Attacking Sick Children

Attacking Sick Children October 9, 2007

The opponents of the S-CHIP program will go to any length to block its expansion. First, they tried to bamboozle everybody by arguing that the program would cover children in households earning up to $83,000. Except this was patently false. The bill stays within the boundaries of current law, limiting funds to families at twice the federal poverty level ($20,650 for a family of four, for a program limit of $41,300). States that want to go higher would need federal approval, just as they do today. The $83,000 number comes from a request from New York that was denied.

Of course, what really concerns opponents is that it will lead to people moving from private to public health insurance. I fail to see the problem with that, especially if the latter is more efficient and cost effective (as it is in the US). But this claim too is a gross exaggeration. According to Peter Orczag at the Congressional Budget Office, the legislation would add 5.8 million children by 2012: 3.8 million would be uninsured, and 2 million would have had private insurance beforehand. So we are talking about nearly 4 million children without insurance today, who will gain insurance, all for a minuscule cost in the overall budget (Bush comes very late in the game when it comes to fiscal discipline). The additional cost to achieve this is $35 billion, a mere drop in the budgetary pond. By the way, the Iraq occupation will cost an extra $190 billion in the same budget.

With facts not on their side, the opponents then did something quite horrendous: they engaged in personal attacks on sick children. It turns out that the Democrats highlighted a 12-year old boy named Graeme Frost to tout the program. Graeme and his sister were both injured in a severe car accident a few years back and received health care under S-CHIP. Immediately, the attack machine went on high alert. Some far-right site called Free Republic led the assault, claiming that Frost was an undeserving recipient, as he lives in a big fancy house and attends a private school that costs $40,000 a year in tuition. The National Review chimed in (this was Mark Steyn, who never let a fact get in the way of a good story), as did Michelle Malkin, Powerline, and the Weekly Standard. Malkin even decided to stalk them, prowling outside their house, and looking in their windows. Oh yes, and Catholic blogger Gerald from The Cafeteria Is Closed also jumped on the bandwagon.

And while these denizens or morality attacked sick children and their parents, they never bothered pointing out some basic facts, such that the school only charges Graeme $500 a year, and the state pays for his sister, who still suffers brain injuries. They never bothered pointing out that they bought their house 16 years ago for $55,000 when that part of Baltimore was decidedly dodgy. The combined family income is $45,000. Both parents work, and neither gets health insurance through work. Private insurance would cost them $1200 a month, more than their mortgage. Plus they would never to able to attain insurance for a severely handicapped daughter.

This attack speaks volumes about the depraved amorality that is now common in certain corners of the right. It is a nihilism in service of ideology. And these are the people who are supposed to be concerned with promoting family values and safeguarding public morality?

Next, they will be telling us that S-CHIP leads to abortion. Oh, wait

"Your mention of John Courtney Murray is apt, though I suspect he has already laid ..."

Four Episodes from a Consistent Life ..."
"It does make things more complicated and suggests that there's more to be done with ..."

Four Episodes from a Consistent Life ..."
"Joe,thanks for this detailed comment. I appreciate your sentiments about ensoulment though the very uncertainty ..."

Four Episodes from a Consistent Life ..."
"David, I likewise applaud your series on how you came to believe in a consistent ..."

Four Episodes from a Consistent Life ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!


TRENDING AT PATHEOS Catholic
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Since the attempt to force taxpayers to pay for S-CHIP is itself immoral, it appears that immorality runs the gamut in this exercise.

  • Sickening.

    Immigration and then this… although some Republicans are getting smarter and are joining the bipartisan effort, because they know they won’t be elected if they keep going on with this nonsense.

    I guess we have another party of death.

  • Denying middle-class and upper-middle class children access to state-administered health care = party of death.

    Errr, right.

  • Paul,

    I’m sure you have no understanding of how families have benefited from SCHIP and that’s why you say that.

  • If Catholics resort to the use of law to promote ideals, they have distanced themselves from the teachings of Christ. Conversion of individuals and formation of unions, mutual benefit societies (see the Knights of Columbus), and the like, should be the only way that Catholics work to better society other than to work for the freedom of religion to implement these ideas. Legal positivism is dangerous.

