Thursday, September 10, 2009

#97 Not healthcare reform


Christian culture is rather unhappy about the proposals for healthcare reform. They'd threaten to move to Canada like they did when Obama won, but Canada has socialized medicine, so they're up a creek on this one.

184 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm making the powerpoint slides for my Intervarsity Christian Fellowship tonight..I've been feeling super lame.
I've been thinking of this blog.

stephy said...

Don't feel lame! Are you using sunsets and clouds and grass and mountains in your slides? Maybe you could use pics from rotten.com or something. :)

Will McCabe said...

I wish you could be inside my head to feel how hard I am working at not commenting on this...LOL -Will

stephy said...

Guess you didn't work too hard cause you commented! haha

Mel T said...
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Cynthia said...

THANK YOU!!!! The irony of this continues to blow my mind. This is one instance in which the religious right seem to put their American values before their Christian values...I've noticed that this tends to happen when confronted with "values" that might require a personal sacrifice on their part...unlike Gay civil rights for example.

Steven said...

As a Jew trapped in the south I see the things you discuss in your blog every day. I work in medicine and every evangelical I work with is vehemently against universal health care. Its astounding.


also: http://www.buzzflash.com/contributors/03/09/17_franken.html

Erin said...

I'm a Canadian christian and universal healthcare is very important to me. The father of Canadian universal healthcare was a Baptist Minister! There are christians who think that right to healthcare is a God-given right!

Flahdagal said...

Yeah, screw the least of these my brethren. They won't pull themselves up by their bootstraps and get a dang job with benefits! Boggle the mind, doesn't it??

tmamone said...

It depends on which Christians you ask. Folks like Jim Wallis and Brian McLaren are pro-reform, but most mainstream conservative Christians still think it's "socialism."

Peter T Chattaway said...

Of course, as a private practitioner working without the approval of the government, Jesus wouldn't have done too well in a socialized healing system, would he?

It's my sense that many Christians are in favour of reform, just not the particular type of reform that Obama is trying to ram through at the moment.

It's certainly ironic that many of the same people who complain about the religious right trying to impose its values on people are quick to make religious arguments in favour of this particular secular initiative. C'mon, people, is the United States a theocracy or isn't it?

Mel T said...
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Brian G. said...

Too true...I don't have a problem with people agreeing or disagreeing with certain sorts of health care, but it seems mighty suspicious to me how Christian culture is so vehemently against it for ideological reasons.

Personally I don't have a strong opinion on the issue. But I do know that most of the Christian culture people who do, don't have basis for it. It's not a religious issue how we care for our sick...But it is a religious issue that we do. I'm afraid that a lot of Christians who are against the government doing it aren't doing it in the name of Christian compassion ("conservative compassion" maybe)

Random suggestion: how about a post on "testimonials"? It seems they are often just stories about the power of the human will slapped with religious words, and the people telling the stories take themselves way too seriously. But you in the audience feel like you have to too, because it IS, afterall, a testimony!.

And then people ask you to tell them your testimony, nothing wrong with testimonies themselves, but they get turned into an overemphasized concept, and everyone thinks they have to have one, so they end up coming up with a dramatic (or not so much) story of their life and then have to explain how it relates to Jesus. And a very positive concept, that of telling your story and how it relates to faith, gets sucked into the christian culture product machine.

Trev said...

Obama's bringing your country out of the dark ages? He must be the devil.

massminuteman said...

It's my sense that many Christians are in favour of reform, just not the particular type of reform that Obama is trying to ram through at the moment.

So just what kind would they favor? I'm not hearing them make any useful suggestions.

Mel T said...
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Mel T said...
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Megs said...

I think the problem here isn't so much to do with being Christian as being American - there's this odd, bizarre, inhumane opposition to universal healthcare in this country which I honestly don't get, even after being here for 9 years.

Universal health care is, of course, a most sensible idea, and Obama is, of course, a most sensible leader. But I think if you asked Christians in most countries, most of them would be in favour of accessible health care. I think there's a handful of silly chaps and lassies saying silly things, who are not particularly representative of anything much except for silliness. Which I rather like, actually, but not this sort of silliness.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I disagree with your comment that 'Christian culture is rather unhappy about the proposals for healthcare reform' - and what IS this bizarre problem so many Americans have, thinking anything for the wellbeing of the masses is 'socialism' or even 'communism'? Did the cold war freeze everybody's brains? And who was it again that lady liberty welcomed so kindly in her wee epitaph?

Shoot! I'M an American now?! Holy Cow. Ah, but an Irishwoman and an Australian too...

...

teleboxnary said...

YOU LIE!!!

Megs said...

never!?!

Brian Genda said...

Mel:

I understand, one's personal story is really important in sharing one's faith. It's just that in my personal experience, I've seen that important part of faith cheapened.

It's great when it flows out of one's life as an expression of love, but I've seen Christian communities make having a testimony a crucial part of one's faith, and leading to people sharing testimonies publicly that need not have been shared, because they give a shallow appearance to faith.

I guess what I take issue with is not individual testimonies (individual to individual), but public ones. I think one ought to have a story to share with the people they meet. That doesn't mean one should take advantage of public opportunities to share what should be a personal 'take it for what it's worth' moment.

Anyway, I do agree with you that testimonies are great things. I've been VERY inspired by people's testimonies. I just think that a lot of them are BS and this detracts from the legit ones out there. I think the reason the BS ones exist is because of Christian Culture, and that many Christians create testimonies that regardless of intentions, are bullshit.

Anonymous said...

As an Australian I find this mystifying. I have never understood why people have to pay for healthcare in America. It Australia it's basically free. Can somone please explain the arguments American Christians have against proper government funded healthcare? What do they see as the problems with it? I will be back in a few days to see the answers.
p.s. Rad blog Stephy!!

Megs said...

Hi anonymous!'
I'm an Aussie too, who's lived in the usa for 9 years, and i too find this mystifying. i think there's a much vaster cultural gap between the usa and australia than we imagine. i think part of what underlies this difference - and hence our difficulty understanding some americans' issues with universal health care, is the period in English history that the 2 countries were colonised.

australia was colonised by an england which had undergone major social reform, including the introduction of many programs created for the benefit of the poor. the usa was colonised before these reforms happened in england. so each culture has assumptions, fears, expectations, based somewhat on these historical foundations.

Megs said...

teleboxnary,

i just realised you were quoting Joe Wilson. initially i thought you were saying i was lying, and didn't get you?!

funnily enough, given the thread of conversation here, this kind of behaviour in congress would be normal, and very acceptable, in Australian and English parliament, where insults are yelled often. It is, in fact, rather entertaining to listen to.

Hmmmmmmmmmmmm!

Mel T said...
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Still Breathing said...

Mel T, I think the problem with testimonials is that they tell our story and not God's story which was the heart of worship in the early church.

Still Breathing said...

Meanwhile back on healthcare - here in the UK we were puzzled by the attacks on our NHS as if it was the work of the devil! The NHS may have problems (usually caused by too much government interference) but it does work! It is the NHS that, literally, keeps me alive and it was the NHS who worked out what is wrong with me after 10 years of being treated in a private scheme.
Any country that that can aford it but doesn't ensure that the poor and needy have access to the healthcare they need must bring tears to the eyes of God.

shack said...

Stephy,

I laughed out loud. I hope it's ok with you, but you're now one of my best friends...

Steve said...

I think part of the problem with American evangelicals' opposition to universal health care is that, at heart, many of these people are social Darwinist libertarians who use Christianity as a cover. They will protest that they are against Darwin and evolution; but they are all for the "only the strong survive" attitude that comes out of Darwin's ideas (Yeah, I know, Darwin didn't teach "survival of the fittest," it's a distortion of his teaching on natural selection that would have appalled him). This social Darwinism goes hand-in-hand with capitalism, which, of course, Christian culture embraces, and which in turn opposes universal health care, because it means less profit for insurance companies. After all, capitalism and profit are God's plan, right?

Sarah said...

I wonder what would happen if, instead of devoting resources to annual mother-daughter breakfasts, PK conferences and AWANA, churches started pooling money to help the uninsured and sick within their own congregations.

We're pretty good at praying that God would provide for people in need without doing much about it -- telling people, as James observed, "Go, I wish you warm and well fed," when five bucks out of everyone's pocket in the congregation could meet the very need people are so earnestly praying for.

If we did a better job taking care of our own (including people -- maybe poor, maybe homeless -- who might start coming to church just to get taken care of) maybe the government wouldn't need to make up for the widespread personal indifference of people to the plights of those around them.

Derek said...

i love this post - and the idea flow in the comments
thanks for posting

Cynthia said...

Peter Chattaway...
The "irony" is that the same people who will riot in the streets "in God's name" over Obama's supposed "pro-abortion" and "Pro-gay marriage" agenda and who proclaim that everything they have is a "gift from God" will in the next breath say "I worked hard for what I have why should I have to share with those deadbeats?". Taking care of the poor and sick is not a "secular" topic. It is one of the primary tenants of the Gospel message. This is the highest form of hypocrisy. It's funny because I asked a friend of mine who fits the above description what his take was on the stories of how the first century church shared all their property in common and were stricken dead for witholding things from the group. His response was much like yours "We don't live in a Theocracy." And yet...during the campaign he posted a message asking "How can you be a Christian and vote for Obama given his position on abortion rights?" THAT is ironic...AND hypocritical. I say this as a fellow Christian.

Brian Genda said...

Mel: ah, I see now I misread what you wrote.

Anonymous said...

Waitaminit. . . Now you're just saying that conservative/libertarian/the right IS Christian Culture.

You had earlier said something about evangelicals being conservative, which is true, but it's not true that opposition to creeping socialism is exclusive to evangelicals.

I'm crying foul on this one. But I still love you.


Jeremiah

Steve said...

"creeping socialism." Love it! LOL!

Anonymous said...

Steve - You're right. A better adjective is "bounding."


Jeremiah

Mel T said...
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Steve said...

Better creeping--or bounding-- socialism than social Darwinist libertarianism!

Spinning said...

stephy - thank you for this post.

toujoursdan said...

I'm with the Australians and the Brits.

As a Canadian I have never understood the opposition to universal healthcare. Canadian Medicare (healthcare) began through the efforts of Tommy Douglas, a socialist AND a Baptist minister. Many Christian denominations embraced the Social Gospel and advocated for issues like universal healthcare, welfare, safe living and working conditions and all the rest. It's bizarre to see Christians using their faith to oppose measures that bring dignity to people which the Bible says are created in God's image and Christ says in Matthew 25 we must serve.

What's interesting about Christian Culture is that while Christ says that we have that obligation to serve the poor and needy, they want to turn it into an optional good work - something that gives them brownie points with God if they choose to do it, or not. Christian Culture also seems to not want to recognize that in a real democracy (and Americans are certainly sure that their democracy is the world's best), the government IS made up of the people. It's not some alien hostile entity.

Jason said...

Amusing caption... this site is great.

Bookmarked.

Brian Genda said...

