Notes from a liberal friend

A liberal friend of mine, a very well educated man (college professor) and a serious man of Christian faith and progressive politics, has been continually posting short messages about health care reform on his Facebook wall. A sample:

Conservatives like to point out that health care is 1/6th of the American economy. Don’t they ever ask themselves why health care was allowed to consume so much of our economy?

We pledge “. . . and justice for all.” Justice is that which honors human dignity. It is not possible to live a dignified human life without access to adequate health care; therefore, health care reform is a human right and it helps fulfill our pledge to seek justice for all.

Lincoln said that by extending freedom to the slaves we insure freedom for the free. The same principle works with health care. By extending health care to those without it, we insure health care for those who have it. Thousands lose their health coverage each day. We cannot allow this to continue.

Dear God, Please let them [The US House of Representatives] be right for the sake of your justice. As you have said, one of the marks your true followers is that we saw someone sick, and we did our best to help heal them.

I think my friend’s position on this issue could be summed up thusly: Private health insurance companies have failed to provide universal coverage, therefore it is the job of the government to step in and do the right thing by guaranteeing health insurance for everyone. In the progressive world, the end — “justice” — truly justifies the means. The details don’t matter. The process doesn’t matter. The cost doesn’t matter. After all, how do you put a price on health? And doesn’t every every single major choice we make involve weighing a set of odds and choosing one set of sacrifices over another? Government is never going to be perfect, so why let its imperfection prevent it from providing basic human services to the people?

Of course what separates us, as conservatives, from this line of thinking is that we do care about the details and the process and the cost of health care reform. We need only to look at Canada and the UK in order to understand that a new, massive government health care bureaucracy that places a stranglehold on private insurance companies and squeezes doctors and hospitals through ever-increasing regulations and cost controls will ultimately deliver health care services that are significantly diminished in quality from what most Americans are receiving right now.

We also believe that the proposed mandate to force all Americans to obtain health insurance will not result in 100% of Americans being insured, and that private insurance companies will fail to remain profitable under the weight of excessive government regulation. These two inevitable outcomes will eventually spur progressives to propose the solution they’ve always wanted — a universal, government-run, single-payer health care system. Such a system may create the illusion of “universal” health benefits but it will not result in “justice for all.”

We believe this because no state-run universal health care system anywhere in the world has ever had enough money to pay for all requested medical treatments while simultaneously funding its own enormous bureaucracy. Unfortunately, the “fix” for this imbalance has always been higher taxes, more bureaucrats, and rationed medical treatments. When there’s a conflict between the survival of the government bureaucracy and the rights of an individual citizen, the government will always win. And then there is the cost. How do we justify passing on trillions of dollars in new government debt to our children and grandchildren, all for a program that we believe will never achieve its stated goals?

I would also ask, how can a Christian can support a plan that essentially turns the State into a God who holds the power of life and death over its citizens?

While I would readily agree with my friend that our current health care system often falls short in its endeavor to treat everyone fairly, I absolutely cannot go along with what seems to be a common belief among progressives, which is that we need justice now, and we have to do something NOW, and doing “something” is always a better choice than doing “nothing.” Of course this is precisely the same false dilemma that progressives traditionally use to sell their ideas — such-and-such can be reformed if and only if it’s done our way; otherwise, we’re “doing nothing.”

If that is the best reasoning they can come up with, are their reforms really worthwhile?

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