“We didn’t pick the time…

“We didn’t pick the time… July 3, 2012

…nor did we pick the fight”.

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  • There is a great deal of work needed to make Paul Ryans budget something that is not cruel to the poor. By the very nature of subsidiarity, Congressman Ryan shouldn’t be doing it all. If he is, then it defeats the purpose because we’re not practicing subsidiarity. What’s our part, as ordinary laymen with perhaps a small talent in writing? What’s our part as technicians, doctors, nurses, social workers, etc., etc. ?

    This is a huge topic and an opportunity to grow closer to Christ while setting us on a sustainable financial footing going forward. We need plenty of indians to actually do the work but, especially at the beginning, the message must be discussed and our minds must be turned to the more complex job of doing charity right instead of just saying “I paid my taxes and so I’ve done my bit”.

    So here’s my bit, a preview of a book that’s trying to get from my brain, through my keyboard, and onto Amazon’s Kindle store. The US Congress by making the necessary conversation of how to do healthcare well much harder than it has to be by creating a vocabulary, being penny wise and pound foolish by not paying for that vocabulary, and setting up a situation where we both must use that vocabulary and are threatened into not using it as we would normally use it in commerce, thus ripping the heart out of capitalist economics as applied to medicine. The poor suffer from this because free market price signaling is made inefficient and thus medicine is much more expensive than it has to be.

    The Congress got too cute by half by mandating that the HCPCS coding system that lets doctors get paid in its 800 lb gorilla insurance funds (Medicare & Medicaid) use the AMA’s copyrighted CPT as the level 1 component while not paying the AMA for a national license. The AMA was left to seek use payments from anybody who used the system and gets tens of millions every year in a payment scheme where you have to pay a multi-dollar license for every reader who reads their work that others have embedded in their advert, software, or book. Imagine a gas station having to pay the American Petroleum Institute for every car that drives by and reads their pricing signs that use “premium” and “unleaded”. How long would you get free pricing information from any gas station? How long before the pricing system for gas would start to seriously get weird? The pricing system for medicine has gotten seriously weird.

    • Chip Atkinson

      Are you serious about Paul Ryan’s budget? He has defended it quite well on ewtn and various other news outlets.

      • There is a difference between not doing the whole task of reworking the provision for the poor and sick to more effectively handle the challenges which I maintain should not be the exclusive task of the head of the House Budget committee and the idea that Paul Ryan is either incapable or acting improperly when he defends his budget and its compatibility with Catholicism which I have never said and I certainly did not write above. There are aspects of how we currently minister to the sick and the poor that are criminally bad and only achieve mediocrity through vast over expenditure of funds. All a Budget Committee can do is to enlarge or shrink the amount of money spent. It cannot even appropriate much less insist on reworking these functions so that they are more effective and efficient. The over centralization of these functions means that people operating at different levels, from local communities up to the states need to reinvigorate their levels to take care of the aspects of the problem that are more proper to those levels. It’s been so long that we very likely have forgotten what such a system would even look like. Again, that’s not in the US Congress’ remit.

    • Ted Seeber

      True subsidiarity would require repeal of Article I Sections 8 and 10 of the US Constitution. I somehow don’t think that is going to happen anytime soon.

      Given that- why the heck are Medicare and Medicaid using CPT-1 instead of ICD-10, like *everybody else in the world*? I have my disagreements with ICD-10 as well (such as code U87.1- which enables billing for Euthanasia) but at least it’s public domain.

      • What you said didn’t make much sense to me so I looked it up. What you’re talking about is ICD-10-PCS, something that I hadn’t encountered until now and is something new for the US. It’s due to be phased in in 2014. It is not, however, public domain. The copyright holder is the WHO who has granted a license to the US for government purposes (at least according to the CDC). What it would cost a US company to use ICD-10-PCS to create a pricing database to make it possible to price shop for ordinary medical services is unclear to me. Do you have any information?

      • I disagree that true subsidiarity would require the repeal of the explicit grants of power in the US Constitution. Some things (like national defense) are appropriate to the national level under even the most strict of subsidiarity regimes. I would think that certain types of regulatory issues, like orbital cleanup responsibility assignment would appropriately be even higher than the national level at a level of an international council of space powers.

