if the Republicans and pushed thru a bill in this “slick ass, Pursian Bizarre” (to quote “A Few Good Men”) manner, they would have been crucified.”

      They did push bills through that way, and they weren’t “crucified” (Contract With America, Bush Tax Cuts I). In fact, the media barely covered it. So, to be frank, you’re wrong.

    • Nathan M says:

      @ Greg J – First, I was not citing the Republican’s use of parliamentary methods to justify the way healthcare was passed. The purpose was to explain why I disagreed with your comment that Republicans would be “crucified” if they tried the same tactics. Second, I did not mean to imply that you are a Republican or Bush supporter. I was merely disagreeing with your reasons for opposing the bill. By the way, I lived in Illinois when Obama was running for Senate and ended up writing in my dad for Senate. Perhaps he and Dennis Miller can run on the same ticket!

  • sarah says:

    @Dave: what statistics are you referring to? The studies done by the World Health Organization, Institute of Medicine, and the National Academy of Sciences (just to name a few) beg to differ.

    • annie says:

      I would beg to differ with any statistic that says “Tens of millions of Americans are uninsured, and 47,000 of them die each year for lack of insurance.” People die of disease, injury, old age, etc., not lack of insurance.

      At the time that Roosevelt was promoting this issue, he wasn’t a GOP candidate. He was a Progressive Party candidate and lost the attempt at a third term after a four-year break from his previous terms.

    • Dan Gibson says:

      Annie, if a rattlesnake bit you, and someone had the antidote in their hand and didn’t give it to you, what would have been the cause of your death? The bite or not having the antidote?

    • annie says:

      The bite.

    • Dan Gibson says:

      At least you’re consistent. Foolish (maybe), but consistent.

      People die from preventable causes every day in this country. Causes that could have been non-fatal (diabetes, cancer, heart disease, etc.) if properly treated and caught early. Without insurance, preventative care is impossibly expensive and any sort of followup regiment even more so. So, let’s say I think I might have skin cancer (I live in Arizona, so it’s not entirely unlikely). With insurance, I could have a dermatologist check out the spot, then go from there. Without insurance, I can’t get the spot checked out, the cancer spreads, and I die. It’s really that morbidly simple. I would have died because I didn’t have health insurance. Not because of the cancer. The cancer would be treatable. This happens all the time. Every single day. For a number of people in this country, insurance is the barrier between life and death.

      Now, you can choose to not accept that as a reality, but it is. Logically, whether you chose to admit it or not, what you’re saying is that poor and working class people who can’t afford insurance don’t deserve the type of care that might keep them from dying. That’s a more logically consistent position and one that might be defensible in a market driven Randian way. I just don’t care to live and think like that.

    • annie says:

      I’ve had cancer without insurance, and that’s simply untrue. Your scenario isn’t accurate.

      I’m saying that the rich don’t deserve it either, because the issue isn’t about getting what we deserve.

      In fact, I think what we “deserve” is to live in our frail and degrading bodies until we die, because that is the result of sin and being fallen people in a broken world. I am glad that there are other options and reliefs while we are on this earth, and I think that I am called, out of my abundance as a Christian, to show compassion to those who live less fortunately and without the same abundance.

      Beyond that, your tone is consistently condescending and repeatedly arrogant and insulting. I give you the credit of assuming that you’re intelligent and thoughtful, but I don’t ever need you to tell me what I am saying, and until you can give me the same credit, it is my goal to not interact with you.

    • Dan Gibson says:

      How exactly is it inaccurate? I currently live without health insurance (although thank God that’s changing soon) and the chance I have today – right now – of being diagnosed of cancer before it’s “too late” is nearly zero. Your experience is your experience, but you can’t possibly say with any sense of accuracy that people have not died in this country this year because they didn’t have access to care.

      I’m sorry that you feel that I’m being condescending, but your refusal (and people sharing your attitude) to acknowledge that parents are losing their children, that children become orphans, that family members are losing people they love because some people in this country refuse to address the problem of health care in America is wildly offensive to me. Maybe the Obama program will cause more problems, maybe a market based approach would be better…I am willing to acknowledge those perspectives, but to stick your head in the sand and pretend that this situation is something we should accept because of man’s original sin is befuddling to me beyond the capability of my brain’s ability to reason, and to think churches, corporations or individuals will step up to the plate to help the millions without insurance hasn’t happened yet, so there’s no reason to believe it every will. Interact with me or not, that’s your call, but accept the consequences of your political beliefs.