    Let me put it this way – if you would not countenance physical force to take money from a wealthy individual and give it to a poor individual when seeing both on the street, how can you countenance such a thing done by the State when you can convince, say 51% of people, that it should be legal and correct? For, what is the tax levied to support the S-CHIP but a threat of force upon people unless they willingly submit to surrender part of their wages to the State?

  • jonathanjones02

    When morality means my personal policy preferences, administered through the state, and not my personal response to Christ’s call to love others as I love myself, we have the beginnings of service to ideology.

  • $1200/month is $14,400 yearly. That is 32% of their stated income. Maybe he should just work for a corporation rather than being self-employed. Aren’t we just trading one beauracrasy for another?

    I was initially sympathetic to the claim being made, but the counterfactual provided by the right aren’t adding up. One site that NRO linked claimed the family could get $400/m health insurance. They claimed the family was lying. They didn’t even bother taking into consideration that one child is on permanent disability and another child has lingering brain damage. I’m completely sympathetic to the belief the feds should get out of the health care business. It would be nice if folks didn’t falsify information to try and get us there.

  • Katerina:

    You’re right. When it comes to political matters, I must bow to your superior knowledge. I don’t know why I would even both to engage with a person who must have a Ph. D in political science, or close to it, as I’m sure you do.

  • Blackadder

    I suppose in the future Republicans should have kids read all of their arguments. That way they will be beyond criticism.

  • Democrats = kill the babies in the womb

    Republicans = kill the children by not given them healthcare!

  • Blackadder

    Katerina,

    There are approximately 1.3 million abortions in this country every year. How many children die in this country because they don’t have healthcare?

  • Blackadder,

    So you’re reducing the value of human lives to mere numbers?

    Wow. What an ethic of life you have there.

  • Blackadder is making an important point, Katerina. If Republicans do indeed kill children by not giving them healthcare, then if no children are dead due to lack of healthcare, it would seem you’re setting up a strawman to make Republicans look poorly.

  • Blackadder

    Katerina,

    No, I’m not reducing the value of human lives to mere numbers. But you didn’t answer my question. How many children die in this country each year because they don’t have healthcare?

  • Blackadder is truly making an excellent point… an excellent apology for the “other” party of death.

    I repeat it again: I don’t reduce human lives to numbers: if Democrats kill more than the Republicans and all that nonsense discussion. Even if there is only one child who has passed away because of the lack of healthcare insurance is enough for me. Probably not for you two.

    Some people care about the babies in the womb and forget about them once they grow up. That is not a consistent ethic of life and that is what we have with the Republican party: mediocrity in terms of an understanding of human life… just like the Democrats.

  • Blackadder

    M.Z.,

    According to what I’ve read, the family is able to send their kids to a $20,000 a year private school, despite making only $45,000. Why, because the school, taking into account their economic status, gives them a huge discount.

    This makes me wonder: why isn’t the same true for healthcare? That is to say, why don’t doctors and hospitals offer the same heavily discounted services to those who can’t afford to pay more that are offered by most private schools? The answer is that doctors did do this sort of thing… prior to Medicaid. Now it doesn’t happen nearly as much, and a large part of the reason why, it seems to me, is that people now expect the state to take care of it.

    Just a thought.

  • Blackadder

    Katerina,

    You say that “[e]ven if there is only one child who has passed away because of the lack of healthcare insurance is enough for me.” Do you recognize, don’t you, that even if the SCHIP expansion passes, there will still be millions of children who don’t have health insurance. If there are children dying now because they don’t have healtcare, there will be children dying because they don’t have healthcare even under the expanded SCHIP. Maybe there would be less. Maybe not. I don’t know. But if numbers don’t matter, if one child dying through lack of healthcare is no different than thousands or millions dying, then why do you care whether the SCHIP expansion passes or not?

  • jonathanjones02

    All firms are happy to privitize profits and make costs public.

    No question health care needs serious reform, but expanding entitlements has serious and often unforseen downsides.

  • They pay $500 for the one child, and the tuition for the other child is paid for by the State. You acknowledged the former, so I just wanted to make sure we were on the same page.