  • Mary Alice

    Hey Mark, we have an AWESOME bishop in Archbishop Naumann. If you ever decide to leave the west coast, you’d love it here in NE Kansas. We’re so blessed to have him.

    • ds

      Well he would have to be more than just awesome to leave the pacific northwest for Kansas. Eeeesh.

      • Mary Alice

        You must be thinking of western Kansas. NE Kansas is green rolling hills, gorgeous pasture land. Google the Kanza Prairie Research Station to see what I mean.

        • ds

          naw, I was just kidding. The part of Kansas you’re in sounds great. I was thinking of the part that’s like Nebraska. Like Gene Hackman said in Unforgiven when they told him they thought he was dead, I thought I was too, but I was just in Nebraska.

  • The Deuce

    Mark, this paragraph highlights why I believe *all* Christians should be morally opposed to the entire law, and not just the HHS mandate:

    But there was unified opposition by the bishops to this bill because of its refusal to put in language that would prohibit it from being used for abortion and the refusal to put in conscience-protection language. We’ve seen both of those to be valid concerns with the HHS mandate’s implementation of this bill.

    This paragraph acknowledges that the bill, by its own nature, would tend to result in the crushing of conscience and the funding of abortion unless special language is inserted to prevent those particular things.

    And this is why I think there’s something fundamentally wrong with any Christian giving this bill any support at all, even if such language had been inserted. It is fundamentally wrong-headed to promote a law that requires special carve-outs on your behalf in order to not stomp on your conscience or cause great evils that you oppose, which by its nature it would otherwise do.

    To support a law that of its own intrinsic nature is designed for evil, on the assumption that the people who would craft such a law in the first place will honor your narrow carve-outs once you’ve signed so much power over to them, is wildly irresponsible to the point of moral culpability. It’s like playing with fire, or giving a gun to somebody you know wishes to kill you based on nothing more than a fingers-crossed promise that they won’t.

    • Ted Seeber

      Stupak Tried- Obama lied to block him.

      • Stupak is retired because he didn’t have the judgment to recognize what the Supreme Court just held, that Obama lied nonstop to get this bill passed into law. Wise as serpents is what we need to be to play the political game.

  • ds

    Well, actually you DID pick the time. Catholics were pretty dang quiet when states were mandating the same thing, and when entire networks of dozens of catholic hospitals were covering contraception. But now the sky is falling if you can’t force non-catholic employees to abide by your conscience. I aint buyin it man.

    • Andy, Bad Person

      But now the sky is falling if you can’t force non-catholic employees to abide by your conscience.

      Greater weasel words I have never seen. So now “not paying for something” is the same thing as “forcing others to follow your conscience.”

      When’s the last time you donated to Catholic Charities? Why not? Why are you forcing your conscience on CC?

      • ds

        Call me a weasel if you want, but you’re not makin the case for me. According to the law, if you are providing insurance it has to be up to certain standards. If you think some of those services are unethical, then don’t use them. But I don’t get why it violates your conscience to comply with a law that is applied regardless of religious beliefs. It’s not good enough to not use these services yourself, you have to limit others of different faiths from access to these services, and this is “Freedom.” Lots and lots of catholics themselves have said that its not just about religious freedom, its also about the wrongs of contraception – there you go, you want to impose your religious views on people that don’t share your faith.

        Now you and everyone else will try to ridicule me for stating this, while no one will make a good point to refute it, just wait and see.

        • Andy, Bad Person

          But I don’t get why it violates your conscience to comply with a law that is applied regardless of religious beliefs.

          Your reasoning is circular. The entire point of protest is criticism of the law itself. The law violates conscience.

          The “access” argument is bullshit. Every last one of these people has “access” to contraception. Hell, they have greater access to birth control than they do to alcohol and tobacco. Furthermore, what “lots and lots of [C]atholics” think has nothing to do with what the Church thinks. “Imposing views” involves forcing someone to do something (like forcing an institution to pay for things it finds immoral). You can’t impose on someone by not providing it for them.

          Catholics were pretty dang quiet when states were mandating the same thing, and when entire networks of dozens of catholic hospitals were covering contraception. But now the sky is falling if you can’t force non-catholic employees to abide by your conscience.