Jeremiah: not all conservatives are christian, but most of Christian culture is conservative. Someone who takes part in conservative culture doesn't need to feel obligated to also take part in christian culture, but I think just about anyone who takes part in christian culture is pressured to take part in conservative culture.

Peter T Chattaway said...

If socialized health care were doing as well here in Canada as some people say it is, our one-and-only Oscar-winning film (i.e. The Barbarian Invasions) probably wouldn't be the scathing satire of the health industry that it is.

As it is, a judge in Quebec ruled not too long ago that the wait lists for health care in that province are intolerable (as the judge put it, IIRC, access to a wait list is not the same as access to health care); the lousy hospital conditions in Toronto were partly responsible for the spread of SARS; and here in British Columbia, it was recently revealed that our government is thinking of postponing surgeries as a way of controlling costs.

So take all claims about how lovely and wonderful our system is with a big grain of salt.

Cynthia, nobody was struck dead in the early church for having private property. For lying about it, yes. But for having it, no.

The fact remains, if left-wing Christians want to impose their values on their non-Christian neighbours through secular legislation the same way that some right-wing Christians do, then the two groups really aren't all that fundamentally different.

If Christians want to live in such a way that they have all property in common among themselves, then yes, there is a biblical precedent for that and it would be a marvelous and wonderful thing if they could achieve this in any sort of sustainable way.

But using your political clout to take your neighbour's money, to force your neighbour to buy health-care insurance he doesn't want, to punish your neighbour if he doesn't buy it, or to degrade whatever existing health care your neighbour might already have ... this is not a good and moral thing.

And Megs, seriously, Obama is a "sensible" guy? In his most recent speech, he betrayed his usual unfamiliarity with how businesses actually work (e.g., profits are not "overhead"), as well as his usual arrogance about his place in history. He thinks he will be the "last" president to deal with this issue? Seriously? Once health care is monopolized by the state, it becomes the sort of thing that politicians are forced to deal with all the time.

Robin Marie said...

"Better creeping--or bounding-- socialism than social Darwinist libertarianism!"

Amen to that. And Steve, your earlier analysis about social Darwinism and capitalism was spot on.

And to the commenting Australians; yes, America is really that stuck in a Cold War mentality that attempts to use the government to help the most poor and disadvantaged in an essentially unequal system (capitalism), is considered immoral. We have not matured much since the end of the Cold War, and most people still think socialism is equivalent with Stalinism.

And what is really upsetting is that since the national discourse is so closed on this matter, you can even have discussions about the merits and problems with socialism; all one has to say is "Obama is a socialist," and it is as if, even if it that was true (which it absolutely is not; as with Clinton, right wingers should just see how impatient actual left-liberals/socialists are in this country with Obama to realize what a moderate he is) that wins the argument right there. No one asks, "what exactly does that mean?" or "why do so many European countries have universal health care or other so-called socialist programs if they are so evil?" or "what is the history of socialism and why do we consider it unacceptable in America, indeed, immoral even?" No one asks that. Everyone just denies and argues over the charge of socialism, and we go on perpetuating national ignorance because there is a rule about what is truly American; and often to stick to that, it requires ignorance.

Robin Marie said...

er -- you *can't* even have discussions about the merits and problems of socialism...

Anonymous said...

Canada, isn't that just northern Mexico now.

Anonymous said...

I thought this might interest you guys: Germany calls their universal health care system "Applied Christianity." Food for thought.

Mel T said...
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Still Breathing said...

Mel T, I think my concern about testimonies stems from my experience in my late teens (many years ago) when some people I knew were very quick to give their testimony but within a very few years they had turned their back on Christianity. Ideally you would be right about self and God stories being one and the same thing but, tragically, that has not been my experience. If we ensure that the emphasis is on God’s Story at all times and that testimonies are within that context I think we will be going in the right direction.
Basically I think we agree but approach the subject from different sides.

Anonymous said...

Brian Genda - I'm aware of that and it supports my earlier point.

It seems to me that in this case (and others) the libertarian/right/republican/conservative/reactionary(in my case) position is held to be synonymous with evangelicalism.

My conservatism is based on the writings of people like Hobbes (Anglican), Burke (Catholic), Adam Smith (Presbyterian), Ayn Rand (atheist I think), and Fredrick Hayek (no idea). None of these writers is American, or evangelical.

Let us non-evangelicals shoulder some of the blame for for opposing massive new entitlement programs. Please?


Jeremiah

Mel T said...
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Peter T Chattaway said...

FWIW, here is one report that looks at how Obamacare would actually stop Christians from sharing healthcare insurance and applying "the New Testament ideal of Christian community, which is to help provide for the needs of one another in the body of Christ." This may be of special significance to those who would quote the Book of Acts in support of secular programs like Obamacare.

Mel T said...
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Jean said...

Hi Everyone

I love the Canadian system. Why?

Anyone, yes even those who cannot afford a meal can get health care.

Do you wake up one day and decide to be sick? No! We all need care sooner or later.

In Canada I can choose my doctor. It is like having medical care but you do have to pay for it, show your health card.

I think the big companie$ are trying to scare the US population into all kinds of hypothetical stories.

Love ya all, and be grace with you,

Jean

Peter T Chattaway said...

Jean wrote: "Do you wake up one day and decide to be sick? No! We all need care sooner or later."

And in Canada, you tend to get it later rather than sooner. That's what all those wait lists and similar cost-control measures are all about. So even if you could afford to pay for immediate treatment, the government makes you wait for it, and everyone crosses their fingers and hopes that you don't develop any complications while you're waiting, and that your productivity at work doesn't suffer, and so on and so on and so on.

Mark (under construction) said...

I hear Canada is way better than the US of A anyway - is this true? That there are lots of Canadians living there ... I'm hoping to holiday in Calgary next year would this be a better idea that say - Long Island?

daniel said...

What boggles the mind are the people without health insurance of any kind railing against universal health care as if the bill was written by Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Saddam Hussein. You don't have insurance and you're taking the side of the insurance lobby? Brainwashing has worked, and worked well my friends.

Stu Shea said...

A few examples of "waiting forever for health care" in Canada doesn't change the fact that up there, they seem to like it pretty damn well. We wait for it down here, too, if we ever get it.

So you're going to tell Canada that their healthcare system doesn't work? Spare me.

Peter T Chattaway said...

Stu, what's this "they" business? I am Canadian. I was born in Canada and I've lived my whole life in Canada. And I can tell you that healthcare is a matter of ongoing controversy up here -- which makes a mockery of Obama's claim that he will be the "last" president to deal with this issue if he succeeds in socializing it -- and I can also tell you that, as things currently stand, when people up here get fed up with the slowness of our system they often go the States to get the tests and treatments that take forever on our side of the border. I have never heard of an American coming to Canada to expedite the process.

jill said...

"A few examples of "waiting forever for health care" in Canada doesn't change the fact that up there, they seem to like it pretty damn well."

Exactly. I've never experienced wait times for doctors OR in hospitals. Neither have either of my parents, who have both had/have very serious illnesses. Wait times ARE an issue, but nowhere near as bad as nay-sayers like to think they are. In my experience, even many Canadians who consider themselves conservatives and/or align themselves with Canada's conservative party would scream and holler if our health care system was taken away from them (my entire family and my church-going friends included, here).

Peter T Chattaway said...

Well, yes, of course. When word leaked out that the provincial government here in B.C. was thinking of delaying surgeries and thereby increasing wait-times, as a way to control costs, there certainly was a bit of screaming and hollering. Oh, but the B.C. government wasn't planning on taking away the healthcare system -- just the healthcare itself. Hmmm.

At any rate, the basic fact remains: In our system, the government has that kind of power over our bodies. And the "private option", to coin a phrase, is currently forbidden to us -- it's the "public option" or nothing. Until now, Canadians who have wanted access to private healthcare, including members of my extended family, have had to go to the States to get it -- but if Obama has his way, who knows if that option will still be open to us?

snee said...

peter,
you're full of shit.

snee

Peter T Chattaway said...

Gosh, how civil. You sure you guys don't want to just come right out and say "You lie!"?

snee said...

peter,
i apologize. i wasn't civil. i was not at my best in the middle of the night, but that is not an excuse for such rudeness.

snee

Ben parsons said...

Ok, how's this Pete? you lie. And you're full of shit. And it's 7:52 here, so I'm not tired or anything.

Ben parsons said...

The government has control of your body? You mean they tell you what to do?!! Heavens! That must be horrific.

Peter T Chattaway said...

Ben, if you're such a truth-teller, then please, tell me which of my statements is a lie. (Do you mean to say that I am not a lifelong Canadian? Do you mean to say that no members of my extended family have had to go to the United States for prompt medical attention? Do you mean to say that the B.C. government did not recently consider delaying surgeries etc. as a way of keeping its budget under control? Do you mean to say that Canadian politicians don't get bogged down in debates over whether or not to permit private healthcare?) If you can't perform even as simple a task as that -- and I don't see how you can -- then it is you who are the liar.

stephy said...

I am loving this.

Spinning said...

I find it amazingly ironic that a Canadian right-winger is presuming to run down the US president, the US president's healthcare proposals, and US citizens who aren't in lock-step with his (Canadian guy's) ideas of what the US government should be like and how we US citizens should view things - and on top of all that, Canadian guy is trying to somehow equate his views with those of the Gospel.

Come on, give it a rest! Or else we'll start trashing Canadian guy's favorite pols and columnists, and Worldnet Daily, too. ;-)

Sheesh.

Peter T Chattaway said...

Get a grip, "Spinning". I never said what the US should do. But when people start spreading a skewed view of my own country, I have to pipe up. And yes, when people start playing on my religious affiliations in ways that seem questionable to me, then I have to pipe up on that score, too.

It would be amusing, no doubt, to see you try to guess who my favorite politicians and columnists are. (I would be impressed, in fact, if an American such as yourself even knew who our politicians and columnists are. The first time I ever really heard of Barack Obama, he was talking about calling up "the president of Canada" to make changes to our free-trade agreement. Presumably someone has since informed Obama that his nation's biggest trading partner -- and his state's, come to that -- has a prime minister and not a president.)

At any rate, feel free to trash Worldnet Daily all you like. I have no use for that site.

Spinning said...

Peter, just cool it, OK? You don't have a bully pulpit at A&F anymore, but that's no reason to go off the handle here (on Stephy's blog) about what you think *we* should do.

Since I'm not even remotely Canadian, I wouldn't dream of commentating on Canadian politics in the way that you constantly do about the US. Where's your experience at actually living here and knowing firsthand how *anything* in this country works?

Believe it or not, having the freedom to comment on someone's blog doesn't actually entitle you (or me, or anyone else) to rant on and on and on about their particular betes noires.

but you could always start a Yahoo group or some such, for whatever you want to say - nobody's stopping you, I think.