    • annie says:

      What is innaccurate: “impossibly expensive” This is almost never true. Yes, it is extremely expensive, but not impossibly so and not without remedies. “Without insurance, I can’t get the spot checked out, the cancer spreads, and I die. It’s really that morbidly simple.” This is just false. You can get checked out. You can get treatment. You accumulate bills in the process, but it isn’t that morbidly simple. Either way, if you die, you still die because you have cancer. Yes, people die everyday of treatable diseases, but no it is not that simple.

      Your assessment of my logic makes huge leaps and assumes beliefs that I do not hold. You do this to me consistently, and it isn’t moving the debate forward. No one asserted that we shouldn’t help the poor (at least that I saw). No one denied that the issue is serious or that “parents are losing their children, that children become orphans, that family members are losing people they love because some people in this country refuse to address the problem of health care.” I never said that “people have not died in this country this year because they didn’t have access to care”, or that we should “pretend that this situation is something we should accept because of man’s original sin”.

      In fact, what is widely offensive to me is your assertion that these things were said. I’ll assume that was not your intent (perhaps you are misdirecting your anger, as you have no real knowledge of my attitude and have lumped me in with some mysterious group of “others”, and I have never actually stated whether I overall supported or opposed this legislation), but also ask you to be aware of this consistent pattern of addressing me and others who you think disagree with you.

    • Dan Gibson says:

      You wrote: “I never said that “people have not died in this country this year because they didn’t have access to care””

      But earlier, you wrote: “I would beg to differ with any statistic that says “Tens of millions of Americans are uninsured, and 47,000 of them die each year for lack of insurance.” People die of disease, injury, old age, etc., not lack of insurance.”

      Then you wrote that you never said that “we should “pretend that this situation is something we should accept because of man’s original sin”.”

      But earlier, you wrote: “In fact, I think what we “deserve” is to live in our frail and degrading bodies until we die, because that is the result of sin and being fallen people in a broken world.”

      You can get all huffity and puffity about how I insulted you by assuming one thing or another, but I’ve only responded to what you actually wrote. If you find my reaction to your opinion offensive, I’m not sure what I can do about that. I don’t honestly remember interacting with you before today, but of the two of us, you might be the one doing the projecting.

    • annie says:

      I stand by my statements. Yes, access to care can help save lives (or, more accurately, delay death), but to say that death is caused by lack of insurance is incorrect.

      I never said that we should accept the situation or not work to change it. I simply said that it isn’t about what we or others deserve.

      We have communicated several times and each time you have responded to the opinions you projected onto me.

      I am saying that the positions you have listed as mine are offensive, and are not mine. I would like to understand your position better, but that is very difficult withing the framework of your current methods of interaction.

    • Greg J says:

      Well stated Annie, keep up the good fight. Gosh Dan, is being condescending and pompus working for you?

    • Dan Gibson says:

      Annie, we’ve interacted once before today as far as I could tell looking through every comment I’ve ever made on the site goes, so unless you have a wildly different definition of “communicated” or “several” than I do, we’re going on this thread and a few comments I left in response to something you said about another article Sarah wrote.

      Back then, you complained that I misrepresented your opinion, and back then again, I quoted directly from things you wrote. I have every right to reply to what you actually say, since that’s generally how comment sections work, and you tend to state one opinion and then say you never said that exact sentiment (see above). You might not like how people interpret what you say, but if you’re confident in the correctness of what you think, why should it matter? If you want to argue semantics on the effect not having health insurance has on Americans, I will continue to feel like you’re wildly missing the point.

      Either way, let’s just let this particular interaction die at this point, ok?

    • Dan Gibson says:

      By the way, Greg, I don’t have the illusion that I’m superior to anyone (a requirement to be condescending), but when people are wrong in their thinking, I think I’m going to go ahead and reserve the right to call them on it. Forgive me if I don’t take comment section name calling to heart, however.

    • Jordan Green says:

      There ARE other ways to pay for health care, Dan…haven’t you seen “Breaking Bad”?