          Yeah, you didn’t react when I slapped you the first three times; now you can’t complain when I started punching. Where does this crap come from?

          • ds

            I don’t believe my reasoning is circular, I just don’t agree with the people protesting.

            YOUR “you already have access” argument is “bullshit.” It is not true that all people have cheap access, many people have conditions demanding more expensive products. That’s not the point anyway, the law is trying to mandate minimum prescription coverage, and beyond that the medicines should be between doctor and patient, your “conscience” should not enter into it.

            And regarding your last point, the “crap” comes from if all these greatly affronted consciences are conspicuously quiet when widespread adoption of “conscience violating” laws and procedures are adopted, the late stage indignation seems a little selective and unconvincing.

            • ivan_the_mad

              Your last point is not very good, since we could expand it beyond the HHS mandate to a wide range of societal injustices, and then where would we be? Also, please note that there’s a difference between people being “conspicuously quiet” and you just not hearing about it.

              • ds

                Expand it to stuff I feel is unjust and I’ll stand with you. But not now.

                • ivan_the_mad

                  Perfectly fair. At which point, you’ll forgive us if we too say “But not now”, then claim that you’re late to the barricades and have no right to be indignant or outraged.

                  • ds

                    Good point back!

                  • ds

                    But I don’t think I wrote you have no right to protest, just that such late protests are somewhat unconvincing.

                    • ivan_the_mad

                      Indeed you did not deny a right to protest. You may think such protests too late to be convincing, but I’ll give people the benefit of the doubt, that they were simply unaware until this point. Take for instance OWS; it is my guess that many people, *after* OWS made markedly known the range and depth of economic injustice, have since become indignant to the same, although the injustices are pre-existing. Perhaps, as in the case of the HHS mandate, it is better to say “only lately informed” than “late to the game”.

                • Ted Seeber

                  Read Evangelium Vitae. Anti-life activities include abortion, contraception, euthanasia, unjust war, the death penalty, and usury that causes families and individuals to fall into extreme poverty. To the Bl. John Paul The Great era Catholic, they’re ALL the same issue- greed causing bigotry, discrimination, and murder.

              • Ted Seeber

                Last I saw, the Bishops HAD expanded it to a large number of social injustices, from human trafficking to running soup kitchens. HHS was just the straw that broke the camel’s back.

            • I would be very surprised if you would be happier with a Catholic Church that took stronger stands. Do you know how quickly a policy of quiet but routine boycott would bring the bulk of US businesses into line? Those public companies that would not comply would be so handicapped in terms of capital access and reduced profitability that they would be takeover bait within a few decades. The Church, wisely, has decided not to routinely go to economic war and force America into its preferred image.

          • ds

            Furthermore, what “lots and lots of [C]atholics” think has nothing to do with what the Church thinks.

            Well, I thought the body of christ was composed of all the faithful, I didn’t know it was limited to how orthodox you feel the constituents are.

            And my by “lots and lots of catholics” I meant bishops and other faithful who have been saying we shouldn’t lose sight of the evils of abortion, it’s not just about conscience. So I guess really what catholics say doesn’t matter regardless of their ecclesiastical position or orthodoxy, just how much it supports the current argument you’re trying to make.

            • ds

              evils of abortion and contraception that is.

            • The Church was created at Pentecost by the power of the Holy Spirit. At various times the Holy Spirit has manifested itself in various people and voices including the voices of the faithful. As a good first approximation you can generally depend that the bishops, who were granted a very specific and important teaching power, are going to be on the right side of things. If you can say that the Holy Spirit is in favor of abortion, well, make the case. Generally nobody even tries because it is so inconsistent with the rest of the teaching and doesn’t make much sense.

              Instead what you get is a lot of weasel wording about how in this or that horrific case, the Holy Spirit might not be opposed to killing the unborn. We’ve had so much weasel wording that we’re at the phase of starting to discuss the justification for infanticide.

        • Ted Seeber

          If you pay for the evil service, you are materially contributing to the evil of that service. A man who hires a hit man to kill his wife is still guilty of murder.

          • ds

            And I guess If your employer pays for it, or the insurer provides it without you paying for it, yer still workin with EVIL.