    As for the why in your good question, I’m not sure if it is the chicken or the egg. Some would say due to technology costs and other barriers to entry, doctors and the services they provide have had to be corporatized. Others would claim that with payment assurance provided by the government and private insurers, corporations entered the market due to predictable returns. I think corporations are just as inept at discerning charitable care as the government. So, if we get the government out of the healthcare business, will we get the charitable care as we had previously? I don’t believe so, because I think corporations are not able to discern as well as individual doctors. The question then becomes, will we lose the corporation? I don’t think so, because I think doctors need them and I think there is a large enough health care market to support the current corporate structure.

  • Blackadder

    M.Z.,

    When the government gets involved in an area, it often introduces distortions that won’t go away (at least in the short run) even if the area is later re-privatized. The fact that we have a primarily employer-provided health insurance system at all is a good example of this. It started out because of wage controls, but it’s continued long after those controls were abolished. To my way of thinking, this is one reason to be wary of increasing government involvement in the first place.

  • I looked at the records. The house was acquired via a “non-arms-length” transaction (between related people). So the $55,000 or so is, according to the assessors’ records, paid for a $260,000 home. You really should go look at primary sources, rather than depending on secondary ones for your data.

    These people made a choice not to have healthcare. and to buy real estate instead. They made a choice not to strap their children with safety belts when they took their SUV on the road. If they politely asked me to pay, I might have pity and do so. But they and their steerers have demanded we pay for their bad choices, and I don’t like that.

    I would love to have a kitchen like the one the Frost’s have in their photograph. Marble counters, a nice six=burner black stove, fancy cabinets. I’ll give Mr. Frost the cabinets (he’s a woodworker, after all), but the rest? I bought a white stove ($200 less than the black one) 15 years ago, and I get to pay the Frosts so they can have a black one?

    The $500 they pay per child to send their kids to private school would have paid the children’s healthcare premiums they claim they can’t afford.

    What I’m seeing is that the Frosts have made some major decisions which are selfish — private school rather than public school, and publich healthcare rather than private healthcare.

    If we all acted like the Frosts, and were grasshoppers rather than ants, what would our world be like?

  • Jonathan (not Jones):

    You are arguing (i) that Catholics cannot use the law to promote ideals; (ii) a tax is taking resources from an individual by use of violence. (i) is definitely not supported by Catholic social teaching, and (ii) is an extreme libertarianism that is the ugly stepchild of 19th century laissez-faire liberalism.

  • Zak

    Jonathan Jones,
    It seems to me your view of “the state” as other, is premised onliberal political thought and not in Catholic political thought. Aquinas didn’t see the state as a tool of ideology, he saw it as an outgrowth of the political community and a means of ensuring the common good, at Pope Benedict certainly seems to as well. So you can make an argument from subsidiarity that the state ought not to be helping people with certain things, but to say that the state doesn’t belong doing charitable acts or working towards social justice because individuals should do that neglects the traditional Catholic understanding of the state. The Knights of Columbus are great, but it isn’t clear to me how their role in society negates the possibility that the state is the proper source of health care payments for the relatively disadvantaged in society.

    Vox Nova contributors more generally,
    I think this site might benefit from refraining from the day-to-day right-left bickering (is Ann Coulter worse than Michael Moore? How bad/good is Jimmy Carter?), and more time examining the underlying principles of Catholic Social Thought (which some of you have done admirably and well). For example, there are all those papal encyclicals over there on the right, and although I am relatively familiar with parts of some of them, maybe if we discussed their contents a little more, we would approach things from a common Catholic perspective, and not from the right/left instincts that seem to color many people’s views independent of Church teaching and tradition (I think that we can all agree there isn’t an explicit church teaching on Michael Moore or Ann Coulter!).

    It seems like there has been more vitriol of late on here, and none of the collegiality that Catholics of good will should share. I have at times been guilty of writing things more critical than charitable, and I now apologize for doing so and ask others to use the reticence we all often lack.

  • Frankly, I’m appalled by some of these comments. Katerina makes an obvious point from a Christian perspective, and the mob attacks. And, of course, some bring up the ultimate straw man argument: we should forget uninsured children with no health care because abortion is so prevalent. When in doubt, play the abortion card. Kark Rove would be proud.

