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Pope Totally Goes Off GOP Script

Pope Calls Health Care An ‘Inalienable Right,’ Urges World Governments To Provide Universal Coverage

At an international papal conference on health care yesterday at the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI and other Catholic church leaders said it is the “moral responsibility of nations to guarantee access to health care for all of their citizens, regardless of social and economic status or their ability to pay.” Saying access to adequate medical care is one of the “inalienable rights” of man, the pope said, “Justice in health care should be a priority of governments and international institutions”

1) Damage control, 2) denunciations, 3) attempts to exegete this to mean the exact opposite of what the Pope said, 4) explanations that it can all be safely ignored since Think Progress is reporting it, 5) “smoke of Satan in the Vatican” conspiracy chatter, and 6) various other strategies for ignoring the Pope in 3, 2, 1….

  • CJ

    6a. Not Catholic so free to agree with BXVI when he’s right, disagree when I think he’s wrong.

    • http://hezekiahgarrett.wordpress.com Hezekiah Garrett

      That’s all well and good, but doesn’t change the simple fact it is monstrous to base medical care on ability to pay. Even tribal societies get this. Only a particular strain of modern man finds it even thinkable.

      • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

        But medical care is a scarce good so you’ll have to base it on something (pay, lottery, first-come/first-serve, powerful-first, etc). Just wishing for everyone to have medical access won’t make it happen.

        What method do you consider to be less monstrous and why?

        • http://hezekiahgarrett.wordpress.com Hezekiah Garrett

          Not treating medicine as a business is a good start. You might have less doctors, you might get ‘inferior’ treatments, but it’d be far less monstrous if doctors and nurses saw what they do as a calling and not a career.

          The same, incidentally, goes for your music. And other art forms.

          • CJ

            So you’re ok with inferior care and overworked providers as long as everyone is in the same boat? I can’t go there with you.

            Limited resources require allocation, whether it’s the market or rationing. There is no escpaing it on this side of eternity and its wishful thinking to believe otherwise.

            • http://hezekiahgarrett.wordpress.com Hezekiah Garrett

              I put scare quotes around ‘inferior’. You expect too much of your medicine, you have the wrong measure for what constitutes quality.

              • CJ

                Enough with the vague drive bys. What should we expect? What constitutes quality? Why is your standard superior to (what you assume) ours to be?

                • http://hezekiahgarrett.wordpress.com Hezekiah Garrett

                  A personal relationship between patient and physician, where the physician has some real working knowledge of the whole human being he is treating and can identify the behaviours of the patient which bring about dis-ease.

                  Most moderns wouldn’t likely avail themselves to such meddling in the first place. Pills are ever so much easier.

                  • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

                    WTF are you smoking Hez? It’s like you’ve never heard of “primary care physicians” and “family doctors”.

                    Besides, there is a principle that cracked dubbed the monkeysphere that spells out basically that people have awareness of other people of about 150. (more people than that and you start dehumanizing them)

                    So, therefore to keep personalized care for everyone, we’d have to limit each doctor to treating 150 people (past that, they won’t really “see” their patients any more).

                    So quick back-of-the-envelope math. A nation of 300,000,000 people (yes it’s more, let’s assume they’re the medical staff) means that for your system to work, we’re going to need 2,000,000 doctors. Last estimation I can find is that the USA currently has 661, 400 doctors.

                    So, Hez, where and how are you going to get 1,338,600 doctors from?

                    • jacobus

                      Getting the AMA to allow for more spots in medical schools would be a start.

                      Doctors are an artificially constrained resource.

                    • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

                      Yes, I quite agree with you that it’s artificially constrained.

                      But the question remains, even if you remove the restraint, how are you going to get doctors? The profit motive is at least one way to entice and encourage doctors to go through training and work.

                    • Jamie R

                      Countries with socialized medicine have more doctors per capita than we do. The profit motive is an inefficient way to entice and encourage doctors to go through training and work.

                    • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

                      Countries with socialized medicine have more doctors per capita than we do.

                      Unless it’s changed since I last looked (maybe it has), they also have much lower standards for becoming a doctors, so results are probably skewed.

                      The profit motive is an inefficient way to entice and encourage doctors to go through training and work.

                      So is that why all those doctors are migrating away from the US into Cuba?

                      Oh wait, the USA ranks #1 as the destination for foreign trained doctors. (UK #2 but note that it’s numbers are going down)

                      If profit motive is such a poor recruitment tool, why are doctors coming here?

                    • Jamie R

                      I didn’t say it’s a poor way to entice doctors. I said it’s inefficient. Our profit based healthcare system is less efficient than other countries when it comes to producing doctors.

                      If our system were better at encouraging people to become doctors, we wouldn’t apparently have a deficit to attract foreign trained doctors. Their systems are apparently inefficient the other way, since they apparently have a surplus of doctors.

                  • CJ

                    I agree with everything you said in the first paragraph. It’s critical to understand how one’s behavior contributes to health, and no one should abuse their body and expect a pill to fix it.

                    But it is naive to think that’s all there is or should be to medical care. I personally know people who follow the best lifestyle advice to a T who still ended up with life-threatening illnesses. Medical intervention exists to save their lives that wasn’t available 70 years ago. You seem to believe that medicine should just stop at the level of what’s treatable with personal relationships and lifestyle choices. Why?

                    • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

                      Yeah, one especially wonders about Hez’s opinions towards say… prenatal care. Premature babies have greater chances to survive nowadays than they ever have and yet… this is a bad thing?

                      Does being pro-life mean not actually trying to save life?

            • Ted Seeber

              Then again, you’re not Catholic. So of course you can’t understand Katholikos Justice that sees suffering as a sacrifice.

          • J

            All the evidence I’ve seen is that health care is better when it is a business, and nearly the only art I find good in modern times is commercial art. I sure as heck don’t think the government has any business subsidizing artists. And let’s not forget that the best artists of Renaissance times etc. had patrons and regularly contracted their work.

            • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

              Exactly, wasn’t it government-subsidized art that got us “piss christ”?

              • http://hezekiahgarrett.wordpress.com Hezekiah Garrett

                Who is calling for government subsidized anything in my comments?

                Your ideological commitments to modernity blind you to what I actually wrote. Its artists treating their art as a career that gets you dreck and crap. Government subsidy just changes who signs the paycheck.

                Melville sold 50 copies of Moby Dick in his lifetime.

            • Jamie R

              What evidence suggests that for-profit healthcare is better than socialized healthcare? If you look at the OECD data, our business healthcare is more expensive with worse or middling results compared to all other economically developed countries.

          • The Deuce

            Hez:

            “Not treating medicine as a business is a good start.”

            Oh, really? How far do you want to go with this? Should we not treat the manufacture and sale of medical devices and drugs as a business, since hospitals need to buy those things to operate?

            If no, should we not treat the production of plastics, the mining and smelting of metals, and the harvesting and processing of plant and animal resources businesses?

            If no, should we not treat oil mining and refining, the manufacture of automobiles, farming, etc as businesses?

            How exactly would you go about not treating things that are inherently business as business?

            Health care IS business. That’s a simple fact of logic, not something I made up because I’m mean. Saying that we shouldn’t treat it as a business is like saying that we shouldn’t treat water as a liquid. Doing so isn’t righteousness, it’s willful denial of reality.

            it’d be far less monstrous if doctors and nurses saw what they do as a calling and not a career.

            Okay, great, I agree. So what do you want the government to do about that? Pass a law declaring it illegal for doctors and nurses to see what they do as a career rather than a calling?

          • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

            The barriers to providing those inferior treatments are political/legal and not based at all on free market economics or medicine being treated like a business. Business provides superior and inferior goods all the time. Go take a look at any tools company that offers home use and “pro” tools and you will see the dynamic in action. Or go look at any large supermarket and you’ll see the same thing with name and “store” brands.

        • http://hezekiahgarrett.wordpress.com Hezekiah Garrett

          See, the limitation is in your culture, not my perspective on this one. There are lots of ways to ensure everyone has equal access to healthcare without resorting to the methods you list. But you have a modern paradigm you can’t escape. Truly ‘outside the box’ thinking is impossible for the modern, or he ceases to be modern.

          • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

            There are lots of ways to ensure everyone has equal access to healthcare without resorting to the methods you list.

            Then please, as I said, list them.

            But you have a modern paradigm you can’t escape.

            Yes the “paradigm” is living in a finite universe and you’re right, we can’t escape until The End. Until then, life will have trade-offs and all the wishful thinking in the world won’t conjure medicine, food, art, whatever out of thin air.

            • http://hezekiahgarrett.wordpress.com Hezekiah Garrett

              No, its expecting medicine to keep you fit and young for eternity. Its the expectation of the possibility of never ending improvements in any sphere.

              You used to have doctors who, while they couldn’t stop you from growing old and dying, they could identify your dis-ease and give you real workable prescriptions for keeping yourselves as healthy as humanly possible. Stress on humanly. And they’d do it for a chicken if that’s all you had.

              But moderns aren’t satisfied with a truly human medicine. They want results! Now! And efficiently as possible!

              Fortunately, wherever your paradigm infects human societies, it is self-limiting, leading eventually to a handful of old farts wondering where all the kids went. Sometimes I think the best thing for humanity in toto is to encourage you on toward bigger and more efficient monstrosities, just to let you pay in full the temporal price for your errors.

              • http://hezekiahgarrett.wordpress.com Hezekiah Garrett

                Then I recall the atom bomb and nuclear winter…

              • CJ

                My parents were close friends with a doctor from Liberia who used to work for chickens. He couldn’t afford to live on that (even in Liberia) so he moved to the US and opened a practice where he got paid in dollars. The situation isn’t as idyllic as you want to believe.

                What is “healthy as humanly possible” has changed due to advances in medicine. What you are actually advocating that doctors do LESS than humanly possible because what is possible costs more money. It’s just another form of rationing.

                • http://hezekiahgarrett.wordpress.com Hezekiah Garrett

                  Yes, I am preaching a pastoral scene of beauty and light.

                  No, I am saying you have to accept that you die of cancer and heart disease if you don’t take positive steps from youth to maintain your health. I am a Red Paint man. My family has provided medicine for our people from the beginning of time. My family has, not coincidentally, been the poorest of my people. Though highly regarded. It is our calling from God, our duty, to see to the health of our fellows. Whether we eat well or not. (And you don’t get more modern than Liberia. really, what do they teach in your history classes?)

                  Seriously, if you can’t grasp the simple truths in what you call drive-bys, and instead impose your own assumptions over them, why should I make the effort to educate you in what human beings should properly expect of medicine men?

                  • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

                    My family has provided medicine for our people from the beginning of time. My family has, not coincidentally, been the poorest of my people. Though highly regarded. It is our calling from God, our duty, to see to the health of our fellows. Whether we eat well or not.

                    And how many people can your family help? Hundreds? A few thousand? And if several people need help at the same time, how do you prioritize? What if someone not of your family actually has better talent at medicine than you do? Or someone of your family has better talent at something not medicinal?

                  • CJ

                    “No, I am saying you have to accept that you die of cancer and heart disease if you don’t take positive steps from youth to maintain your health.”

                    Thanks for making yourself clear. I think it suffices to say that I strongly disagree with this. I, frankly, think it’s monstrous to withhold available help just because a person is responsible for their predicament.

                    Also, what about people who take positive steps to maintain their health and still come down with heart disease and cancer? Do you treat them?

              • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

                No, its expecting medicine to keep you fit and young for eternity. Its the expectation of the possibility of never ending improvements in any sphere.

                Yeah, that’s exactly my point when I said “But medical care is a scarce good so you’ll have to base it on something (pay, lottery, first-come/first-serve, powerful-first, etc).” /sarc
                You keep asking me to read what you wrote, is it so much to ask you extend to others the same courtesy?

                You used to have doctors who, while they couldn’t stop you from growing old and dying, they could identify your dis-ease and give you real workable prescriptions for keeping yourselves as healthy as humanly possible. Stress on humanly. And they’d do it for a chicken if that’s all you had.

                In other words, they’d do it for some form of compensation. The free-market. None of this answers or addresses my original point: time & resources are limited. You’ll have to figure out some way to allocate them. What’s your solution/preference?

                But moderns aren’t satisfied with a truly human medicine. They want results! Now! And efficiently as possible!

                So… results don’t matter when it comes to medicine? But you just said earlier: “they could identify your dis-ease and give you real workable prescriptions for keeping yourselves as healthy as humanly possible”. Is going with what works someone less than human? Haven’t you claimed before to be an EMT? When you’re treating someone, do you ignore results? Do you let someone die because “well I want to go with the human method”? (whatever that means)

                Fortunately, wherever your paradigm infects human societies, it is self-limiting, leading eventually to a handful of old farts wondering where all the kids went. Sometimes I think the best thing for humanity in toto is to encourage you on toward bigger and more efficient monstrosities, just to let you pay in full the temporal price for your errors.

                What I find tragic is that, considering you claim to be a native American, I wonder how much would have been done for all native Americans had a small pox vaccine been discovered before America. Wait. Silly me for caring about results.

                • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

                  And my blockquotes efforts screw up. (I must have misspelled) Some up there should be quotes from Hez.

                • http://hezekiahgarrett.wordpress.com Hezekiah Garrett

                  You don’t understand how vaccines work. Or do you envision an alternate reality where Spaniards send over millions of vaccines and instruction in Nuahuatl, Iroquois, Arawak and whatever language was lingua franca for Potlatch societies and then wait a century for the medicine to spread to the corners of the continent before strolling forth?

                  You go on and on about reality, but you aren’t the least bit familiar with it. Terribly sad.

                  • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

                    Or do you envision an alternate reality where Spaniards send over millions of vaccines and instruction in Nuahuatl, Iroquois, Arawak and whatever language was lingua franca for Potlatch societies and then wait a century for the medicine to spread to the corners of the continent before strolling forth?

                    Well if you’re assuming the Spaniards are operating under a socialist system, no. But then with a profit motive… seems like some spaniard would have realized, “Dude, untapped market!” and set up shop in the new world to instruct his middlemen to spread the vaccine to places the guy can’t reach yet. Shame that rich, greedy bastard for saving all those people.

                    But silly me for thinking that SOME effort might have helped save SOME more lives than the nothing that was done. Yeah, what foolish reality am I living in.

            • Ted Seeber

              Whatever happened to “economics is not a zero sum game”?

              • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

                1) So do you agree or not?
                2) It isn’t, but economists don’t deny that something used in one place means it can’t be used in another.

                But that’s a whole other topic. First we have to get people mastering the basics, then we can move on.

                • Ted Seeber

                  If economics is not a zero sum game, then producing a surplus of medical care is as easy as deciding to produce a surplus of medical care.

                  If economics is not a zero sum game, then starvation is only a matter of politics and distribution of production.

                  You can’t have it both ways. If health care is scarce, then it is artificially scarce.

                  • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

                    Oh I see, you’re confusing the economic definition of scarce with the dictionary definition.

                    (though I and a lot of others will agree with you that healthcare is artificially restricted by government interference with the marketplace, but again, basics first)

                    • Ted Seeber

                      Not just government interference in the market, but also the market’s interference in the delivery of what should be basic charity. Economic scarcity is almost always not true scarcity, but rather invented scarcity to keep prices high.

                      I’d love to see both the market and the government taken out of this and the system returned to the monks and nuns.

        • Ted Seeber

          Medical care does not have to be a scarce good. Everything used in medicine can be grown in surplus; the only real scarcity in medicine is new innovative genius. And with 7 billion people on the planet, exactly how scarce is genius anymore?

          Scarcity is zero-sum economics writ large; it is an invention of the system, not an automatic part of the system.

          • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

            No, the system is a reaction to scarcity. Once something is no longer scarce, there is no need for the system. (Hence why there isn’t any economics around “breathable air”.)

            And EVERYTHING in medicine can be grown in surplus? So the plastics and metals used in the tools are grown now? (why just the other day I drove by the metal farm…)

            • Ted Seeber

              “(Hence why there isn’t any economics around “breathable air”.)”

              http://www.cpap.com

              I know because I’m a captive consumer of that industry. And near as I can tell, I’m paying about a 900% markup for supplies, since my insurance company won’t pay but others will.

              I am now considering ways to manufacture my own filters.

              • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

                Ted, do you hook up oxygen tanks to those? Because my parents don’t. It’s not supplying you with breathable air any more than a water pump means you’re paying for water.

                (and oxygen tanks don’t count either because those are pure oxygen and not a mix of the gases we breathe from the atmosphere)

            • Ted Seeber

              Oh, and as for metal farms:
              http://earthfix.opb.org/flora-and-fauna/article/how-a-nickel-mining-scheme-brought-an-invasive-flo/
              That’s a bit of a negative example though. Plastics I’ve got a better link for:
              http://www.bioplastics.com/

      • The Deuce

        Health care is *always* based on the ability to pay. *Always*. It doesn’t just pop out of nowhere. Somebody has to produce it, so somebody has to pay for it.

        It can’t possibly be an inalienable right in the sense that free speech or freedom of religion are. I don’t know if Pope Benedict meant to imply otherwise, but if so he’s wrong. You have those things naturally unless somebody takes them from you (hence they’re inalienable). You don’t have health care naturally unless someone provides it and pays for it, and that requires that they be able to do so.

        • http://coalitionforclarity.blogspot.com/ Robert King

          Not in the sense that freedom of speech or religion are, but in the sense that food and clothing and shelter are fundamental human rights. So there’s no necessary reason the government has to provide health care; but part of the role of government is to protect people’s access to health care, and make sure that the health care available is sufficient to meet people’s basic needs.

    • http://disputations.blogspot.com Tom K.

      Do you think it is not the moral responsibility of nations to guarantee access to health care for all of their citizens, regardless of social and economic status or their ability to pay?

      • CJ

        No I do not. I think it is the moral responsibility of people of goodwill acting through churches and benevolent associations.

        The reality of finite resources means rationing must come into play if the government gurantees healthcare regardless of ability to pay. I don’t trust government to do this in any sort of non-wicked way over the long term. If by “guarantee access” you mean “get out of the churches’ way so that they can fulfill their mission” then yeah, I guess so. But no, I don’t believe in anything like Obamacare or any sort of single payer system.