Lorelei said...

okay, peter, in the US you also have waiting periods for specialists that one could go to in the states, and that's assuming if you even 1) have insurance, 2) have insurance accepted by the specialist, or 3) the specialist hasn't 'opted out' of all available insurances, which they often do.

i have a chronic pain condition for which only one specialist on the east coast exists to treat. their waiting period is six months at the moment. i even HAVE two forms of health insurance, but this specialist has opted out of accepting all medical insurance. so i would have to pay $1300 USD (upfront, so no payment plan either) to even go to her. my pain is getting worse and worse as time goes by, but i would be okay with a six month waiting period IF ONLY I COULD EVEN AFFORD TO GO TO THIS DOCTOR. indeed, six months is quite a bit less than some canadian waiting periods, but at least you never have to question whether you'll see them because you can't afford it! yes, you could die while on a waiting list, but people die in the United States because they don't even get the chance to see the specialist that they needed.

my uncle is in Quebec (where they have a nurse and supply shortage) and had to spend a few nights in the hospital on a gurney in the hallway of the ICU because there was simply no room for him anywhere else. but you could never convince him to come to the States and go along with our healthcare system. despite sleeping in the hallway amidst the general chaos of the ICU, at least he was treated for his heart condition and never had to worry about paying for it, or whether his hospital accepted his insurance, or whether his insurance would decide that his treatment was not covered or deemed 'unnecessary' and therefore not covered, which is the common experience for folks in the US who aren't upper middle class, or in local/national politics (as their insurance is really quite amazing).

i understand the waiting period problems in canada, but having a flawed system is much superior to having a BROKEN one.

Peter T Chattaway said...

I haven't a clue what you're talking about, "Spinning". I still post frequently at A&F, and I pretty much avoided the "Politics" forum there for about a year or so before it was shut down. So exactly which "bully pulpit" did I lose, there?

And once again: I never said what you should do. So stop saying that I did.

The day Steph gives you veto power over what goes on at this blog, I will, of course, have no choice but to acquiesce. In the meantime, however, I will simply note that she herself just said "I am loving this."

So, y'know, deal with it.

Spinning said...

there *is* no politics forum at A&F, partly because you abused it so frequently - Greg had every reason in the world to put a stop to rants like "Obama: Muslim? Messiah?" when he took over. (Just as the previous owner had every right to tell you to knock off the trolling on that thread and others like it.) Don't you think you owe us (everyone here) the courtesy of *not* flaming/trolling?

fwiw, Lorelei's comment (just above) is a very accurate reflection of what goes on here, re. health care, even for those who have primary and secondary insurance coverage. Many hospitals here will *not* treat anyone who has no insurance (in their ERs or on an inpatient basis), which has a great deal to do with the way private companies have gobbled up healthcare facilities (over the past 20+ years) and turned them into for-profit businesses.

Living without any insurances is a frightening reality for many. (I've been there myself, and thank God I had no need to be in an ER, let alone have to have surgery or be facing a life-threatening illness during that period of time, which lasted 6 years.)

You're more than free to opine about President Obama all you like on your own blog, or discussion group. But coming here to trash him, and to try and shoot down people who disagree with your assessment of *our* problem is just foolish at best, and ultimately futile. (Not to mention pretty unmannerly.)

Enough. You've got my point, I know.

Peter T Chattaway said...

Lorelei, I'm sorry to hear about your condition, and I'm glad that your uncle doesn't seem to have picked up any new diseases while he spent those few nights in the hospital's hallway. But for what it's worth, at least one American I know, whose wife suffers from a seriously debilitating condition of her own, has said that her healthcare will suffer if some of the proposals currently on the table are implemented. And he basically disagreed with the bulk of Obama's latest speech. I'd quote some of what my friend said, but he posted it on his Facebook page, and I'm not comfortable quoting other people's Facebook pages in public fora such as this one.

Spinning said...

Peter, until you move to this country and become a citizen, you will *not* "get" what any number of people are attempting to explain to you (here and elsewhere) regarding the serious problems in our healthcare system.

In other words, come live with us and then you'll know us. Not before, and not because one or two people (on A&F or Facebook or wherever) posted comments that we can't see.

OK?

Peter T Chattaway said...

"Spinning", once again, I did not use the politics forum at A&F in any significant way for over a year -- so I rather doubt that any of the recent flamewars there had anything to do with me. And the thread to which you refer had been re-named by the previous owner or one of the other moderators long before Greg took over the board. (The previous owner, of course, was an unapologetic liar who had a bewildering and inexplicable hate-on for me, so his opinions count for nothing in my book.)

And once again, since you seem to have trouble getting this point: I am primarily trying to correct misimpressions of how things work in my own country, not yours.

And I can't think of anything more "unmannerly" than trying to police activity on someone else's blog!

spinning said...

enough. i will not discuss this any further with you, here or elsewhere.

i think the points about some (only *some*) of the problems regarding our healthcare system and the need for *some* kind of universal insurance have been made.

my apologies to Stephy for the semi-threadjack.

Philip said...

There are certainly interesting health care-specific aspects to this discussion, but really this like many of your posts is just a narrow application of #22 Being Politically Conservative. I don't see any way in which Evangelical opposition to expanded health care is anything more than the standard parroting of Republican talking points. (And sometimes those talking points take odd turns that illustrate how unprincipled they are, like trying to alarm seniors that the government wants to get involved in their Medicare! But I digress....)

Also I should note that one Christian response to the lack of health care could be to donate to foundations that care for the underinsured so that they don't have to turn to the government for this need. I'm a very small-govt libertarian at heart, but also realistic enough to know that this horse left the barn long ago and that it's hard to get people to donate once they think that it's the govt's responsibility.

In any case, I do love your blog! But the best entries are the ones that go beyond yet another permutation of Christians selling out for right-wing politics in preference to caring for the poor. I do think a lot about that big theme but it kind of feels like we're all beating a dead horse and preaching to the choir. (I like to mix metaphors.)

Philip said...

Regarding Peter's alarmism above (and I will attempt to be terse):

None of the Democratic proposals with a scintilla of a prayer of passing would model US reforms after Canada. I can't question the realities you report of life in BC, but I'm quite sure that any fear of the US health care becoming a carbon copy of Canadian health care is ill-founded.

Still Breathing said...

There have been a lot of comparisons between healtcare in the US and Canada (not surprising) but the UK system is different. The NHS provides healthcare that is as free as the government can make it (I think that's how it works) so if you are admitted in an emergency there is no question about whether you will be treated. If you require other healthcare you may have to wait, although in my expereince this isn't usually very long, but if you can afford it you can get quicker treatment by "going private."
The private sector doesn't provide emergency care but does seem to use the NHS as a backstop when its procedures go wrong!

stephy said...

All this makes me want to move to Canada.

massminuteman said...

I've lived in both Canada and the U.S. for long stretches. American care tends to be higher quality- if you can get in the door. And substantially higher cost. Canadian care is improving as better trained doctors get into their system, but it's an awful lot easier to access and much lower cost.

Historically Canada has been a substantially overall less wealthy country than the U.S., though the gap is narrowing fast lately. That makes for the communication issue here- expectations of their health care system have been going up among Canadians during the past 20 years. U.S. residents have had pretty continuously falling expectations for those same 20 years. (All against baselines that are getting higher as medical technology improves.)

I'd say for 90% of people 90% of the time, the Canadian system is as good or better than its equivalent in the U.S. For the rest, the double per capita U.S. spending rate on healthcare exerts some effect.

IMO what both USAers and Canadians aspire to is Canadian style care for those 80-90% of straightforward cases, and USA style care for the other 10-20%.

I'm hopeful we'll get that when we form the North American Union. ;-)

Flahdagal said...

Lorelei said, [i]"in the US you also have waiting periods for specialists that one could go to in the states, and that's assuming if you even 1) have insurance, 2) have insurance accepted by the specialist, or 3) the specialist hasn't 'opted out' of all available insurances, which they often do."[/i]

I'm not sure why this doesn't get discussed more often. I have top notch health insurance, and have had services denied, prescriptions changed, and doctors that opted out of my coverage plan. There are OFTEN waits in this country to see a doctor and typically waits to see a specialist. There are almost always waits for elective surgery. And yet these things get dangled before us like Halloween spiders. Boo! Boo! If you let everyone have health care, something will be taken away from YOU.

toujoursdan said...

I grew up in Gatineau, Québec and recently moved to New York City.

I have also watched the movie "Barbarian Inventions" and have had lots of real life experience with the Québec health system. If you recall from the movie, the son wanted a private room and individualized care for his dying father. But the Québec system is classless and the overcrowded hospital only had room in a shared room or the hall.

There are certainly problems of hospital overcrowding and longer wait times in parts of Québec, but you can't attribute that to the Canadian single payer system per se. It is mostly due to understaffing, much of which is caused by the French language fluency requirement. Doctors and nurses in Québec, even if they mostly serve in English and/or immigrant communities, have to be fluent in Québécois French BEFORE they can be certified in the province. This requirement stops many English speaking and new immigrant doctors from relocating to the province, because it's much easier to live in English speaking Canada and practise right away than spend several years learning Québécois French to the point where you can pass the mandated language test. Canada doesn't recruit many doctors from other French speaking countries to the degree that they do with doctors from India, China or Hong Kong, and most Canadian medical schools train in English. So Québec has special problems that it would have even if it adopted the U.S. system.

Secondly, if anyone thinks that Americans don't face wait times just like Canadians do, they aren't familiar with how insurance companies work in the States. It is very normal for an insurance company to make Americans wait for long periods of time for treatments. The Canadians who travel to the U.S. for instant care aren't aware of these waits because they by-pass the insurance company approval process.

See: Businessweek: The Doctor Will See You... in Three Months

People are more aware of wait times in Canada because they are posted openly by the provincial health ministries. In the U.S., the private insurance companies keep them closely guarded secrets, so most aren't aware that they have a similar systematic problem.

While Peter is correct that some non-life threatening surgeries are postponed in Canada as a way of controlling costs, he misses the fact that insurance companies do this as a matter of policy all the time in the U.S. I suppose one could make the argument that if a surgery is postponed by an insurance company in the U.S. you could pay out of pocket, that is a distinction without a difference for 90% of Americans. Few have tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to throw at a procedure that they have been paying an insurance company to cover. It wouldn't make much sense to do so anyway. The insurance companies should do their job.

The other issues Peter cites like lousy hospital conditions, etc., all occur in the States to similar degrees too. The difference here is in media coverage. They tend to be national stories in Canada and local stories in the States where hospital administration is more decentralized.

Having lived on both sides of the border I would agree with massminuteman. IF you can get American care, it CAN be of higher quality, but you have to face the constant insecurity of being denied treatment or getting an unexpected bill in the mail, but most of the time care in much of Canada is at least as good and you never have to worry about cost. From a statistical standpoint overall patient outcomes tend to be better in the Canadian system than in the U.S. in any case. (See: A systematic review of studies comparing health outcomes in Canada and the United States)

Prody said...

That is not fully true converstives who claim to be christian want no health care reform not all Christians fall into that group. I am undeclared party members who is Christian and believe in christian chairty. So health care for all americans is must for me and many like mind christians a cross the nation. Also I find you mock Jesus in art offensive to me and most of all to Jesus. Jesus was more of socialist, then a caplistlist any day.

toujoursdan said...

Peter is correct that in Canada you can't pay a doctor to jump the queue and get treatment right away, which IMHO is a good thing because if you could, it would push those who can't afford to pay further back in the queue.