  • Greg J says:

    Lest I forget, I have a family that I support on a VERY limited income, who among you (including Oboma, Pelosi ect) feels they have the right to decide who I will have “compassion” for. This new program is to be administered by the IRS, so the Fed’s will now essentially put the perverbial gun to my head to MAKE me pay for someone else, who may, or may not be “deserving”? I have never minded my taxes going for those truely in need. But (as witnessed by the current welfare program) it could go to anyone, and that is what I mind. The gov. is pathetic at weeding out the “truely needy” from those just “passin time” till there next “gig”.

    • Daniel S says:

      As for the question of who would Jesus heal. He didn’t wait for Caesar to tell him to do it. as for it reducing the deficit that is probably not true either unless congress passes an extension to doctor payouts by April 3rd Medicare payments go down by 21% and that means 40 to 60 of doctors will stop taking it. When they extend the payments that 138 billion in savings goes away and becomes 208 billion or so in debt. Lets wait and see wat really happens. So why dont we start by doing as Jesus did helping because of love not because the government tells us to.

    • Jordan Green says:

      I didn’t like this health care bill, mainly because I don’t think it addressed some fundamental problems with health care, including tort reform and pharmaceutical company influence.

      That said, my question for Greg J (and any other Christian who is adamantly opposed to this bill) is this:

      From what you read in the Gospel, what do you honestly think Jesus’ stance on this bill would have been?

      I understand a lot of conservative values, and can see their roots in the Bible. But I cannot understand how a Christian conservative can be so strongly opinionated on the subject of taxes.

      I mean, look at your wording:

      “Who among you (including Oboma, Pelosi ect) feels they have the right to decide who I will have “compassion” for.”

      Well, I would assume a Christian would be called have compassion for everyone.

      “…the Fed’s will now essentially put the perverbial gun to my head to MAKE me pay for someone else, who may, or may not be “deserving”?”

      “The gov. is pathetic at weeding out the “truely needy” from those just “passin time” till there next “gig”.”

      I mean, do you truly think this sort of mentality – to only help people who deserve it – exhibits Christ’s love? Because I can’t tell you how grateful I am that God doesn’t only extend His grace to those who deserve it, because I’m not in that group.

      I’m not saying Jesus would support the bill, either…my sense would be that he’d address it the same way he addressed the question of taxes: render to Caesar what is Caesar’s.

    • Greg J says:

      Thanks for your response Gordon. I feel that your “WWJD” argument is just non-sence because in fact we don’t know (unless you are getting messages from God that the rest of us are not privy to) what Jesus would do. My guess is he would just heal them and that would be the end of the matter, but guess what, even when He was here he did not heal everyone, nor did the apostles. Some died never having gotten to see or be near Jesus.
      I am genereous with my money to those whom I see who are truely in need of help. Yet some “politician” have taken it upon themselves to deside for me who I will be compassionate to. And your statement “Well I would assume Christians would be called to have compassion toward everyone” is odd to me. Do you really believe that? A casual look thru the OT will reveal a God who order Isreal to wipe out entire nations. I think the real problem here is that our definition of “compassion” is different and sometimes compassion isnt always warm and fuzzy. Sometimes God even withholds healing even from those deeply in love with Him, does that make Him any less “compassionate”?
      Lastly, we have MANY programs set up to help those in need, but many of those same programs have been abused by those who take from a that rather genereous system. In the end it hurts those who really need help. People who chose to live irresponsible(sp) lives. Drug addicts, or those who chose not to work, or a lady in our complex who has had five children from five different men (non of which she was married to). What she really needs is Christ in her life no doubt, but the system has made it so easy for her that I contend she doesnt need to cry out to God for help, she gets it from the welfare system. Meanwhile some of those programs in our area are so broke that many programs are being dropped because they are to expensive to run. So for those who have a true need (the physically handicapped, or those displaced because of the economy) loose what little help there is for them, and along with that they cry out. But the more the gov. takes out of my pocket to fund “their” vision, it takes away from my ability to help those around me who I know, first hand, need help.

    • Jordan Green says:

      Greg:

      My name is JORDAN, not Gordon. It’s right there at the top of my post, which you must have read since you actually responded to me by a name. Strangely, this is not the first time you’ve ignored the common decency of calling me by my actual name. It’s rude.