  • BA,

    Because if the SCHIP bill doesn’t pass it is because of a careless president and careless party. It is within their power to save as many lives as possible.

    Your logic here would suggest that if I can’t solve world hunger, why would I care to feed my neighbor down the street?

    Reminds me of Mother Teresa: “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one

  • “Katerina makes an obvious point from a Christian perspective, and the mob attacks.”

    Katerina compared the reluctance to support state-mandated health insurance for middle class families with support for abortion. It is not an obvious point that the two positions are remotely analogous.

    “Of course some bring up the ultimate straw man argument”

    I’d be careful about accusing others of employing straw men, especially when the next words out of your mouth could be labelled a straw Giant. No one said anything remotley close to what you said.

  • Ok, Paul…

    You win…. the Republic party is the other party of death because of their policies on the “war on terror,” torture, immigration, and healthcare for low-income families.

  • Zak– fair point and well said.

    Aquinas considered the point of law to be “an ordinance of reason for the common good, made by him who has care of the community”. And since CST defines health care as a basic right, then a law such as SCHIP which furthers health care access among children, can indeed be seen as benefiting the common good. Aquinas, unlike some of our libertarian friends here, did not see the right to property as absolute, distinguishing between private possession anc common use. Thus the right of governments to tax cannot be in dispute under CST.

  • Br. Matthew Augustine, OP

    Vox Nova contributors more generally,
    I think this site might benefit from refraining from the day-to-day right-left bickering (is Ann Coulter worse than Michael Moore? How bad/good is Jimmy Carter?), and more time examining the underlying principles of Catholic Social Thought (which some of you have done admirably and well). For example, there are all those papal encyclicals over there on the right, and although I am relatively familiar with parts of some of them, maybe if we discussed their contents a little more, we would approach things from a common Catholic perspective, and not from the right/left instincts that seem to color many people’s views independent of Church teaching and tradition (I think that we can all agree there isn’t an explicit church teaching on Michael Moore or Ann Coulter!).

    Amen. It would be nice to have a real Vox Nova in the Catholic Blogosphere, rather than just the same old cacophony of divisive voices.

  • arewak

    I see a lot of pride-filled posturing and little in the way of Christ-like humility.

    Folks, I urge you to scroll up and read Zak’s post and then decide what you want Vox Nova to be, moving forward.

  • I would request that blog criticisms be emailed to voxnovablog@gmail.com As a group we do read the emails and evaluate them. If you would rather email me personally, my address is mzforrest@hotmail.com If other contributors would like to leave their email addresses, feel free. I know that there are many people who want this site to succeed, and this is why the criticisms are offered.

  • Sadly, some Catholics of good will are enamored with the Republican party and the discussion is unavoidable. I was one of those enamored with Bush and co. and it was not until some of the discussions around here opened my eyes.

    The truth needs to be exposed; otherwise, how do we learn? I wouldn’t have thought that the Ann Coulter discussion was worth picking up, but many of my (good) friends don’t see anything wrong with her and sometimes exposing certain things become necessary.

  • Blackadder

    Katerina,

    You say that “[y]our logic here would suggest that if I can’t solve world hunger, why would I care to feed my neighbor down the street?” But this is your logic, not mine. Your the one who said that it was reducing human life to mere numbers to ask how many children die due to lack of healthcare.

    I don’t want any children to die because of lack of healthcare (actually, I don’t want any children to die, period). Since that’s not going to happen, I’m forced to settle for what I think will lead to the least number of children dying. If I thought that program x would mean that fewer children would die, and that it wouldn’t also lead to something even worse, then I’d be for it.

    It seems to me that, as a rule, conservatives seem to understand liberals far better than liberals seem to understand conservatives. It’s easy for me to understand why someone would favor expanding SCHIP, or would favor raising the minimum wage, or some other such thing. But many on the left seem almost incapable of understanding why a person in good conscience might oppose such things. If I am against program x, y, or z, it can’t simply be that I think the program doesn’t work, has negative unintended consequences that outweigh its benefits, or that there is a better alternative. No, I must be evil, greedy, heartless, etc. Occasionally someone will do me the honor of merely thinking that I’m naive or stupid (though more often it’s that I’m naive, stupid, *and* evil). I don’t know why this is. Heck, I don’t even know if you’d describe yourself as a liberal. But this exchange does seem to fit into that pattern.