And personally I would much rather have government "control" my body (if that is really what is happening) than a private insurance company do so. At least in a representative democracy, we have some say in how a government should behave and greater mechanisms of accountability to change it. The fact that courts in B.C. and Quebec can demand that those provinces reduce wait times shows that governments are indeed accountable and responsible for their citizens.

American insurance companies don't even publish wait times and Americans who are dependent on insurance companies generally can't turn to a court and get systematic relief. The only "choice" an American have is to pay out of pocket, which again over 90% lack the means to do, and/or seek redress individually once the damage has been done already. There is no preventative mechanism to make the overall system better like there is in Canada - government can't do it and the market certainly can't because for the worker insurance companies are essentially monopolies. A worker can't choose to switch from one to another and keep the employer based coverage.

The "choice" Americans have is really no choice for a vast majority of the population. Most Americans can't pay for an expensive medical procedure out of pocket. Most middle class Americans are buried under too much debt and worried about losing their jobs as it is. So talk about the greater choice Americans have is ridiculous.

As a Christian I have never understood why Christian culture puts more trust into private mega-corporations than in government. Government is inefficient, slow and bureaucratic but to a certain extent must hold accountability to its citizens. Private companies are often slow, inefficient and bureaucratic plus they have no such accountability. Their track record of looking out for the common good is pretty poor because serving the common good isn't their goal. It's making money for shareholders.

There is a lot of pressure for Canada to institute some kind of private insurance because there is a lot of money to be made off of peoples' suffering. So far, this has been a third rail. I, for one, hope it stays that way.

Spinning said...

ah, toujoursdan, thanks *so* much for posting accurate information. i like your style!

Jason said...

"Also I find you mock Jesus in art offensive to me and most of all to Jesus."

Come on, brother. It's pretty clear the caption was tongue in cheek... A humorous jab at the irony of current circumstances; intended as social commentary and not a literal characterization of the biblical Christ.

stephy said...

"Also I find you mock Jesus in art offensive to me and most of all to Jesus."

I find that Christian culture mocks Jesus in an art offensive to me and (obviously) most of all, to Jesus. Christian culture is a bastardization of Jesus' gospel of relationship and of abiding in God. Christian culture is about doing things and avoiding relationship. And what's worse, it does this under the premise of being biblical, which makes it a complete and utter abomination.

Thanks for visiting!

edwin said...

There are hard numbers published by the United Nations on Health Life Expectancy. They provide a good idea of the quality of health care that a country has.

From http://www.who.int/healthinfo/gl...tes_country/en/

rank country yrs healthy life


32 Cuba 68.3
31 Czech Republic 68.4
30 Portugal 69.2
29 United States of America 69.3
28 Slovenia 69.5
27 Ireland 69.8
26 Denmark 69.8
25 Singapore 70.1
24 United Kingdom 70.6
23 New Zealand 70.8
22 Greece 71.0
21 Finland 71.1
20 Belgium 71.1
19 Netherlands 71.2
18 Malta 71.4
17 Israel 71.4
16 Austria 71.4
15 Luxembourg 71.5
14 Germany 71.8
13 Norway 72.0
12 France 72.0
11 Canada 72.0
10 Andorra 72.2
9 Spain 72.6
8 Australia 72.6
7 Italy 72.7
6 Iceland 72.8
5 Monaco 72.9
4 Switzerland 73.2
3 Sweden 73.3
2 San Marino 73.4
1 Japan 75.0

Jason said...

Saw a picture of some guy carrying around a large cross during that DC teabagger rally, up on his shoulder just like you read in the crucifixion story... the significance of this was unclear to me. At least most of the signs and things you could try to wrap your head around... but the cross thing was extra weird.

What the heck does that have to do with healthcare?

The guy is dragging around this giant cross and I'm like... wtf!? It's not enough to attribute your political beliefs to supposed christian teachings but to actually bear a cross? What is the point of that?

Anonymous said...

Steph -

I'm a preacher's daughter at a Christian university and I was just introduced to your blog tonight. I told my little brother about it and said, simply, "It's the story of our lives." This is spot on and hilarious. The most glaring omission to me thus far is Christian bookstores.
Really though, so many of these things are disgusting to me now and effectively drove me away from Christianity. Yes, I'm following the current trend and considering myself a "follower of Jesus." I've left behind many of the things in your blog.
- Lindsey

Anonymous said...

Maybe you should change your blog to "StuffILikeToMock: because I'm a hateful, bitter person"?

You are trying to push this issue squarely on the Christian culture when it truly lies on the backs of conservatives mainly opposed to big government. Don't think anyone is against providing for every American citizen, just not this plan. Bipartisan groups have even said Obama's plan would not be financially feasible.

Now let the bashing begin, thanks for being tolerant of others with views different than yours.

Sarah said...

I have to say, one of the things about this site that has continually impressed me is the respectfulness its posters generally show toward people of differing viewpoints. I have yet to see anything, particularly by Stephy, that is in any way malicious, let alone hateful. (I think most of us will cheerfully own up to being bitter: Seeing the great and loving heart of our beloved Jesus turned into a set of cultural mores is a great source of bitterness.)

Further, tolerance in no way implies agreement, nor does disagreement imply intolerance. I can disagree with your viewpoints all day long without being intolerant of you. In a discussion-based forum such as this, the issue of tolerance only comes into play when people begin to engage in ad hominim arguments.

A good example of tolerance would be, "Hey, we disagree with each other completely, but let's go out to lunch and be friends anyway." Which is difficult to do in a purely verbal forum like this one. So instead we try to disagree respectfully -- and in the moments when contributors to these discussions slip into disrespect, we have historically, on this blog, done an impressive job in apologizing to one another.

I'm sorry that you interpret difference as disrepect. And I believe another commenter also pointed out this this post is a narrow application of a previous Thing Christian Culture Likes, and more conservative than it is Christian.

At the same time, I find this post to be generally true of white evangelical Christian culture, and hilarious to boot.

Thanks Stephy. :)

Shizzle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shizzle said...

I am a Canadian citizen and have lived in Canada for most of my life. I once was in the US for a short period and dislocated my shoulder. I was taken to a Baptist hospital in Tennessee and the doctor gave me some painkillers and did a little twisty thing with my arm which really was only a temporary and not terribly effective fix. I received a bill shortly thereafter for around $1300! Seriously?! He hardly did anything and the drugs were worth maybe $20-$30. I was livid.

massminuteman said...

I received a bill shortly thereafter for around $1300! Seriously?! He hardly did anything and the drugs were worth maybe $20-$30. I was livid.

I hope you didn't pay that in full. It's a running scam/Oriental bazaar haggling game that American hospitals overcharge people not in their insurance network by 3-4x (perhaps more). Since you'll never have to deal with them again, I suggest calling them up and saying that you'll send them what you sincerely think you fairly owe them- say, $200.

J.L. Powers said...

I guess I still don't understand why so many Christians link their faith to capitalism and somehow link socialism to evil. Oh, believe me, I know the arguments for socialism and against socialism and I know the arguments for capitalism and against capitalism...but I fail to see how they have anything to do with Jesus' message. Maybe I'm just tired of politricks.

Shizzle said...

I didn't have to pay the bill in full. I did make several payments and if I remember correctly, I did pay the majority of it. I guess the hospital switched the company that handled its accounts and somehow I never heard from them again even though I still owed several hundred dollars.

Shizzle said...

Oh, and I definitely regret not getting travel health insurance through my bank, which of course I got after that incident. It's only about $70 a year and offers full coverage as long as I'm only outside of Canada for a certain period of time.

Chrissy said...

"Anonymous" poster, this is not about mocking out of a hateful and bitter spirit. It's about seeing humor in what Christianity has become and why it has become this way, with the purpose of leading us to the root of what being a Christian actually means. We see many silly social developments that are not biblical, but somehow have become the Christian norm. Christians opposing health care reform is simply another topic worth questioning. Is it their own choice to oppose healthcare, or are they influenced by the Christian majority's conservative views and their opposition to Obama's Democratic policies? Because the majority of Christians oppose healthcare, and the purpose of this blog is to discuss what Christian culture likes, it is perfectly appropriate to discuss their disapproval of healthcare reform.
This site is not about hate and bitterness, but boldly questioning and answering what it means to be a Christian. We are free to laugh at some of the inventions that Christians make in attempt to create a concrete culture, because some of these inventions and ideals are pretty funny. Christian Guitar Hero? What is the purpose? So Christians will not be be influenced by secular music. Creating a replica of what the "world" deems fun, so that we can participate without guilt, is a bit ridiculous. Of course, the nature of humor is rooted in tragedy. This site is more about analyzing the hows and whys of Christian culture. We "laugh so we don't cry" if you don't mind the cliche. Analyzing the root of these social developments is useful in rediscovering the truth in Christianity, outside of the influence of what Christian culture says Christianity ought to look and feel like. These cultural "norms" are contrary to "being in the world but not of the world." The creation of a "counterculture" that is an exact replica of American culture with a twist of God is not conducive to truly understanding Christ. Christian culture claims to be revolutionary, but it runs directly parallel to American culture. It does not promote individual growth in the knowledge of God because it separates us from other human beings who play regular guitar hero. We end up playing the same game, side by side, but not together. Because Christian culture calls one worthy, and one unworthy, it severs the chance for the Christian to play a game with another human being, who has different thoughts and ideas. Defining what Christians should look like does not promote God's love. So perhaps the "mockery" does indicate a level of bitterness, but the bitterness is not toward God or sincere seekers of God. It is toward a society's idea that we need to fit a standard to prove our love for God. This standard is a tragedy because it robs us of the chance to discover own thoughts while living in Christ, "being in the world, but not of it." Christ does not bow to Christian culture's definition. Christ is the definition, and will be expressed through our unique experiences that cannot be replicated.
The Christian mindset that opposes healthcare, which I am not saying is right or wrong, has become a Christian trend. Is it simply another way we have defined what it means to be a Christian, and how Christians ought to interpret politics? That is a question worth considering, because there is no Biblical basis for yielding to this specific political agenda. So we must ask why it is a Christian trend.

If we laugh in our analysis, I'm glad. Proverbs tells us "Laughter is good medicine." Which may prove that we have found reason to laugh though we are sick with grief. I call that joy. The fruit of the Spirit. If aspects of Christian culture get in the way of innocent people truly desiring to know God, and hinders us from loving others unconditionally, then there is reason to hate the distractions. Those aspects are not of God, but are promoted in the name of God, which is utterly deceptive. Again, we "laugh so we don't cry." It is a way to survive, to thoughtfully consider life amidst chaos, and to seek God in hidden places.

Still Breathing said...

Anonymous, I read this post in England and a lot of it hits the nail on the head over here. We have a real problem in the church because we are muddling cultural values with Christian ones. Unfortunately because it takes the church a while to come to any concensus about something new it is continually behind the times and out of touch.
You accuse Stephy of being "a hateful, bitter person" which is a lot of condemnation for 4 words. I have seen nothing from her, to suggest you are right but if you were have you considered that it might have been the very culture she has a dig at that made her what she is?