        • Dan

          Dude, the reality of finite resources means that rationing must come into play. FULL STOP. It doesn’t matter who’s providing the financing. The question then is, what is the most equitable way to provide financing so that people don’t get frozen out of basic health services?

          • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

            Yes, exactly! The real question is what trade offs are we willing to accept.

          • Ted Seeber

            The real question should be: Do we have finite resources?

    • http://distributistreview.com/ David

      Catholic. Still free to agree with B XVI when he’s right and disagree when he’s wrong.

      Health care is absolutely a right. Catholics are free to disagree with the best and most just way to fulfill that right. The pope calling for governments to establish universal health care is not an infallible declaration. The current system in various countries is wrong. Government certainly has a role in achieving the common good.

      http://distributistreview.com/mag/2010/09/distributism-and-health-care-reform-iii/

  • Scott

    I”m quite certain that just like our politicians, the Holy Father never read Obamacare either .

    • Andy, Bad Person

      He didn’t say Obamacare is an inalienable right. He said access to health care is. This is why most Republicans’ opposition to OC troubles me. I agree with their opposition to the bill, but if it were ever overturned, they would have no alternative to it, and we need something to change on the health care front.

      • Andy

        I agreed – OC is not the answer, but returning to nothing worse than OC. When medical care became a business instead of a human service it went of its rails – let me rephrase when Health Insurance became a money maker it went of its rails.

        • http://hezekiahgarrett.wordpress.com Hezekiah Garrett

          When health insurance became a substitute for wages, maybe?

          if we hadn’t instituted wage controls in WWII, we would not have the health insurance system we are stuck with.

          • Andy

            I am not sure I would blame it on the wage controls – I think that the moment people found they could make a profit by controlling a service/good that medical care became expensive. The profit motive that seems to drive America blesses this type of activity – market forces and all that.
            It seems to me that this is one of those times when Catholic SOcial Teaching would welcome the government in providing health care for all.
            I look at our current system and we have the best end of life care, but not so much in preventative care, we have some of the best if not the best in elective surgeons, but try to find a surgeon for a basic operation –
            I do not have an answer I am puzzled and worried. My son and his significant other are expecting a child – my son works two jobs, his significant other works one and they cannot afford insurance. Surely there is a problem -

        • http://www.rosariesforlife.com Dave

          Why does the federal government have to do everything? Could not states do it? Could not HOSPITALS do it? Oh no, but that would mean putting a dent in the sacred profit margin!!! We can’t have that!! I’m more or less with Hezekiah on this one.

          As long as profit is the most sacred motive in our society, we are going to keep going downhill.

          I would also note that the Pope is asking for ADEQUATE care for all, not necessarily complete equality of care across the board, which is impossible.

    • Ted Seeber

      Obamacare isn’t universal health care- it is just a set of regulations designed to get 30 million people who don’t currently have health insurance to be required to buy health insurance at great personal cost.

  • http://disputations.blogspot.com Tom K.

    If you think the Pope’s repeating himself, the story refers to a conference held in November 2010. The papal message is here:

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/letters/2010/documents/hf_ben-xvi_let_20101115_op-sanitari_en.html

    • Dan C

      This would not be the first time on this matter either. He has repeated himself. This is important to him.

      • http://hezekiahgarrett.wordpress.com Hezekiah Garrett

        Do you have a career, or a calling? Do most of your colleagues share your view?

        No gotchas, I am curious, in light of my own criticisms of western ‘medicine’.

  • http://disputations.blogspot.com Tom K.

    This, I think, is the bit in Pope Benedict’s 2010 message that Americans in particular need to wrestle with: “In the health-care sector too, which is an integral part of everyone’s life and of the common good, it is important to establish a real distributive justice which, on the basis of objective needs, guarantees adequate care to all.”

    Step 1, I guess, is for Americans to figure out what “distributive justice” is. Step 2 is to figure out whether health care is a matter of distributive justice. Step 3 is to figure out the implications of the fact that health care is a matter of distributive justice. Step 4 is to change the nation’s health care system in accordance with those implications.

    • ivan_the_mad

      Tom, can you refer me to anything regarding steps 3 or 4? I’d be very interested.

      • http://disputations.blogspot.com Tom K.

        Steps 3 and 4 have to do with actually doing something, and so lie outside my wheelhouse.

        Perhaps the proceedings of the conference at which the papal message was read would have something: http://books.google.com/books/about/Caritas_in_Veritate.html?id=jAxYtwAACAAJ

        My one thought on Step 3 is this: If health care is a matter of distributive justice, then health care providers are also a means by which the community acts in justice toward its members. To me, this suggests a much stronger bond between health care providers, as a group, and the community, as a subject, than I think a lot of people have in mind; doctors in private practice, for example, would have a role in providing distributive justice that, say, shopkeepers do not.

        • ivan_the_mad

          Thanks for that, I’ll make an effort to obtain the text of that this evening. If it contains anything that speaks to steps 3 and 4, I’ll drop you a line.

      • http://hezekiahgarrett.wordpress.com Hezekiah Garrett

        Proverbs says the physician is to be respected because he is paid by the king for the good of all.

        I think the real implications of Tom’s step 3 would first be accepting that if keeping everyone innoculated properly, with access to physicians and apothecarists for access to basic care like antibiotics and palliative care, stitches and casts also requires that we not build or maintain a single MRI or CT machine, then so be it.

        If the few can’t have the state of the art without denying the basics in healthcare to the masses, tough titty. People live with aches and pains and cancer.

        • Mercury

          Yeah, let’s just let cancer patients die. Good idea. Why not just have the government just provide enough band-aids and let the chips fall where they may?

  • Linda C.

    A universal system in a country which was not invested in, and run by, “culture of death” advocates, I would have no problem with (I suspect the Holy Father would not, either). Obamacare as it stands, or a government-run system equally based on population control (what did you think all that free-contraception/sterilization/abortifacients was about?) and rationing of care to elderly/disabled, no. In the US, the people who would design and run a government health care system cannot be trusted. I would welcome options which wouldn’t force the population into “culture-of-death-care”, however.

    • Rosemarie

      +J.M.J+

      Thank you. I’m not opposed to giving everyone access to health care but “Obamacare” just has too much wrong with it, particularly the fact that it’s saturated in the culture of death. We need a better plan.

    • http://hezekiahgarrett.wordpress.com Hezekiah Garrett

      That is as true of Democrats as Republicans, sadly. Your leaders simply can’t be trusted to effect justice. That’s not an indictment of all cultures, just yours.

      • InsaneSanity

        Ah, it’s an indictment of all cultures. There is no leader that can be completely trusted to enact justice consistently.

  • Dan C

    Care costs money. Safety systems, efficiency, talented skilled providers will cost money. The myth of cost savings is ridiculous. It costs less to allow the chronically ill to die than to assist them. Keeping the chronically ill alive is costly. We currently choose the former option of permitting the poor and chronically ill to die.

    It has been the choice for decades.

    Health care, as a universal right,cannot therefore be governed by market solutions which are based on supply, demand, and assures (as a market) some will have an unmet demand.

    Any thought that we do not ration health care intentionally today is deliberate ignorance.

    • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

      Any thought that we do not ration health care intentionally today is deliberate ignorance.

      That’s not what is denied. Only that the market’s method of rationing is more free and humane than any other method of rationing.

      Health care, as a universal right,cannot therefore be governed by market solutions which are based on supply, demand, and assures (as a market) some will have an unmet demand.

      And yet you just admitted that care costs money. So where are you going to get the money, care, supplies, workers, etc? Is the pope going to take 5 vials and 2 syringes and treat the 5,000? Because I find basing policy on miracles to be dubious at best.

      • http://disputations.blogspot.com Tom K.

        If Pope Benedict is right in saying that guaranteeing adequate care to all is a matter of distributive justice, then the money to provide adequate care to all comes from the people who have more money than they need, who are bound in justice to pay.

        • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

          And is that money infinite? Then guess what: it won’t be enough.

          Besides, how are you defining “what they need”? Should they be able to provide for their own (and their family’s) health care first and then provide money left over for the health care of others?

          We call that the free market and charity.

          • http://disputations.blogspot.com Tom K.

            I refer again to Step 1: figure out what “distributive justice” is.

          • Richard Johnson

            “And is that money infinite? Then guess what: it won’t be enough.”

            Will it not be enough because God cannot provide enough? Or will it not be enough because those to whom God has given such provision will choose greed over benevolence?

            • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

              So are the rich blessed by God now or are they wicked minions of Satan who have cheated their way to prosperity? I can’t keep it straight any more what the status of the rich on this blog are.

              Why are the rich, rich? Do you believe that mana from heaven falls on them? Considering how often many commentators want to get rid of usury and other factors that make people rich, spontaneous conjuration is going to be the only workable policy left. It’s all comes off as rather condemning the farmer for actually studying plants and weather to get the best yield possible instead of just believing that “God will provide”. He told us not to worry, He didn’t tell us to be intellectually lazy.

              • Richard Johnson

                “Why are the rich, rich? Do you believe that mana from heaven falls on them?”

                If wealth (and all other things we deem as “good”) do not come ultimately from a gracious and benevolent Heavenly Father, where do they come from? And if they do, in fact, come from the Father, then what should we do with them?

                Was the early church in Acts incorrect to sell all they had and take care of each other from the proceeds, regardless of their status? Or should the more well-off in that church have taken your position, that if the wealth is not properly guarded it would not last to meet the needs of the people who earned it?

                • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

                  If wealth (and all other things we deem as “good”) do not come ultimately from a gracious and benevolent Heavenly Father, where do they come from? And if they do, in fact, come from the Father, then what should we do with them?

                  In an ultimate sense (all things come from the Father), then yes. But to quote John C Wright:

                  Socialism is an inarticulate harpy-scream of hatred at the nature of reality and at the curse of Adam, which requires men to sweat for their bread.

                  Was the early church in Acts incorrect to sell all they had and take care of each other from the proceeds, regardless of their status?

                  If they did not bother working further, then eventually they ran out of money and starved. Considering that Paul told them to continue to work and earn, I’m guessing they put in some efforts to continue revenue flow.

                  Or should the more well-off in that church have taken your position, that if the wealth is not properly guarded it would not last to meet the needs of the people who earned it?

                  Hmm… what did Jesus say in Luke?

                  “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’

                  But then we’re not told the details of how they worked together, but I’m pretty sure they had a budget.

                  • Richard Johnson

                    So how about we explore ways to change spending priorities in the nation rather than simply say “well, there will never be enough money” and let it go? What would you say to a woman who honestly believes that she cannot afford to carry her unborn child to term, and instead is heading to get an abortion? Will you counsel her about faith in God to provide for our needs? Will you counsel her about the preciousness of life made in God’s image? Or are you actually willing to dip into your own resources to help her carry that child to term and see it adopted by a family that can care for him/her?

                    In other words, Nate…should we be pro-life only as long as it doesn’t require us to examine how we, as a nation of people, spend our resources? Or should we take the radical approach to actually examine how we steward the vineyard we have been entrusted in our Master’s absence?

                    I refuse to accept your paradigm that life must be limited by the science of economics. I’m sorry the god you worship cannot overcome that. The God I worship can, and does, and therefore I am willing to push limits and challenge the status quo.

                    • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

                      I will answer your question if you can answer mine:
                      Two women are having difficult pregnancies and both have gone into labor at the same time. Only one OB/GYN doctor is available. How do you determine which mother gets the doctor’s assistance?

                      And no, praying that God bends the laws of time and space to allow the doctor to be in two places at once is not a valid answer.

          • Ted Seeber

            Fiat currency is, for all intents and purposes infinite. But you don’t need a currency to create a separate market with different rules.

    • Richard Johnson

      “Health care, as a universal right,cannot therefore be governed by market solutions which are based on supply, demand, and assures (as a market) some will have an unmet demand.”

      And as a result, abortions will happen. After all, it’s cheaper to kill the baby than to give birth to him/her. And in a market economy that concedes that not all will have access to healthcare the right to life only exists to those who can afford it. Given the growing levels of poverty in our nation and the reluctance of those who have been blessed with resources to share them, then I guess we should just fold up shop in the pro-life community and give in to the reality that healthcare is a scarce resource and there is nothing that we, who live in the richest nation in history (from a material standpoint) can do about it.

      Oh…I’m sorry. Forgive me for interrupting your rant about the culture of death in this nation with a silly reference to the culture of mammon. As you were, folks.

    • http://hezekiahgarrett.wordpress.com Hezekiah Garrett

      You mean, don’t you Dan, that everyone will get the basics met, and the Astors and Carnegies might have to accept the fact that even they can’t afford organ transplants after meeting all the needs justice demands?

    • The Deuce

      Health care, as a universal right,cannot therefore be governed by market solutions which are based on supply, demand, and assures (as a market) some will have an unmet demand.

      It is physical reality itself, not “market solutions,” that is governed by supply and demand, and that assures that some will have unmet demand. The Soviet Union could not do away with the laws of supply and demand with wishful thinking, and neither can you.

      • http://coalitionforclarity.blogspot.com/ Robert King

        Supply is determined by physical reality. Demand is a product of human society.

        Part of the problem with “market solutions” is that they assume absolute ownership of goods. But the Church assumes that ownership is shorthand for stewardship (called the Universal Destination of Goods), and that all of us – private individuals and public officials alike – have a certain responsibility for the common good of the community.

        So the “demands” of Justice are at play here, as well as the demands of buyers and sellers. This has to be factored into any “market” or “game-theory” analysis.

  • http://www.thrippleton.net John Thrippleton

    I see the Holy Father’s point, but let’s be clear on what is said. He said that ‘nations’ have the responsibility to provide this. This does not necessarily mean the government. The problem with the government providing universal health care is the power that comes with it. Those who pay the bills (and in a truly altruistic society I guess provide the resources), are the ones who get to make the decisions. Those decisions should be made in the smallest, most local part of the community, not at the national level. If we are a nation with a government for the people and of the people, then we as Americans must provide this to our neighbor. We are the nation. The Pope is saying it is our responsibility to provide this to our fellow citizens.

    • ivan_the_mad

      I’d only object to say that it does not preclude government involvement, if the obligation cannot be met at more basic levels of society.

      • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

        And how well does government tolerate competition? Don’t we often say that Ceaser is a jealous god?

    • http://hezekiahgarrett.wordpress.com Hezekiah Garrett

      That’s not subsidiarity, john, but a parody.

  • Mercury

    I asked this over on FB, but I’ll repeat it here:
    Of course, there is a difference between ensuring all citizens have access to affordable health care and having governments be the ones to provide that health care. And given that almost all governments that provide health care also provide universal abortion and contraception, and in this country we’re having it forced upon us, shouldn’t we be careful of putting too much into Caesar’s hands?

    Anyway, Mark, would you agree that there is a difference between universal guarantee of health coverage and care (a la Germany and I think France) and universal, one-size-fits all, bureaucratically run single-payer government care (UK, Canada, etc.)?

    I agree that universal coverage and care is a must. It’s WHO should do it that I am leery about.

    • http://hezekiahgarrett.wordpress.com Hezekiah Garrett

      None of those countries you list have abortion laws nearly as liberal as ours. This country very nearly leads the world in what it will call legal killing.

      • Mercury

        I’m no saying out system limits abortion, but that in other countries, having people pay for abortion and contraception as a routine part of “health care” is par for the course. Germans are perplexed that US Catholics are even worked up about the HHS mandate, because they have had such as date for a long time now.

        In a culture of death such as ours, you can bet your ass that as soon as any universal health care is passed, we will all being providing the very best in “reproductive health care.”

    • http://hezekiahgarrett.wordpress.com Hezekiah Garrett

      In fact, trading our current abortion regime for the regimes of any European country would represent a reduction in the number and types of abortions allowed. And isn’t that why Rmoney is better than the Won?

    • http://sperolaus.com David R

      Absolutely the right questions to pose, Mercury. You are getting at the *means* of achieving the end of universal access. And there’s more too…

      “moral responsibility of nations to guarantee access to health care for all of their citizens, regardless of social and economic status or their ability to pay.”

      Addressing first the second half: In principle, an individual’s status has no bearing on whether they are granted healthcare access. Easy enough to understand.

      The first half is far more interesting though: The one word to focus on is ACCESS. What was the Pope certainly not saying? He was not saying that people have an inalienable right to health CARE, to treatment. Why was this not his message? Because it would violate individual rights. One possessing medical training does not, by virtue of her training, make herself a slave, from whom anyone may demand CARE, her services. If Treatment is an inalienable right, then I cannot be denied when I demand that a doctor, any doctor, treat me. All doctors, PAs, LPNs, etc. would be stripped of their rights and human dignity.

      ACCESS here means OPPORTUNITY. I have access to a pc at this moment. I also have access to the internet. The *opportunity* is ever-present for me to utilize the pc and the internet as I do this moment. ACCESS to healthcare means the opportunity to receive healthcare. The opportunity is created by a set of circumstances. In the case of healthcare, having a hospital down the street means that I do have ACCESS. Physical isolation could compromise access. ACCESS has the potential to be compromised by a provider’s refusal to allow someone to be seen without proof of ability to pay–this would be wrong.

      However, every individual doctor can refuse to see whomever he pleases. If I wish to have only 50 patients that I ever see; I’m not morally in the wrong for that. Now I would be in the wrong if I limited myself to only 50 patients when in the midst of a catastrophe with very few doctors around. Object, intention, and circumstances together determine the morality of a thing. The inalienable right to ACCESS that the Pope spoke of is about nations doing what they can to address the circumstances that are determinative of Opportunity.

      • http://disputations.blogspot.com Tom K.

        I think David’s take here is pretty clearly in tension with what the Pope certainly did say about the need to “establish a real distributive justice which, on the basis of objective needs, guarantees adequate care to all.”

        • http://sperolaus.com David R

          And I think you are taking that quote out of context to use as a proof-text.

          http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/letters/2010/documents/hf_ben-xvi_let_20101115_op-sanitari_en.html

          • http://disputations.blogspot.com Tom K.

            What do you think I am using the text as proof of?

        • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

          I think that the left’s obsession with “healthcare is a right” is in tension with the Pope’s admonition to not make a “cult of the body”. We long ago established access to healthcare to the level the Pope seems to be talking about. The left is, as it has often in the past, appropriating concepts, twisting them to their own convenience, and fooling honest christians into following their false flag. Don’t get fooled. Meditate on both concepts (cult of the body and access to healthcare) and figure out what they mean. It’ll be a lot healthier spiritually than to pick and choose parts of the Pope’s message.

