Hooray for Health Care

My previous post on my experience of the National Health Service elicited a large number of comments–both pro and con.

I think some of the people were missing the point. Because I said my experience of national health care in Britain was more positive than negative, and that in principle I have no objection to a state organized health insurance program does not mean that I favor Obama care, that I think it’s okay for state medicine to make me fund abortion and euthanasia or that I’m basically giving a thumbs up to Obamacare. I’m not. From what I know about the legislation it is overblown, expensive, and has immorality built into it in many ways. Most of all I’m worried about the implications of the law and the effect it will have on all the rest of our freedoms. I distrust big government and this seems like a classic big government solution.

Here’s the solution as I see it: G.K.Chesterton said every argument is a theological argument. Therefore, let’s start at beginning–with personal virtue. The whole concept of health care comes from the Christian idea of healing, and the whole idea of healing comes from the Christian concept of the human person: each individual is a unique creation in the image of God. Each human person is an eternal soul–an immortal diamond, and therefore each person’s life is precious. Each person should be treated with dignity and care from the moment of conception to natural death.

The second principle is that this care is the responsibility of each person for his brother and sister. Health care begins at home and continues in the local community and in the church. This is why the first hospitals were founded by churches and religious orders. This is why so many hospitals still have a religious affiliation. Health care is about care for individual patients–real people caring for real people. While this seems obvious, too much of our health care is run like a factory. Patients are treated like biological machines that need to be fixed with a combination of surgery and chemicals.

The third principle is that all those involved in health care should see their work as a vocation of service to God and their brothers and sisters. What would our health care system be like if the manufacturers of pharmaceuticals saw their work as part of the healing profession and part of their vocation was to provide the best medicines possible at the lowest possible cost for as many people as possible? What if all our doctors and nurses considered it their primary vocation to provide the best health care for as many people as possible at the lowest possible cost? What if they all lived on teachers’ salaries? What if the colleges who trained doctors did so at as small a cost as possible? What if people (shock horror!!) decided that every aspect of the health care profession was a non profit operation?

Don’t misunderstand–I know that a good number of health care professionals do still consider their work a vocation and work long hard hours and often do much work pro bono. Good for them.

However, the fact remains that the health care industry (whether it is private or public) is an enormous industry and that many people make a lot of money out of it. They make a lot of money at the cost of human lives and happiness for while they provide better health and healing, they also do so at a huge cost to all of us. Governments may throw endless cash at the problem, but the problem will only be corrected by individual virtue–individuals deciding that they wish to serve as compassionate healers rather than “health care professionals” who’s main concern is the health of their bank accounts.

Think how different it would be if we organized health insurance for ourselves at the local level. What if we had “Health Care Districts” like we have school districts, and the local government or state government administered health insurance through the tax system? What if hospitals remained independent and provided the health care and billed the local government insurer? What if the local government had powers to restrain costs and industry watch dogs ensured that waste, corruption and graft was eliminated?

But of course for that to work the government officials themselves would have to be virtuous.

So the whole thing comes down to personal virtue, and where does one acquire the skill set to be personally virtuous? Only through the detailed, direct and clear teaching of religious virtue, for it is only the Christian religion which has the thoroughgoing foundational principles to define and defend right moral behavior.

The bottom line: You want the health care system to work? Get people back to church.

  • Doc’s Wife

    First – what is a reasonable definition of receiving health care? For me, ANY indidvidual in this country can walk into any emergency room in this country and receive life-sustaining care. That would be the minimun acceptable and that is what we have now. Having “insurance” so you can go to a physician when you have a cold is not acceptable. There are programs within each state that provide some sort of contingent medical care for people who truly need help, especially children. But that’s not the issue – people are seeing “free health care” at their fingertips at NO COST TO THEM.
    Keeping government out of medicine is the first step to returning “virtue” to medicine. Eliminating insurance altogether would mean real competition between physicians for paying patients which would have a net result of better physicians being trained. When people are REALLY sick they don’t dink around – they find the one person that can help them. If that doc is depending on referrals from his patients, you can bet your hiney that he is going to give it all he’s got, keep expenses down for the patient and do everything he can to not lose the patient to another doc. It doesn’t matter now – with insurance there is such a glut of appointments that its hard to get in to see even a family practitioner for upwards of 6 weeks. Bloated insurance premiums also go to pay for bloated overhead – in most instances support staff is much larger than those who are actually doing the work – physicians and nurses. These mega healthcare systems we have in this country are top-heavy with unneccessary full time employees and CEO’s that actually depend on the physicians doing less than their jobs in order to save money in order for the CEO’s to make their huge bonuses on top of their huge salaries. But now that greed and envy are firmly ensconced in medicine I don’t really see how there is any hope.