J.L. I was looking for an article I wrote for a church magazine when teh Berlin Wall came down (but don't have it anymore) in which I looked at the Christian socialist / captialist issue. My worry is that captialism, in its purest form, is based on being selfish while pure socilaism would ensure that the poor and weak were looked after. Neither exist in their pure form some I end up being a pragmatic capitalist and an ideological socialist.

Peter T Chattaway said...

Chrissy, Christians don't "oppose healthcare". I already linked to a story about Christians who share their health insurance a la the New Testament church -- and how those Christians may not be able to do that any more under Obama's plan. Opposing any particular set of policy proposals with regard to healthcare is hardly the same thing as "opposing healthcare" itself. Just as opposing any particular manifestations of the Christian subculture is hardly the same thing as "opposing Christianity".

Massminuteman and Toujoursdan, thank you for shedding some light rather than heat on this discussion. In theory, competition between health-insurance providers (like competition in other areas) is supposed to give the consumer more options (and better options) than a monopoly, whether it is run by the state or someone else -- so I don't know quite what to make of the claims that there are so few options even under the American system. Is it because people let others (such as their unions or employers) do the choosing for them, perhaps? If so, then surely the solution here would be to increase the range of options, not decrease it as Obama and his ilk seem determined to do.

It is illuminating to hear that Quebec's government-run healthcare is suffering because of other forms of government interference. This, again, is an argument against giving government more control of healthcare, rather than an argument in favour of it.

And the whole point of permitting private healthcare is that people would not merely "jump the queue", but would leave the queue altogether, allowing everyone behind them to move up a spot. I can't see how that would be a bad thing. One could certainly argue that it is, if anything, even more immoral to deny healthcare to people who can pay for it than to deny it to people who can't.

stephy said...

Chrissy, if you're not understanding Peter, the rest of us aren't either, so don't feel bad. :)

toujoursdan said...

In theory, competition between health-insurance providers (like competition in other areas) is supposed to give the consumer more options (and better options) than a monopoly, whether it is run by the state or someone else -- so I don't know quite what to make of the claims that there are so few options even under the American system. Is it because people let others (such as their unions or employers) do the choosing for them, perhaps? If so, then surely the solution here would be to increase the range of options, not decrease it as Obama and his ilk seem determined to do.

It sounds like you still don't understand how the system works in the States.

Employers negotiate with insurance companies for group coverage for all their eligible employees. This means that all employees in a company/office are covered by the same insurance company under one plan with possibly different options when it comes to deductibles and coverage levels. Workers don't "let" employers do this. They have no choice. That is how it is done. Insurance is a benefit, not a requirement.

There is no competition when it comes to end-user service to the worker. Workers are subject to an insurance monopoly, period. One only has the choice to opt-in or opt-out of employer supported insurance coverage. A worker doesn't have the choice switch insurance companies if they are unsatisfied with their service and still receive employer support, which for most full time workers is over half the cost.

Obama and his "ilk" won't change this one way or another. His plan allows the uninsured to opt into a public option to give the uninsured access to healthcare if they cannot find an affordable private option, giving them MORE access through another option.

But none of the current plans address the monopoly insured workers face and there is nothing in the current American system that provides an incentive for insurance companies to improve their coverage for the end user. Again, workers are "lucky" to receive this benefit at all and more and more are not.

It is illuminating to hear that Quebec's government-run healthcare is suffering because of other forms of government interference. This, again, is an argument against giving government more control of healthcare, rather than an argument in favour of it.

Don't get me wrong. I am all in favour of French being the language of medical service in Québec and the government playing a rôle in making this happen. I just think they need to allow people to practise medicine while they learn the language, perhaps having a translator in the office in the interim. The Québec government also needs to do much, much more to promote medical training and medical recruitment in the province.

I am not against government interference in this regard at all, because no one else is going to preserve the French language in North America. The policies just need tweaking.

toujoursdan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
toujoursdan said...

And the whole point of permitting private healthcare is that people would not merely "jump the queue", but would leave the queue altogether, allowing everyone behind them to move up a spot. I can't see how that would be a bad thing. One could certainly argue that it is, if anything, even more immoral to deny healthcare to people who can pay for it than to deny it to people who can't.

No one can leave the queue.

There is a finite supply of doctors, nurses, equipment and hospitals in a given city/province/region/country and, as is true with all economics, demand always outstrips supply. People will then compete for the supply and there will always be a queue. Paying means jumping the queue and leaving those who can't afford to pay with delayed treatment.

Public healthcare insures that the queue is based on need alone. Private healthcare bypasses need and instead diverts (at least some) resources to those based on ability to pay. Those with greater needs by fewer resources are pushed back, and that is immoral IMHO.

Peter T Chattaway said...

Workers don't "let" employers do this. They have no choice. That is how it is done. Insurance is a benefit, not a requirement.

I dunno, it sounds like it is a requirement. If the employer deducts health-insurance fees from the employee's paycheque and gives that money to whatever health-insurance provider it feels like giving it to, without any input from the employee, then yes, as you say, the employee has no choice. Allowing the employees to choose their own health-insurance provider, instead of being tied to whichever provider the employer settled for, would presumably put more power in the consumer's hand.

Or do employers on that side of the border not deduct health-insurance fees from the employees' paycheques? Is it just something the employer provides for free? In that case, the employee would still be free to acquire additional health insurance of his or her own choosing, no?

Obama and his "ilk" won't change this one way or another.

Not directly, perhaps. But Obama himself seems to be tacitly acknowledging that creating a "public option" will motivate some employers to do away with some or all of the benefits that they currently provide. Hence his rhetoric has changed from saying that his plan would have no effect whatsoever on existing health-care plans to the vaguer notion that his plan won't "require" employers etc. to change their plans.

I am not against government interference in this regard at all, because no one else is going to preserve the French language in North America.

Well, frankly, if it takes such enormous government interference -- and, in some cases, a suspension of citizens' rights -- to preserve the French language in North America, then it doesn't deserve to be preserved. But that's another subject for another thread.

No one can leave the queue. There is a finite supply of doctors, nurses, equipment and hospitals in a city/region/country . . .

That's a zero-sum approach, and it assumes your point without actually making it. Presumably, if the option was there of setting up a more lucrative private practice, less doctors etc. would leave this country, and some might even come here just to set up shop. Increase the supply, and some of the already-existing demand will be relieved.

I recently "jumped the queue" -- or, more accurately, side-stepped it altogether -- when I had to get a psychological assessment for my son's autism. If I had waited for the public service to provide this, I would have to wait an entire year, instead of the month or so that the private practitioner made me wait. Did the private practitioner cost me something? Yes, but he was worth it. If you're telling me it was "immoral" to get my son a prompt private assessment while other people waited in line for the publicly-funded assessment, well, I disagree.

toujoursdan said...

Let's try this again.

Employers in the U.S. subsidize employee healthcare coverage. In my company, they have contracted with United Healthcare for a group policy. My employer pays 75% and I pay 25% of the cost. I pay about $150/month for health coverage. My employer pays about $450 for their side.

The only option I have as a worker is to: 1) quit my job and find another employer with another insurance company who may or may not accept me assuming I don't have a pre-existing condition; or 2) opt out of employer subsidized coverage altogether and buy an individual policy and pay the entire $600/month out of my own pocket, (which obviously makes little sense.) So workers are subject to a defacto monopoly.

There is NO option to take the employer subsidy and shop around. It certainly isn't in the best interest of the employer or the insurance company to allow this to happen. For the employer it would mean significant extra cost in directing their portion of the benefit to dozens of different companies for hundreds of different workers which could change all the time. It certainly isn't in the best interest of the insurance company because they would have to compete. So that option is out. Workers are subject to a monopoly. That is the way it works in the U.S.

Not directly, perhaps. But Obama himself seems to be tacitly acknowledging that creating a "public option" will motivate some employers to do away with some or all of the benefits that they currently provide.

No he is not, and slippery slopes are logical fallacies. Secondly, if privately run companies are so much more efficient and provide better service to the end user and employer, they wouldn't have to worry about any of this. Thirdly, no proposal is final but several bills that are working their way through Congress don't allow employers to do this anyway.

Hence his rhetoric has changed from saying that his plan would have no effect whatsoever on existing health-care plans to the vaguer notion that his plan won't "require" employers etc. to change their plans.

You are misreading the rhetoric here and taking this totally out of context.

Well, frankly, if it takes such enormous government interference -- and, in some cases, a suspension of citizens' rights -- to preserve the French language in North America, then it doesn't deserve to be preserved. But that's another subject for another thread.

That's easy for someone who speaks the world's dominant language to say. Personal question: Have you ever learned another language to fluency? How easy do you honestly think that is? How fair would it be for someone to come along and demand that you learn another language to fluency in order to access medical and legal services in your own country? Do you think YOU have a right to access medical and legal services without being forced to learn a foreign language in your own country? 95% of Quebeckers speak French. Why should they have to learn a foreign language to access basic services in their own country? This social darwinism is so corrosive.

I'm willing to bet that if the shoe was on the other foot and you were forced to confront this you would think differently.

That's a zero-sum approach, and it assumes your point without actually making it.

False. You're not paying attention.

Presumably, if the option was there of setting up a more lucrative private practice, less doctors etc. would leave this country, and some might even come here just to set up shop. Increase the supply, and some of the already-existing demand will be relieved

Actually doctors have been returning to Canada for a while, and second, increasing the supply isn't that easy. Medical education and training demands extremely high performing students and takes years of training and experience to accomplish, and equipment and hospitals cost money.

toujoursdan said...

I recently "jumped the queue" -- or, more accurately, side-stepped it altogether -- when I had to get a psychological assessment for my son's autism. If I had waited for the public service to provide this, I would have to wait an entire year, instead of the month or so that the private practitioner made me wait. Did the private practitioner cost me something? Yes, but he was worth it. If you're telling me it was "immoral" to get my son a prompt private assessment while other people waited in line for the publicly-funded assessment, well, I disagree.

It's different in this case because we are not talking about life and death. If a doctor/hospital/etc. had to put off treating a cancer patient who can't pay in order to treat you as a paying customer first for a hip replacement, I would say that this is immoral.

Taking doctors out of the public system and putting them into private practise means people who don't have the ability to pay have to make due with fewer doctors which means delayed treatment. Yes, I do think that is immoral.

Sarah said...

Brilliant, toujoursdan.

Spinning said...

toujoursdan wrote:

Employers negotiate with insurance companies for group coverage for all their eligible employees. This means that all employees in a company/office are covered by the same insurance company under one plan with possibly different options when it comes to deductibles and coverage levels. Workers don't "let" employers do this. They have no choice. That is how it is done. Insurance is a benefit, not a requirement.

Of course, lots of employers don't "do" any kind of insurance coverage at all (in the US). Which leaves employees SOL, unless they can somehow get coverage via a spouse/partner.

Employers who pay low wages are notorious for not providing any kind of health (or other) benefits packages.

And people with no insurance are subject to the same kinds of absurd fees as have been mentioned above re. an ER trip by a Canadian visiting the US.