      I’m familiar with the Old Testament, yet I missed the part where we, as followers of Christ, are not supposed to be compassionate. God also called other nations to punish it Israel, but that doesn’t mean you are called to mete out your own brand of justice. I agree that compassion doesn’t mean simply blindly giving people money, but health care is not really something that can be mooched off, since it’s only utilized when people ARE in need.

      Based on your post, I’m not sure we believe in the same Christianity, so I doubt this conversation can be reconciled, since we’re acting on fundamentally different bases. Your base seems rooted in some sort of amalgamation of Christianity and Ayn Rand’s atheist objectivism.

      You said:

      “I feel that your “WWJD” argument is just non-sence because in fact we don’t know (unless you are getting messages from God that the rest of us are not privy to) what Jesus would do.”

      This sounds like relativism! Are you saying we can never known what Jesus thinks about anything? I mean, Jesus didn’t say anything about internet pornography, so does that mean we can’t make any judgments on that?

    • annie says:

      I am not adamantly opposed to the bill, but I am adamantly opposed to the way that many Christians are supporting it (not to be confused with the fact that they are supporting it), so I will answer.

      I think that you are right, give to Caesar what is Caesar’s. If the most frightened peoples’ worst fears about socialism and oppressive governments were to come true, I don’t think that it would be the end of the world. In fact, I see a Jesus who is more interested in freeing peoples’ hearts than changing their political situation (which is not to say that he doesn’t care at all about such things, but only that it is not the primary focus of attention or energy). It’s part of why the Jews rejected him, right? The same New Testament commands slaves to obey their masters with respect.

      When I apply the gospel to this particular situation, and our choices in it, I see theology that baffles me. (I would actually love to understand it better, but it seems difficult to get to that conversation.)

      I don’t think it’s about who deserves what. I don’t think any of us deserves any of it. We live in bodies that are falling apart, and that’s a result of sin. Some of us are blessed with means to delay the decay and alleviate the suffering. That is a gift we’ve been given, and to assert, as Christians, and teach people otherwise is totally confusing to me. Christ never talks about owing widows and orphans. He never says that the poor are entitled to wealth. Instead, he says to give freely out of our abundance. Certainly, he never ever ever gives us the right or authority to demand compliance with these commands, especially from people who do not share the same beliefs. Instead, he asks for us to be compassionate to everyone in a way that is completely voluntary. Our churches don’t even have the capacity to demand giving, and yet we want the government to do it?

      When I really think about it, in my life, it’s fear. It’s fear that Christians aren’t motivated enough, there aren’t big enough churches, there aren’t enough dollars among Christians, and I’m not sure we (and I) are up to the hands-on work it takes. I know that the only way we can do it is through total surrender, and that’s scary. What Christ actually commands us to do in serving the poor and needy is so much more demanding.

      However, nothing about any of that calls me to demand that everyone comply based on my personal morality. I can understand arguments based solely on nationality, but Jesus never calls for appeals to nationality to achieve the work of his church. He never instructs, by coercion or by force, to make anyone outside of that system of belief, grace and obedience live up to the standards set by that faith system.

    • Jordan Green says:

      To clarify quickly, I don’t actually think Jesus would be FOR health care.

      But the reason my first question was pointed to vehement opponents was because I don’t think opposing health care is a Christian stance, either. In his ministry, Jesus dealt with the concept of taxes a number of times (Mark 20 and Matthew 17, in particular). In both instances, he essentially dismissed the question. In neither case does he go on some rant about people keeping what they earn.

      Additionally, I sincerely doubt the cost of health care is going to raise your taxes to the point where you won’t be able to pay tithe, or help others. I just don’t think God works that way, or that the Gospel is less effective in areas with high taxes, or that God won’t provide for you simply because taxes were raised. That’s why I don’t understand why Christians would complain about taxation, or that their hard earn money is being taken away. Everything we have is God’s anyway, so why get up in arms about it?

    • annie says:

      I can’t answer for everyone, but for me it’s because I don’t believe in the governments ability to steward well, in my authority or the authority of others to demand higher taxes, I think a lot of the programs the monies support send a destructive spiritual message, often the promises are not delivered and circumstances are not improved but relationships and community are damaged, I think that every protection and benefit demands a price that is not monetary, and I think it is a violation of the original social contract to which we have agreed.

      I get much less worked up than some, though, so I may not be the best person. God will provide, even if it looks nothing like we want or expect.