          • http://disputations.blogspot.com Tom K.

            Why should I pick the part of the Pope’s message that you choose for me? He talks about quite a bit more than the cult of the body and access to health care.

            • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

              Feel free to absorb as much as you can. Don’t imagine I’m trying to stop you. Anything’s better than the one dimensionality of your analysis so far so I’m looking forward to the improvement.

              • http://disputations.blogspot.com Tom K.

                You;re an adult. Why are you playing a dormitory wit on the Internet?

  • Adam L

    I think it’s rather obvious that healthcare is a scarce good and that a consequence of this is the necessity of some means of rationing. The issue then is not whether or not healthcare is rationed, but rather the method of rationing. My question then, is on what basis do we conclude that a centralized method of rationing is preferable to a decentralized one?

    • http://disputations.blogspot.com Tom K.

      Let me again quote from the 2010 papal message:

      “The joint effort of all is required, but also and above all a profound conversion of one’s inner orientation. Only if one looks at the world with the Creator’s gaze, which is a loving gaze, will humanity learn to dwell on earth in peace and justice, allocating the earth and its resources justly to every man and every woman, for their good.”

      If the foundation of our thinking about healthcare is economics or politics, then we aren’t thinking clearly.

      • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

        If the foundation of our thinking about healthcare is economics or politics, then we aren’t thinking clearly.

        The foundation of economics is the Reality upon which we find ourselves:

        Scarcity is the defining characteristic of the material world, the inescapable fact that gives rise to economics. So long as we live in this lacrimarum valle, there will be no paradise. There will be less of everything than would be used if all goods were superabundant. This is true regardless of how prosperous or poor a society is; insofar as material things are finite, they will need to be distributed through some rational system — not one designed by anyone, but one that emerges in the course of exchange, production, and economization. This is the core of the economic problem that economic science seeks to address.

        So to say we must reject economics as the “foundation” of our thinking is to say we must reject reality and… I guess live in our own dream world? Of course, just because we ignore it, doesn’t mean it’s going to go away.

        • http://hezekiahgarrett.wordpress.com Hezekiah Garrett

          Economics is science?

          I see your particular foundational error now.

          • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

            And you wonder about my evangelical is to evolution what catholicism to economics joke.

            Yes, it is a science. All your complaining won’t change that.

            • Irenist

              Economics is a science in the antique sense that, like metaphysics or theology, it is an organized field of human knowledge and useful heuristics. It is not an exact physical science in the modern colloquial usage of the term, anymore than is sociology or “political science”: humans’ resource allocation is subject to a certain degree of prediction and control (higher prices lead to lower consumption; rent control is counterproductive; etc.), humans are not clockwork and will confound those (like Wall St. quants modeling securitized mortgages) attempting to model our behavior with equations. The problem with the rhetoric of “economics as science” is the temptation to look only under its limited lamppost for insight into human resource-allocation behavior.

              • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

                Yes, I will agree that some people can make too much of economics (just like evolution too). You’re point about economics as science would be pertinent if I was some science fetishist that believed science was the be-all/end-all. Yet my concern is no more than those that say biology should be considered when discussing medicine. Ignoring the problems won’t make them go away.

                Otherwise the discussion almost comes off like listening to a bunch of people tell someone with a cold that they need to have leeches applied. Meanwhile someone (like me or mercury or the others) goes, “guys, according to my biology textbook, I don’t think leeches will make the person well.”

                Yes, not every human is the same and there will be outliers here and there. But none of that changes the averages or the whole of human history that’s proven otherwise.

                • Irenist

                  Well, if all you’re saying is that economics should be considered when we’re discussing resource allocation, you’ll get no argument from me.

                  • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

                    *raises a glass to Irenist*

                    Yet, see elsewhere on the thread, apparently bringing up that it maybe should be considered constitutes “worship” for some people. ;) Like my first post said:

                    “But medical care is a scarce good so you’ll have to base it on something (pay, lottery, first-come/first-serve, powerful-first, etc). …What method do you consider to be less monstrous and why?”

                    So far, Jaime R has been the only one to actually provide something of an answer.

        • http://disputations.blogspot.com Tom K.

          ‘So to say we must reject economics as the “foundation” of our thinking is to say we must reject reality’

          You think economics is more real than God?

          • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

            Do you believe that the law of the conservation of mass is more real than God? Can you create something from nothing?

            Or do you accuse every physicist as somehow not believing in God?

            • ivan_the_mad

              It is a science on the older and broader meaning of the word, i.e. it is a large body of knowledge, treated systematically, from which we can deduce generalizations. It is not science in the newer, narrower sense, e.g. orbital mechanics. For contemporary usage, it might be best to say that it is a social science, which lumps it in with things like sociology and psychology rather than optics and inorganic chemistry.

              Economics does not provide laws of the same general power and purpose as physics. Please understand this difference before you go into hysterics.

              • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

                Yes. It. Does.

                It is only partially a social science and it does provide laws with the same power as physics (if not more). Though why you would think they would be the same purpose is beyond me. (If it was for the same purpose then it would be… physics!)

                Maybe you should try understanding, before trying to provide someone with the full wealth of your ignorance.

                • ivan_the_mad

                  I see that you do not understand what I wrote.

                • Irenist

                  “It is only partially a social science and it does provide laws with the same power as physics (if not more).”
                  Economics studies the allocative behavior of the smartest primates on this one planet; much of it, like the recent excellent work in behavioral economics, is very rooted in the irrationalities bequeathed us by original sin as transmitted to us through our own particular evolutionary heritage as primates. Physics studies the energetic interactions of all matter in the cosmos; its results are broader.

                  Although some theoretical results of economics (e.g., those derived from game theory) seem to me to be deductive truths of universal application, they are almost all truths relating to the theoretical behavior of an entirely rational homo economicus. With the exception of Lucifer and his minions, I am not aware of real world instances of human or angelic persons known to have acted entirely from the principles of homo economicus throughout their lives. Thus, while the useful empirical discoveries of behavioral economics are parochial, the universal deductions of game-theoreticians reasoning about homo economicus are impractical (save when forced to interact with the diabolical).

                  • ivan_the_mad

                    Excellent. Would that I possessed a fifth of your patience or mind.

                    • Irenist

                      I am honored to have your approval, Ivan.

                  • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

                    See what I said above.

                    Or to use another metaphor: acknowledging that the law of gravity exist doesn’t mean I object to flying. I’m just wondering what the plan is to deal with it.

            • http://disputations.blogspot.com Tom K.

              Of course I believe God is more real than the law of the conservation of mass. Don’t you?

              If that’s too obscure: Your assertion, “to say we must reject economics as the ‘foundation’ of our thinking is to say we must reject reality,” is false. Your implication that to make the love God has for His creation the foundation of our thinking is to live in our own dream world is anti-Christian.

              • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

                So let me see if I can follow this here.

                If I take this ball of led and use a focused explosion to propel it at another person’s head, the observation that the physics of the universe will cause the lead to kill the other person, makes me anti-Christian. Because God loves His creation so surely He wouldn’t make it so that one person might be harmed by another.

                How did George MacDonald put it…

                Regard that word changed. The whole matter lies in that. Changed from what? From what God had made it. Changed into what? Into what he did not make it. Why changed? Because the Son was hungry, and the Father would not feed him with food convenient for him! The Father did not give him a stone when he asked for bread. It was Satan that brought the stone and told him to provide for himself. The Father said, That is a stone. The Son would not say, That is a loaf. No one creative fiat shall contradict another. The Father and the Son are of one mind. The Lord could hunger, could starve, but would not change into another thing what his Father had made one thing.

          • Adam L

            Why are you assuming that recognizing economic reality amounts to a rejection of God? We don’t want to be fideists after all.

            • http://disputations.blogspot.com Tom K.

              “Why are you assuming that recognizing economic reality amounts to a rejection of God?”

              I am not. Why is Nate assuming that founding our thinking on God’s love for His creation amounts to rejecting reality and living in our own dream?

              • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

                Because it is only in my dreams that I can conjure something from nothing.

                Can you do it here and now? If so, then I take it back, our health care problems are solved, Tom K will summon up all the supplies we need.

                • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

                  Unless Tom K can also whip up unlimited doctors at the same time, a horn of plenty pouring out medical supplies will not be enough. The socialists above still want to enslave my wife and others in her profession. Our current half-socialized system has engineered a shortage.

                  • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

                    True, but we have to take baby steps with these people. ;)

      • Adam L

        I think it would be imprudent NOT to consider the economic realities of the situation regarding healthcare. We can say that healthcare is a good and that we want everyone to have it, but that does not tell us how we are to go about accomplishing that. Either healthcare is a scarce good, in which case it is subject to economic law, or it isn’t. We can’t escape this fact.

        By the way, I would add that making the provision of healthcare a function of the state necessarily turns it into a political issue.

        • http://disputations.blogspot.com Tom K.

          I completely agree.

          But providing basic healthcare is not *fundamentally* a matter of economics or of politics. It is fundamentally a matter of justice, and it is only love for the other, actively willing his good, that will sustain us in supporting our economists and politicians as they wrestle with the economic and political issues of a just distribution of health care.

          • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

            Our economists and politicians provide a just distribution of health care only if our doctors and our nurses are their slaves. What a twisted world you seem to inhabit.

            • http://disputations.blogspot.com Tom K.

              “Health care is fundamentally a matter of justice.”

              “What a twisted world you seem to inhabit.”

              Right.

              • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

                Since you don’t usually come down on the pro-slavery side and you seem to have doubled down with this distortion of what I’m saying let’s make it perfectly clear, you can’t get enough doctors in practice to work for the wages universal systems can provide to treat everybody in a 1st class fashion. We’re just not rich enough. You have to limit treatments, limit access (both a priori excluded) or draft doctors. You seem to be ok with that. Shame on you.

                • http://disputations.blogspot.com Tom K.

                  You are making a number of false inferences about my opinions.

      • Mercury3

        Tom, how many world governments look at it from that perspective? The pope seems to be speaking of a context where the people in power are committed Christians.

        In reality, most people are cynical materialists, and that is especially true of government officials. Government-controlled healthcare provides a very strong incentive to make sure that defective babies aren’t born or that grandma does her part for society and dies.

        It also provides an incentive for government to meddle into what we eat, what kind of recreation we enjoy, how many children we have, etc. No, a government guided by the principles elucidated in the Catechism would not be so oppressive, but show me a government anywhere in the world that is guided by such principles.

        I think the best way to go is how they do it in in Germany and other countries – all doctors and health care providers are private, but government makes sure they are recouped fro any losses incurred by taking on people with preexisting conditions, poor people, etc. What you end up with is universal coverage, but out of the hands of government officials.

        • http://hezekiahgarrett.wordpress.com Hezekiah Garrett

          Thats all true of insurance controlled healthcare as well. Do you oppose it as vociferously? or do you enjoy the cheap access and screw the dying?

          • Adam L

            I can’t speak for Mercury3, but I know that I am opposed to the current system as well. It’s a corporatist system and not truly free market. The advantage of a decentralized market system is twofold: (1) Whatever the motivations of the persons, at least in a market system they are forced to compete against each other and (2) Without the profit/loss mechanism, there is no rational way for the state to allocate scarce resources.

            As to your last question, it strikes me as strange. If healthcare is genuinely cheap, then it’s widely available to everyone. If however healthcare is “cheap” because government imposed price controls, then in that situation there will be shortages, and healthcare will only be available to those with political connections.

          • Mercury

            Why don’t you do me a favor and not assume things before commenting? Where on earth did I idicate that the current system was without its problems, or that the insurance system is great?

            Obviously an ideal system would be one in which private citizens could affor to pay private doctors for their services, without breaking the bank. And I anyone is opposed to THAT, perhaps we need to tackle that whole buying-food-from-farmers thing.

        • http://disputations.blogspot.com Tom K.

          “Tom, how many world governments look at it from that perspective? The pope seems to be speaking of a context where the people in power are committed Christians.”

          Then we’d better get cracking.

          • Mercury

            True. We’d better. But don’t you see that giving all power over life and death in a country that is ruled by a culture of death, giving it all to the state would be problematic?

            • http://disputations.blogspot.com Tom K.

              Yes, that’s a direct corollary of the Pope’s claim.

  • Geoff

    Sorry for jumping the queue but this annoys me when I see it:

    Universal access to health care does not equate to free healthcare or “universal coverage”. In the United States we already have laws that say hospitals cannot turn away anyone with severe or life threatening issues due to inability to pay so I would argue that we already have universal access of a sort.

    Which does not mean that I believe everyone has universal access to, say, general practitioners that would prevent serious or life threatening issues from arising. This is where we need to reevaluate how we do things. Principally in tort reform that will drive down prices in the health care industry overall including insurance and HMOs. This would allow more people access to preventative care and decrease the total cost lifetime for health care across the board.

    I completely agree with Pope Benedict that we as a nation have a moral obligation to ensure universal access, I do not agree with your initial assertion (as I read your initial assertion) that we as a nation have a moral obligation to provide free (or subsidized) health care.

    Anyone, thats just one mans opinion.

    Geoff

    • Mercury3

      If I were a Congressman, I would be tempted to vote against ANY healthcare reform that does not address the insane American tort system – it should be destroyed once and for all. Of course, all of our faithful public servants belong to the lawyer tribe, so fat chance of that EVER happening.

      • http://hezekiahgarrett.wordpress.com Hezekiah Garrett

        So you support increased government regulation? Or you support letting the strong do as they will and the rest to suffer what they must?

        Tort is the method in opposition to government regulation. Either regulations spell out what you can and can’t do, or I get to sue you when you wrong me. Both isn’t neccessary, but it is one or the other.

        • Mercury

          Okay, I said that wrong, so your righteous indignation and desire to score points with your witty reports are at least partially my fault.

          I obviously do not mean to get to of tort law entirely. What I mean is that system where litigation is free an easy and people who are sued can lose money and resources even when they win the case is a bs system. I mean, it’s not for nothing that we are know for being a nation of frivolous lawsuits that can destroy a man even if he wins.

          • Mercury

            “witty ripostes”, I mean. And why do you assume that I woul be against all government regulation anyway?

        • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

          An observation that the american tort system is insane does not mean that one supports the law of the jungle. There are other systems out there. Take a look at the Indiana system of handling malpractice cases for an example of a decent compromise that preserves access to justice while getting rid of many false suits that are extortion in disguise. If all states were to get rid of jackpot justice in favor of similar compromises, we’d be better off. One of the ways society would improve would be better access to healthcare.

  • J

    My opinion is that guaranteeing universal coverage to everyone is impossible, and designing a system based on the idea that it IS possible will inevitably be less effective than a system which reflects this reality. Of course I wish everyone could have flawless medical care from birth to death, but if you reach for that you’re going to fall flat on your face and let a lot of people down.

    I agree with those who point out that “nation” doesn’t necessarily equate to “government,” and that a good interpretation of the Pope’s words leaves open the possibility that the nation providing health care to as many citizens as it possibly can includes potentially non-governmental solutions. Indeed, I suspect that solutions which minimize government intervention will serve the people much better.

    …And it’s perfectly legitimate to point out that one can disagree with papal proclamations that aren’t made ex cathedra if one’s prudential judgment conflicts with the pope’s.

    Which isn’t to say that I don’t think the pre-Obamacare system didn’t need changes. Things really got messed up when health insurance became widespread and profitable.

    • Jamie R

      You realize the Europe isn’t Narnia, right? It’s a real place. You can go there. They have universal healthcare. Their universal healthcare is cheaper than medicare and medicaid. Universal healthcare would cut out combined public and private healthcare spending literally by about 50%. Your opinion may be that guaranteeing universal coverage is impossible, but as the very real nations of Europe demonstrate, it’s perfectly possible. It’s not just possible, it’s vastly by cheaper, by about $4500 per person.

      • Ingvar

        Isn’t Europe going through severe economic problems? I’m not just talking about Greece, but Spain and Italy as well. France also. Is there current healthcare system sustainable? Politically as well as economically? By politically sustainable I mean you can convince enough people that it’s a good thing and they should support it. Do you have a convincing case to present to those with the means to support it that indeed they should? I live in Ontario where we have currently have universal healthcare that mostly works. But I think you could easily make a case that it isn’t sustainable in its current form in the long run economically or politically. We are still running significant budget deficits. That cannot go on forever. I personally think that the system could be reformed to make it sustainable, but I don’t know what sacrifices we’d have to make to do that and whether or not one could convince enough people that the changes would be worth supporting.

        • Jamie R

          Their healthcare system is vastly cheaper than ours. The periphery nations are having economic problems because of bad fiscal policies. Their healthcare systems are probably the most sustainable parts of their entitlement system. Those with means to support universal healthcare should support it because they’ll each save $4,500 per year.

          • Mercury

            Most of those systems do guarantee universal coverage, but they are not single-payer or government-run.

            • Ingvar

              Ok, I need to get more informed. It hasn’t been a big issue for me because I’m Canadian (we use different language here, I’ve never seen the word “entitlements” used in a health care discussion here) and it’s always been there for me and no one is challenging it seriously here. I know there are looming problems but I haven’t needed to think about it beyond griping when I wait 8 hours in emerg at night before getting my busted nose x-rayed. I recognize that’s small potatoes even when the people lengthening my wait in that emerg may be sick because they’ve been on a steady diet of ice cream, booze and late night tv for the last 10 years, all enabled on my tax dollars. There but for the grace of God go I. I can’t complain.
              But this has been on of the best discussions of this issue I have ever read. It has crystallized lots of things I have felt but not been able to articulate and informed me about a lot of other things. The monkeysphere thing was interesting, as well as Aquinas allowing for the possibility of legalized prostitution (really his his reasons for allowing it), as well as clarifications on what our obligations are to each other. I would like at some point to look at what the biblical tradition says about this, especially in regards to the role of the state. I know something about the Jubilee years and the forgiveness of debts and land redistribution every 49 or so years, but I couldn’t tell you where in the Hebrew scriptures that is found. I’m going to save the whole discussion for later use and perusal.

              • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

                You may wish to inform yourself about Canadian health reform efforts. There have been several court cases regarding inadequacy of the Canadian system where the queues were so excessive they have been judged an illegal infringement of the right to care. Canada is likely to fully legalize private provision of care as a result but the whole thing is up in the air right now.

                *NO* first world nation has a fully funded health system that is sustainable. At the moment they are all creaking, if not headed full speed towards collapse.

            • Jamie R

              While each state has its own system, they all have systems that are universal, chiefly financed by the government, have total per capita healthcare expenditures vastly cheaper per capita than ours, and public health care that is about the same per capita as ours. The relative merits of, e.g., the English, German, and Swedish systems are beyond my paygrade.

              But what I do know is that most other economically developed nations have largely public financed, universal healthcare that is cheaper per capita than just our public healthcare, and vastly cheaper per capita than our public and private healthcare. For our added expense we get fewer doctors, beds, and nurses per capita, and are middling at best on other public health indicators, except on MRI and CT scans per capita, in which we lead the world.

              We could copy an existing European system and save an enormous amount of money. Universal coverage is not only possible, it’s vastly cheaper than non-universal coverage. It wouldn’t require people who were willing to make sacrifices. It would require people who were willing to save money.

              • Mercury

                Good points. I always liked the German/dutch system.

                There is a Constitutional issue of whether the federal government can impose any healthcare system on all the states (what would states even mean then?), but I do not understand why more states do not try to institute policies similar to certain European nations. Population-wise, the states are analogous to various European nations. THAT could be done.

                And if it works in one place, other states would do it. But states do exist, and they have prior rights in certain areas over the federal government.

                • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

                  I agree with you on states but I thought other states had been setting up other methods. (didn’t massachusetts implement a system?)

              • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

                For our added expense we get fewer doctors, beds, and nurses per capita, and are middling at best on other public health indicators, except on MRI and CT scans per capita, in which we lead the world.

                Not really. If you say… compare demographic to demographic. Well here points out that in Japan, the average LE is 78.6 while for a japanese living in America, the average life span is 79.7.

                And as far as I can tell (though it’s tough to find), that’s largely the case across any particular demographic or ethnicity.

                • Jamie R

                  So, let’s grant that our system isn’t actually worse than everyone else’s. It is still vastly more expensive: http://www.oecd.org/health/healthpoliciesanddata/BriefingNoteUSA2012.pdf.

                  So, even if we have the same quality system as other nations, we’re paying way more for it. At best, America and the rest of the developed world are all buying VW healthcare systems, but we’re paying for a Porsche.

                  • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

                    But… what if Americans want the Porsche?

                    “Yes, the best does cost more. You can always pay less and get less. But only by going through the government are you more likely to pay more and get less.”
                    -Thomas Sowell in 1993
                    (I recommend the whole thing, but if you’re interested in only cost/price, jump to around the 9 min mark)

                    Also, I notice here that the top ten destinations of medical tourism are:
                    Brazil, Costa Rica, India, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey

                    The only ones I could find on the charts you linked was… Mexico. So, if costs and care are so great in the socialists countries… why aren’t people going there for treatment?

                    • Jamie R

                      But we’re not getting a Porsche. Our results aren’t better. If you look at the second bar graph on the link, our combined health care expenditures per capita are considerably higher than other countries’. We spend more on Medicare and Medicaid for the poor and elderly than the UK spends on the whole NHS. Our life expectancy isn’t higher. Our morbidity rates aren’t lower. But we spend between almost twice is much to more than twice as much as any other economically developed country. Maybe we want the Porsche. That’s fine. If we, as a nation, want a Porsche, we can choose to buy one. BUT WE’RE NOT. We’re buying a Jetta at Targa prices. That’s just idiotic. Just because the best costs more doesn’t mean that something that costs more is the best.

                      America is also not a top ten medical tourism site. Are you saying Thailand has a better medical system than ours? Because that would be bizarre. I don’t think medical tourism is a good measure of how good a country’s healthcare system is. It is a good measure of how willing doctors are to do surgeries for rich people. I think things like life expectancy, morbidity from communicable diseases, etc. are pretty good measures of a healthcare system. Tourism isn’t.

                    • Jamie R

                      Also, under socialized / public universal healthcare, it doesn’t make any sense to pay for medical tourism. Why should German taxpayers pay for people to take vacations to Germany for expensive surgery? That would waste the efficiencies gained by their system over ours.

                      On the other hand, our system is so expensive that no sane person would come here for medical tourism, unless they really enjoy paying more than necessary.

                    • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

                      Our life expectancy isn’t higher. Our morbidity rates aren’t lower. But we spend between almost twice is much to more than twice as much as any other economically developed country.

                      Like I said earlier, life expectancy is higher if you compare apples to apples.

                      Mormons in Utah have a higher life expectancy than many of those nations you list. So what policy in Utah do you support going nationwide to increase life expectancy? Or, if there are no results (or worse results) from America’s system, how then can we have a population that’s living longer than all the others that are “getting better care”?

                      Also, with our morbidity rates, are you factoring in immigration?

                      Quite frankly, your assumptions are all based on cooked figures.

                      On the other hand, our system is so expensive that no sane person would come here for medical tourism, unless they really enjoy paying more than necessary.

                      Except the link I provided said:

                      What other destinations are starting to get attention?
                      China, Puerto Rico, United Arab Emirates, United States

                    • Jamie R

                      Starting to get attention isn’t the same as being in the top ten, and medical tourism doesn’t indicate how great a country’s healthcare system is. Thailand is popular for sex tourism. Should we pattern our criminal law system off theirs? Amsterdam is popular for pot tourism. Is that an argument for legalizing pot?

                      I’ll grant, arguendo, that our system produces results as good as other countries. Life expectancy across same demographics is about the same, and general life expectancy and morbidity figures are crude indicators. However, 1.) they’re better indicators than tourism, and 2.) even if our system, arguendo, is as good as that of other economically developed countries, it still costs twice as much. That’s just stupid.

                      Why the hell are we paying twice as much for, arguendo, as good a system? Socialized medicine produces results that aren’t worse than our pseudo-free-market system, and is half the cost. The only reason to prefer our system is if you’re allergic to money, or if you so hate the idea of universal coverage that you’d rather literally waste $4500/yr to make sure that poor people do NOT get healthcare.

                      So, other than medical tourism (which, really, are you kidding me?) what shows that our system is worth roughly $4,500 per person per year than socialized medicine?

      • InsaneSanity

        What you miss is that we (the US) have been the de facto defense of Europe. Europe’s military budget is miniscule compared to ours as we have continued to act as the protector of all. If Europe had to actually defend itself, I bet they would not be able to afford their current healthcare system as they can barely afford it now. So, you are assuming an apples to apples comparison when it is not.

        • Mercury

          European countries also created their system out of a sense of Christian obligation after the Second World War – the Christian Democrat parties in many of those countries were a driving force in this. It was a great system that combined the good of the free market with a genuine safety net.

          Of course, it’s doomed to fail as European birth-rates are non-existent, and the immigrants who come in largely refuse to assimilate.

        • Ingvar

          Who does Europe have to defend itself against? What wars are being fought in Europe? I think they have done the Kosovo thing on their own without help from the Americans and Canadians and without breaking the bank. They could have avoided getting entangled in Libya altogether. Not sure there was much at stake for them there, but I’ll leave it aside. I’m no expert but it doesn’t seem like military aggression is a significant threat to Europe. 30 years ago, ok, the Soviets were still there. Europe needed America. That world is dead and gone. That leaves Iraq and Afghanistan. Only Afghanistan could even be mildly considered as a war in defence of Europe, and even that’s stretching it. I think Europe made the right choice in building hospitals instead of bombs.

          • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

            I won’t divert into defense issues on this thread more than to just say that there is an entire branch of knowledge that works out these things, military science. You should acquaint yourself with it sufficient to sound at least marginally informed on the issues. The post above is fingernails on blackboard style bad for anybody who has seriously considered those issues.

            The only relevance to healthcare directly is that the Germans used their military draft as a source of semi-indentured labor for their health care for many years. There was a significant period of time where the health minister successfully stood off the generals in their desire to eliminate the draft and professionalize the army because to do so would collapse the German health system. Sometimes the military and hospital beds are more entwined than we think.

        • Jamie R

          That doesn’t make any sense. Their healthcare system is cheaper than ours. If anyone can’t afford their healthcare system, it’s us. It would cost European countries more to have our system. Our system is vastly more expensive than theirs.

          See the OECD data: http://www.oecd.org/health/healthpoliciesanddata/BriefingNoteUSA2012.pdf

          • Jamie R

            That is, you’re right in that it’s not an apples to apples comparison. Because of our military expenditures, we can’t afford our system, whereas European nations could. However, why would they buy a worse system for more than their better, cheaper system?

    • http://coalitionforclarity.blogspot.com/ Robert King

      And it’s perfectly legitimate to point out that one can disagree with papal proclamations that aren’t made ex cathedra if one’s prudential judgment conflicts with the pope’s.

      Only if one is disagreeing with the pope’s prudential judgment about a particular situation. But here, Pope Benedict is speaking on matters of faith and morals, that is, what the moral obligations of a society are toward its members. So a Catholic must at least give religious assent to this statement, even if one doesn’t understand or even disagrees privately. A Catholic must strive to think with the Church when interpreting what the Pope says.

      • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

        The problem is that most of the Pope’s defenders here are selective ones. The Pope is striving for a balance between the cult of the body and no access to healthcare. We are in far more danger of a cult of the body than in no access for the poor and it’s driving us to bankruptcy in our health system. Selectively pulling pieces out of a papal message and pushing one aspect while ignoring the other is not defending the Pope. It is distorting the Pope. Many of the critics on this thread are just as guilty because they aren’t seriously considering the cult of the body bit either.

        I offer something in confidence that many on thread have not considered. The USA is not the focus of the Pope’s message. We are an outlier and not doing that badly. The Pope should be, and very likely is, concentrating on the many cases where trivial expenditures will save large numbers of lives because over all the world this is the greatest tragedy we currently face. We just got off a presidency (GWB) who made the biggest health push in Africa in history. The current president has not dismantled that push, though he hasn’t furthered it much either. Obama’s had other fish to fry with the financial crisis et al. Those who have not recently stepped up are likely the focus of this papal message though our additional participation would no doubt be welcomed.

        It’s not always about us. Get over yourselves.

  • http://creativefidelity.wordpress.com Dan F.

    I’m a bit confused. Since everyone who walks into an emergency room in the US (even prior to Obamacare) must be treated by the hospital, didn’t we already guarantee “universal access to care”?

    I’m not saying that that is a good solution to the problem but it would seem to fit with the Holy Father’s statement no? I’m particularly interested in Hez’s response since he is in the industry and would, I think, be in the best position to correct me if I’m wrong.

    • Andy

      Dan
      When an uninsured person walks into the hospital and receives care insurance rates for those who are insured go up to cover the cost. The other downside of this is that the emergency room becomes the location where uninsured Americans go for basic care, that should be available through a doctor. Also the care for those who are uninsured tends to be much poorer than for those who are insured.

      • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

        It *is* available through a doctor. Go look up the prices for minute clinics. Cash visits for a GP can be had for $60. That’s 8 hours of labor @ minimum wage. This is not unreasonable.

    • Dan C

      Folks with HIV cannot get their expensive care without insurance. The consequence is pain, suffering, and death without antiretrovirals. These are not available through the ER.

      Folks with multiple sclerosis, crohn’s disease, or rheumatoid arthitis cannot get their extremely expensive medications without some way to pay. An ER trip won’t do that.

      Folks born with chronic genetic diseases who make it to adulthood do not receive their expensive care without being able to pay. This care, in many cases, is life saving.

      Why bother saving these folks to begin with? With all scarce resources and rationing by the Satanic Hand of the Market (in which human greed is considered as basic a force as electromagnetism or relativity), wouldn’t it make more sense and respect resources more to just let the folks die?

      • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

        Without a system of collecting money for medicine there would be no antiretrovirals. Our lack of investment in future rounds of medicine may mean that in my later years antibiotics functionally go away as resistance spreads throughout the bacterial populations and insufficient new ones are discovered. Life is going to be harder without antibiotics. A lot of people are going to die. Sucking money out of the system has consequences.

  • Irenist

    A version of Obamacare that actually respects life might be the best of both worlds. Perhaps it would look something like this:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Healthcare_in_the_Republic_of_Ireland

  • Richard Johnson

    “I’m a bit confused. Since everyone who walks into an emergency room in the US (even prior to Obamacare) must be treated by the hospital, didn’t we already guarantee “universal access to care”?”

    The hospital is only obligated to treat situations they deem to be emergencies, and the patient is still obligated to pay all costs associated with such treatment. Once the situation is considered to be stable (i.e., no longer am emergency under the definition of the law), the obligation to treat ends.

    http://www.emtala.com/faq.htm

  • Tim S.

    If america is attacked by an outside force that threatens to kill or harm millions of us- would it be morally correct to say- hey we don’t have the tax revenues to finance the weaponry and manpower to fight this threat- we must leave it to the private citizens and market forces to take on this enemy. It seems to me that around the time of WW2 we didn’t have a robust economy with surplus monies in the Federal Treasury but we found the way to get the money and financing for the Arms Industry and as many soldiers as needed. How is the enemy of inadequate health care access which threatens to harm and kill prematurely millions of Americans somehow a different category in our economic considerations? Lets posit as well that the enemy that is attacking us in my opening is not one that is so great as to be a threat to completely topple our nation- just an ongoing violent enemy that can do consistent harm as I described above- year in and year out.

    • http://hezekiahgarrett.wordpress.com Hezekiah Garrett

      God Bless Mr. Shipe!!!

    • Brian

      The problem with your analogy is that WWII was fought on an enormous amount of debt. That means, it was fought on a hidden cost that we have yet to fully repay (since we haven’t reduced the amount of federal debt to below the amount in 1940.)

      The problem with American economics is that we have lost track of our hidden costs for pretty much everything we do. Massive debt (both public and private), environmental damage (ever lived near a hog farm?) and hidden taxes all mean that we think that we are living in a certain way, but it is all a lie. Eventually, those hidden costs will come home to roost. Hopefully, it will be a soft landing, but based on the deep divisions in the country as various interests try to protect their way of living while ignoring their particular favorite hidden cost, I am not hopeful.

      In regard to the rest of the subject, the Pope seems to be advocating a single-payer system that does not pay for abortion or contraception. Good luck getting that through Congress. We can’t even get Catholics to agree to that.

      Peace.

      • Mercury

        Why do you assume he is necessarily advocating single-payer and not a system like they have in, say, Germany, France, or the Netherlands, which is multi-payer but government guaranteed and universally accessible?

        And if we had a system to adequately cover the poor, why not let the rest pay for their own health costs just like we pay for our own food? (And OF COURSE the costs are waaay too high for various reasons, but that’s another issue)

    • Adam L

      If the country really doesn’t have the resources to repel an invader, then it doesn’t have the resources, and no conceivable plan will help. I would also point out that the provision of security is the primary reason given for the existence of the state in the first place, so if it fails to even provide security against a foreign invader, then what good is? But let’s suppose the government does fail to provide sufficient security against such an invasion? Then yes, the private citizens would have to fight the invaders themselves, likely in the form of guerrilla warfare.

      You also say in making your analogy, that inadequate health care access “threatens to harm and kill prematurely millions of Americans” and that this is in the same category as those deaths incurred during war. I see a couple of problems with this. First off, there is the issue of comparing death as a result of war with that resulting from failing health. In war people die as a result of the aggressive actions of others. In the case of healthcare, we’re all going to die of failing health eventually, and so it amounts to a failing to extend it further. So no, I don’t think the two are the same. Secondly, you assume in your question that government provision of healthcare will reduce the overall number of premature deaths than if we were to pursue a free market approach. That has not at all been established.

      I find your analogy interesting for two other reasons. First, because it was WWII that created an entrenched military-industrial complex and firmly set this country down the road of fascism. The other reason is that in making your analogy you assume that if government had to actually consider the economic consequences of war than many more would die. In reality the opposite is true: it is precisely because governments in modern times have been unconstrained by economic considerations that wars in the last century became so terrible and devastating. You could never have had a WWI or WWII if those responsible had to actually bear the economic consequences.

  • vox borealis

    I understand that providing medical care is a profound moral obligation, but I am not sure what the Pope could possibly mean by saying it is an “inalienable right.” I mean, if person A needs health care, he requires another individual (person B) with expert knowledge to provide it. Without B, A cannot receive health care. Thus, he has been alienated through circumstances from a supposed inalienable right. So really, my problem hereis one of terminology. An inalienable right is, it seems, one that cannot (or at least should not) be taken away from an individual—a right that resides as it were within the individual, granted him by his Creator. That definition does not seem to match up with a service that is provided by another person, which “lives” outside the individual.

    • http://hezekiahgarrett.wordpress.com Hezekiah Garrett

      Rights for A always carry responsibilities on the part of B. A society has an obligation to maintain its health. Every people and every culture since at least the agricultural revolution, has had a class of medicine men.

      Since B always existed, i don’t get what you’re driving at.

      • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

        Rights for A always carry responsibilities on the part of B.

        I need more examples to grasp this. So for instance, the right of religious freedom for A carries what what responsibility for B? Speech, assembly, etc…

        • Irenist

          Nate,
          Please see my reply to vox borealis below. Many of your arguments in particular (along with those of John C. Wright over on his blog) have persuaded me of late that market-based solutions might be prudent. You have given me much to think about.

          However, the attitude that we can have rights without duties is the libertine Lockean worm at the heart of the Constitution bequeathed us by the Enlightenment philosophes of Philadelphia, and daily enervates the virtue of our republic–perhaps eventually to the point where we are so childishly grasping and lazy that we can no longer uphold a republican form of government at all. The classical philosophical tradition teaches us that untempered democracy in a state is akin to ungoverned appetitive soul in the man: it fattens us, weakens us, and makes us unfit for self-rule.

          • vox borealis

            For the record, I do not think we can have rights without duties, at least not practically. But I see them as separate categories.

            • Mark Shea

              Babies have no duties. They still have rights (so far).

              • Irenist

                Good point. And, indeed, some adults are so sickly that they may have no duty besides prayer (or not even that, if they are comatose). In those instances, of course, the Pope’s language about inalienable rights was exactly . . . right, and not to be replaced by my fool mouth with language about duties. That’ll learn me.

          • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

            Please see my reply to vox borealis below. Many of your arguments in particular (along with those of John C. Wright over on his blog) have persuaded me of late that market-based solutions might be prudent. You have given me much to think about.

            It’s not even that the market-based is prudent, but it is at least the less evil if you go by standards of access and freedom. If one considers some other value to be more important, than it might not. Life is all about costs and trade-offs. My objections has always chiefly been uninformed decisions. The free-market system has the cost & trade-offs I find preferable and am willing to pay. If one seeks another system, all I ask is that one is fully aware of the cost and trade-offs it will have. Too often I see people denying that there will be any cost.

            However, the attitude that we can have rights without duties is the libertine Lockean worm at the heart of the Constitution bequeathed us by the Enlightenment philosophes of Philadelphia, and daily enervates the virtue of our republic–perhaps eventually to the point where we are so childishly grasping and lazy that we can no longer uphold a republican form of government at all. The classical philosophical tradition teaches us that untempered democracy in a state is akin to ungoverned appetitive soul in the man: it fattens us, weakens us, and makes us unfit for self-rule.

            I’m in no favor of unrestrained democracy. I’m more in favor of local charity than telescopic charity (to reference Dickens). Though if anything, I find as I get older that it seems welfare and government charity encourage individualistic thinking and that sometimes letting people fall (suffering the consequences of their actions) that will make people more aware of beyond themselves. Matt Kaufman makes the point in an excellent manner here.

            • Irenist

              Though if anything, I find as I get older that it seems welfare and government charity encourage individualistic thinking and that sometimes letting people fall (suffering the consequences of their actions) that will make people more aware of beyond themselves.

              I think this is the best prudential argument against a welfare state: it makes welfare recipients forget their duties and is the left-wing version of the perils of the uncontrolled appetitive soul of democracy. “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.”

              However, just as it is imprudent to set up a system that encourages the able poor to forget their duty to work, so it is also imprudent to set up a system that encourages those of us who are not poor to forget that we have a duty to provide for the poor and infirm. Which of these contrary heresies about duty is the greater danger to any given society in any given era is a matter for prudence: you have done much recently to persuade me that in our society the danger may lie more on the side of the former than I had thought.

              Nevertheless, I should be gratified to hear less talk of the rights of the poor to alms from the left and more of the duty to work, and I should be gratified to hear less talk from the the right of the rich man’s entitlement to the quiet enjoyment of his property, and more of his duty to support his neighbor and his state. Instead, we get the poor enviously eyeing the wealth of the rich without lifting a finger to sustain themselves, and the rich prating on about the sloth of the poor while angrily denying their own duty to pay the taxes that are the price of civilization. Our party politics is an organized conspiracy to ignore the beam in our own eye so we can preen on the size of the splinter in our neighbor’s.

              • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

                However, just as it is imprudent to set up a system that encourages the able poor to forget their duty to work, so it is also imprudent to set up a system that encourages those of us who are not poor to forget that we have a duty to provide for the poor and infirm.

                That’s why you should support my new idea: Rich man, Poor man. A new reality show where we take a homeless guy off the street, and stick him in the house of a millionaire! Wacky hijinks ensue! (plus the revenue from the show will help support the poor man once the season is over)

                Seriously though, I recommend you read the link I provided. There’s a reason I’m more in favor of charity that forces us to get our own hands dirty than contracting it out to the government.

      • vox borealis

        OK, thought experiment: a plane with no medical practitioners crashes on an island. Do the survivors have a “right” to see a doctor? How precisely does that right function with no qualified individuals to provide the service? Note: these individuals would still be able to speak their minds, pray, act in accordance with their conscience, defend themselves, etc. In other words, assuming some group of survivors did not try to control the others, all of the survivors could exercise individual rights even if left in the most primitive of conditions.

        What I am saying is that services such as “heath care” cannot be considered “inalienable right” because they can be alienable by circumstances. The notion is nonsensical.

        This does not deny the individual and corporate moral obligation to provide medical services to members of the community.

        • Irenist

          What I am saying is that services such as “heath care” cannot be considered “inalienable right” because they can be alienable by circumstances. The notion is nonsensical.

          There seems to be a terminological confusion.

          I can alienate my right to a parcel of land by selling it to you. Absent criminality, I cannot so alienate my right to life. That is all that “inalienable” means in traditional usage.

          That circumstances may cause my inalienable rights to be ignored or violated (whether because I am marooned on an island far away from various resources, or because some dictatorial regime has locked me away or sentenced me to death for exercising my right to free speech) does not make me any more able to alienate those rights. In short, an inalienable right may be (and often in our fallen world is) abrogated de facto, but cannot be abrogated de jure within the laws of Nature and Nature’s God.

          • vox borealis

            I’m not sure I agree with this. Inalienable rights are those that cannot be taken from the individual by circumstance, though dictatorial regimes can attempt to suppress them. My right to life exists whether I am marooned on an island or living in western nation or the moon or the old USSR. My life in and of itself is not dependent on another, and outside powers should not interfere with it. So to my right to defend myself, to speak, etc. They right is dependent only on me as a product of the Creator—it is not given to me by another individual or the state. The only thing the others or the state can do is interfere with it, which they should not do.

            That is different from a right to health care, which as a service is qualitatively same as a right to TV repair or a right to trash removal. It is inherently dependent on other individuals or the community or the state to provide. As such, it cannot be considered a “right” in any meaningful sense of the word.

            Or put another way: the community (individually and corporately) may have a moral obligation to provide medicine to the sick, food to the poor, and so forth—I agree with tis—but those are not “rights.” Rights cannot come from others.

            • Irenist

              I’m not sure I agree with this. Inalienable rights are those that cannot be taken from the individual by circumstance,

              Your quarrel is now with the dictionary, not with me. Inalienable rights are imprescriptible by man’s law, and cannot be alienated by the man who possesses them. That is all that the word means. It does not mean what you think it means. You are importing a libertarian concept of non-interference into a word that is entirely neutral as to the correctness of that conception. This is coloring your perception of the word, and making it impossible for you to grok the argument.

              • vox borealis

                I understand your argument. I disagree with it, or rather in your use of terminology. It is flawed, I think, and potentially dangerous to call something a “right” that must inherently be provided by other individuals or the community or the State.

                • Irenist

                  I agree; it is dangerous. I prefer the language of duties to rights. However, I think the Pope’s usage of the language of rights, even if perhaps imprudent in our age that remembers rights too well and duties too little, was logically defensible.
                  Striving (and occasionally not failing) to be a loyal son of the Church, I set myself to defending it.

                  • Irenist

                    As I note in my comment to Mark above, the Pope’s language may have been just right after all….

    • Irenist

      vox borealis,

      We have duties as well as rights. You have a right not to be stabbed, and I have a duty not to stab you. This is the sort of negative right and negative duty with which secular mechanist Lockeanism (i.e., the entire worldview of conservative, liberal, and libertarian Liberalism) is comfortable.

      However, there are positive rights and duties, too. The faithful have a right to the sacraments, and a man called to the priesthood has the duty to provide them. The sick have a right to medical care, and someone called to the healer’s art has a duty to provide it, while we as a society have a duty to fund it. “Person B” is not his own; his time and talents belong to God. Person B has duties that correlate with Person A’s rights, just as Person A has duties that correlate with Person B’s rights.

      The state may justly coerce its citizens to do their duty to defend their neighbors (i.e., the draft). About this, Lockean Liberalism and Catholic Social Teaching are agreed. However, the Magisterium goes farther: the state may also justly coerce its citizens to pay alms (i.e. taxes) for the provision of relief to the poor and infirm.

      Whether the state should maintain a draft or rely upon a volunteer military is a question for the prudence of politicians and voters. Similarly, whether the state can coerce us to solidarity through state welfare and healthcare consistent with subsidiarity is also a prudential question. Arguments that the free market provision of healthcare may more prudently combine solidarity and subsidiarity are entirely licit, even if I happen personally to disagree with them.

      However, these arguments are akin to Aquinas’ argument that the state may leave prostitution legal for prudential reasons if it is unable to stamp it out and concerned that its citizens not develop the habit of flouting the law. What Aquinas does not grant is that the state has no right to enforce upon its citizens the duty of chastity, but only that it might not be prudent for it do so. Were Aquinas alive today, he might, IMHO, make similar arguments with regard to pornography or narcotic prohibition.

      However, no Catholic should doubt that the state may legitimately outlaw prostitution, pornography, and narcotics, even should politicians and citizens judge it imprudent for the state to so exercise its legitimate power.

      The modern secular Lockean libertine (at the libertarian “Reason” magazine, or just about any liberal rag, e.g.) thinks that the state has no legitimate right to outlaw our vices. This is false: prohibition of some vice may be imprudent, but is not per se illegitimate.

      If you wish to argue that state funded healthcare or redistributive taxation are imprudent because they lead to worse health outcomes or a culture of welfare dependency, you will find me very open indeed to persuasion. However, I would caution any Catholic (if such you happen to be) against arguing not merely that the state should not, but that it may not, require us to do our duty to the poor and infirm. The latter argument is logically the same as that which says that the state may not prohibit sexual vice under any circumstance whatever, and is not a fitting argument for a Christian.

      • vox borealis

        I’m not arguing one way or another. Rather, I caution against using language that has been largely bound up in Enlightenment ideas of individual rights are in-born to the individual and flow from the Creator. This is precisely where the term Inalienable Rights leads us. It is nonsense to claim that a service is an “inalienable right,” at least within the broadly understood context of the term. It cannot be a “right” to have healthcare unless we want to argue that we have a right for there to be doctors and hospitals, etc. These have tended to exist throughout history, but they are not inherent conditions . What if there are not enough doctors, for example? Does the right to health care mean that the community can corvee medical labor? Force people to go to medical school? Force them to administer to the sick? The notion is ludicrous. Healthcare cannot be thought of as an inalienable right except inasmuch as we have the right to move about and say what we want and associate: i.e., we have the right to go to a doctor, should he exist.

        Now, that being said, I agree fully that providing health care is a moral obligation, and a profoundly important one. Therefore, we might argue that the community should corvee labor, or force people to administer to the sick, or designate taxes for the promotion of health care, or educate people about health in general, or raise awareness about the plight of those without adequate access to health care, or any other of a range of activities that are more or less coercive.

      • Mike Petrik

        Irenist,
        Just to be clear, your position is that the state should force people to become doctors and practice medicine if necessary to ensure acceptable medical care for everyone?

        • Irenist

          That is not my position; slavery is an intrinsic evil. Similarly, while I acknowledge the legitimacy of a draft, a just draft would have an exemption, e.g., for the truly sincere pacifist Christian.

          It is my position that an informed citizenry has the duty to provide for the poor and infirm as it judges most prudent. If the legitimate (e.g., duly elected legislature in a democracy, rightful king in a medieval monarchy) government of a state judges that this duty may be most prudently discharged by a publicly administered healthcare system, then the state is within its legitimate rights to tax for that purpose.

          The state may not dragoon us into the medical profession. However, if we voluntary choose that noble profession, we have the duties embodied in the Hippocratic Oath. Still, as libertarian commentators often note, those duties do not include provision of medicine to all comers: this is a private duty of Christian charity, not one for the state to enforce.

          However, what the state may do is to determine prudently what emoluments would be sufficient to attract a significant number of people into the medical profession, and then tax the citizenry accordingly to pay for such emolument. While the practice of medicine is no public duty but instead an occasion for private charity, alms for the provision of medicine to the poor are a duty in justice of every citizen.

          If a democratic citizenry can see its way to discharging its duty to the poor and infirm through a systematic network of local, susidiarist private eleemosynary institutions (as did those who tithed to support Catholic hospitals and universities in the middle ages, or who joined with their brethren to form the Knights of Columbus to provide for mutual insurance), then such a citizenry may in its turn legitimately vote out of office the partisans of public provision of healthcare (and whatever onerous taxation for healers’ emoluments has made its partisans obnoxious to the electorate). However, if such a vigorous network of private eleemosynary institutions has been obliterated by decades of subjection to a more servile state (as is the case throughout the developed world at present) than the refusal to publicly provide for healthcare and welfare is mere shirking of duty, which is no right of any citizenry.

          Thus, my recommendation is to proceed cautiously upon two tracks: build up the public provision of healthcare until the scandal of the uninsured is remedied in the short and medium term, while also working for the day further into the future when such public provision may in good conscience be dispensed with by a revival of the old guilds and sodalities. These projects are of course in tension, as the public system of today undermines the growth of a restored eleemosynary ecology for tomorrow. Nevertheless, I think this the most prudent course consistent with justice.

  • Adolfo

    I’m guessing the Register ignores this one.

  • Andy

    I just returned from walking our dogs and they offered an insight – the youngest a Siberian Husky wanted to explore the woods – he thinks he would love to meet squirrels up close and personal, the oldest a Lab wanted to enjoy the walk, and our third dog wanted to hit the road do his business as it were and go home to sit in front of the furnace. And trying to negotiate the problem helped me realize that it is a matter of priorities. We want to be the world’s police force,we want to keep our taxes low, and we want to have our individual rights. Maybe it is not the scarcity of health care that is the problem – it is our perhaps our priorities. If we were really pro-life than this discussion is simple – having health care is a prerequisite for life and continued health care is needed for continued life.
    Rather than argue about economic, is it a science or not, is a reality do Catholics understand it, the discussion should revolve around how we might change our priorities to maximize life. I think this what the Pope is alluding to – skewed priorities leading to a lessening of life opportunities, including the ability to have health care to stay alive.

    • vox borealis

      having health care is a prerequisite for life

      Is it?

      • Richard Johnson

        If you are going to argue that our ancestors did a fine job bringing children into the world long before hospitals and modern, I will remind you that in northern European cultures those same ancestors would routinely expose children who they were economically unable to care for in their family, or who were too ill upon birth to survive.

        Shall we go back to this manner of shepherding scarce resources?

        • vox borealis

          No we should not. But health care is demonstrably not a prerequisite for life, and it is a dangerous tact to pursue that line of reasoning. Are you suggesting that an unborn child whose mother lives in desperate circumstances (poverty, lack of access to health care) is not a human life? That’s what many pro-abortionist argue, effectively.

          • Andy

            Not having appropriate pre-natal health care is a prerequisite for life. In fact what is demonstrably clear is that your suggestion comes from your belief system not mine.

            • vox borealis

              What are you talking about? Human society functioned for thousands of years without what we now consider “appropriate” prenatal care. People had sex, babies were born and grew up and lived and then died naturally (and in some cases unnaturally) all without prenatal health care. Having such care is certainly a good thing, but it is in no way a prerequisite for life.

              I have no idea what you mean by “my suggestion” coming from “my belief system.” Please inform me, what is my belief system? And what suggestion are you referring to?

    • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

      Yes, changing priorities will allow doctors to be in two places at once and conjure supplies from thin air.

      Actually no… that’s not fair. Yes, let’s look at priorities.

      I have here (conceptually) 1 lb of steel. Tell me, do I use this pound of steel to build a hospital for the needy, a home for the needy, or farm equipment to grow food for the needy. Because once that steel is used in one of those, it can’t be used in the other. So please, pick one.

      • Andy

        I notice that instead os speaking to suggestion that we examine priorities you launched into a strange question, that does not address national priorities. Being the world cop is not the same a lb os steel, keeping taxes low is not the same as lb. of steel. What my suggestion is that we look for better ways to spend our money – but if want to reduce it to a lb. of steel to demonstrate who knows what, then go and enjoy yourself.

        • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

          Sorry, I was thinking of the economic definition of priorities (namely, how does one determine how a resource will be used) and so misread you (and/or mixed you up with one of the commentators above, my apologies). I’m all for toning down our world cop status and lowering taxes.

          Though it still won’t be enough money for health care.

          • Richard Johnson

            “Though it still won’t be enough money for health care.”

            And THAT, my friends, is the premise that I wish to challenge, and ask you to prove, Nate. In a culture that will pay people millions of dollars to record strange noises on pieces of plastic for our entertainment, or pay people millions of dollars to strike round objects with pieces of wood, or any of the multitude of other examples I could cite, I challenge the notion that we cannot meet the basic health needs of every person in our society.

            But what angers me most, Nate, is the cowardice you display in even entertaining the notion that we should try.

            • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

              Because it’s simple math. Let’s round down on all these to make it more “fair” to you.

              300 mil people in America. Ok, we’ll provide for all of them. Let’s say everyone gets 1 doctor’s visit for a general check up. The doctor’s offices charge… let’s be generous and say it’s going to be $50.

              Ok, then we’ll need 1.5 billion dollars to get every person in america 1 doctor’s check up. Estimated GDP of America is 15 tril so that gives us about 10,000 doctor visits. Sounds fair, right?

              Oh wait, people are going to need medicine. How much per person? Average $50? So that’s now $100 a person. Ok, so now we’re only going to be getting 5,000 doctor visits and 5,000 medicines a person. Well once a month for both, that means everybody still gets 416 years of treatment.

              Oh wait, I’ve left out specialists and surgeons. What do you suppose those prices are going to run? Man, all over the board. You want to give everyone all of that?

              The reason it won’t work is because there is always going to be more that can be done. Always. At some point, you have to cut people off. Where are you drawing the line?

              • Richard Johnson

                “The reason it won’t work is because there is always going to be more that can be done. Always. At some point, you have to cut people off. Where are you drawing the line?”

                It’s not about where to draw the line, Nate. It’s about where to start. Perhaps that is the difference between you and me. You look at the situation and say we don’t have enough, so it is hopeless. I look at the situation and ask God to help provide. Will my solution work? I have no idea, but at least I’m willing to try.

                Why aren’t you? What is it about your faith, your understanding of the Magesterium, or your understanding of God that prevents you from even questioning how we do things currently?

                • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

                  Except not even you know where to start. Where do we start? Building more hospitals? Getting more ambulances? (to get people to the hospital) Getting more doctors, medicines, supplies? So far, the extent I can see of your plans is “we’ll get a bunch of money”. Well guess what, all the money in the world isn’t going to suddenly cure anyone. (except of AIDS*) All you’re saying is “we should feed the hungry” without any consideration on whether we start them off with a side salad or if we should start with an appetizer**.