I took out a series of short-term catastrophic polices for a number of years (during the 6+ years that I was unable to get insurance through my work), but *those* were only good for 90-day periods, and they didn't allow any of what are referred to here as "pre-existing conditions." Which left me - again - SOL, unless I did something like breaking an arm or leg.

The truth is that there is no backup here for the underinsured and for the vast majority of the underinsured.

Spinning said...

Sorry for the typo - I meant to say that there's no backup for the uninsured.

Stephen said...

My wife likes to listen to sermons from a variety of places/pastors. This is one she shared with me and I thought it was appropriate/timely with the current discussion.
http://ottercreek.podOmatic.com/entry/2009-08-30T13_05_53-07_00

toujoursdan said...

Exactly Spinning.

There is no requirement that employers provide healthcare subsidies at all. Many do not, or do at a prohibitive cost for the employee. Healthcare is a benefit in the United States, not a requirement.

I have one friend who works in retail for a major clothing chain in New York City. His employer provides health insurance, but retail and lower management employees (who don't make much more than the minimum wage) would have to spend about 40-70% of their take-home pay to pay for their portion of the policy, so they opt out and take a risk. Many on the right-wing would cite this as a "voluntary" decision on the part of the employee not to be covered, but these employees certainly doesn't think so.

There is absolutely no back up at all except emergency room care, which can still be catastrophic financially (and unhealthy since the ER's goal is merely to stabilize a patient, not treat them.)

It's very hard for Canadians to wrap their heads around this.

Flahdagal said...

Well said, toujoursdan. And it needs to be said that using our ERs for a healthcare safety net is a bad deal all around. Overworked docs, overtired nurses. Too few of each. Bad record keeping and higher prices (not costs, prices), make the ER option a poor choice, but one that many Americans are forced to.

Not to mention that health care management is pushing low cost/high price tests like CT scans while eschewing more expensive lab tests that might be the best choice in the case.

System's broke y'all.

Spinning said...

toujoursdan wrote:

It's very hard for Canadians to wrap their heads around this.

And equally hard for a lot of Americans, come to that. ;-)

Brian Genda said...

OK, so while I've remained relatively neutral on the health care debate, I've leaned toward the more liberal policies. I didn't want to base my opinion on Christian cultural assumptions.

But I've realized that people (such as Christian conservatives) can get things right by coincidence. Someone can use bad reasoning to follow someone else who used good reasoning, and end up coming to the correct conclusion half the time. So to all the ex-Christian culturalists, let's not be reactionary against other reactionary folks!

I've not made up my mind at all on the issue, but a very smart man I know, Dr. Michael Bauman, recently wrote an article which makes a lot of sense. Yes he is a conservative Christian, but hear him out.

http://thechristianworldview.com/tcwblog/archives/2628

If universal/socialized health care truly is a bad idea ultimately, it does NOT justify the use of bad reasoning to come to that conclusion. Even if ignorance is right half the time, justifying it on this reasoning will lead to some pretty messed up 'half-the-times' which will negate any coincidentally correct choices.

Anyways: Canadian and British health care may have positive aspects. This does not mean that it will work for America, since it means applying it to a different political and social system, COMBINED with the fact that massive overhaul of a pre-existing system will INEVITABLY create instability and inefficiency until the problems can be worked out for a new system in which we aren't even sure it can all work maximally in.

That being said, I don't have a strong opinion on the subject and think that people should not unless they have educated themselves well on the matter (and education does NOT mean listening daily to Rush Limbaugh---or Keith Olberman---every day)

Anonymous said...

What's the matter? you liberals and moderates are peeing in your panties because many of us dare to blaspheme and reject your messiah.

the health care "reform" bill, in its current form, is a racket. just like everything Obama and his goons do. you can "keep" your plan if you "like it," but what they don't tell you is that if you change to a different plan for any reason (change jobs, choose to go with individual coverage, start a small business, etc.) you will have no choice but to take a plan that is approved by the Federal Government. Yes, that's right, the people who "managed" the Katrina aftermath are now going to decide what health care options you are going to get.

health care "choice"? how laughably Orwellian. even the CBO recognizes that about as many people will lose their current coverage as those who are currently uninsured.

Anonymous said...

"Of course, lots of employers don't "do" any kind of insurance coverage at all (in the US). Which leaves employees SOL, unless they can somehow get coverage via a spouse/partner."

they should not be working for those employers. seriously, why are there so many people who make a career out of being a Walmart greeter (or equivalent min. wage position)? These are positions for teens to pick up after school, not for 40 year old losers. if you are in that position, maybe it's time to pick up a marketable job skill, instead of waiting for the Government to come in to put you on the doll

"Employers who pay low wages are notorious for not providing any kind of health (or other) benefits packages."

And why should they? health coverage is expensive for employers too. if they had to choose between keeping Skippy the Walmart Greeter employed and paying tens of thousands of bucks yearly to cover his rearside, guess what? Skippy is out of both health coverage and employment. my, you liberals are so loving and compassionate.

Anonymous said...

"Well said, toujoursdan. And it needs to be said that using our ERs for a healthcare safety net is a bad deal all around. Overworked docs, overtired nurses. Too few of each. Bad record keeping and higher prices (not costs, prices), make the ER option a poor choice, but one that many Americans are forced to."

so is the Canadian who doesn't have a family doctor. this is a point which both sides are ignorant on... the Canadian system is great if you have a "family doctor," but most such doctors are overworked, and those who don't have one are on long waiting lists to get one. and the doctors decide who they pick up for regular treatment... if you are a young family of four, you are more economical to a doctor than, say, a single elderly woman.

you don't fix a crap sandwich by putting mustard on it.

you trust your government too much.

Sarah said...

We liberals and moderates are certainly not as loving and considerate as you! :)

FWIW, I work a fairly low-paying job without health benefits, and I'm not a Wal-Mart greeter; with Bachelor's degree (so far) and many highly marketable skills, I currently serve as a legal secretary for a sole practitioner who legitimately can't afford to give me health insurance. It's a good job, in a time (and geographical area) when (and where) jobs are hard to come by, so I'll take it, although I'm currently uninsured. (One of the reasons: It's twice as expensive for a single woman to insure herself privately, on any insurance plan, from skeletal "catastrophe" insurance to full coverage, as for a man. Quoi?!)

I don't particularly have wide-eyed faith that the health care reform bill will benefit me -- I might be one of those who falls through the cracks because I make just a little too much money to qualify for government assistance, but not enough to afford anything on my own. But the current system truly sucks and some measures need to be taken. And for all the criticism the proposed bill is receiving, I haven't heard much about viable or reasonable alternatives.

I'm no fan of big government, but no one else is doing anything about the problem. Like I said earlier, if we're going to be upset at the government's self-serving assistance programs and plans, and particularly if we're involved in faith communities, we need to face the blame ourselves, since we have allowed private citizens to stop caring practically for each other and allowed the government to pick up our significant slack.

Babba-Gi said...

The reason Jesus was so effective is, he didn't accept Medi-Care.

Spinning said...

Why is it that people who rant about "liberals" (or whoever) always comment anonymously?

Peter T Chattaway said...

Like "Spinning" is so transparent an identifier!

More later. Family and work have been beckoning these last few days.

stephy said...

Uh, Peter, Spinning links back to her blog. That's pretty transparent. Jeez.

Sarah said...

Yup, no bitterness there. :)

stephy said...

All right you guys, take it outside.

Spinning said...
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shelly said...

Why is it that people who rant about "liberals" (or whoever) always comment anonymously?

Because they're too cowardly to own up to being called out on the crap they want to spew.

Anyway, the only problem any evangelicals I know have with what Obama's proposing is that, supposedly, in said proposal is funding for those who provide abortions -- disliked, natch, on the basis that, "If you're Christian, you should abhor/opppose abortion."

Errr...does anyone -- Christian or not, of any political stripe -- really support abortion? I don't think so (last I checked, pro-choice meant that one supports a woman's right to determine her reproductive destiny for herself). Anyway, it's tying a bit into Stuff Christian Culture Likes #90 (Being Pro-Life While Simultaneously Supporting the Death Penalty) as well as #22 (Being Politically Conservative), and -- in this instance -- even #23 (Having Lots of Kids). I could get into a whole different rant about that, but I'll abstain.

Personally, I think health care in the US is a joke. I don't believe it should be treated like a commodity to be bought or sold. I also believe that the US will not have universal health care ever until the nation as a whole gets rid of its self-centred attitude and realize they share this country with other people. Elsewhere -- and I think this is a large reason why universal health care is seen as it is in other countries -- it's about "us", as in the entire country, together. They realize that if they don't thrive, then the country won't, either.

Spinning said...

@ shelly - my question was entirely rhetorical. ;)

Rebecca said...

As a Canadian and a Baptist minister's daughter, I'm loving this post, Stephy.

I love our healthcare system in Canada (and in my left coast province). It's not perfect, but it has done alright for me and my family. Sure, my dad has had to spend a few hours in an emergency hallway because there weren't any available beds, but that was a short-term situation.

I have chosen, personally, to pay for a MRI when the wait to do it through the system would have caused me stress. But it wasn't an emergency - if it was, I would have been scheduled in a.s.a.p.

But when my son was sick and dehydrated, we got in right away and he received the care he needed.

I suspect it doesn't really matter what Obama does or doesn't do. The conservative evangelical crowd are going to find something to criticize in all his policies for any number of reasons... but few of these reasons have anything to do with the actual content of his policies.

I'm pretty sure that Jesus would not be impressed with the mighty right-winged 'tude. The guy was a total socialist - 5 loaves, 2 fishes and all that. He took care of people. He spread it around.

Peter T Chattaway said...

That's funny, Rebecca. Most socialists don't have the supernatural ability to create food or money out of thin air the way Jesus did. In fact, when Jesus created all that wealth, so to speak, it was the governments of his day that took exception to what he did. What was this freelancer doing, taking away their monopoly? So if anything, Jesus was a free-enterpriser.

Yeah, I know, that's silly. Most attempts to squeeze Jesus into modern political models are.

Brian, thanks for the link. Interesting point about trying to apply healthcare models across political-social-cultural differences. It has been noted that America stands for "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" while Canada stands for "peace, order and good government", which is kind of redundant but at least conveys the fact that we defer to our political institutions more readily. Americans took up arms against the British king; Canadians waited another century or two for the Brits to give us something resembling independence. No doubt these differences in political temperament have affected the debates on both sides of the border.

Toujoursdan, if "workers are subject to a defacto monopoly" -- and if many employers "provide healthcare subsidies ... at a prohibitive cost for the employee" (though how it can be called a subsidy if it's costing the employee is kind of puzzling) -- then surely the solution would be to give the consumer more choice, rather than less, especially since more and more people have to work as freelancers, etc., and no longer have employers in the strictest sense anyway. You yourself say that the insurance companies don't want to give the consumer more choice because then the insurance companies "would have to compete" -- so if there isn't enough competition yet, then surely we should encourage it?

And while "slippery slopes are logical fallacies," they also tend to be political realities -- especially where budget over-runs are concerned.