    • Karen

      In 2007 my husband had emergency gall bladder surgery. The bill was $84,000, all but a still huge $10,000 covered by insurance. That same year my older son broker his upper arm, my younger son had MRSA, and I had pneumonia. How, precisely, were we supposed to comparison shop for the best deal? Bid for surgeons a la Priceline?

      • Doc’s Wife

        Who said shop for a deal? It’s likely that if you have medical insurance, then you have a primary care physician. The comparison shopping isn’t to get the best deal, it’s to find a physician who will care for you and that you trust, and who, in theory anyway, will come and see you in the ER or hospital when you are ill.

    • http://www.thecatholicbeat.com Gail Finke

      Doc’s Wife: My son (15) has a chronic condition. One of the medicines he takes now would cost $750 a month if we didn’t have insurance — and that’s just ONE of his medicines. We have doctor visits at least once a week. He did not do anything to give himself this illness, and he was not in an accident. This is one of the problems with healthcare today. No one would give us that for free, or provide it for us to pay back for decades, that’s for sure! I am against ObamaCare for many reasons. But I have no illusions that just being able to go to an emergency room for a crisis is adequate healthcare. There are a lot of things that need to be fixed in our system.

      • Doc’s Wife

        Gail, I do know what you are going through and I’m so sorry. There are two members of my immediate family that are also taking expensive meds – one for a chronic illness and the other a terminal illness. Not only would we also be up a creek without insurance, at least one of these people, and possibly both, will be denied the medication under Obamacare. There is one thing for certain though – if insurance was phased out prices would drop to what the market could bear. There are so many layers to medicine and insurance that it would take some doing, but it could happen.

  • Joe

    While I’m certainly again exorbitant salaries and greedy physicians, doctors should be paid more than a teacher salary. For one, teachers are paid too little (and are therefore undervalued), and two, doctors invest far more time and effort into their qualifications than almost any other profession (>11 years). Charitable living is indeed essential, but justice (and charity) also demands that we value these professions, which in the real world translates to a higher paycheck.

  • Will

    “The second principle is that this care is the responsibility of each person for his brother and sister. Health care begins at home and continues in the local community and in the church.”

    This has no worked so well. I worked for a state human services department and saw many people in need who could not afford medical care. Their choice was food, rent, or medical needs. My wife and I contribute to a local clinic, but they have people with more needs than they can cover. When all of the medical needs are covered by individuals or groups, then the government can get out of the health insurance business.

  • Mark Ferris

    Father, this is the most disturbing post I have ever encountered on your Blog. While asking Health Care Professionals to give up all the time and money they have invested toward their professions and serve as nonprofit compassionate healers sounds nice, that ignores reality. While you have volunteered to give your lifetime of salary to others and declined to have your own home, car, vacations, children’s college funds and retirement (not?), these professionals definitely did not. For most of them, it is too late to choose a different path. But rest assured, the young are already turning away from these important vocations. Who will take their place? There are people on the earth who want to live a life of poverty and mutual dependence. They are not called doctors. They are called ‘Religious’.

    • Andy

      If a person needs a large salary to validate the vocational choice made then indeed this country is doomed. A vocation is a calling, it is more than a job. What is missing then is not that young people are not entering these jobs, but rather that young people see money/salary as more important than helping others, or however you elect to phrase it. By the way I have job that pays not a great deal, at least compared to my educational level (PhD, 2 MS, and BA0 and I am not religious. I don’t live in poverty but all of our children qualified for free lunches while in school. I think that many miss the concept of accepting and living within what is needed to live well – food, shelter, medical care, clothing – and have bought in to lying well meaning having what I want when I want it. I also think that our worship of money in this country as a means of determining a person’s worth drives the decisions that people make about job choice.