  • Very well said, Blackadder.

    Katerina and MM,

    I’ll restate a point I made on the previous SCHIP thread. To argue that the President Bush and the Republicans are against healthcare for low-income families is dishonest and I believe you know it to be. First of all, the argument about a means of paying for healthcare by the federal government through the states. Someone may oppose that scheme for any number of reasons. But here’s the real kicker, the president and the Repubs in general actually favor the SCHIP program and the president even included an increase in funding for it in his proposed budget. The Dems on the other hand have seen fit to change the program so that it includes people other than low-income children and help fund it by increasing taxes on cigarettes, which is a disproportionate tax on the poor. If you weren’t so blinded by your partisan politics and were sincerely concerned about getting relief to poor kids you would be clamoring for the Dems to drop those changes that are very problematic for Bush and he’ll pass the bill. Put another way, if a Republican congress had added spending for nuclear weapons to this bill because they couldn’t normally get it past the Dems, would you not cry foul and blame the Repubs for not being serious about getting the program through? Really it’s the same thing. Perhaps it would be wise to write your congressmen and tell them to get rid of the obstacles so we can get help to these children.

  • jonathanjones02

    Good post Blackadder (9:09).

  • ben

    Unclesmrgol asks what would happen if we all acted like grasshoppers rather than ants.

    Jesus answers:

    No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat (or drink), or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span? Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them. If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.

  • jh

    A few thoughts

    First Bush is vetoing it because of the vast vast expansion. There was a increase and the Democrats have overreached. Partly for political reasons.

    Second. NOt all Republicans are “supporting the bill” because they fear they will not get relelected. Many support it on the merits. Contrary to popular viewpoints we are not the borg and all think alike

    Third the ad is horrible. However much like the KNOW NOTHING ANTI CATHOLIC AD that was ran in Louisiana by the Democrats I did not assume all democrats supported it. I went out and tracked down tmyelected democrat officals and found where they stand. Perhaps people should do the same.

    FOurth-As to the Republican party being the culture of death. I noticed immigration was mentioned. Yet many Republicans supported that at big cost to their political careers. With a Democrat Senate it should have been easy to pass. Posion pill largely delyed that to kill it in the Senate.

    Catholics in good standing can disagree if the GOP is supporting the” culture of death” as to the WOT and the war etc. But I would say if Catholics just start thrwoing out the phrase Party X supports the culture of death on every topic(SUCH AS THIS) then that phrase will lose all meaning

  • Rick:

    That is not quite right. Bush’s main objection to S-CHIP was that it would pave the way for universal healthcare. The idea that children could move from private to public funding systems was anathema to him (see Orczag’s numbers above: 4 million of the 6 million children who will benefit are currently uninsured). The only comrpomise Bush was interested in was in a level of funding that would practically gut the program.

    Here’s the rub: the votoed bill was already a compromise. The original House bill was a lot of more generous. What they sent up was a bipartisan bill. On why the bill is not a substantive change in policy, let me quote the McClatchy piece:

    “The bill maintains current law. It limits the program to children from families with incomes up to twice the federal poverty level — now $20,650 for a family of four, for a program limit of $41,300 — or to 50 percentage points above a state’s Medicaid eligibility threshold, which varies state to state. States that want to increase eligibility beyond those limits would require approval from Bush’s Health and Human Services Department, just as they must win waivers now. The HHS recently denied a request by New York to increase its income threshold to four times the poverty level — the $82,600 figure that Republican opponents of the bill are using.”

  • LOL!!!

    The Democrats and the parents used this sick kid as a prop to see if President Bush was smarter than a 7th grader. It backfired. This boy and his family are the poster children for why President Bush was right to veto this legislation and Congress would be foolish to override it.

    I don’t give a crap how much this guy paid for his house. He’s sitting on a half a million in assets, the vast majority of that equity. There was also no mention of the $160,000 property that his business was located in which his business owns, part of which is used by another company (undeclared rental income?).