                  *Yes, that was a South Park joke.
                  **That was a joke at my expense.

                  • Richard Johnson

                    “Where do we start?”

                    On our knees, Nate. I freely admit that I do not have the answer, but I know the One who does. How about you join me in that prayer, Nate?

                    But I have to warn you…we both may find the answer He gives to be hard. We both may have to sacrifice some of our “necessities” so that others may have the luxury of basic health care.

                    The parable of the loaves and fishes I mentioned earlier, Nate, actually has a possible answer that you might agree with. Some hold that it really was not a miracle that resulted in the multitude being fed. They hold that the Apostles, suspecting that Jesus meant that they were to feed the people from their own resources, were unable to look beyond what they had in front of them. Jesus, however, knew that there was food to be found among the crowd, and that if people asked they would share. Thus, according to this line of reasoning, the miracle was not that Jesus miraculously multiplied loaves and fishes, but that Jesus was able to inspire the people to share of the resources they had so that none would go hungry.

                    • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

                      Yeah, people are always on their knees, they’ve always been on their knees since Adam first screwed up. You have to start at some point with actually DOING something.

                      Give up something of yours, then what? Sell the computer you’re using to comment with and then… ? Will one poor person be healthier because your computer is gone? Will it put a cast on a broken limb? Will it provide a vaccine for a newborn? Will it summon a doctor to help the sick man? No, none of this will help the supply relative to the demand. You have to affect one or the other (or both). Either increase supply, or decrease demand.

                      So what are you going to do? Create a scholarship for doctors? Invest in a medical supply factory? Open up your own? Provide band-aids at a loss? Maybe you should go volunteer at a free clinic. Or open up your own.

            • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

              You wish to challenge that there is not enough money for health care? Ha! You haven’t even defined health care and you’re sure there will be enough money to pay for it. Go root through any ICD10 code book and pick out your subset of codes that you want to be subject to the economic arrangements supposedly called for by the Pope (all is conditional until I actually see his statement). You’ll find thousands and thousands of codes. And then there are the procedures that are too new to have gotten a code yet but still need to be evaluated for inclusion. Don’t forget those.

              Once you’ve defined the care, you can take the number of times such codes have been used in the past and project the costs going forward. Economists at this point will be of some use projecting the changes in usage that come with the changes in the rules of payment. Don’t forget to write up special rules for Münchausen syndrome sufferers and a theology that goes along with it because the (supposed) Papal statement doesn’t cover that little wrinkle.

              • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

                Having subsequently read the Pope’s words, it is clear to me that he’s talking about a very basic, minimum set of care that is not going to be all that expensive. The standard of care could use some work and elaboration and a limiting principle needs to be established. That part is likely in need of theological development beyond his statement against the establishment of a “cult of the body” but it’s clear already that one can go too far with healthcare.

      • Irenist

        Nate, you are arguing, I think, that it might be most prudent to let the market allocate your steel to its highest and best use, instead of relying upon some centralized state planning. That’s a fine argument. But it misses the point of a question as to whether healthcare is a right carrying with it a duty which the state may legitimately enforce. If we were invaded tomorrow, the state could legitimately commandeer your steel for tanks. In the absence of such an invasion, it would be more prudent to leave your steel to the market to build up the nation’s stock of capital. But we’re arguing about the legitimacy of commandeering it in principle, not the prudence of whether it ought to be commandeered today.

        • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

          Nate, you are arguing, I think, that it might be most prudent to let the market allocate your steel to its highest and best use, instead of relying upon some centralized state planning. That’s a fine argument.

          Correction, I’m only arguing that it will have to be allocated in some way and no government or papal fiat will suddenly allow the steel to be in 3 places at the same time.

          Once that can be agreed upon, then I’ll be happy to discuss the cases for various methods of determining how the resource should be used.

          But it misses the point of a question as to whether healthcare is a right carrying with it a duty which the state may legitimately enforce. If we were invaded tomorrow, the state could legitimately commandeer your steel for tanks. In the absence of such an invasion, it would be more prudent to leave your steel to the market to build up the nation’s stock of capital. But we’re arguing about the legitimacy of commandeering it in principle, not the prudence of whether it ought to be commandeered today.

          Again, see above. Though in my example I explicitly chose 3 situations where the resource could be used for the poor in other manners of justice. And that’s the other challenge. What if the forms of justice and obligation start bumping up against each other? (as someone that has worked in government, I can tell you that “good ideas” end up conflicting all the time)

          • Irenist

            I’m only arguing that it will have to be allocated in some way and no government or papal fiat will suddenly allow the steel to be in 3 places at the same time.

            Neither Church nor state can repeal the laws of physics; agreed.

            I’ll be happy to discuss the cases for various methods of determining how the resource should be used…. I can tell you that “good ideas” end up conflicting all the time

            That’s precisely what I will not be happy to discuss in this thread. There are two logically distinct issues:
            1. Justice/Inalienable Rights/Christian Duties:
            Are Randians and their ilk (among whom I do not count you) correct to argue that taxation for alms is illegitimate?
            2. Allocation of scarce resouces:
            If Randians are wrong, is it nevertheless the case that taxation for alms might be an imprudent way to collect and/or distribute alms?
            You seem eager (or at last willing) to discuss the question about prudent allocation, whereas I take the Pope’s comments only as an occasion for arguing against the heresy of embodied in the Randian view of the just ends of taxation. If you agree with me that the Randian view of the just ends of taxation is false, then (at least for my limited purposes in this thread) we are already in complete agreement.

            • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

              Fair enough, though I think the thread is so muddled now no hope of discussion is possible. ;) Though I would ask that a frank and honest acknowledgement of costs be at least addressed. Like if a hospital is built [here] then a farm to feed the poor or a house to shelter them cannot. See: what the true story behind “Let them eat cake” meant.

              You seem eager (or at last willing) to discuss the question about prudent allocation, whereas I take the Pope’s comments only as an occasion for arguing against the heresy of embodied in the Randian view of the just ends of taxation. If you agree with me that the Randian view of the just ends of taxation is false, then (at least for my limited purposes in this thread) we are already in complete agreement.

              I am only cautious because considering the track record of the internet, I’m not sure what the actual randian view/concept actually is. From what a lot of you have said, sure I’m against that. But then, I’m also against what a lot of people have said conservative policies are. ;) (now when you look at what the ACTUAL policies are…)

              • Irenist

                As I suspected, we’re pretty much in agreement. We agree (if I read your last post aright) that it is not always and everywhere immoral for the state to tax its citizens to provide for the poor and infirm. We also agree that we live in a world of scare resources, about the prudent allocation of which Christian citizens of good will may disagree. Happy All Saint’s Day, Nate.

                • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

                  We agree (if I read your last post aright) that it is not always and everywhere immoral for the state to tax its citizens to provide for the poor and infirm.

                  As always, depends on terms. ;) If by “state” you mean a local township where most everyone has agreed to help the most needy and provide charity (particular of kinds) then I’ll quite agree. Federalism all the way. :D If you mean a large nation consisting of diverse peoples and environments spread across hundreds of miles… well I’ll just say I need more convincing (haven’t ruled out the possibility completely. And of course I don’t want a solution that turns us into tyrants. After all, what if in helping the poor, we turned them into slaves. Would it be worth it just to ensure they have food, shelter and medical care?

                  Did you see my post long ago (on another shea topic) where I said what I think the government should do to facilitate charity?

                  Happy ASD to you too.

        • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

          The sorts of minimal arrangements that the Pope is talking about are so departed from the maximal arrangements that US leftists want to stuff into the term “healthcare is a right” that the two really should not be considered the same thing.

          So define your terms better and make it clear which healthcare you’re talking about, the Pope’s vision or the left’s trojan horse?

  • Richard Johnson

    So are we conceding that economic reality trumps spiritual truth? Does the scarcity of healthcare resources (a human limitation) mean that inevitably there will be those who suffer from limited access to those resources (invariably the poor)?

    If so, then can someone please show me, from logic, how such a limitation cannot be used as an excuse for abortion or euthanasia? After all, if we acknowledge that the best system is one in which we will invariably have people dying for lack of care, why should we make any exception for folks because of age? After all, it is cheaper (and therefore more efficient in a scarce resource environment) to abort a child with Spina Bifida than to bring him/her to term and provide scarce medical treatment. It is also cheaper to allow a cancer patient to end their own life than to provide palliative care, which also uses scarce resources?

    Is human life precious only when it’s economically prudent for it to live?

    • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

      You can create a fund that guarantees a decent access to medical care, defined by a certain number of procedures done to a certain standard of care. Depending on your economy, the number of procedures and the standard of care can go up or down.

      What you cannot do is, as a fashion statement, create a standard of care that is too expensive to afford and then define medical care as any procedure some doctor is willing to do to some patient consistent with that absurdly high standard of care. Here’s a practical example. You can treat diarrhea with rehydration salts for a pittance a day. you can buy 10 for a cent on Alibaba if you’re willing to meet the 100k unit minimum. You can treat the same condition with a $2k per day hospital room and saline IVs. So which treatment falls into the Papal statement? Is it the first, second, or both? When do treatments get kicked off the list and what are the valid grounds?

      I think that there is likely a great deal to mine in this papal statement if for no other reason because health care is very complex. Without the original text, we are hopelessly going to flail at it without much good result.

      • http://disputations.blogspot.com Tom K.
        • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

          Thanks, the media reports were as inaccurate as I feared. This papal statement seems mainstream to my eyes and not particularly incompatible with our baseline systems in the US, though calling on us, as always, to step things up a notch. Take a look at the conservative protests of Bush’s African push, if you can find them. So far as I recall there were none.

          The Left is seeking to use and distort the Holy Father’s words for their political gain. To my surprise, Mark seems to be playing along with them as evidenced by the title. That’s disappointing. All Catholics bristle a bit at the idea of a Pope following anybody’s script but God’s. We don’t like that and we shouldn’t.

          The idea of a conservative/libertarian approach to authentically implement Catholic distributive justice appeals to me and is something that I’ve been thinking on. The reduction of barriers to economic activity is one arena that would tend towards establishing distributive justice. The rule of law disproportionately (in % terms) protects the weak, including their economic possessions, more than the strong as the strong can hire their own protection. The lessening of IP protections to block the copying of innovation cheaply for the poor’s use seems another fruitful approach. A fourth prong can be gleaned from the US’ homestead acts. I’m sure there’s more out there. The first three ideas have application in the health field. The question that is unresolved is this emerging conception of economy as biological ecosystem that is scarred when forced into machine style rules is compatible with Catholic thought. I see no contradiction and perhaps some very nice synergy there but it’s early days.

          • http://disputations.blogspot.com Tom K.

            That health care for the poor is a matter of justice rather than charity is an idea that, to say the least, has not fully permeated the Catholic Right. To the extent it is a matter of justice, more than one commenter here seems chiefly concerned about the rights of doctors to refuse to offer health care if they feel like it.

            • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

              Did you read the Pope’s statement? Charity *is* justice. Charity is a superset of justice.

              And yes, Doctors should be able to refuse to offer care. For instance, they should not be coerced into providing abortions. They also have a right to be with their families, occasionally have a vacation, and not work inhuman hours if they so choose.

              • http://disputations.blogspot.com Tom K.

                “Did you read the Pope’s statement? Charity *is* justice. Charity is a superset of justice.”

                If I thought you actually believed that “charity is a superset of justice” is what politically conservative Catholics mean when they say health care for the poor is a matter of charity, I would feel sorry for you. As it is, I’m just irritated by your sophistry.

                • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

                  Take your irritation and go read the actual statement by the Pope. I’ve quoted it elsewhere in this thread. When you are charitable, you are just.

                  Your irritation, sir, cannot possibly reach mine, as I have lived this sort of charity in providing health care as my wife is a doctor who will happily provide care for the poor for free but won’t take medicaid because drowning in paperwork does not particularly please God. I get to hear it when people come into the lot with a better car than we can afford with better cell phones than we have, nicer clothes than we can afford for our children and poor mouthing how their $15 copay is unfair though they have the money for their 2 pk a day cigarette habit. Your irritation also pales to mine as I observe the mismatch between the difficulty we have in helping people in real trouble get on the rolls to receive relief (doctors do that too) as we watch a parade of fakes get on with ease.

                  You do not know me. I do not know what goes on in the private thoughts of other conservatives. In charity, I assume that they do not lie and every once in awhile I look at the statistics on giving as a cross check. I see a way that what the conservatives are selling would work given the facts I can decently derive. In the current election, we have a candidate who is living that life and giving large sums along with his time to charity. One of the best reasons to vote for him is the demonstration effect he is likely to have causing others to increase their own involvement.

            • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

              To the extent it is a matter of justice, more than one commenter here seems chiefly concerned about the rights of doctors to refuse to offer health care if they feel like it.

              Because doctors should be forced to treat mobsters even if they don’t want to?

  • Richard Johnson

    “I have here (conceptually) 1 lb of steel. Tell me, do I use this pound of steel to build a hospital for the needy, a home for the needy, or farm equipment to grow food for the needy. Because once that steel is used in one of those, it can’t be used in the other. So please, pick one.”

    Therefore Jesus, lifting up His eyes and seeing that a large crowd was coming to Him, said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these may eat?” This He was saying to test him, for He Himself knew what He was intending to do. Philip answered Him, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for everyone to receive a little.” One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, *said to Him, “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?”

    And Jesus agreed, saying that since food was so scarce some would have to go hungry. He lifted the bread to heaven, blessed it, and fed those who were fortunate enough to be nearby until the bread was gone. To the others he told a parable about modern economic theory. And they went home, resolved to apply themselves more thoroughly to this teaching.

    • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

      Ok Richard, I’ll hand you the pound of steel, I’ll wait for you to multiply it.

      Actually, why bother with hospitals? Jesus healed the blind and sick just by touching or speaking to them, so let’s adopt that policy too. Doctors are clearly a waste of time. In fact, now I find all your calls for health access to be in violation of Jesus’ teaching and actions. The pope’s too! By Richard’s logic, the Pope should just heal everyone, that can send him a plea. With email, that should now be possible for everyone.

      • Richard Johnson

        Which do you worship, Nate…the market or God?

        • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

          Do you eat? Well then which do you worship? Biology or God?

          That’s how nonsensical your question is.

          • Richard Johnson

            No Nate. You see limits where I do not. I can only conclude that you see these limits because you lack faith in the One who can overcome those limits, and has promised to do so.

            You compare our healthcare system and resources to a one-pound block of steel. I call BS on that comparison. Prove that it is logical and justifiable, and then I’ll be happy to continue the discussion.

            • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

              I can only conclude that you see these limits because you lack faith in the One who can overcome those limits, and has promised to do so.

              I conclude on these limits because He has made a universe with ordered laws. Just as I conclude that there is a limit on self-powered flight that we call gravity. Could He allow me to fly? Perhaps, but I’m not going to jump off the top of my house.

              Prove that it is logical and justifiable, and then I’ll be happy to continue the discussion.

              I have to prove, that a physical object cannot be in two places at once.

              Ok. Here is a can from a coke I drunk earlier. Do you see it at your desk? It is currently occupying the space on my desk but I’m trying my darndest to get it to occupy space on your desk as well. Is it working?

              There, my point is proven.

            • Mercury

              Richard, you do seem to be arguing that prudence and resource management are somehow “not trusting God”, as if we should just start doling out health care without even considering the fact that it does cost something.

              Even a father is not supposed to be so charitable that he gives away the food he has a duty to feed to his children. If we recklessly built a system that simply doled it out with no regard for cost, we’d end up doing the poor a disservice because this would invariably result in shortages, as it ALWAYS has.

              It might be okay, even heroic charity, for a doctor to serve patients without considering his own compensation, or for a farmer to give away the food he produces to all comers. They will pray to God to provide, and He will provide.

              But for a government, particularly a non-Christian government, to do so? Do we have instances in the past where even Catholic countries simply ignored the laws of economics?

              I think Nate was right to say that your argument is the same as those fundamentalist Protestants who don’t believe in doctors because Jesus heals. It is NOT right to build a system of government around hoping for miracles.

              • Richard Johnson

                “It is NOT right to build a system of government around hoping for miracles.”

                Your argument would be valid had I been advocating for a government solution. However, since I did not make such a case, it is not valid.

                Nate’s first recourse was to begin with the “we don’t have the resources, therefore we should not try” argument. Had he responded with “resources are short, and it’s going to challenge us in some of our basic assumptions and understandings, but we should investigate how to do this”, he and I would be in total agreement. It is going to be hard. It is going to challenge some of our fundamental assumptions on how we deal with money and healthcare. It’s going to convict those of us who have our personal spending priorities challenged on behalf of those who lack access to basic health care. It’s going to hurt.

                But simply to say that we don’t have enough resources and insist that everyone agree is something I cannot and will not do. If we are going to say to the poor that we cannot afford to help you receive basic healthcare and then go back to our comfortable way of life, unwilling to even question whether God might want us to change what WE do so other of His children might have a shot at a healthy life, then on what authority do we address other moral issues in this world such as abortion, war, death penalty, slavery, etc.?

                Mercury, your argument is little different from that of the pro-choice crowd who offers abortion as the cheap out because families believe they lack the resources to care for yet another child. I challenge their assumption, and I challenge yours and Nate’s.

                • Mercury

                  Forgive me from mischaracterizing your assumptions. Now I’d ask you not to mischaracterize mine.

                  I’m not saying that we can’t make changes or serious and painful cuts in order to provide basic access to healthcare for everyone, nor that our system is even a good one.

                  I wasn’t even saying that it would be impossible to cover everyone in a government-run system, which I oppose. It IS possible, as other countries do it – I don’t want to get into why or why not it is a good idea.

                  My only point was that we should not launch massive spending initiatives and then say “we’ll worry about the cost later” or “God will perform a miracle, therefore we can ignore costs.”

                  • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

                    ^ Pretty much this. We must weigh costs in our considerations.

                    • Richard Johnson

                      Cool, Nate. What is the cost of the lives lost while we masturbate our intellect debating the costs of healthcare?

                    • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

                      Likewise, what’s the cost of the lives lost while we sit around praying?

                      See? That game can be played both ways.

                  • Richard Johnson

                    One thing I can guarantee, Mercury. We will never do it if our first response upon being presented with the Pope’s words is, “We can’t afford to do it.” That was where Nate (and you, to some extent) started.