      • Joe

        Were you looking for a badge of honor Andy, because you won’t be gettin one from God if you can’t even put food in your kids’ mouths. Sounds to me like you’ve chosen the ivory tower of education over your own primary vocation: the family. Good thing others who do make good salaries are out there to carry your weight. And regarding the doom of the country, if we undervalue and undercompensate professions that directly aid the population, and overcompensate noncontributors (which we already do), the culture will rot faster than expected. It’s not about greed, it’s about the scales of justice. Pay people their due, it’s up to them to either be charitable or not with their resources, not us.

        • Andy

          Joe I said they were eligible , I never said they received it. My weight Joe, unlike your leads to helping people, I am not in an ivory tower, I work with disabled children and adults. Surprise! I have to “battle” people like you on a daily basis to protect folks who society would like to forget.
          Justice Joe is tempered by mercy, a trait obviously not in your makeup, nor is reading comprehension. And it is the very attitude you display in your post that will cause the country to rot more quickly – self-rightouesness, anger and obliviousness to others. I will pray you and gthose fo your ilk.

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      I didn’t tell anyone to give up all their investment. I’m asking whether people across the range in health care who make whopping salaries really need that much.

      • Doc’s Wife

        Back in the day when physicians took round-the-clock care of their patients, they deserved a higher income. Not so anymore. Docs will work M-F, 9-5, they won’t come in at night to see their patients if called, leaving that to the unlucky slob on call, oftentimes not even a physician anymore but a PA; they take weeks-long vacations; your surgeon will cut you open then leave you to a primary care physician or the nurses. All this came about as a direct result of Medicare and private insurance. They don’t have to work long hours for huge amounts of money that is only available to them because of insurance pools. The amount of money they make is obscene for the work they do. However, the docs in private practice do deserve some consideration about the business aspects of their practices. Most of them would be reasonable if they could afford it. Most of them would probably also give a lot more charity if the government didn’t have to stick their noses into everything.

        • Will

          If you are really a doc’s wife, you should be happy your husband only works from 9 to 5.

          The doctor’s I have contact with work far more hours than 9 to 5.

          • Doc’s Wife

            Of course I am a doc’s wife. Our family has given up very much in order for him to practice. But he’s an exception to the rule — always has been. My point is that I have seen it up close and personal and I’ve seen the distortions in the pay vs the actual practice.

      • Mark Ferris

        The problem with people complaining about how much other people make is that they never do the math. I have a friend that is a city fireman. I also know his father who has lived to a ripe age. If my friend lives to his fathers age, he will have collected $1.2 million in retirement pay. Now THERE is a whopping salary for you!

        • Mark Ferris

          Sorry Father, that was a bit harsh. I still believe it impossible to attract intelligent people in the numbers that you require, without using the free market system.

      • darkwing

        Father, it’s easy to see the whopping salaries, but forget about the whopping expenses. Even after attending a modestly-priced college and med school, a student of modest means will graduate with massive loans — the average, I believe, is rapidly approaching $200K. On top of that, there’s malpractice insurance — good luck finding a policy for under $10K/yr, or for $50-100K/yr (or more!) if you’re a surgeon. When your expenses can easily exceed the average American family’s income, it’s no wonder that your salary is going to be high as well.

        All that aside, though, I think it’s a bit of a stretch to characterize doctors’ pay as “whopping”. After a few years of practice, most specialties average salaries between $200K and $300K. Not a bad paycheck, to be sure, but also nowhere near enough to live like the truly rich — multi-million dollar, paid-for homes, private jet travel, a Rolls-Royce in the driveway, etc. Heck, in my neck of the woods, you’d have to double that to squeak your way into the much-maligned “1%”.

  • Korou

    “…where does one acquire the skill set to be personally virtuous? Only through the detailed, direct and clear teaching of religious virtue, for it is only the Christian religion which has the thoroughgoing foundational principles to define and defend right moral behavior.

    The bottom line: You want the health care system to work? Get people back to church.”

    How do religious people know what is right or wrong?

  • http://elizabethk-fthnfort.blogspot.com/ Elizabeth K.