            Same way a guy who legally sells a gun to an unknown hitman, or maybe lets the hitman in in traffic is EVIL!

            • ivan_the_mad

              Let’s not be ridiculous. Neither the gun merchant nor the courteous motorist are “materially contributing to the evil”, since in both cases the hitman is “unknown” as such.

              If the “employer pays for it”, and by it I assume you mean coverage for contraception and abortion, and *knows* that he’s paying for such coverage, then yes he’s guilty of cooperation (the degree depending on the circumstances).

              • ds

                Shit’s remote, man, realllly remote. Maybe it’s still evil, I’m not a theologian, but it starts to seem like angels on the head of a pin.

                • ivan_the_mad

                  The USCCB and theologians think the matter rather grave, present, and evil. I’m not going to repeat their arguments to avoid TLDRness, since they’re freely available on the Internets.

                  Also, for your edification and enjoyment, “angels on the head of a pin” isn’t the futile exercise modern parlance assumes it to be – see D. Sayer’s essay “The Lost Tools of Learning” (on the web) for a good explanation.

            • Ted Seeber

              Yes, to all of the above.

            • A hitman is not eligible to legally purchase a gun in the US.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Man, no one really gets why you’re not buying it, man! I mean, really, man!


    1. Don’t like Catholics.
    2. Don’t listen to reason.
    3. Are obviously a big Obama fan.

    In short, man, you’re the kind of guy who thinks HHS is just swell, man, and can’t wait for it to go into effect, man.

    Oh, man!

    • ds

      LOL. I am catholic, and (as a pretty shitty catholic) don’t like a lot of catholics, so I probably don’t listen to reason. But in my defense, I don’t like a lot of people (still a pretty shitty christian) so I don’t see why catholics should be excluded from my dislike.

      • Well, at least you recognize what level you’re starting from. I’ve said a prayer for you and hope you see things in a light that’s truer to Christ.

        • ds

          Thanks, dude, I do sincerely appreciate that.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    ds, you’re not really Catholic. You’re not really Christian.No one who’se proud of themselves for not liking lots of people qualifies as Catholic/Christian.

    Your “defense” is no defense whatsoever.

    You’re right about the fact you don’t listen to reason, however. And, whatever you are, it’s pretty sh—well, a piece of work. Heh!

    • Mark Shea

      I missed the bull of excommunication from ds’ bishop. Are you his bishop? If not, then who authorized you to declare him “not really Christian”?

      Read and heed: http://www.crisismagazine.com/2010/who-is-the-real-christian

      • On the Internet, nobody knows if you’re a dog… or a bishop… or a dog bishop?

        I think that it is entirely unproven that ds is not a Turing machine let loose in your comboxes as a graduate school experiment. Until you start requiring PGP authenticated signatures and webs of trust we shouldn’t hold claimed identities too seriously.

        Oh, as for me? I’m Marie of Romania.

    • ds

      I never said I was proud of it, I was just being honest. It is definitely a failing, and against commandment numero uno. It is something I am working on improving.

      I consider myself a christian and specifically catholic for a few reasons. The Lord Jesus put an indelible mark on my heart and soul that I belong to Him when I was baptized. I have many sins that I am aware and unaware of, and I do try (however weakly, but I am quite weak) to rid myself of such, and ask God for help with that. I believe Jesus to be present in the eucharist, even if I don’t partake as often as I should. And I know that, despite all these failings, I am not excluded from God’s love and forgiveness. I am a piece of work, the work of creation.

      I might also note that I don’t like myself much, or you from the small sampling you’ve given.

      • Ted Seeber

        “I might also note that I don’t like myself much, or you from the small sampling you’ve given.”

        14 years ago I sure resembled that remark. Came to find out I was mentally ill. While my specific mental illness has no cure and only very limited symptom support; I have to say that knowing there was something *actually biochemically wrong* changed my self image for the better to a huge extent. So huge that I have overcome many of the involuntary behaviors that were harming my life.

        • ds

          Oh I am mentally ill, diagnosed, in more ways than one. I don’t feel that really excuses (in my case) anything…I’m still just kind of an asshole. Just ask my wife!

          Mental illness really is a disease, like cancer or any other bodily affliction. Just nobody ever got called an asshole for having cancer.