    • Jordan Green says:

      Good thoughts on this, Annie. I’m not a fan of taxes myself, honestly. I’d rather they be low. I’d rather health care was cheap and people took care of each other.

      I’m also glad to hear you don’t get worked up too much, because, again, that’s what confuses me about Christians who care so much about taxes…it’s not like it’s some nebulous issue. It’s an issue Jesus was confronted with, and responded to, and it’s in the Bible.

    • Greg J says:

      Im sorry Jordon, not my intention to dis you, and yes it is rud It was actually a typing mistake, not a personal slight. My hands to not always funtion as I would like when I am working on an idea.
      Having said that, where did you get the idea I was trying to apply my own brand of “justice”? You have become so emotional you cannot even read my reply without extracting out what you want. Just because someone says the are in “need” does not make it so. And there is a difference between “willful” or a chosen disire to use others to make life work here and now. In counseling alcholics, one thing I recognized early is that those who usually came in for help were ones who had used up everyone around them to the point that no one would help them anymore. And I am not sure what you mean by the phrase “health care cannot be mooched off”. Perhaps we are even defining “mooched” differently. Just because someone has a “precieved” need does not make it a legitimate need.
      Your reference about my theology being an “amalgimation” of Ann Rand and Christianity was quite amusing. I did not know the disire for certian “freedom” was a strictly secular idea.
      And the “WWJD” argument was based more on how certian you were about certian. You were the one asking the retorical question about what Jesus would do, as if YOU knew the answer. That is exactly why I raised the point.
      Then on your last paragarph you just go nuts. You know, the bible doesn’t say anything about elephants, so they can’t possibly exist. Maybe the difference for us is what we believe the bible has to say to us regarding life. Guess what, I just see it differently thatn you, so get over it. It doesnt make me a “relatavist” or a “Ann Rand” conservative, anymore than it makes you the wisest sage on Burnside.

    • Greg J says:

      Jordon, I was just listening to a song by Dave Mason, and it had a stanza in it that goes, “So lets leave it alone, cause we cant see eye to eye, there aint no good guys, there aint no bad guys, theres only you and me and we just disagree”. Farewell.

    • Jordan Green says:

      I don’t feel like I’m going nuts. I feel fairly reasoned. To recap the conversation:

      First, I asked my question:

      “From what you read in the Gospel, what do you honestly think Jesus’ stance on this bill would have been?

      I understand a lot of conservative values, and can see their roots in the Bible. But I cannot understand how a Christian conservative can be so strongly opinionated on the subject of taxes.”

      Then, you answered:

      “I feel that your “WWJD” argument is just non-sence because in fact we don’t know (unless you are getting messages from God that the rest of us are not privy to) what Jesus would do.”

      And I responded by saying that sounded like relativism, like you were saying we couldn’t discern Jesus’s opinion of the health care bill from Scripture, when Mark 20 and Matthew 17 very clearly show Jesus’s thoughts on taxation. I mean, the Bible is very adamant on the subject of sexual morality, so we can extrapolate that out and assume that internet pornography fits under that banner, right? Why can’t you do that in regards to taxation?

      You said:

      “Your reference about my theology being an “amalgimation” of Ann Rand and Christianity was quite amusing. I did not know the disire for certian “freedom” was a strictly secular idea.”

      No, “freedom” is not a secular idea, but the idea of American freedom and the freedom offered in Christ is very different. That’s where objectivism starts creeping into Christian thought, when we start mixing up what it means to be an American and what it means to be a Christian.

      You said:

      “You have become so emotional you cannot even read my reply without extracting out what you want.”

      That’s not exactly true. I try and point out my disagreements one by one, but often I won’t address one of your points because it is either not communicated well, or I don’t think it’s relevant. I asked a question (on Jesus and taxation) that you seem unwilling to answer, so when you start arguing tangents about neighbors on welfare, you’ll have to forgive me if I don’t see the point.

  • I’m a moderate with some conservative leanings. Your paragraph about Republican inactivity is the most damning thing I’ve read in a while. You are right. Wish I could argue.

  • I normally surf all over the internet because I have the tendancy to read a lot (which isn’t always a good thing because most blogs just copy from each other) but I want to say that yours contains some real substance! Thanks for stopping the trend of just being another copycat site! ;-)

  • sarah says:

    @everyone who takes issue with the 47,000 number: just because you don’t believe something doesn’t mean it isn’t true. You may not like this number, but many organizations with sound statistical methods have come to this same conclusion. If you have an accurate, statistically sound study that shows otherwise, please show it to me.