    My understanding, (and anyone feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, because I’m basing this on hearsay that’s a few years old, at that), is that we essentially have a supply and demand issue in the healthcare industry. That our supply of doctors is artificially limited, which drives healthcare costs up overall. I don;t totally buy the argument that because they spend more time in school, they deserve more money. If that were true, my English Ph.D. would be earning me far more than it does: I actually earned much, much more as a private school instructor than I do as a college professor. Why? Simple economics–there are hundreds of us for every job, and I am endlessly replacable. Perhaps what we really need is more people allowed into, and graduating from medical school and opening practices? (Again, I’m open to kind correction!)

    • Mark Ferris

      The supply of doctors is limited by the number of young people who are willing to make the long term investment. A field that is lucrative enough attracts lots of talent. Healthcare has been price fixed for close to two decades now. Because being a doctor is a commitment that is normally only ended by the ‘biological solution”, we are slow to see the disaster coming. Even slower will be the fix.

      • SteveD

        It is also limited by the number of qualified physicians from developing countries who are allowed to join programs to enable them to work in the US and there are tens of thousands of them queuing to do so.

  • David

    Father, while I think you are a powerhouse in one form of healthcare (the spiritual health care) I think maybe not so much on the secular side. In a virtual world the idea of eveyone living up to their virtuous selves is a reasonable concept. In this world we have no perfect people therefore no perfect governments, no perfect industries, and no perfect institutions. That even under the most innocent altruistic concept, National Healthcare can not compete long term with private healthcare because too much worldly corruption will encroach over time. In the immediate case, Obamacare, all one has to do is look at the penalty tax levels. Under $9500/year no penalty tax, $9500 to 37,000, a $695/year tax. Consider that span, it is extraordinarily regressive at one end it amounts to a 7% tax and at the other end it is a 2% tax. On an income level range that can not afford even $20.00 tax. This approaches usury at the 2% level and is certainly usury at the 7% level for a healthy individual. I believe that more government “care” of its citizens leads only to greater cost in both financial and freedom terms. I think there is an Easop fable about a fat dog and a starving wolf.

  • Addy

    You could solve the access problem in large measure by letting doctors write off uncollected debts which they currently cannot do unlike other businessmen.

  • asshur

    My experience is that most health care professionals (at least in my nation) tend to fall in the “vocational”/”at the service of the patient” side; both in public and private praxis; even to some -and not negligible- extreme cases who sacrifice their personal like/health to their service. And usually work with high ethical standards (if they fail usually is in an excess of piety)
    On the other side -both public and private- there is the, unavoidable, host of “bean counters”, unions, managers, cost control measures (modern Health Care DO IS extremely expensive), and tort “defensive measures” (aka medical protocols); which usually “ruin” the experience …
    Disclaimer. I’ve worked for many years in private Health Care (as one of the obxonovious ones …). I -still- have private insurance; and in a couple of really big health problems have been redirected to the public branch (thanks God, btw.) Medically, it’s unimpeachable, on cost/organizative issues, well, … i worked for the others.

    • asshur

      Self correction. i hit a “false friend” ; instead o “if they fail usually is in an excess of piety” you must read “if they fail usually is in an excess of mercy”

  • Danielle

    I think non-profit status for the health industry would be amazing, and have mentioned it when the subject comes up. In those conversations, too many people seem to make the equation the non-profit = no pay. Profit is anything over and above costs, and pay is a cost. In fact, if my local hospital were non-profit, I am sure we wouldn’t have threat of nurses strikes, because any money coming in would have to go back out (in the form of pay, benefits, improvements, pro bono work, etc). And, a non-profit can have reserve accounts, which any one with a bank account ought to do anyways.

  • Mr. Patton

    A very nice 180 degree turn of events….LOL I almost took your last blog as some sort of enlightened semblance of reason for a short time (less than 48 hours).

  • h koczur

    Father,
    You have no concept of how this violates our Constitution. We already had the greatest system in the world…
    The poor never do well under socialized medicine, and under Obama Care, with rationing and death panels, the poor, weak and elderly are the losers. We are not interested in what England has, so please do not use that as a selling point.

  • Fr Euan Marley O.P.