    He chose not to buy insurance for himself, and his wife (when she was working for his company as a bookkeeper).

    Why should I pay for insurance for a guy who has a higher net worth than me?

    Minion, I’d just let this drop if I were you. The Democrats got their pants pulled down in public, and your point at their bare a** and commenting isn’t helping. 🙂

  • Mike

    Tony, you don’t know a thing about anything. It did not backfire. It exposed the wingnuts who attacked that boy and his family for the scum they are. You too, apparently. You people sicken me.

  • You people sicken me.

    Better sign up for S-CHIP, Mike, so you can get your needed health care.

  • ben

    Tony,

    You say, “Why should I pay……”

    But the Lord says:

    Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow

  • Donald R. McClarey

    Tony, how insensitive! Pointing out facts in what was supposed to be a good old fashioned bash Bush and Republicans fest! The Dems made a terrible mistake in picking a family that apparently is much better off financially than the vast majority of American families in order to sell their trojan-horse-stealth-national-health-insurance-by degrees-plan and then screaming insults when they are called on it.

  • MM,

    No, that’s not right. Bush stated that he is for helping poor people which was the intent of SCHIP, which is now being expanded beyond that. Yes, he did say he prefers private medicine (which is not immoral or equivalent to killing off poor kids) and he believes the federal government should make it easier for people to afford health insurance. We have Medicaid to help care for poor kids, we have SCHIP to help with the working poor and marginal cases. I haven’t heard one person calling for the elimination of SCHIP. It was doing what it was intended to do, provide insurance for low-income kids. The Dems, have expanded the program to benefit people who can afford health insurance on their own. It is not a fair characterization to consider it oppressing the poor to not desire to pay for health insurance for families of four at $60,000 a year income, which is what the program calls for. Nor is it inhumane to say that 26 year olds shouldn’t be considered children.

    Back in the 90’s after Hillarycare died, she set into motion another method of achieving the objective of socialized medicine. She advocated an “incremental approach”, working for little encroachments bit by bit. Typical socialist maneuvering. I think Bush is keenly aware that the politics being played by Dems with SCHIP is part of that strategy. So, good for him for not buckling in. Now, let me say this, MM. I think you’re probably a swell guy and with some genuine good intentions, but I also think that the road you would have us travel, in the name of a Christian society, is anything but. You can disagree and think I’m blind, and that might be so…and it might not be. But it does no justice to accuse people of ill-will because they don’t consider your solutions to be solutions at all. For the record, I’m Independent, I despise the Republican party, but only half as much as I despise the Democratic party. With six members of my household I’m also someone who would easily fit into SCHIPs current guidelines for a family of 3 or 4, but still pays over $500 a month for health insurance, and that’s with two special needs kids. I don’t like giving that kind of personal info, but I think it’s relevant that you see that people who oppose government encroachment aren’t necessarily rich people who don’t care for the poor, but perhaps principled people, whether you accept those principles or not.

  • Rick, I don’t doubt your sincerity, and I apologize if I implied such a thing, but I just think you are fundamentally mistaken about the economics of health care and what is going on in this country. I think I’ve devoted more time on this blog to this topic more than any other, as it’s something I feel deeply passionate about. I also have some training in economics, with some familiarity with the literature. I’m not going to make the same arguments again; they are all there, on the record as it were.

    The problem that S-CHIP tackles is a deep one, as there is a huge gap in between those who qualify for Medicaid and those who can comfortably afford private insurance. This legislation would insure 6 million kinds, 4 million of who are currently uninsured. I think it’s grossly unfair (and inaccurate) to assume that their parents simply didn’t bother insuring them. The argument that the government should stand back and let middle class kids (and their parents) fend for themselves is akin to telling the government to stop educating middle class kids at taxpayers expense.

    The rationing of health care by cost has reached endemic proportions in the US, About 16 percent of the population have no insurance, while 40 percent of low income American reported not being able to visit a doctor for cost reasons. The current system is gravely immoral.