    • Jordan Green says:

      47,000 isn’t even that many…I’d be more likely to argue that 47k shouldn’t be enough to overhaul the entire health system than say that number is too high.

    • annie says:

      My problem wasn’t even with the number, but the way the number was stated (which seems manipulative, although I recognize they probably weren’t your words). There is no guarantee that having insurance would have saved these people, and certainly it wouldn’t have saved them all.

  • Polly says:

    This essay is one of the best arguments I’ve heard in a long time. The third to last paragraph (The first president to advocate …) is brilliant, putting the issue into context in such few words.

    The real issue here is not “what would Jesus do” or whether our bodies are broken because of sin – the question here is does everyone have the right to receive care when they are sick? Obviously, helping your neighbor is not the answer in many, many cases – my husband is on dialysis, and there is absolutely nothing my neighbor could possibly do to help him. He needs trained professionals and high-tech equipment to keep him going. (btw he is a vibrant man, still working and paying taxes and thank god, with health coverage – however, I would suggest, that non-working, unemployed people deserve the same treatment) And btw, “sin” did not cause his kidneys to stop working, it was a genetic condition, identified through a scientific process.

    My suggestion is that we allow WellPoint (and other huge insurance companies) to chip in some of the $400 plus billion in profit they took in during 2009.

    Bottom line – Republican position is about protecting that profit, period. Democratic party plays that game too, but at least understands that their bread and butter comes from working, middle class people.

    Campaign finance reform would go a long way in solving much of these political problems.
    However, I believe we must give credit to this President and congress for this HUGE legislative accomplishment.

  • Donovan says:

    This essay is amazing in that it expresses the facts in a way thats easy for everyone to understand. But, if they accept it is up to them.

  • Nick says:

    Anytime the Federal government needs more money to create more programs, we loose rights. The bill just sucked $500 billion from Medicare to create a new program. Medicare already has billions of dollars of unfunded liabilities. What’s going to happen when the baby-boomer generation floods Medicare and Social Security? We just took money away from a program that is going to swell substantially as the baby-boomer generation retires

    Now, the Federal government gets more of our tax dollars to create a new program. What are the chances that sometime down the road, this new money coffin will be raided to create yet another wonderful Federal program that is going to improve our lives.

    Is this my arguement for leaving the system as is? Of course not. Our system needs improvement but a “better than nothing bill” that is not even finalized yet, is not the answer.

    Too many people are accepting the wonderful entitlements from the governement without asking who is going to pay for all of it. Oh and those numbers from the CBO, they can only score what they are given and much of their numbers are based upon assumptions about the economic future. I would love for someone to explain, with details and links, how this is going to reduce the deficit (please no talking points). Check out this article with an open-mind if you really want to see where the numbers come from: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/21/opinion/21holtz-eakin.html

    Alienable rights come from God and God alone. Healthcare, like it or not, is not a right and should not be mandated by a group of people who think they know best. The government has now placed a mandate on us all and tricked far too many that it is for the greater good. If the government has the power to give you rights, do they not have the power to take it away? If so, where does God fit into this?

    We can argue whether or not this bill is going to increase or decrease the deficit,

  • Jim Barringer says:

    I’m comfortable catching flak for this statement, as I’m sure many will disagree, but seeing the comments on this thread merely reinforces my belief that Christians have no business caring about politics.

    I think it’s laughable and disgusting that a politically-themed article gets more comments than the articles about walking with Jesus and learning to love other people.

    Honesty, if this kind of disunity and anger is the price of Christian political involvement, then I’m inclined to say it’s not worth it. I’ll take the Christian unity that the Bible repeatedly commands and levae other people to quibble over politics. I really don’t care how much good Christians think they can do with political policies, because most of the people responsible for the passage of this legislaion were not Christian, so don’t fool yourself into thinking it has any relationship to what Jesus would do. There has to come a point at which we say that any issue that sows such incredible divisions between brothers and sisters in Christ is simply not worth holding dearly. Unity should matter more.

  • N Pelosi has had to end up being one of the actual many liberal politicians throughout the land. It’s onerous with regard to us to believe how folks can certainly reelect her inside their particular right intellect.

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