Ross Douthat Makes A Good Point…

Just because you can think up an idea, doesn’t mean it’s a good one. Or a licit one. In a response to a reader’s comment from his Sunday column, Government and it’s Rivals, about the HHS Mandate, Douthat writes and shares the thoughts of Megan McArdle and Rod Dreher in response to a reader’s comment,

But just because it’s possible to construct some sort of “he who pays the piper calls the tune” argument in order to justify some version of the White House’s stance doesn’t mean that the policy is actually defensible. Here I agree with Megan McArdle’s comments on the matter:

“I’ve seen several versions of Kevin’s complaint on the interwebs, and everyone makes it seems to assume that we’re doing the Catholic Church a big old favor by allowing them to provide health care and other social services to a needy public.

Why, we’re really coddling them, and it’s about time they started acting a little grateful for everything we’ve done for them!

These people seem to be living in an alternate universe that I don’t have access to, where there’s a positive glut of secular organizations who are just dying to provide top-notch care for the sick, the poor, and the dispossessed.

In the universe where I live, some of the best charity care is provided by religious groups–in part because they have extremely strong fundraising capabilities, in part because they often have access to an extremely deep and motivated pool of volunteers, and in part because they are often able to generate significant returns to scale and longevity. And of course, the comparative discretion and decentralization of private charity, religious or secular, makes it much more effective in many (not all ways) than government entitlements.”

In this world, I had been under the impression that we were providing Catholic charities with federal funds mostly because this was the most cost-effective way of delivering services to needy groups.”

And Rod Dreher’s follow-up:

Here’s the thing: in an abstract world, [Drum] might have a point about the confusion that would result if every religious employer demanded exemptions from every federal regulation that even slightly impinged upon its conscience. But we do not live in that world. We live in a world in which a concrete entity, the Roman Catholic Church, runs, more or less, a large number of medical, educational, and other charity-oriented institutions As McArdle says, many of these facilities and institutions serve the poor. Where are the secular liberal organizations running schools for inner-city kids, in many cases not even Catholic kids, and offering them the best chance they have at a decent education? On the trivial matter of providing for a relatively cheap and easy to obtain product — contraception — the Obama administration is going to frog-march this invaluable institution forward into a progressive future, and put all that it does for the poor — things that nobody else can do — at risk?”

Good food for thought. Go read the rest at Liberals and Catholic Hospitals.

  • Anthony S. Layne

    Douthat almost makes Hell’s Bible worth reading.

    • Frank Weathers