Saturday, August 29, 2009

Am I Immoral for Not Supporting the President's Health Reform Plan

Am I Immoral for Not Supporting President Obama’s Healthcare Plan?

I must be immoral for not supporting President Obama’s non-existent healthcare plan. He has made support of his plan a moral imperative, a religious imperative.

Lawyers often throw out a number of theories and arguments to see what sticks. That has been the case with President Obama’s health care crusade.

Amongst the theories thrown out are:

Health Reform

Universal Coverage

Economic Stimulus

Health Insurance Reform

It’ll be just like the Post Office and Fedex and UPS

Curbing greedy doctors who can’t make money practicing traditional medicine,

such as treating a diabetic, but $30,000 for amputating the diabetic’s

leg, or a pediatrician who performs a tonsillectomy to earn a few extra dollars.

Win one for the Teddy

None have yet to stick.

A cliché is that patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels. Perhaps an appeal to religion to carry a political debate should be right up there as well.

The legal, moral, cultural, and economic foundations of America are the Judeo-Christian tradition and the Protestant work ethic. Socialism is not part of our heritage.

President Obama two weeks ago urged Christian and Jewish clergy to sermonize in favor of health care reform. The President told Jewish leaders “We are God’s partners in matters of life and death.” The President appealed in a conference call to 140,000 religious voters to their “moral convictions.”

Health reform, his health reform, is a moral imperative, in his own words, “a core ethical and moral obligation.”

I have mused over his words of guidance for two weeks. The President is an electrifying orator, but where is the inspiration? I cannot abandon my Jesuit education when moral imperatives are raised.

I cannot see the light. No angels of health reform are dancing in the sky. No burning bush is pointing the way. Satan isn’t tugging at me to sin over health reform. No mea culpas, much less mea mas culpas. I don’t see salvation in supporting his plan. The President did a lousy job appealing to either catholic or Jewish guilt.

I reread the Ten Commandments to see is if I was missing something. Nope.

I can’t find it in either the Old or New Testaments. Nothing in the Bible tells us God wants us to have socialized medicine, single payer, government option, government health insurance, portability, pre-existing conditions, end of life option, rationing. Nor is God opposed to them. God is silent on health care, except, of course, for the Lazarus miracle.

But then I remembered, Jesus was something of a rebel, striking out against the entrenched powers of his day.

I also remember from my mandatory 21 hours of (Thomistic) philosophy at USF that God gave use free will – not God’s will, not the state’s will, not the President’s will, certainly not Congress’ will, but our will.

We are free to choose our path. We are free to do the right thing and we are free to do the wrong thing.

Free will goes to the fundamental difference between conservatives and liberals. Conservatives believe in individual choice. Liberals believe that the decisions are best made by the state. Thus, the proposal early in the Obama Administration to tax charitable contributions, which would result in the state choosing the non-profit winners.

We are free to be altruistic or not.

Americans are a generous people. We contribute; we give to all causes, including religious institutions and medical facilities.

But altruism is a personal choice. We decide the causes, beneficiaries and amounts.

We are a religious people, more so than Western Europe. The genius of the American Constitution is religious freedom. We are free to choose our religion or non-religion.

We respect all religions. We do not worship a state religion. We also respect the non-religious.

Freedom of religion does not obligate us to support state mandated transfer payments, which transfer our earnings to a “more deserving party.” The state clearly has the constitutional power to tax and spend, but not as a moral imperative. That is a political, and not a moral or religious, decision.

The irony of the religion argument is that Democrats normally believe in the separation of church and state, especially when the debate is over abortion and faith based initiatives.

If I am immoral for not supporting the Obama plan, then so too are scores of clergy. Catholic clergy, who might normally be expected to support the plan, have discovered that the plan calls for abortion coverage and are troubled by the end of life coverage.

The media response to the President’s religion call was underwhelming. Both the New York Times and Los Angeles Times buried it on an inside page.

President Obama spent a month highly publicizing his non-existent plan, often on a daily basis. The more he talked, the more it tanked in public opinion. That too is happening with the religion pitch.

Let us pray.

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