          • Hezekiah Garret

            You probably don’t care, and that’s alright and legitimate, but I’m sorry those guys up there were assholes to you. They ought to think about how far out of line that is if its obvious to me.

            • ds

              Thanks, I do appreciate it. Anyway, it’s the internet – you can’t get too butthurt over comments.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    People who boast of their dislike of others, are not Christian—no matter if they go to church, no matter what rituals they follow.

    Sorry, d.s., you sounded pretty prideful to me. Also, why should you dislike yourself? Aren’t you God’s creation, too? You’re being honest. You also sound a little too comfortable with your current state I-can’t-stand-anything-or-anybody.

    I’m going by what d.s. himself said; not by any bishop, etc. You might say, d.s. is sort’ve excommunicating himself, here. I’m also, going by his crabby responses to other posters, who’ve tried reasoning with him. Sorry, doesn’t sound real Christian to me, or even “I’m a bad, but I’m trying”.)

    • ivan_the_mad

      You really should be ashamed of yourself for writing this.

    • Ted Seeber

      See above for a possible explanation. You don’t know what ds has experienced, or where he is coming from. The Church is a Hospital for Sinners, not a Resort Town With Amusement Park for Saints.

    • ds

      I don’t generally boast of my dislikes, but I’ll make an exception in your case, flathead. And if I am prideful, one more reason to dislike myself.

    • Observer

      Christ said to love your neighbor. He didn’t say you have to like your neighbor.

    • Donna G

      You are obviously so very well qualified to judge others.

    • Rosemarie


      Considering the fact that we all sin often, in one way or another, aren’t we all in a sense “bad Catholics” who are trying to be better by the grace of God? Isn’t that pretty much what we admit in the Confiteor at Mass and the Act of Contrition in the confessional? “I have greatly sinned…through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault”… “I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life.” Would we have to say such words if we didn’t often fail in our Christian walk and have to try to do better?

      Yeah, I know ds doesn’t accept all the Church’s moral teachings, but some of us have struggled with those teachings in the past, too. Back when I thought women should be ordained and contraception wasn’t a sin, what would have thought if someone told me, “You’re not really Catholic. You’re not really Christian. You’re sort’ve excommunicating yourself.”? What would any of us have thought if someone told us that while we were struggling?

      That kind of language isn’t helpful. In fact it often drives people away from the Church, away from the graces of the Sacraments. We have no right to do that. As I’ve said before, we shouldn’t try to make others walk the plank off of the Barque of St. Peter. We should instead imitate Christ who shall not break the bruised reed or extinguish the smoking flax.

      “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Look to yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. ” – Galatians 6:1-2

      • Hezekiah Garret

        I’m an awfully bad example of the Faith, too. You don’t want to see people in Hell, Dude, not really. Don’t try to push them in. It’s gonna hurt you more later.

        • Hezekiah Garret

          I meant that as a reply to Rhinestone.

      • Andy

        I don’t always agree with what you say, but I have yet to read you judge another person’s faith. Those sorts of judgments spell, for me our doom. Thank you for writing more elegantly then I could have.

        • Andy

          THis was intended for Rosemarie.

  • John

    Crux of the matter is that a) the Government has re-defined what constitutes “legitimate health care services that must be put in all approved health insurance plans to include things that until 2012 were not mandatory such as abortion, sterilization and contraceptives…. this is something that HHS decided on its own based on authority from the Health care law.

    b) The Church has to provide health care to all employees. Until now most plans allowed for the Church to not offer contraception, abortion and sterilization coverage. With the new decision of the HHS all plans must cover these new “services” – so there’s no longer an opt-out clause.

    c) People working for the Church do so voluntarily – they signed up and were under no confusion as to what was and was not to be covered in their health care plans…so it’s not like millions of women had been enjoying free contraception but suddenly the evil bishops want to START forcing our beliefs on them….

    No, all along we’ve let it be known that we don’t cover certain things…people voluntarily have taken jobs with this understanding…. and now the Government is mandating that we directly pay for things that we believe are immoral.

    Us saying “no we’re not going to START doing something we believe is immoral” is not “forcing our belief on others” unless words have no meaning. The only side forcing the issue is the Government.