                    We spend a lot of electronic ink worrying about how the poor will spend any of the largess that might fall from our tables into their waiting hands, but precious little on how we, ourselves, are dealing with the wealth we have been given by a gracious and loving Father. Of course, it’s fashionable to preach a gospel that never makes a demand on those who preach it. Totally unBiblical and unChristian, but fashionable none the less.

                    So…should we take the Pope’s words as a challenge to examine how we might at least make things better by changing our society/way of life? Or shall we just disregard it because it is simply his pastoral advice and not a formal Encyclical or ex cathedra pronouncement?

  • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

    Modern health care is a deeply depressing disaster. I wish I knew less about it than I do, because I would be happier, and I could argue over whether “free market” or “socialist” solutions were better. As it is, that is like arguing over whether we want to fund the ongoing activities of a rampaging life-destroying golem with private money or public.

    • The Deuce

      Yes, but do you believe that everyone has an inalienable natural right to a rampaging life-destroying golem? :-)

      • http://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/ Zippy

        Heh. That’s about it. Hell, someone who can’t afford prescription drugs is less likely to be killed or permanently injured by them.

  • F.S.

    It’s interesting to me, Mr. Shea, that you seem to despise a certain brand of less-than-nuanced Catholics more than you dislike those who are openly hostile to the Church. While I share your frustration, especially with regards to those who approach the struggles of Catholicism is the public sphere in an overly simplistic and overly partisan way, I have for several years observed the deepening cynicism which your approach to issues such as these has lead to among those devoted readers of yours with whom I am acquainted. I have not read your political commentary as devotedly as they (though I did enjoy your series on the Blessed Mother), but from reading you my friends have come to understand that the Republican Party is just as bad as the Democratic Party, and that Mitt Romney is just as bad as Barack Obama. This isn’t so bad in and of itself- though the idea that the Status Quo on abortion (as detestable as that is) is just as evil as the celebration of abortion, along with the violation of rights of conscience in the case of the HHS Mandate and elsewhere is quite foolish and misleading- but rather than mock Catholics who approach these issues without subtlety and nuance, it seems to me that you might make an actual contribution to the discussion in the public square by actually encouraging nuance. I understand that you are frustrated with what has become of politics in the United States, and honestly, who isn’t? But it seems to me that your political commentary does more harm that good. Voting for a third party candidate? Good for you- one of our biggest problems is the idea that there are only two points of view, or two combinations of corresponding ideas, out there in the world. Please, tell us why you are approaching the problem this way.

    But rejoicing, as you do, over a statement of the Pope’s which Doug Kmiec and his ilk will use if not in actual Catholics for Obama ads then at least during television appearances telling confused Catholics that Obama is their candidate, and has now been semi-officially endorsed by the Pope (I’m already beginning to see reposts of this entry of yours on facebook making essentially the same argument) is disturbing.

    • Mark Shea

      See points 2 and 5 here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/markshea/2012/10/its-the-big-election-super-fun-pak.html I cannot see how anybody on earth could take me as endorsing Obama, unless one assumes that by pointing out that fealty to the GOP talking point that “health care is not a right” is false, one therefore must mean “Vote Obama!” I deny this. My point is not and never has been Obama 2012. It is “Stop thinking with your party and start thinking with the Church.”

    • Irenist

      Although 2+2=4 even if Doug Kmiec says so, I agree with you that the hay that the party of infanticide and its partisans are already making with this is both distressing and unsurprising.

  • wineinthewater

    I think there is some really important phrasing here. Healthcare isn’t a right, *access* to healthcare is a right. That distinction makes a huge difference in how we approach healthcare. Unfortunately, the Catholic position is often mischaracterized as “free healthcare for all” when it is actually “affordable healthcare for all.”

    • Mercury

      Exactly – I am an able-bodied single man in my early 30s. I am able to afford healthcare because I get it through my employer. I see no need to have the government prove ME with free healthcare.

      For the poor, though, it is different – in some cases we really do need the state to provide basic services for the less fortunate, regardless of the extent of private charity.

      But just because we rightly should provide food, shelter, and medicine to those who cannot acquire these things on their own does not mean that the government should be the supplier of these things for all people.

      • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

        It is a comforting lie that there is such a thing as health care. The reality is that there are thousands of acts that are all called health care and some of them are elective while others are downright immoral. What should be provided to the poor is a decent selection of the essentials. We can skip cosmetic surgery for the most part (though similar reconstructive surgeries should be included). And it is somewhat annoying to see poor people who are two pack a day smokers blanche at a $10 copay twice a year, especially when they have more expensive cell phones than the doctor who is getting stiffed.

  • really?

    This statement by the Pope was made 2 years ago and is being promoted as a last ditch effort to confuse Catholic voters.

    • Mark Shea

      I didn’t realize that the Pope’s statement had an expiration date. That’s a strategy for ignoring him I will give points for a sort of desperate originality.

    • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

      It is incorrect that the statement of the Pope is being promoted. A distortion of his statement is being promoted. You’re right about the last ditch effort to confuse Catholic voters.

  • Dan C

    I am stunned by the manner in which market economics is elevated past the boundaries of philosophy and theology to be managed by universal laws as foundational as relativity or electromagnetism. This is faith-based statement that quantum physicists do not make about their own field. Science allows for change and hypothesis-testing. Economists have now stated that the immutable laws of the market are beyond the force of philosophy and the topic of justice. The basics of market systems depend on rational self-interested (selfish) agents. I am not so sure, then, that the study of economics can be compatible with a theological system that demands basic and growing understandings of economic justice for a community, and Catholic thought has focused on this.

    • Andy

      Well written – in America at least we have succumbed to the myth of business – that business is what we must be about – and if business cannot profit from an activity it is not worth doing.

      • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

        I’m not sure that’s accurate. What is not profitable is not sustainable over the long haul, unless some other profitable enterprise is tapped to pay for it.

        I’ve been told a story that Mother Theresa’s order wanted to care for the poor and sick of NYC and tried to open up a house. When the zoning people protested that there was no elevator, the nuns said that they would just do as they did in India and carry people up the stairs on their backs. The government denied the requisite permits. Who was in the right here, and why? The model the nuns were pursuing was a great deal more sustainable than piling up cost upon cost in infrastructure until they ran out of funds to care for the poor. If NYC’s regulation of the provision of health care was wrong, why was it wrong and should we take that attitude through the sum and total of health legislation throughout the land?

        If this were to be done, I think you’d be astonished to find that the poor had access to healthcare after all.

        • Richard Johnson

          So why didn’t the local parishes step in and help put in an elevator? In India it is common to have the poor urinating and defecating in the streets. Should we allow that model to be used in NYC in the future?

          Seriously…to what lengths will the servants of Mammon go to try to justify their worship? Surely the local Christians could have found the money to retrofit an elevator in a building to help the Order. But it’s easier to blame a government official for blocking such aid than dig in our own pocket to overcome it.

          • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

            Please go read the actual statement of the Pope. To my utter non-surprise, the leftist spin does not accurately reflect the Pope’s statement.

            I suspect that you do not have much experience with code compliance or health care build outs. I have just enough that I blanche at the idea of building any healthcare facility in a modern US city. I am quite confident that the parishes did not want to touch it because they knew (or found out very quickly) exactly how the game was impossibly rigged against the sisters.

            Code compliance officers can keep a project on hold for years, doling out just enough code violations to justify a new round of work, then when complied with adding a few new issues at each visit. Reopening the walls gets old and expensive after awhile.

            My wife practiced for a time at Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital in Illinois, a new hospital. Nobody had been able to get a new hospital built and approved in Illinois in 20 years. I recall seeing/hearing political people outright laugh at the idea that a new hospital would be built. Yes, healthcare buildout can be that bad.

            The elevator was an excuse. The sisters knew it and weren’t going to play the wine/dine/bribe game for years, spending hard collected alms money on a lobbying team in Albany. So they stopped at the elevator.

            Seriously, are you that ignorant of how these things are done? Have you not noticed how people look at US businessmen who do not have lobbyists guarding their interests at the capitol? They consider them insane suckers waiting to be destroyed by their lobbyist heavy competitors.

            As for urinating/defecating in public in NYC, you haven’t taken a deep breath in the subway there, have you? There’s no regime change necessary at all to bring about that reality.

    • Mercury

      The “iron laws” that were being referred to were: everything has a real cost; and you can’t simply multiply resources or have one thing in two places.

      I don’t think anyone objects to those on principle.

      • Dan C

        And we make choices. As a nation, we choose to have a level of personal luxury that includes folks with multiple video game systems, multiple smart phones per household, and multiple computers. We have chosen cable TV and Hulu and Netflix.

        We have not chosen as a nation that adults with HIV who work 60 hours a week at jobs without health insurance can receive antiretrovirals.

        Yes, things have a real cost. It seems that the deliberate conservative economic thought permits the cost to be suffering and death over luxury.

        • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

          And what’s your plan? Ban video game systems? Confiscate smart phones? Shut down Netflix?

          Your complaint basically boils down to: “dang it, man should stop being a fallen creature”.

          Yes, I agree. All people should be perfect. I just don’t see how complaining about it is going to improve anything any more than complaining that all people are mortal. I think we’re stuck with all of this this side of the veil.

          • Dan C

            I think it behooves the Catholic to promote and practice virtuous pursuits and not promote systems in which greed is the dominant operating force worshiped as something as fixed as the orbit around the sun. The Catholic should cease promoting and praising a system founded on selfishness and centered in material acquisition.

            Unexamined, unapologetic promotion of capitalism should not be the Catholic endeavor. We should be sorrowful and penitential for those who fail to benefit from the gift of God’s Creation as well as those excluded from participated in Creation due to market forces our capitalistic system requires. We should be sorrowful and apologetic when market forces and institutional and political selfishness result in the suffering and death of our neighbors. We should not be eager to promote unfettered markets based on alien, unChristian ideologies, and we should be eager to remedy systematically (for this is what justice requires) those evil failings of these man-made systems of injustice.

            • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

              So we should all morn that we live in a fallen world and no longer live in the garden of Eden.

              Gee, I don’t think anyone’s ever claimed otherwise.

              • Richard Johnson

                Yep, Nate. We live in a fallen world. So why push back at all? Give up on abortion! Give up on hunger! Give up on religious freedom! After all, we no longer live in the Garden, so why should we complain?

                Just keep your nose to the grindstone, make a profit for someone/something, and when you show up before the Master you can at least tell him you kept His talents safe while He was gone.

                • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

                  Yes, let’s all go for perfecting humanity. That doesn’t have a bloody (and I mean bloody) track record.

                  “If we only kill another one hundred million innocent people, and inflict tyranny and misery and cruelty on countless more, this time it will work for sure!”

                  See how much fun distortion can be? Please come back when you are finished with your strawman and try making an actual argument against what people have actually said.

              • Dan C

                I am not referring to the fallen world. I am referring to the unqualified promotion of wealth acquisition that Catholics engage, using modern day Messiahs like Milton Friedman instead of the Sermon on the Mount.

                • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

                  “But once we eat the rich, by what means will the society accumulate and invest capital? In such condition there is no place for industry, because the fruit thereof is uncertain, and consequently no culture of the earth, no navigation nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea, no commodious building, no instruments of moving and removing such things as require much force, no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time, no arts, no letters, no society, and, which is worst of all, continual fear and danger of violent death, and the life of man solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”

                  So I guess per you that the sermon on the mount wants man’s life to be poor, nasty, brutish, and short?

            • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

              The capitalists who have undeveloped conscience are the least worst type of such people. Except for the crony type they do not use violence to further their rapaciousness and frankly, that is a blessing.

              • Dan C

                The history of oil companies in Africa and our Central American involvement would suggest unjust violence props up the American capitalist effort as a matter of policy. Capitalists themselves do not engage in violence. Hired proxies do this.

                • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

                  Read the second sentence again. Crony capitalists to a man, these people are buying political protection, buying violence.

              • Dan C

                Its not just capitalists with underdeveloped consciences. It Acton, who can’t find enough time in the day to justify and praise unfettered markets, and Novak and Weigel.

                • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

                  I do not make any individual judgments on such thin gruel as just a list of names. What, particularly, is the problem you’re complaining about?

            • Dan C

              Unchallenged:

              “Unexamined, unapologetic promotion of capitalism should not be the Catholic endeavor.”

              • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

                Since capitalism is a flawed human endeavor, why should it remain unexamined for improvement? Nobody holds that capitalism couldn’t stand some improvement. Replacing it with worse systems is what is being objected to. Why do you seem to be in favor of that?

        • Mercury

          I’m not denying what you are saying. I was only asserting that a) things have a cost in the first place and b) resources cannot be multiplied out of thin air.

          However, I would ask this – so is the solution to simply confiscate all wealth over a certain level – say, basic food and fuel costs? Would you say that a family with two iPhones is the cause of someone dying of AIDS?

          So because I pay $8 per month for Netflix, I am responsible for people dying?

          • Mercury

            I donate about 10% of what I make to help the hungry each month. Almost all the rest goes to basic things like loans, rent, insurance, etc.

            I do work some side jobs for spending money – but am I sinning now because, as a single guy, I like to go to restaurants and eat on my lunch break? Did I sin because I bought a shirt on sale yesterday?

            • Dan C

              If you want personal spiritual advice about individual charity, that is a separate concern from policy statements.

              We have had it stated that one can make policy choices that are based in sin. Abortion is an example. Greed is one of the deadly vices, and how one manages that has both individual and communal repercussions.

              Should wealth be taxed progressively. Yes, and more than it is today.

              I do think that when personal selfishness and self-interest underpin the argument against such a redistribution of wealth, one is practicing a sinful vice and violating the Universal Destination of Goods.

              I do not think that holding wealth makes one a sinner. I do think one should reflect on the Gospels more, particularly the first line of Jesus’s Beautitudes: Blessed are the poor. Woe to the rich.

              • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

                Capitalism is not sinful. It is a tool that is neutral in nature.

                • Dan C

                  No. Economic activity is the most intrinsically moral of all activities. It is not neutral. Capitalism is a system that ensures unemployment and the exclusion of individuals from participating in Creation. It is a system that guarantees poverty.

                  Leviticus spends 80% of its pages identifying the moral character of just economic activity. It is not morally neutral. Benedict the 16th attends to that ethical falsehood.

                  As such, this man-made system imposes an intrinsic absence of justice. The Catholic is to promote justice and the common good.

                  • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

                    What planet are you on? Capitalism has lifted more people out of poverty than any other economic system on the planet.

                    Capitalism permits a neutral framework of efficient resource allocation within in which anybody can depart from efficiency for moral reasons so long as violence is not used to further your ends.

            • Mark Shea

              No. Merc: Let me say what I always say to you: This discussion is not about you and the Holy Spirit is not telling you that you do not have enough scruples and guilt in your life. Let it go. Let the scruples and guilt go. You are doing fine with the things you are doing and you don’t need to assume more guilt. Listen to your confessor and do no lard one ounce more on to your shoulders than he allows.

              • Mercury

                Thanks, Mark. God bless you and happy Feast Day.

        • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

          Nations do not choose levels of personal luxury because nations aren’t persons. Persons choose levels of personal luxury. Nations can impose austere circumstances with bad policy but they cannot impose luxury.

  • Dan C

    Conservative economic thought has indicated that a death panel obeying the laws of the market is morally acceptable.

    • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

      Conservative economic thought would not have death panels per se. Death panels do not permit treatment to be done charitably.

      • Richard Johnson

        So conservative economic thought is opposed to insurance company death panels?

        • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

          An insurance company panel can say “we won’t pay”. A government panel can say “you won’t treat”. If you cannot see the difference between the two and how they should be labeled differently, I can’t help you further.

          • Dan C

            But the systematic promotion of a system by Catholics that ensures millions of individuals cannot pay for regular expensive chronic care and therefore will suffer and die is not virtuous. It is a conscious choice of death for some. Just not a celebrity TV case promoted by Fr. Pavone.

            • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

              At a certain point Pope John Paul II decided not to continue the expensive chronic care to extend his life. He certainly could have drawn on the Vatican’s treasure to live longer but he did not. He died soon after. What was his death panel?

              Currently people offer $500 MRI scans and $3000 MRI scans of the same quality and body part and using the same procedures. People don’t price shop and as part of their insurance contract end up paying 20% in cash on the $3000 MRI or $600 instead of just writing a check for $500 and paying cash. free market healthcare will provoke price shopping. Free market medicine will make a huge payday for anybody who can take expensive chronic care and make it cheap.

              Sometimes people will confront their own mortality sooner and leave off futile care when they are not so disconnected from the financial aspects of that care. This is not a bad thing in itself. People will spend their money or they will not, just like the Pope did. It was his last great teaching, how John Paul II died. I think on it. Do you?

  • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

    Irenist, I also wanted to commend your masterful use of blockquotes. They look very good. :)

    I hope you at least get the chance to read the two links I provided. They should be short enough and (I hope) somewhat informative.

    • Irenist

      I also wanted to commend your masterful use of blockquotes.

      Thanks again for that tip! Or, as the 80′s PSA had it, “I learned it by watching you!”

      I hope you at least get the chance to read the two links I provided.

      I did. I didn’t find Kaufman’s anecdote especially telling, but Steyn’s tale of how “let them eat brioche” turns out to have been a textbook-perfect example of why price controls are a bad idea was great. Thanks for sharing them both.

      • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

        Thanks again for that tip! Or, as the 80′s PSA had it, “I learned it by watching you!”

        You just earned so much goodwill from me for that. (seriously, I annoy people with how much I quote it) Try not to spend it all in one place. ;) (or if you’re in my town, stop by for a drink)

        I did. I didn’t find Kaufman’s anecdote especially telling, but Steyn’s tale of how “let them eat brioche” turns out to have been a textbook-perfect example of why price controls are a bad idea was great. Thanks for sharing them both.

        I also think it’s a great example of how the road to hell is paved with good intentions. After all, it’s not like anyone decides they want to go there. If you ever want a book-length on the subject, pick up Thomas Sowell’s Vision of the Annointed. A lot of the problems seem to be when we think we’re too prideful to realize our limitations.

        (also, I believe it was Goldberg, not Steyn)

  • F.S.