    But we can have these policy arguments back and forth. Personally, I am persuaded by facts and figures, and have never been attracted to “human interest” aspects whereby politicians will relate personal stories to bolster their point. But people seem to like tha approach, and everybody does it. But what is absolutely outrageous is for the opponents of S-CHIP to attack, slander, and even stalk a private family with two children with serious health care needs (even accusing the parents of causing the car accident). This displays low character. Likewise, you don’t need to like John Kerry to be outraged by the displays of purple heart band-aids to mock his war wounds at the last Republican convention. I despair for the right. Part of me empthasizes deeply with conservatism, the part of me that retains a romantic attachment to Christendom and admires the work of Elizabeth Anscombe. But this group is not conservative. It is made up of radical individualists that have become almost nihilistic in their world view.

  • Cait

    Does anyone here have children who actively benefit from the SCHIP program? We are a single income, mother-at-home family of 7, and my husband’s job neither offers its own health insurance nor pays a wage which is adequate to provide private health insurance. What ought we to do? How can I do right by my children without this program? We are not big doctor people, either–we typically take our children to the doctor no more than once per year for illness. For us the choice truly is to be able to put food on the table and accept govt. health care assistance, or pay for it ourselves and get govt. help with food monthly. Which is better? I see no good solution to this problem, under the current terms of the debate. I merely wish to make clear that we DO NOT choose to have multiple thousand $$ and fail to pay for health ins.–we live moment to moment, but my kids health care is one of the few things we don’t have to worry about. I am happy for those who are fortunate enough to be to do it all themselves, but we are not among them (though not for lack of trying!)

  • One more point: for those of you with the cavlier attitude that these people, and millions like them, are choosing not to obtain health insurance, I have a simple question: how do you think the insurance industry makes money? Here’s a hint: it spends $50 billion each year saying no, either excluding altogether or denying coverage. How easy do you think it is for a family with 2 children with major pre-existing conditions to get health care they can afford? This is exactly the problem with the current system.

  • Zak

    MM,
    I generally agree with you on the health care issue, but there’s one thing I don’t understand. How can health care be a basic right? It doesn’t fit with my understanding of rights, because my right in this case imposes a duty on someone else. Maybe that isn’t rooted soundly in CST, since the Catechism says:

    1930 Respect for the human person entails respect for the rights that flow from his dignity as a creature. These rights are prior to society and must be recognized by it. They are the basis of the moral legitimacy of every authority: by flouting them, or refusing to recognize them in its positive legislation, a society undermines its own moral legitimacy.36 If it does not respect them, authority can rely only on force or violence to obtain obedience from its subjects. It is the Church’s role to remind men of good will of these rights and to distinguish them from unwarranted or false claims.

    But I could certainly benefit from more elaboration on the topic. I guess I’ll take a look at the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church too.

  • MZ

    MZ

    I apologize for voicing my complaint through the wrong channel.

  • Ut videam

    Zak, all rights flow from duties. They are rooted in the virtue of justice, which consists in rendering to each his right or due. A person’s right is meaningless without a corresponding duty imposed upon others to render that right to him.

  • Zak

    That was supposed to say that I wrote that note to MZ, not that he wrote it to himself. Sorry.

  • Zak

    Ut videam,

    Don’t rights generally impose negative duties (i.e. not to kill, not to confiscate my property, not to interfere with my family) rather than positive duties? Maybe I’ve imbibed overmuch at the liberal well.

  • Zak

    I guess I was wrong!

    From the Compendium:

    c. Rights and duties

    156. Inextricably connected to the topic of rights is the issue of the duties falling to men and women, which is given appropriate emphasis in the interventions of the Magisterium. The mutual complementarities between rights and duties — they are indissolubly linked — are recalled several times, above all in the human person who possesses them.[322] This bond also has a social dimension: “in human society to one man’s right there corresponds a duty in all other persons: the duty, namely, of acknowledging and respecting the right in question”.[323] The Magisterium underlines the contradiction inherent in affirming rights without acknowledging corresponding responsibilities. “Those, therefore, who claim their own rights, yet altogether forget or neglect to carry out their respective duties, are people who build with one hand and destroy with the other”.[324]

    166. The demands of the common good are dependent on the social conditions of each historical period and are strictly connected to respect for and the integral promotion of the person and his fundamental rights[349]. These demands concern above all the commitment to peace, the organization of the State’s powers, a sound juridical system, the protection of the environment, and the provision of essential services to all, some of which are at the same time human rights: food, housing, work, education and access to culture, transportation, basic health care, the freedom of communication and expression, and the protection of religious freedom[350]. Nor must one forget the contribution that every nation is required in duty to make towards a true worldwide cooperation for the common good of the whole of humanity and for future generations also[351].