    I was a hospital chaplain for eight years in a hospital in Leicester and have helped out on call at hospitals in Glasgow, Newcastle, Oxford and Edinburgh. So I might claim something of an overview of the system. Three remarks. One, the NHS, as we call it over here, functions as the symbol of what post war Great Britain stands for. It came in after the war and no party will ever challenge its right to exist, no matter how much they criticise its inefficiency. Two, it has always depended on the personal commitment of its staff, often Christian, Jewish or Muslim, or of other faiths, though there are also many committed atheists, who frequently seem to me to be trying to prove they can be good without faith. This commitment can allow certain groups to be exploited by the service. Three, the bureaucracy is undeniable but much of it comes from having to comply with the ever increasing volume of laws which are generated by concerns for health and safety, anti corruption, privacy and social manipulation.

    • SteveD

      My daughter has worked in NHS nursing for many years and her ‘take’ on the service is very different. She says that a large minority of staff are lazy and indifferent to the needs of patients and see their role as completing a shift without actually doing anything. These people see the NHS as a soft employer who will provide a decent salary and a wonderful pension without demanding too much from them. She says that they get away with their lack of committment because managers are afraid of the unions and the paperwork involved in taking anyone to book. Some of the horror stories she tells make me quite afraid of ending up in an NHS ward – and, should I be seriously ill, I have no alternative.

      • flyingvic

        …and I have had two operations under the NHS in recent years, one of which was in a life-threatening context. The care I received was wonderful.

  • Ella

    I work as a CNA at a local hospital while I am finishing my RN. I see doctors there at all hours of the night and day and most of them are on call 24/7 for their patients. They spent upwards of$100,000 and years of their life to earn their degrees. They deserve to be paid what they are worth. An english or education phd (or similar) is absolutely nothing in comparison in hours and effort to a physicians doctorate. Any doubts? Just compare the coursework. People refuse to accept responsibility for their own health and numerous studies have shown some people will not even take free medicine to prevent heart attacks and strokes. Diabetic, cardiac and renal patients rarely do anything to help themselves and most just want surgery and/or drugs and often will change nothing about their unhealthy lifestyles. They want all kinds of “magic pills” and will sue pharmaceutical companies at the drop of a hat for a drug the company spent multiple millions to create and then they complain the drug costs too much. We have at least two normally “homeless” residents in our hospital right now due to bizarre government regulations. We cannot discharge them and they have been there for many weeks. The system is indeed badly in need of repair but it is reprehensible to say health care workers should be paid the same as teachers. I used to teach. It required no studying or effort for me to “ace” my coursework for those courses. My RN degree has been much harder and I won’t even begin to compare it to what a physician does for his/her coursework. Here’s a radical thought- let the market decide what an individual job is worth. I don’t think celebrities or football players are worth more than a teacher but they are paid thousands of times more per annum. It’s not my call. Maybe priests should not be paid more than a one-bedroom roof over their head, food (for one) in their belly, and a parish provided vehicle and non-smart cell phone. (I don’t actually think that would be right but my point is it not for anyone of us to say who deserves what. We don’t have that right.)

    • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

      Good points well made!

  • Katherine

    What are you doing July 12, Father? I have a suggestion for you….

    http://www.acton.org/event/2012/defending-free-market-moral-case-free-economy

  • HCS Knight

    “The second principle is that this care is the responsibility of each person for his brother and sister.”

    Wow. This stuff has gone too far. No, what you are flat out stating is IMMORAL and a SIN.

    The moral obligation of Charity is NOT a responsibility of one man for another. To claim it is a responsibility does grave offense to God’s Word and Christ’s teaching.

    First, it denies Charity. If something is a responsibility, then there is an explicit right held by the one to whom the responsibility is due. Therefore there can be no Charity by the one who gives.

    Second, the responsibility in this case grants the one to whom the responsibility is due the right to take from the one responsible what is needed to meet their desired goal of whatever “health care” is.

    Fr. your conscience and Faith have been EXTREMELY poorly formed.
    It is a MORTAL SIN to take the property of another.
    It is even more grave when a Priest encourages others to steal.
    There are no exceptions to any of the Commandments.

    The ACA has done exactly that, it is the forced taking of property by a group of people so they can give it to another person.

    The fact is the “entitlement” mentality, largely created by grave abuses of the teachings of the Catholic Faith by “Social Justice” Catholics is the main root of the EVIL that lies at the root of this socialist mentality.
    And yes it is EVIL. Evil takes joy in committing Mortal Sin.
    And it is a mortal sin to forcefully take something from a person, even if it is to give to another.
    The ACA, like most of the government entitlement programs are founded upon these kinds of perversions of principles regarding rights.