As for the language issue, Canada has two official languages, not one, and it is reasonable to expect that anyone who comes to a Canadian hospital should be able to find help in at least one of those languages. Expecting every single hospital employee to be fluent in both languages, however, is a non-starter -- or ought to be, if it would mean hiring less people and thus denying patients medical attention of any kind.

One could presumably also make an interesting argument about the nature of the medical business here in Canada, if it is no longer all that attractive a profession to native-born Canadians and we need to rely on immigrants who don't speak either of our official tongues. I have certainly heard similar arguments about the current situation in Britain. (And before anybody accuses me of being anti-immigration, both of my parents were immigrants to Canada, and my mother didn't speak a word of English when she got here. So I wouldn't exist if it weren't for immigration. Make of that what you will.)

I am glad, though, to hear that doctors began returning to Canada faster than they were leaving Canada five years ago. May that trend continue. But I repeat: you are not necessarily "taking doctors out of the public system" when you allow for private healthcare. Allowing private healthcare still might attract more people to the profession here in Canada than the profession currently attracts.

Shelly, I don't think this is the place to debate the abortion issue. But suffice it to say that, when it comes to healthcare reform, I and others advocate more "choice".

Mel T said...
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Mel T said...
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stephy said...

Is Peter Chattaway actually Ignatius J. Reilly?

Peter T Chattaway said...

Never heard of the dude before. And, having read the Wikipedia entry on the guy, don't see the comparison.

stephy said...

In the book he fills Big Chief tablets with his political manifestos and plans, rails against the ignorance of the hoi polloi, and also loves movies. ;)

Peter T Chattaway said...

But Wikipedia says he "disdains" movies and goes to them "in order to mock their perversity". I'm more the kind of guy who makes a point of telling Christians why Monty Python's Life of Brian is one of the most biblically faithful big-screen interpretations of the gospels ever.

That the hoi polloi are ignorant, however, there can be no doubt. Especially if those stats Bill Maher likes to cite from time to time have any validity whatsoever.

Come to think of it, dwelling on a culture in order to "mock its perversity" is kind of what SCCL is all about, isn't it? :)

stephy said...

Wikipedia doesn't do him justice. That book is one of my favorites. Anyway, you and I and Bill Maher ARE the hoi polloi.

Rebecca said...

"So if anything, Jesus was a free-enterpriser."

Not a chance, Peter. But nice try. :)

If Jesus was really a free-enterpriser, he would have had a whole bunch of compassion for those money changers in the temple. And he would have charged the multitude for those miraculous loaves and fishes (never mind the wine at Cana - he could really have been rolling in it if he decided to set up a cash bar).

I love it when we try to recreate God in our own modern-day image in order to justify our biases and prejudices.

Not saying that you are, of course!!

Peter T Chattaway said...

Hmmm. I'm not sure what sort of modern-day analogy one could make for the money-changers or the system within which they worked, i.e. a system whereby only a certain kind of currency could be used within the Temple. Digital rights management of the sort that allows iTunes tracks to be played on iPods only and not on regular mp3 players, perhaps? Anyway, the whole point of Jesus' actions, on a socio-political level, was that he was robbing the Temple and its leaders of their monopoly on access to God.

And when the Temple came calling for its tax, Jesus said he and his followers really shouldn't have to pay it, but he produced some money miraculously to get the Temple's agents off their back -- so what sort of lesson is a modern-day socialist supposed to glean from that story?

As for the loaves and fishes, it is not uncommon for people to offer free food in exchange for an audience's rapt attention. And the wine, of course, was a wedding present. It wouldn't be good form to start charging money at someone else's party. :)

stephy said...

I like pop tarts. Do y'all like pop tarts?

Peter T Chattaway said...

In the words of LiveonRelease, "I'm afraid of Britney Spears."

Trev said...

I love Pop Tarts! Sometimes I eat them cold, right out of the package - I just can't wait for the toasting process you know?

My friends and I get wasted off the chocolate ones.

Rebecca said...

Oh, snap!

I had a pop tart once.

snee said...

brown sugar cinnamon poptarts are the best! but i can't get them where i live anymore. b.c.=great health care/dearth of bsc 'tarts.

Henry said...

i know i'm weighing in late on this one, but i only recently discovered this blog (being raised in a Southern Baptist family, i find this blog AWESOME).

i was in a discussion with a Muslim friend (and medical student) about health care when he made a keen and meaningful observation on health care. he compared socialized medicine to giving to the needy on the streets. many of same arguments occur in both instances. people say: they should just get a job; why should i give my heard-earned money to them; they will just use it on booze; et.c. my friend said that it is our job to GIVE. what the needy do with what they are given is between them and God; it is not our place to judge.

as far as i understood Christianity, humanity is very undeserving of grace and salvation, yet it is freely granted to any that ask for it. the greatest command given by Jesus is UNCONDITIONAL LOVE. the Torah/Bible also order people to care for the needy. it never says to judge people worthy, then give.

i have lived for long periods in Japan and England, and have to say that it was so much less stressful. i never worried about health problems. my experiences in both places contradicts other arguments people have against socialized health care. i had my choice of doctors and the wait times were similar to ones i had in the US. in a non-profit driven industry, health care providers work to make you better, instead of providing the minimal care to cut costs.

case in point: i got serious food poisoning in the US and in Japan.

in the US they stuck me in a dark side room with an IV and called it good. i was still barely cognizant when i was picked up later. i was slapped with a huge bill because the hospital was 'out of network'.

in Japan, they took me in, asked me and the people that brought me in many questions. they did a thorough exam, including putting a camera into my stomach to make sure that i didn't have cancer or other serious problems. they made sure that i was reasonably well before releasing me, and i was given a bunch of medicine before leaving. it cost me NOTHING.

right now i cannot afford insurance because of the job market. i work part-time, despite having an advanced technical degree (MSc). i worry constantly about what would happen if i was seriously sick or injured.

i have to agree that in the US, Christians can often simply parrot the Republican agenda. there are people that still believe that Obama is a Muslim, yet ate up the controversy over the Christian minister of his Christian church. LOLWUT many seem to dislike Obama because the Republicans dislike him. i voted Nader; i am critical of Obama as i am with all elected officials and people don't seem to realize just how moderate centrist he really is. he's not even proposing a real socialist plan. it is a government run insurance where people will pay for coverage and is planned to be mostly self-supporting. i have to agree with an earlier statement: why do people trust large corporations with NO accountability over government officials that we elect?

total disclosure dept.: i am a lefty-liberal Taoist Druid (not a Christian).

Peter T Chattaway said...

my friend said that it is our job to GIVE. what the needy do with what they are given is between them and God; it is not our place to judge.

That's all well and good when you're giving out of your own resources. It's when you start taking away other people's resources that you run into trouble. As they say, it isn't charity if you're doing it with someone else's money.

And if "judging" is supposed to be the big problem here, then who are any of us to "judge" when someone else has too many resources, or so many resources that we feel entitled to take some of those resources away from them?

If we can tell the not-so-needy what to do with their resources, then it's only fitting that the resources given to the needy come with some strings attached, too.

Molly said...

I've been reading horror stories about the uninsured and one thing I cannot understand about the US are the insane bills that the uninsured get.
I live in Japan where we basically have universal coverage, but even if you had to pay full price, emergency care would probably cost you a fraction of what you would have to pay in the States. A friend visiting from South Korea accidentally ate a poison mushroom (nearly died). She stayed in the hospital for 5 days, had a bunch of tests, a lot of medication, had an IV for most of her stay because she was too sick to eat. The whole bill without insurance came to about 3000 dollars. (I'm not sure why Henry didn't have to pay anything, even with coverage you have to pay some where between 10-30%) My husband accidentally cut off 3 of his fingers 10 years ago. The ambulance,surgery and hospital stay cost 2700 dollars full price; with insurance we ended up paying a little over 700 dollars.
I've read stories of getting a bill for over 10,000 dollars for an Xray, CT scan and a prescription for painkillers in the US. Apparently the X-ray and CT scan were about 5000 dollars each. Where do they come up with these prices?

When I hear about the religious right in the US it always reminds me of the rich man in the parable about the rich man and Lazarus. I would say that it's better to pay higher taxes than to find yourself in the lake of fire.

Henry said...

If we can tell the not-so-needy what to do with their resources, then it's only fitting that the resources given to the needy come with some strings attached, too.

yeah, because that's how Jesus acted. he never helped anyone without demanding a bunch of requirements of them OH HE DIDN'T I TOTALLY FORGOT.

he also happened to not have a high opinion of people that prized and horded money.

needy programs do have strings attached, by the way.

i suppose that by the same principle, you disagree with all socialized programs. because those lazy octogenarian quadriplegics should fend for themselves. have fun without Medicare, Social Security, veteran's benefits, disability benefits, public highways, libraries, police, schools, standards on all products and a lot of other stuff we all take for granted.

it would be great if we lived in a utopia where every person helped another person directly; however, we do not. it is not 'judging' when we ask people that have enough to live on to give to others that don't. this is part and parcel of our social contract. if you don't like the idea of working together and sharing resources, stop paying taxes and find some remote place where you can live alone with your money. i hope you have some advanced degrees in scientific disciplines, because you will be testing and creating all of your food and medicine yourself; or you could hire all of those teams of people, i guess.

Peter T Chattaway said...

You're right, when Jesus was running his own country he was... OH HE DIDN'T I TOTALLY FORGOT.

Quick question: Can you imagine Jesus leading an army into battle? If not, then you should be able to understand why we cannot take anything Jesus did during his brief earthly ministry and immediately apply it to a secular government. And that's quite apart from any concerns we might have about trying to set up a theocracy.

A state without a military is no state at all -- there's no point in offering any social programs if you can't defend the society itself -- and, yes, as it happens, I would rather see the state have a monopoly on violence for the good of society as a whole than see countless competing mercenary armies protecting whoever can afford them. Beyond that, I also think it is in the state's interest to encourage the growth and development of new taxpayers by offering medical attention to pregnant mothers, among other things. These are basic matters of social survival. So I do accept "socialized programs" to some degree, at least -- and not just because it is impossible to find any sort of "remote place" that doesn't have them.

But the fact remains: in order for socialized programs to exist, we have to force people to give up their money. So it is imperative that we not get carried away.

Sarah said...

Don't worry, Henry, most of the rest of us know that Christianity is directly responsible for the propensity of Western governments to institute social programs to help, humanize and dignify their vulnerable and needy citizens.

Really like your comments, by the way.

Peter T Chattaway said...

Yes, we Christians have done a lot of good, but we have done a lot of bad, too. The same "progressive" Christians who campaigned for the rights of women and the abolition of slavery were also the same "progressive" Christians who campaigned for the Prohibition of alcoholic beverages -- and we all know how well that turned out.

So, like I say, we must ensure that we don't get carried away. It is not enough to have high moral principles; we need to recognize our limitations, and we need to acknowledge the harm that even our best intentions can cause when we impose them on the political sphere.

Sarah said...

I really haven't seen anyone arguing with you on that score, Peter.