    I guess it shows how far I still have to go before approaching these things from a truly (Catholic) Christian perspective.

  • Jonathan (not Jones):

    You are arguing (i) that Catholics cannot use the law to promote ideals; (ii) a tax is taking resources from an individual by use of violence. (i) is definitely not supported by Catholic social teaching, and (ii) is an extreme libertarianism that is the ugly stepchild of 19th century laissez-faire liberalism.

    Not quite. I am arguing that Catholics who use the law to promote ideals are mistaken in thinking they promote a virtuous, much less Christian, society. Charity is a mystical thing – it is a deep expression of love thy neighbor and thy enemy as thyself. When asked for one’s coat, one should give it and much more to the one who asks. One cannot give thy brother’s coat, even if thy brother has many coats. Else, when the wealthy man asked Christ how to obtain salvation, Christ would have responded, “My apostles will take what you have and give to the poor, who are more needy than thyself, and since you have no absolute right to that wealth anyway.”

    Income tax (in this instance, to fund SCHIP) which redistributes wealth is a species of force, nothing more. If I refuse to pay for SCHIP, I am taken into court, I am charged, I am fined. Therefore, if the sole reason I pay that tax is that I am afraid otherwise I will be so treated, then I have gained nothing for my soul, and those who pushed for such taxation have done nothing for my virtue, have not converted me, have not shown me Christ. The majority of taxpayers would pay taxes willingly (road repair, fire departments, etc.) for some reasons, but unwillingly for others.

    My point is that those who perceive they are achieving some Christian end by funding social projects at the expense of others who are unwilling are mistaken.

  • I also have some training in economics, with some familiarity with the literature. I’m not going to make the same arguments again; they are all there, on the record as it were.

    MM, I’m basically on your side in this debate here, but I have to say that it seems a bit ludicrous for an anonymous blogger to play the “I’m an authority” card.

  • You say, “Why should I pay……”

    But the Lord says:

    Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow

    Ben, the Lord never said: “Mug your neighbor to feed the hungry or provide medical care for the poor”. If Mr. Frost of the half-mil house would like to come over and make his case as to why I ought to help him, he’s welcome to.

  • The problem that S-CHIP tackles is a deep one, as there is a huge gap in between those who qualify for Medicaid and those who can comfortably afford private insurance.

    Minion, no, you can’t make that assumption. But the problem I have with your and the Democrats’ proposals is what constitutes “comfortably afford”. Maybe they can’t “comfortably afford” it. Maybe they’d have to drive used cars instead of brand new SUVs. They might have to sell their house and get an apartment. Maybe the kid they are insuring can donate the $500 that they spent on the latest X-Box toward a month’s insurance.

    Maybe it’s time for Americans to make choices between the things they want and the things they need. I know that for my family and I, we cover all of the necessities before we start purchasing luxuries.

    If someone has a lot of kids, and they have a poor paying job, I’m all for supplying health insurance to their children. But the family of this boy that the Democrats exploited show in stark relief the problems inherent in this sort of wide reaching wealth re-distribution.

    This legislation would insure 6 million kinds, 4 million of who are currently uninsured. I think it’s grossly unfair (and inaccurate) to assume that their parents simply didn’t bother insuring them.

    You can’t make that assumption. But let’s look at these parents’ lifestyles. I’m not going to pay for your health care so you can own a 60″ wide screen TV that I can’t afford because I am paying for my own health insurance.

  • Kurt

    The conservative attack on the little 12 year old child with a brain stem injury and who spoke for the Democrats on the SCHIP bill is appalling. But it is not surprising. Remember, these are the same people who went after that poor, little dog Fala (not that I carry a long term grudge).

  • Pingback: Hawaii Ending Universal Child Health Care After 7 Months Because Families Were Dropping Private Coverage So Their Children Would Be Eligible For The Subsidized Plan | Right Voices()