    Did Christ ever say “go out and steal if you feel hungry”?
    Did Christ ever say “steal food to feed the hungry”?
    Did Christ ever say, “if you are tired break into the home of another and sleep on their bed”?
    Did Christ ever say “if you are cold, steal the robe from the back of another man”?

    When government forces the taking of MY PROPERTY to give it to another person that is the government STEALING under a falsely claimed right that does not exist unto a man.

    Government taking property for the common good, e.g. a shared road or military/police/fire for protection is a totally different question; so take that off the table. And dont go down that “a healthy population is in the interest of the common good” because the fundamental concept of “health” is at best, and at start, very relativistic.

    As a priest you take joy in the fact that a government takes the property of another person and gives it to whom they decide worthy? There is NO FREEDOM in that, there is NO CHARITY in that.
    As a priest you should be ashamed of yourself. These very perversions of freedom, of rights lie at the very heart of why abortion is so rampant. It is disgusting to me that you would cheer the stealing of a Wolf in a Robin Hood outfit.

    Your PRIMARY responsibility as a priest is to administer the Sacraments, then defend and promote the
    Faith. To ignore things like the 10 Commandments to support your idea of utopia or charity is offensive.
    If you and the other priests were doing your jobs well, if you were truly serving God and Christ, teaching the Catholic Faith and not your version of Social Justice then there would be no need for you to join in the
    social justice actions because the well formed laity would take care of those issues.

    You really, really need to spend a LOT of time in prayer and reading the Social Justice documents of the Church in context, and not in contradiction to, the firmly and forever held truths of the Church regarding MORTAL SIN.

    Neither YOU nor ANY Catholic who supports the creation of government programs that take from one and give to another is partaking in any act of Charity. You are joining the legions of Satan in taking from one and giving to another according to YOUR WILL and YOUR DESIRE. And by doing so through a government program that forces and punishes those who do not pay for your desires you DESTROY true Charity and BUILDs Satan’s city.

    May God have mercy on your soul and those who join you in walking with evil.
    AMDG

  • http://www.thechristiannetwork.com kat

    Hooray for healthcare, I don’t want to enter into a political debate over healthcare other than to say “we are Blessed to have access to it” After a recent mission trip to the slums of Cambodia my eyes were opened to our many Blessings, running water a significant one. We at times overlook the unsung heroes of of helping and health profession and the amazing love and compassion they share daily!
    http:/thechristiannetwork.com/I-was-sick-and-you-looked after-me/

    • Paulus

      Hear, hear….well said!

  • Charlotte

    “Think how different it would be if we organized health insurance for ourselves at the local level. What if we had “Health Care Districts” like we have school districts, and the local government or state government administered health insurance through the tax system? What if hospitals remained independent and provided the health care and billed the local government insurer? What if the local government had powers to restrain costs and industry watch dogs ensured that waste, corruption and graft was eliminated?”

    What a nightmare. You really need to view the pursuit of power with at least the same amount of skepticism with which you view the pursuit of wealth. I know you said right after this that such a system would only work if officials became virtuous, but even if that day should come, what exactly would be wrong with reforms that put the individual in control of healthcare? Why replace our dysfunctional employer based system with a dysfunctional government based system? Why not a patient based system?

    I know many good people have a default preference, that I honestly find baffling, for using government to solve our health care problems . It’s hard to get a clear answer to whether they a) honestly believe that government can do the best job, or b) believe that since government is ordered to the common good, a tax supported system would by definition be more moral than any other, even if it meant poorer care, care for fewer people, and all at greater cost. They tend to start off trying to make a case for ‘a’, but end up arguing for ‘b’.

    • Mark Ferris

      You really need to view the pursuit of power with at least the same amount of skepticism with which you view the pursuit of wealth.

      Well said.