Just for further clarification, I wasn't just talking about women's suffrage and emancipation. Going much further back, care for orphans, recognition of the value of the mentally and physically handicapped, hospitals, soup kitchens and universal education, for a few examples, came about as a result of Christianity's view of the human being's innate reflection of the person of God, and the adoption of Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire, which gave the church the power it needed to begin to care for society's vulnerable members.

Naturally state-enforced religion only brings about great harm in the twenty-first century, and no one can deny the atrocities, or simple stupid blunders, often committed in Christ's name (the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the persecution of Catholics and Jews by the rulers during the English Renaissance, the witch and werewolf hunts in Continental Europe and colonial America, etc.). But even so, and even with the divorce of government from religion in the West, the reason we don't leave babies out on doorsteps when we have too many and can't take care of them, the reason we decry rape, the reason we take care of our poor and sick through our governments, the reason we believe in and mandate education for all, the reason we have any concept of "human rights," can be traced back to the church.

I don't actually think this comment is going to do much for you, because I believe you enjoy rhetoric far more than dialogue. But clearly no one is saying that we should throw all caution and good sense to the winds. Those of us who live under the American healthcare system know that reform of some kind is imperative by all standards of sound judgment and humanitarian integrity, and we also know that instituting workable solutions isn't as simple as your own idealism might like.

Peter T Chattaway said...

. . . the adoption of Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire, which gave the church the power it needed to begin to care for society's vulnerable members.

Actually, the church was caring for society's vulnerable members long before it was legally recognized by the state; it was, in fact, the fact that the church cared for the poor and the sick that greatly assisted in the growth of the church to the point where the Roman officials could no longer ignore it. For more on this, see, e.g., Rodney Stark's The Rise of Christianity and his chapter on "Epidemics, Networks, and Conversion", which I summarized here.

. . . the reason we take care of our poor and sick through our governments, the reason we believe in and mandate education for all, the reason we have any concept of "human rights," can be traced back to the church.

Perhaps. But in education, at least, private schools are allowed as an alternative to public schools in both of our countries; no one says that we are "taking teachers out of the public system" just because we allow those who can afford a better education to pay for it.

I don't actually think this comment is going to do much for you, because I believe you enjoy rhetoric far more than dialogue.

Quite the contrary, actually. Substance beats rhetoric any time. And that is, indeed, one of my longstanding complaints about Obama -- and most other politicians. :)

I do, admittedly, tend to find more substance in argument than in what passes for "dialogue" much of the time, but the best arguments are at least a form of dialogue in and of themselves. As the old Monty Python sketch goes, "It's not just contradiction."

Sarah said...

Case in point, Peter. Case in point.

But I got a "perhaps" out of you. Awesome.

Peter T Chattaway said...

Case in point, Peter. Case in point.

Exactly. Substance and argumentation, not mere rhetoric. Heck, I even gave you footnotes. :)

But I got a "perhaps" out of you. Awesome.

Yeah, you got my fourth "perhaps" of the thread. I aim to please. :)

Henry said...

while i agree that we should not get too carried away with taxes, i don't think we are in that position. looking at my paychecks in three countries, i found my income taxes to be quite similar in all three. yet, the UK and Japan get a whole host of social services that we do not. example: people with Autism Spectrum Disorder get free support services and disability benefits in the UK. i am a person that believes that the term 'too generous' is used by stingy people. one cannot be 'too generous'; we all are almost always not generous enough.

not to nitpick, but Buddhism, Taoism and other philosophies and faiths have also contributed to compassion in society and government. and often without the bloody history. how many times have you ever read about violent Buddhist armies or extremists?

Japan is not a Christian society; it is a generally secular Buddhist/Shinto mix. however, they have socialized health care. they also have a far larger sense of working for the good of the group.

Gandhi was Hindu. and as stated earlier, i am a Taoist and Druid.

i think the problem in the US is the extent to which people define 'independence'. it seems to have changed from a sense of hard work in obtaining goals for oneself, to working only for yourself.

Sarah said...

I certainly agree with you, Henry, that many other religions and philosophies besides Christianity have made significant (and sometimes less violent) humanitarian contributions to human society as a whole. I would never minimize that, which is why I restricted my commentary to the West, where Christianity had its primary influence.

I don't know enough about Druidism in its historic or present forms to offer any informed discussion, but I have studied a little of Eastern religions and philosophy, and have deeply enjoyed them all. The general unwillingness of Christian culture to widen its scopes to learn about (and from!) other belief systems for their own sake saddens me.

Peter T Chattaway said...

Henry, as I mentioned in one of my earlier comments, my son is autistic, and I can definitely say that I am grateful for the disability benefits that we have received here in Canada. Even better, I am grateful for the fact that we have received these benefits with relatively little fuss, and that we have even received benefits we didn't know we were applying for. (If you apply for some things, you automatically get processed for other things, apparently.) I was just talking to an American colleague of mine who tells me that he has had such difficulty getting the benefits that his autistic son is legally entitled to that he has had to hire lawyers to pursue those benefits (and he hasn't got them yet). So I don't take what I have for granted. And I certainly think some sort of baseline of care is in the public interest.

But as I also mentioned before, if we had been forced to rely on the public system exclusively, we would have had to wait a lot longer to become eligible for funding and/or treatment. And the earlier you intervene, they say, the better. In this area, at least, Canada does allow for some degree of private care, and it's all to the good.

The question facing Canadians is why the state should have a monopoly in other aspects of healthcare, such that private care is denied to those who need it badly and can afford to pay for it. And the question facing Americans is why the state should reduce what little choice the consumer has, instead of expanding it, and whether the state is justified in making some people's healthcare worse in the name of equality (or whatever virtue is being appealed to here).

Sarah said...

Oops. I just reread my comments and I didn't make it as clear as I had intended that I was discussing the sociohistorical influence of Christianity on specifically Western society, government and culture. Even my "we" was ambiguous.

Sorry about that.

(P.S. Peter, your last comment was positively mellow! :) Good stuff. And I think it's hilarious that you counted all your "perhapses" in this thread. That must have taken awhile...)

Peter T Chattaway said...

Didn't take long at all. Ctrl-F is a wonderful thing. :)

Sarah said...

Ah, of course. I should have guessed. :)

Rich E said...

I think your confused with Hollywood and the liberals, who were leaving if Bush won a 2nd term, I gues they didn't want to pay 50% tax rate, not about healthcare for them, they just pay and the Dr. comes to them.

Most Christians I know Love America and it's freedom's they just don't want to lose those freedoms

Josh said...

Isn't it ironic that all these republicans who are worried about their "freedom" being taken away with something like health care reform were the same ones that were all for the Patriot Act?

Karen D said...

Love your blog!!

Also love the Canadian healthcare system. Having lived in the US since 1995, I can truly say that I Hate the American one.

Why? When I almost died from an asthma attack in Minneapolis, MN, I was hit with a hospital and ambulance bill of over $6,000.00. Thank God that since I was a Canadian citizen, the Canadian government paid the bill and even offered to transfer me to a Canadian hospital!! In Canada, my many trips to the emergency room cost my family nothing.

My family, who still live in Canada, have nothing but praise for their healthcare system, and look with amazement at all the right wing-manufactured drama going on down here.

I am extremely proud of President Obama and hope that his healthcare reform passes. The Democrats have enough Senators and Congressmen to pass a comprehensive health plan - with or without the public option. Just do it already!

P.S. Since "Stuff Christian Culture Likes" was linked on an atheist blog, I assumed this would be a Christian-bashing website - glad to see that I was wrong.

nadine.w said...

Love this picture! My thoughts exactly.

Anonymous said...

I personally know Peter Chattaway and I am here to testify that he represents a fringe of Canadian politics. That's why he talks loud and does long, ranting posts.
Do not think that in Canada that there are a lot of people who agree with his wing-nut political views. He's better off writing film reviews.

Peter T Chattaway said...

Oh, please, not another person who claims to know me but keeps their identity secret.

As someone almost said here, "Why is it that people who rant about conservatives always comment anonymously?" :)

Anyway, the question isn't whether anybody is on the "fringe" of anything. Canada is on the "fringe" of the United States, but Obamacare fans don't seem to mind.

stephy said...

Hahaha Peter got pwned.

Peter T Chattaway said...

Uh, hardly.

Kim said...

Hello
It is up to individuals to obtain health insurance. Most Americans obtain coverage through their employers, but others sign up for private insurance schemes.

h1n1

Still Breathing said...

Kim, I think you missed the post which pointed out that for some low paid workers it would take 40-70% of their take-home pay to buy into the scheme provided by their employers - a good option if you don't need a home or to eat.

Can I just put another perspective on this subject. The USA prides itself on being a Christian country so what do you think it looks like from the outside, say to a Muslim, when you fail to provide free health care to the poor and needy?

Peter T Chattaway said...

The USA prides itself on being a Christian country . . .

In the 1950s, maybe. Not so much now. Even Bush presented himself as an interfaith multiculturalist kind of guy. How much more so Obama.

. . . so what do you think it looks like from the outside, say to a Muslim, when you fail to provide free health care to the poor and needy?

Questions: How does Islam compare to Christianity in its admonitions about caring for the poor? And how do explicitly Muslim countries compare to your implicitly Christian country in their actual treatment of the poor?

stephy said...

I think Hugh's point is "Christians don't practice what they preach."

Peter T Chattaway said...

Well, Christianity, per se, says nothing about socializing the health-care system, so there is nothing to preach there, much less anything to practice -- especially in a country that is explicitly committed to church-state separation. As it is, Christians have always played a big role in creating hospitals and the like, and I'd be interested in seeing how their charitable giving compares to that of others.

stephy said...

You don't get it.

Noelle said...

Peter,

Ironic to see that the first of your favourite films listed on your blog page is 'The Adventures of ROBIN HOOD'...

Now what was it that Robin Hood stood for again?

Peter T Chattaway said...

He fought oppressive taxation, for one thing. :)

Geosomin said...

As a Canadian we can try and be all better than US about this, but when health care reform originally came through here the doctors went on strike in protest. I think it takes time for people to realise the benefits of something new that can be in some ways restrictive. And I'm still grateful I have health coverage at my job...we still pay for prescriptions and the like. I do like knowing that if I"m sick I'll be treated regardless of the hospital I go to or the health coverage I have.
I think it is appropriate to take others $$ if it wil lbe put towards things like health care and proper nutrition programs for people. Yes our taxes are paid to give us many good things, but there is a lot of wastage and funding that could be given to health care that isn't. Trust me...I work in the system...

I just don't get why socialism is such a bad thing in the eyes of some religions...

PS-I personally know Peter T and find him to be a fine 9albiet rebuttal loving) guy :)

Spinning said...

I just don't get why socialism is such a bad thing in the eyes of some religions...
It isn't.

That view is held by some people (of various religions), but I don't see how or why it could be equated with the actual core beliefs of any of the major world religions.

Giant Slayer said...

The problem is not the providing of health care to the poor or needy. The problem is being forced to choose government health care which is a violation of liberty.

Second, I am 100% for taking care of people. But I am 100% against being forced to do so by the government.

Healthcare and Welfare alike must start first within the family and in the local community and people must be given the liberty to choose.