2.21.2008

the religiosity of health care

A bit foreword and perhaps disclaimer.

Talking about politics in the religious workplace is like talking about religion in the secular workplace. At least in a religious workplace where not all workers for the Word are hard lined religious rightists.

I am typically uncomfortable being extremely explicit with my political standings in any setting other than with my family who is forced into loving me by sheer genetics. Believe me when I tell you that when we talk politics over Thanksgiving dinner, our genetics are the only thing that keeps us from starting a mashed potato fight. That and the possibility that if thrown, the potato might get onto the pecan pie (or into the wine, depending on who you are). In that scenario, we'd all go home really grumpy. In non-familial settings, I prefer to listen to what other people are interested in and offer counter-points that I may or may not wholly own as personal viewpoints. I won't likely tell you if I own them or not. Sorry. Ambiguity suits me.

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Recently, in a strictly religious setting I was listening to a person of strong faith whom I respect a great deal though I differ from them drastically in a political sense. They were sharing their perspective on universal health care and these words as best as I remember came out of their mouth, "When I hear universal health care, I see my paycheck getting smaller."

I was horrified, though I expressed it by changing the topic.

I haven't done the research to speak conclusively of my opinions on universal health care. But my primary concern about it is NOT the size of my pay check. I want to make sure that the people who live in my neighborhood, immigrants, lower income families, students, the elderly have access to good care. I want our government to create or monitor a program that will be accessible to the most people whether that is government run or not. (Let us not forget how much employers in the States are shoveling into the health care industry.)

I hope people of faith will allow their knowledge of the justice of Christ and his compassion for the poor as they consider their political motivations. If the motivation for lower taxes is a bigger paycheck, perhaps you should consider the words of Ed Begley, Jr. as shared by No Impact Man, "I've never seen a hearse with a luggage rack on top."

You can't take your paycheck to heaven. But the righteousness of Christ you reflect might bring another person into the fold or make their life more livable. A lower paycheck may in fact cost more than its monetarily value.

3 comments:

Amy said...

i've think about healthcare differently, now that i'm living in london and take advantage of the NHS. i wish there was an easy answer to the question of public versus private, but each system has its good and bad.

my biggest problem with universal health care is that tax dollars can't pay for everything--especially quality. here's an interesting article about it:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/21/world/europe/21britain.html?_r=1&th&emc=th&oref=slogin

alaina said...

Thanks for sharing the article, Amy. It is good to hear from across the pond.

I guess my criticism isn't so much about the principal of privatized vs. universal health care as it is our motivations for looking favorably to one or the other.

There are a lot of stories here about people who are refused care by their for-profit corporate insurers. It seems that no matter what the system, money motivates care not the need. And that is heartbreaking.

+gmjameson said...

I like your post ~ and completely "get" the disclaimer ;-) ... I recall when waaaay back in early teaching, I (as are all new workers) was given the option to opt out of social security. I believe I said something slightly snotty to my Dad like, "Might as well. I'll probably never see this money again. It won't benefit me." To which my father replied, "Well. It allows your Grandmother to heat her home." ... Good point, Dad. I was reminded of that conversation reading your post ... as always, thoughtful!