  • http://servusfidelis.wordpress.com Dave

    For all the ills that we attribute to our capitalistic healthcare system in this country it is where all the socialists and communists in this world come to get treatment if they have something seriously wrong and the they can afford the treatment. While people are dying in the corridors of British hospitals and can’t find a nurse to give them a simple drink of water, our poor can and do get better treatment in the ER than those with medical coverage in these socialist countries. The fact is, even if we wanted to create a socialized medical system in this country, we can’t afford it. Not that the European socialist can either — they’re broke and their system is about to crumble. They ran out of other people’s money. We are 15 trillion in debt now and if we tax the rich 100% we won’t make a dent in the proposed budget: but I guess it makes poorer people feel good to hose those with more than they have – envy, the last time I looked, was still considered a sin and private ownership of one’s earnings was a principle that the Catholic church still upholds. Where do we go to get the money next? Mars? Jupiter? Venus? The impossibility of any socialized medical program being able to work seems to escape everyone. They just kick the bill down to our children and grandchildren as if no one will ever call in the chips and make us pay or default. Well, Europe is now defaulting. Is that the lemmings we want to follow off the cliff? I know that Time magazine said that we are all Socialists now and I for one feel like Athanasius in a world that suddenly awoke to find that everyone was Arian. Are we all Socialists now, though our Catholic Popes have written scores of Encyclicals about the ills of such a system? Are we relenting to the world even as the rest of the world is failing? Et tu Dwight?

    • Paulus

      Actually Dave you should go back and reread those encyclicals as the popes didn’t spare capitalism either. And the best guess of the CBO is that implementation of the ACA will actually reduce the deficit while giving 33 million people access to healthcare they otherwise wouldn’t have had. There’s a lot of things I don’t like about the ACA but the Republicans chose to spend their political capital on cutting taxes and prosecuting two wars while they were in power instead of addressing healthcare themselves when they had the opportunity.

  • Katherine

    “Socialism only works in two places: Heaven where they don’t need it and hell where they already have it.” Ronald Reagan

  • John T Ridd

    Dear Father,

    Read more. Blog less.

  • Pompous Ass

    I have read the blog entry and the comments with great interest and understood only part of them. Frankly, some of the points raised in the comments are simply incomprehensible to me. Very un-American, I know. Maybe that is because I have lived all my life in Austria, where there is a comprehensive system of national insurance. The foundations for this were laid in the 1890ies. Having a national insurance (or, if you prefer: social security) is, in my opinion, a bit like having a car; of course most of us can get by in a cheap model, or in a compact car. But where is the fun in that? And surely a bigger car is better for protection in case of a crash … or for going long distances … or when traveling over rough terrain … and thus, inexorably, the system grows. What is in place now, makes Austria (@Dave, sorry to destroy your vision of the world) a place where quite a lot of people come to get treatment or have difficult operations at affordable cost – or none. One case was published recently: http://www.wienerzeitung.at/themen_channel/wzkunstgriff/buehne/462092_So-unglaublich.html – for those not speaking German, a US model living in Vienna (Austria) slipped a disk. She had to call the emergency doctor (Notarzt – not sure, if “Doctor on call” means the same). He came, treated her and charged nothing. That is normal, but for US citizens it seems to be something special close to unbelievable. Indeed, a Notarzt is forbidden to charge anything; if he did, it would cost him his position.

  • Mike Blackadder

    Father, thank you for your article. I’m definitely not a fan of Obama’s healthcare plan either, but don’t condemn the idea of socialized medicine or the real necessity of health insurance. In this debate we forget some of our better characteristics as a Christian community. Yes, I want to retain my choice as a young person to spend my money on school or a new car, rather than waste money on insurance to pay for an older or sicker person’s health care, but isn’t it also nice to think that we are a society where people work and pay their taxes to contribute to the well being of those who need more at this time of their life? This is no argument for socialism, just a compensating thought when we dwell overmuch on the injustices committed against ourselves, while forgetting perhaps greater suffering of others, whom we could be helping.

    One counter argument to this is that the question of socialized medicine is not primarily one of morality, but more of effectiveness. Just because you are against socialized medicine does not mean you care less about the sick or the poor. Capitalism is an extremely effective system of supply and demand and innovation all of which serve the greater good of healthcare and certainly is beneficial to everyone.

    Living under socialized medicine I am sometimes amazed that we consider it a blasphemy for someone to buy healthcare, but it is perfectly ordinary to pay cash to get your car serviced or repaired with a 4 hour turnaround. To me it doesn’t seem like such a bad thing that we spend money on our health.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/standingonmyhead/2012/07/hooray-for-health-care.html maekelly

    great post!


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