    • ds

      Unless I am wrong, Churches and institutions that are all or mostly religious employees will be exempt. It only applies to religious institutions like hospitals and universities where orthodox catholics are seeking all their employees, protestants, hindus, muslims, atheists, etc, to have their insurance coverage comply to catholic conscience, in the name of freedom. It’s freedom for catholics, not those who work for them. And many of those people currently do have that coverage, and now that this issue has been stirred up late in the game they will probably be denied that coverage if catholics are granted the freedom to do so.

  • caroline

    I’m sorry this discussion has become rather off course. What struck me about the Bishop’s comment was the recognition that personal morality or, as I would call it personal responsibility, has a real bearing on social justice. How many social justice problems would simply not exist if people practiced personal morality and personal responsibility in every aspect of life. Maybe then we could get a handle on those problems outside the range of personal morality and personal responsibility. I believe that every Catholic’s very first obligation in social justice is to so live his life as much as possible so as not to become a burden on anyone else. Burdens there must be and we must help each other, but piling burdens on others through immorality and irresponsibility –is that ever preached against as being a sin against social justice? Is it even mentioned in the compendium?

    • Marion (Mael Muire)

      I believe that wealthy persons – corporately – have burdened the poor, when, for example, they have participated in causing the real estate market prices to go through the roof throughout an entire region where the poor must work (in their close-in service-industry jobs), without arranging for provision for close-in affordable housing to be made for poor working families, thus requiring the poor – who often must work two jobs to make ends meet – to live in far-out-of-town areas with a lengthy commute, or else in close-in slums. With a tight schedule for two jobs and not-very-reliable mass transit (because the wealthy drive their behemoth SUVs everywhere and couldn’t care less about how the poor must get around), the working poor are often faced with transportation problems to and from work and to and from their distant homes.

      As long as Grandma makes her 8,000% profit when she sells her sixty-year-old, close-in 2-bedroom, 1 bath bungalow, as long as developers can knock down old metro area strip malls and build Georgian-style townehomes with Jaccuzis in the master baths, who cares that the working poor are priced out of housing that’s close to their jobs?

      Believe me, the poor are burdened by the anti-social actions and the attitudes of the wealthy, too. It’s just that the anti-social actions and the attitudes of the wealthy are praised as “progress”, “development”, “good for the economy,” “good for tax revenue”.

      • Hezekiah Garret


      • You are correct, but sloppy. I suspect that your sloppiness is causing you to aim at the wrong targets. You should really pay close attention *how* real estate prices are jacked up and *how* transportation choices are limited. It doesn’t work how most people who don’t look at reality closely think it works.
        If you impose a zoning code that all housing must be on 1/4 acre lots, you have artificially limited supply to the number of acres in the jursidiction x 4. If you say that the lot size is 1/2 acre minimum, you’ve just boosted real estate prices by something close to double. Similar zoning restrictions on units, height, parking spaces, and a myriad of other techniques are pretty well documented in the literature as doing all of that. And you will find that it is not the wealthy imposing these rules. It is existing homeowners of all income levels. Aim at the correct targets and investigate before you focus your fire too narrowly.
        Mass transit is often restricted by competitors who do not want to deal with the competition. We have century old anti-jitney laws that, if struck down, would enhance the living standards of the poor, increase part time jobs and allow many people to supplement their income without having to burden the taxpayer. These laws were put in by the streetcar operators who were getting the pants beat off them by the jitneys. So we end up with a donut hole in our transit options between private taxis and buses and the poor are falling into that hole and suffering. Again, it wasn’t the wealthy at fault but the competitors (whose wealth levels a century ago are unknown to me) who got those laws passed.

        • Hezekiah Garret

          Who bought out the streetcars and shut them down? Why is there a long narrow park designed by Olmstead running right thru the middle of my city, while we travel by buses that don’t go anywhere you need to be? Let’s tell the whole story.

          But you’re dead right about zoning. Always been a big proponent of tiny housing here.

  • Zippy

    Smoke rises from the mountain of Doom, the hour grows late, and Gandalf the Grey rides to Isengard seeking my counsel.

    • beccolina

      I thought the smoke was the Arapaho fire in the Laramie mountains.