    “I didn’t realize that the Pope’s statement had an expiration date. That’s a strategy for ignoring him I will give points for a sort of desperate originality.”- Mr. Shea

    It is, however, good to know that this is a two year old statement, as it relieves me of the concern that the same Holy Father who was prescient enough to foresee that consenting to be photographed with Nancy Pelosi might lead to said photo being used to imply an endorsement of her anti-Catholic policies, would be unable to see that issuing that statement the week before a US election (I know that the Church does not revolve around the US, but you’d think that someone would have pointed out to him when the election was) in which a morally objectionable healthcare law was a major deciding factor might, at the very least, make the job of his Bishops a lot harder.

    • Mark Shea

      Yes. The center of the Pope’s thought should always be the needs of the GOP, not articulation of the Tradition. What was he thinking?

      • Andy

        He forgot who really rules the world – economists and the uber-rich. How dare he – after all the person/God who founded the Catholic Church did not know where he would lay His head.

      • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

        Mark, are you really hinting that the Vatican doesn’t time statements? Of course they time statements. They also time conferences and just about everything else that comes out of the Vatican. Any entity that has a diplomatic service times statements. It’s just part of what the job description is. There are norms to these things and one of them is not to stick your foot in unless you really mean to.

  • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

    I somehow doubt that the Pope meant sex change operations regardless of ability to pay. So before people start charging down your numbered list can we start with 0. please provide a link to the actual statement by the Pope? The media has long ago burned through my good will and trust that they can relay papal words properly.

    The phrase medical care is probably not something that CMS and the Pope agree on. I suspect that the Pope was talking about some sort of subset of the ICD codes that the US uses to define what medical care is. What is the justification for what is put in and what is excluded? In some cases (such as abortion) the Pope would undoubtedly be unhappy at the provision of care under any circumstances, much less as a govt. freebie paid for by tax dollars. Let there be clarity as to what the Pope means before any of us fly off the handle in any direction.

    • Richard Johnson

      *sigh* TMLutas, I am so reminded of the governor in “Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” when I read your apologetic for greed.

      http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1004736.htm

      Of course, I doubt you will trust the Catholic News Service, so here is an English translation of the Pope’s words before the conference.

      http://www.zenit.org/article-31001?l=english

      However, as I am fairly confident you will question the authenticity of even this, I offer the following for you.

      Luke 16:25-31
      “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

      “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

      “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’

      “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

      “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

      Spin away….

      • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

        Go read the Pope’s statement. I’m in favor of it. I’m opposed to the left wing political spin that is distorting it. I’m not so fond of your distortion of the Pope either.

        Your turn to spin.

        You might want to use the official version instead just to keep anybody from playing the “bad translation” card:
        http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/letters/2010/documents/hf_ben-xvi_let_20101115_op-sanitari_en.html

        I really like the concept that charity is a superset of justice. It completely destroys the idea that one can be charitable but unjust to the poor, a staple of leftist critiques of US conservatives who wish to use charity for the mainstay of the help society provides for the poor.

        “Charity goes beyond justice, because to love is to give, to offer what is ‘mine’ to the other; but it never lacks justice, which prompts us to give the other what is ‘his’, what is due to him by reason of his being or his acting…. If we love others with charity, then first of all we are just towards them. Not only is justice not extraneous to charity, not only is it not an alternative or parallel path to charity: justice is ‘inseparable from charity’ and intrinsic to it. Justice is the primary way of charity”

  • Marion (Mael Muire)

    As Catholics I hope we agree, abortion is not “health care.” And contraception is not “health care.”

    Contraception and sterilization are to disable a normal, healthy human function. This is never what good medical care is intended to do. And abortion is to target an innocent life for annihilation. Not good medicine, either. And “euthanasia”, that is, to cause a person to die sooner than he or she would if cared for respectfully, is not “health care.”

    All of these should be classed by Catholics as self-administration of poisons, as shameful mutilations, abominations, and crimes against humanity. None of which is “health care.”

    • Richard Johnson

      And thankfully the Pope was very clear about that in his statement, lest anyone seek to say otherwise (or derail the discussion of overall access to healthcare).

      “Unfortunately, next to positive and encouraging results, there are opinions and lines of thought that wound it: I am referring to questions such as those connected with so-called “reproductive health,” with recourse to artificial techniques of procreation entailing the destruction of embryos, or with legalized euthanasia. Love of justice, the protection of life from conception to its natural end, respect for the dignity of every human being, are to be upheld and witnessed, even against the current: the fundamental ethical values are the common patrimony of universal morality and the basis of democratic coexistence.”

      So we can agree that the Pope’s statement was crystal clear regarding abortion, euthanasia, contraception, and other-important-issues-used-to-derail-healthcare-discussions.

      • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

        Z76.89 in combination with Z41.1 is how you bill for boob jobs, reduction and enlargement. It’s the same code for reconstructive surgery as for cosmetic. So, is this encounter a healthcare right and under what circumstances?
        I missed the part where he talks about this.

        Let’s face it. Some healthcare is elective, done in elaborate, expensive manners, and likely does not fall under what the Pope would consider a right. I’ve no idea how he’d draw the contours or if he even thinks that he should be the one doing so (if he’s wise he will not as such work is a full time job for large teams of individuals). This statement, when taken in the full context of all the Pope’s words issued on this occasion, is meaningful but not exactly the assault on GOP orthodoxy that Mark advertised.

  • Richard Johnson

    For those who insist that we cannot even discuss this issue in generalities without counting the cost, fine…let’s start counting.

    1) What is the cost to the system for indigent/underinsured /non-reimbursed healthcare?

    2) What is the impact of these costs on the overall cost of healthcare?

    3) What is the impact of these costs on the overall cost of health insurance?

    4) What is the impact of these costs with regards to economic productivity/GDP?

    5) How many lives are lost each year because of lack of access to healthcare (including those unable to obtain treatment due to inability to pay)?

    6) What is the economic impact of these deaths to the overall economy?

    • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

      Nobody particularly likes the current system. You seem to be unaware that there is a healthy ecosystem of free market reformers who wish to profoundly change health care. I believe if their prescriptions were followed, the poor would gain access to healthcare sufficient that the leftovers would easily be handled by charity, either public or private.

      The current system is an unsustainable kludge born of WW II evasion of wage and price controls. The system is collapsing in slow motion. It is possible to reform things so they will be better or worse. Ill defined rights talk is not helpful.

      Let me give an example. You can buy 10 oral rehydration packets for $0.01 on Alibaba right now. You can get good results for childhood diarrhea with those packets, a pot, and clean water. The lack of such packets and other similarly cheap basics is what’s too often missing in Africa and what I gather the Pope is upset about. Then there’s the US solution which is to take the kid, install him in a $2k/day bed and run IV drips until the dysentery passes after a few days. The leftist spin on the Pope’s words is to make the latter treatment a right in the US.

      You can buy those oral rehydration salt packets over the counter at Walgreens. They’re insanely overpriced in the US. I think you can get them for a quarter. This is not a serious barrier to the poor getting dysentery treatment for their children in the US.

    • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

      “Let us grant that I am an evil moron. How can civilization be maintained without specialization of labor, trade and industry, and the other incidental effects of private property?”

      The socialist will reply, “You are a moron. I am smart. You are a reactionary. I am progressive. You are benighted. I am enlightened. I am good, because I want to kill the rich and steal their things and dash out their baby’s brains against the rocks. You are evil.”

      Source: http://www.scifiwright.com/2012/10/on-the-incivility-of-socialists/

      • Jamie R

        Your argument for a system that doesn’t cover millions of people and is vastly more expensive is that Thailand is a popular site for medical tourism, but England and Germany aren’t. You should consider that you might be reactionary, benighted, and evil.

        If you also had the hard-nosed fiscal pragmatist argument on your side, then maybe you’d have a point. But you don’t. Our system is twice as expensive as anyone else’s, without being demonstrably twice as good. That’s not fiscal realism. That’s reactionary, evil, and mornic.

        • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

          Our system is twice as expensive as anyone else’s, without being demonstrably twice as good. That’s not fiscal realism. That’s reactionary, evil, and mornic.

          Nobody’s going to deny that a lot of things might be subject to diminishing returns (that’s a free-market principle) But you keep glossing over the more important question. How much is time worth? The Grim Reaper shows up at your door and says, “It’s time. No, I don’t play chess any more, I just accept simple bribery.” So how much should you have to pay to live one more year? Two? Ten? Is there a point where you’ll say “no that’s too expensive, I’ll just die now.”

          Of course let’s see here…
          http://truecostblog.com/tag/healthcare/

          The NIH budget is $30 Billion, and can be classified entirely as health care spending, though it’s often left uncounted. But isn’t research to cure disease health care spending? If it’s not, then what exactly is it? I have also included two-thirds of the FDA budget, as that is the portion related to drug and medical device supervision.

          So… yes. We can reduce our spending if we give up all of our medical innovation and FDA supervision.
          From selectusa [dot] commerce [dot] gov I find:

          The United States leads the world in the production of medical technologies and is the industry’s largest consumer.medical laser The market was valued exceeded $100 billion in 2010, representing about 40 percent of the total medical technologies industry. U.S. exports of medical technologies in key product categories identified by the Department of Commerce (DOC) were valued at approximately $38.09 billion in 2010, exceeding imports valued at $32.73 billion. With new and innovative technologies coming to market, the U.S. medical technologies industry is highly competitive and well-positioned for future growth.

          U.S. medical device companies are highly regarded globally for their innovations and high technology products. Investment in medical device research and development more than doubled during the 1990s, and research and development investment in the domestic sector remains more than twice the average for all U.S. manufacturers overall. The United States also holds a competitive advantage in several industries that the medical technology industry relies on, including microelectronics, telecommunications, instrumentation, biotechnology and software development.

          So yes, I suppose if you want most of the world’s medical innovations to stop, I guess we should stop paying so much.

          • Jamie R

            We spent $2.5 Trillion, with a T, i.e., 2,500,000,000,000 on healthcare in 2009, according to your link. The NIH spent $30 Billion, with a B, i.e., 30,000,000,000 on government subsidized health research. That’s just over 1 percent, which, according the link, is often not even counted in total healthcare spending. But let’s assume that it is. We spent 1% of our healthcare spending on the NIH. We spent twice as much as any other developed country on healthcare. In order for research to account for the difference, it would have to be about 50%, or 1.25 Trillion. I’m no economist, but $30 Billion is less than $1.25 Trillion. By a lot. By about $1.22 Trillion.

            So, what does that extra $1.22 Trillion (i.e., $1,220,000,000,000) get us? Nothing but dead poor people.

            • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

              This is grossly incorrect. It salves the conscience of a lot of neglectful children who put their parents in a nursing home and then when the home calls and notifies them of an acute illness or a worsening of a chronic condition, they parachute in and demand that everything be done for their mother or father. End stage dementia patients shut down and just don’t eat anymore. It’s a part of the natural progression of the disease. These neglectful kids insist on stomach tubes to pour food in and keep their parent alive for a few months more so they can put off the funeral. while they continue to stay away with only brief visits to their “loved one”. Implanted gastro tubes in horrible injury cases are a legitimate treatment but popping them in to so many end stage ill patients is not well justified. This is a practice that would stop quite quickly if the family would be paying for them instead of the state. We waste our care across thousands of unnecessary procedures done to placate the family so they don’t sue, or keep the Dr. safe from lawsuit. Nobody cares because they perceive it all as not their money.

            • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

              Another problem: a lot of costs are “propped up”. I know it’s a common occurrence that doctors who see medicaid/medicare patients, because of price controls end up having to charge private insurances more than the former in order to make up the cost. I’m trying to find data one way or another but I wonder if the same happens internationally. That some companies are charging America more to make up the loss from European markets. This is the best I can find so far. In other words, Europe may have better care because we’re indirectly propping them up. Now that would be irony if our adoption of “paying less” led to everyone losing quality on their care.

              Oh and for all the costs. Europe may not be able to afford it much longer anyway.

    • Jamie R

      If we count the cost, we’d see that a European style system would save a huge amount of money. There’s no honest fiscal conservative reason to prefer our system. Per capita spending on the NHS plus private insurance for those who want it in England is cheaper than per capita spending just on medicare and medicaid in the U.S.: http://www.oecd.org/health/healthpoliciesanddata/BriefingNoteUSA2012.pdf

      If people actually wanted to save money, and for our government only to pay for things it can afford, they’d be clamoring for a turn to a European style system. We spend more per capita and as share of the GDP than anyone else. The cost argument against universal healthcare is absolute BS. People who prefer our system to universal healthcare either don’t understand numbers, or they literally just want the poor to die instead.

      • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

        Yes, people want to create and research new medical technologies because they want to poor to die. What heartless bastards. /sarc

        • Jamie R

          So I see, based on your response supra, that you fall into the “don’t understand numbers” category, rather than the “want the poor to die” category.

        • Jamie R

          Additionally, our system isn’t even a free market. We get the inefficiencies of central planning without the efficiencies of the free market. Our system even perverts other free markets – especially for labor. It makes a mockery of at-will employment if you depend on your employer for insurance, since without Obamacare you can’t get insurance for pre-existing conditions (meaning an at-will employee isn’t really free to leave) and with Obamacare you don’t have in anyway a free market for health insurance. I could almost understand preferring free market healthcare to any of the European models. But saying that our system is better, and worth twice as much, when it doesn’t include the efficiencies of the free market is just crazy.

          • http://natewinchester.wordpress.com/ Nate Winchester

            Now on this I won’t argue with you, and that’s why I think a lot of people are going to countries with more free markets for medical procedures. But yes, I’d like to see it far less regulated.

      • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

        Most honest fiscal conservatives do not support the current system. You are setting up a straw man. What is being opposed is replacing this flawed system with one that is even les sustainable and will degrade worse. There are plenty of conservative reform ideas and several bills put up in opposition to Obamacare. If the GOP wins control of the Congress and White House we are likely to be debating which of these reforms will replace Obamacare.

        • Jamie R

          An honest fiscal conservative would prefer an English or German style system to ours. They don’t.

          What conservatives are calling to get rid of the favorable tax treatment for employer paid health-insurance premiums? That would be tax increase, but it would sever health insurance form employment and drive down prices. What actual reforms are actual conservatives calling for that would get healthcare expenditures down to Europe-like levels? Judging by elderly GOP voters who want the government to stay away from their medicare and social security, what politicians are going to do anything about medicare, which is more expensive per capita and covers fewer people than the NHS? So-called fiscal conservatives are dishonestly criticizing Obamacare as if it were socialized medicine, and blatantly dishonestly saying that socialized medicine is more expensive than our current system.

  • Mike Walsh

    If a Vatican bureaucrat gets cancer, where do you suppose he goes for treatment: Italy or the US? One guess per customer. . .

  • eln

    1. It seems to me that much of this discussion is driven by assumptions shaped by the ideology, more precisely, by the two dominant party ideologies in the US. I say “party ideologies”, because both the Republican and the Democrat mainstream ideologies are internally inconsistent, and the results of historical and political accidents. But that is what makes it so sad, that so many people, and especially that Catholics, have their thought shaped not by a correct theological anthropology – he Christian one, which is rooted in the experience of thousands of years and on Revelation, but in whatever is the current mainstream in a tiny part of the Earth (US). “The US ” and “now” is not the same with “mankind” and “history and Revelation.” What is man? What is he for? These are the questions with which the Catechism starts, and the answers it gives have little to do with current GOP or DEM or whatever party platform in USA 2012. But with Jewish people’s tradition of thousands of years, and with 1000 years of civilization in Europe, and with 2000 of Christianity in the MIddle East, Asia, Africa, Europe, and with the experience of Latin America and North America, and, finally – but actually foremostly – with the Word of God.

    2. Health care.
    a. Universal access DOES NOT (DOES NOT!) MEAN government-run healthcare system (ie in which the government owns and operates all medical establishments). In fact, based on my experience, that is a very poor system, overall. Germany has universal access and universal coverage of basic needs, and top notch, world class medicine. The health insurance funds are locally and communally run, and their management involves representatives of all the parties involved – doctors, nurses, local governments. Some of these funds are more than a hundred years old. Otherwise, the medical system is private, doctors have their own practices etc. But everyone is covered. And the costs are lower than in the US.
    b. Every resource, including food, has its costs. Life itself costs, since everything it needs, has its costs, except (for now) air. But human beings are the goal of all human activities, including economic activities, and they should be the measure of all activities, including economic activities. Profit can never (NEVER) be a more important value, than the value of the human being. The human being is the supreme value, everything else is subordinate. Caritas in veritate. Furthermore, the medical profession is in fact a vocation whose only meaning is TO HEAL. NOT to make profits. Not that making profits is wrong or any such nonsense. But the very meaning, sense, and purpose of the medical profession is TO HEAL. The rest is collateral, and, just like a priest should receive his payment, so should the doctor etc. And if he becomes rich, good for him (with secular eyes), if that is what he wants. However, refusing care to patient because he/she can not pay is contrary to the most essential understanding of what the value of a human being is, of the role of every human activity, and of the sole meaning of the medical act.

    • http://chicagoboyz.net TMLutas

      The FRG krankenkasse system is just as desperately juggling to avoid financial collapse as the US system. Every first world system is under the same fiscal pressures and buckling under the strain.

  • Austin Ruse

    The error you are making in your celebration, Brother Mark, is in thinking that “access” is the thing itself. Access is the ability to get it without interference not that it is necessarily given to you by the state. The state has a responsibility to ensure that no citizens are blocked form their ability to get health care. We have that in the United States already. Anyone who needs a doctor has access to one. I believe this is the consistent teaching of the Church.

    I expect this has been covered in the voluminous comments above.

  • eln

    Their main problem is aging and low natality (birth rate). As a health-care system, it has worked perfectly well, at world class quality, covering ALL residents of Germany, for several decades. The idea is that, contrary to what party ideology might say, universal coverage is possible, and in fact is felt as a normal duty by most Europeans. Dis-joining the definition medical care = economic activity, which is false (as definition), and understanding the definition of medical care, which is medical care = healing of human beings, is central to this proposition. Just like evangelizing: the worker will deserve his pay, but the definition of evangelizing will never be, an economic activity. Even if some tele-evangelists or cult leaders look at it that way, and use it that way. Human beings are the foremost value (of course, subordinate to God alone). Everything else is subordinate to this value.


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