Finally Weighing In on Governmental Healthcare

I have avoided the contents of the healthcare debate for months now. The reason is because my biggest goal on this blog is to think through current events through the lens of a Christian worldview. But I muzzled myself because I couldn't adequately define my views on healthcare in religious or philosophic language without repeating conservative talking points. While what I am about to write will sound conservative, please note that I am attempting to avoid political and economic arguments in favor of a philosophical argument.

The core of that argument is this: when the government has a stake in the costs of any industry, it must seek to control the costs of that industry. When the government has a stake in the cost of healthcare, it has a role in reducing the amount of costs it incurs upon itself. And when it does this, it is performing an evil function by playing god with people's health.

Facts: Medicaid (government-run health insurance for the poor) will increase by 1/3, effectively adding 15 million new people to the government insurance entitlement tab. The federal government will fund 100% of the new recipients of Medicaid until 2016. Medicare (government-run health insurance for the elderly) spending cuts decrease by $500 billion over the next decade.

Because the government has a stake in the cost of healthcare, this bill entrenches the idea that the poor are more valuable than the elderly. Though the plan will cost the government billions of dollars over the next few years, the bill still attempted some accounting measures and cost-cutting manuevers to help the bill be more passable. And Medicare funding got cut. All these old people are a drain on the system, you see.

Now I'm not trying to make an argument about the pros and cons of Medicare or Medicaid, on the face of it. I'm merely trying to point out the evils of utilitarian philosophy, which is the core of American liberalism. The utilitarian idea is that we must maximize the good for the most amount of people, which sounds nice, but is off at its core. By trying to evaluate the collective good, we must acknowledge that somebody has to be the decision-maker on who the most amount of people are and what that arbitrary good is. This, undoubtedly, is a precarious situation.

On the other hand, if one's fundamental commitment was that every human individual was special in his or her own right and worth keeping alive, then the role of government would be vastly different. But because the government has a stake in the costs, they are currently rationing the elderly out of the system. Furthermore, they provide financing for the elimination of the unborn. These are not slippery slope arguments. They are actually happening.

As an example, don't believe the rhetoric you hear about the Hyde amendment and Obama's executive order last week. Federal money is already used at home and abroad for abortion. All that's required is a simple accounting measure. Unless the sole operation of an organization is abortion, they can qualify for federal money under any number of federal programs. Planned parenthood, for instance, received money from the stimilus package last year. But because PP does other things besides abortions, they can be funded under this technicality. How was funding Planned Parenthood a part of stimilus money? "It reduces costs," justified Nancy Pelosi (see here). Yes, when you have less people and make it available for them to be killed, it does cost the government less in healthcare. Evil thinking. Evil action by the government.

And while capitalism cannot and can never be an unqualified good, it has always created more contexts for religious and life-existence freedom than has socialistic-trending governments. My argument is not that capitalism is better because it works (though that is true). My argument is that command economies- or commanded sectors of the economy like the US increasingly has with healthcare- mean that less freedom is possible.

When the government has a stake in the cost of the health of its constituents, it has a stake in limiting the amount of service that different people get. This is not a power the government should have, and it makes the trend of American liberalism, and the trend of the government's scope into healthcare, a very evil trend. Yes, I said evil.


Dave F. said...

I love you, man. This is a great post.

Kathy said...

unbelievable post. You managed to be factual in your analysis without betraying your beliefs as a religious person. I really liked it and I think you should submit it to a press outlet. Thank you for that fair and completely (historically) accurate comparison of capitalism vs socialism and the treatment of it's people.

David Strunk said...

Thanks Kathy,

Very kind words you spoke. I'm not always so clear-minded or well-written. In fact, I'm usually not!

Thanks again.

keanon o'keefe said...

Very well put. I've found that most of the pro-healthcare arguments are emotion based, rather than reason. Many accept what "feels" right before they analyze the overall implications.

Ashley said...

Hey Dave,

I was wondering if you could expound on this thought, "On the other hand, if one's fundamental commitment was that every human individual was special in his or her own right and worth keeping alive, then the role of government would be vastly different."

Maybe I missed the undertones, but I couldn't detect your support from scripture (it could've been implicit, I may have just missed it)? As God's people should we not have a different view of how a nation should be governed because we see humanity as the apex of God's creation (over birds of the air or fish of the sea)? We are made in his image after all...

How do we determine whose health is more important...by the amount of money they earn? By the education they were afforded or not afforded? By race or gender? All life should be preserved. God has no delight in the death of anyone (Ezek 18:32).

I would just like to hear more of your thoughts. I don't think that earthly governments can 'fix' our world. God is our governor through his word. However, I do think that God reveals himself to be concerned with people's health regardless of socio-economic distinctions that divide nations and stratify people. Therefore, healthcare for all people would be a way that life could be preserved.

David Strunk said...

Good thoughts- but I think you may have missed the very core of my argument. My justification for the uniqueness of each human being is Gen. 1- all humans made in the image of God- so you are correct there.

But when you ask, "How do we determine whose health is more important?..." you assume a certain proposition. Who is the "we" we are talking about? My simple argument was that if the "we" is the government, we don't have more care, we have less, because the govt. is essentially an entity that deals with limited costs. Historically speaking, it almost always happens that when a govt. gets involved with healthcare costs it must decide who gets what kind of healthcare. So by "we", I think it's a very dangerous position to live in if the govt. decides who gets what kind of care.

If the "we" is American citizens or Christians in particular, we absolutely have a responsibility to the "least of these" among us- the poor, the elderly, and especially the unborn. Under the newly passed healthcare bill, the latter two get the shaft, which illustrates my point (and by which, writing this post and supporting certain non-profit ministries, I am standing up for the least of these more than democrats are by simply passing a bill). Besides, private Christian non-profits have always done a better job at healthcare than has the government.

My main argument in my post was to demonstrate that government supported and guaranteed healthcare for all is actually a contradiction in terms. It can't deliver on the promise in actuality. And in theory, it's very dangerous- downright Orwellian.