July 5, 2012

On freedom and the individual and healthcare

Happy 5th of July, everyone. Our 4th turned out quite nice when we received a delightful invitation to dinner with good friends.  Our kitchen is in disrepair (new floors) so we were just going to hang out and cook something on the grill, but so much easier when someone else did it.  :)

But a couple of links for those who don't read Slactivist.  First, is this idea that ‘Libertarianism is [not] a philosophy of individual freedom’.  I am working my way through the Crooked Timber post and it is rather long and involved, but interesting.  I have always found libertarianism to be rather utopian in nature--just a vague belief that absent government interference, freedom would dominate.  I don't see any evidence in history or the world around me that smaller government leads to anything approaching great personal freedom.  Instead, all I see is that small government and low taxes leads to rule by a small group of very rich people, a tiny middle class, and a whole lot of poor people.

I am reminded of that when I see reports that right wingers are thinking of fleeing the country after the healthcare ruling.  Of course that is just a rhetorical flourish, and God knows I have thought of moving to Canada myself.  But the interesting thing was that those people could not move to another industrialized and free country that would have less healthcare than we have here.  Their idealized world looks more like Iran and Somalia than any other industrialized Western nation.

Speaking of that, this fascinating story (again, Slactivist) on the very conservative evangelical Michael Bird who teaches in Australia and has lived in the UK.  Turns out, while he agrees with American evangelicals on gay marriage and abortion, he is stunned that American evangelicals oppose healthcare, and one of his main points is that Jesus was very concerned with healing the sick.  Not only that, but in other industrialized democracies, healthcare has come from the Christian community, not despite the Christian community.
Christian Advocacy for Healthcare. Every western democracy from Norway to New Zealand has universal healthcare for its citizens except for the most prosperous nation on earth. Across the world this move to care for the sick has been driven by a Christian ethic of compassion and not by the pursuit of economic again. Now as any mission organization will tell you, there is no mission without margin, so you have to pay for it. But the purposes of taxation is not a re-distribution of wealth, but to do together what we cannot do individually, airports, defence, environment, education, commerce, etc. and to help the poor and the vulnerable. Universal health care is not a ponzi scheme any more than the USAF is a ponzi scheme. It is something that is needed and in the national interest of our citizens to have.
As he notes, American evangelical opposition to healthcare has nothing to do with the Bible or their own theology, but rather their tribal connection to the GOP.  And that is just sad.


Smitty said...

An evangelical, moderately honest about their faith?? I almost didn't want to believe it.

With the deep connection between American evangelicals and the GOP, I am afraid that even if all the rest of the world's evangelicals rose up and spoke about the folly of American evangelicals' rejection of universal health care, our own would shrug them all off as socialist scum; the politics of GOP alignment means more than aligning themselves with their faith.

leighton said...

As an experiment, I've been trying to destroy the perfectionism of my Christian upbringing and be more generous about my concept of allies. If evangelicals want to make sure people below the poverty line have access to affordable health care, I am going to try to work with them on that for as long as they are willing. I know perfectly well that a lot of that support is contingent on not hearing an eloquent sermon about how Jesus wants us all to vote Republican and oppress the poor. But until they have a change of...whatever, I'll take what I can get.

Honestly, a big part of this is the company I've kept working for a law firm. The lawyers are ethically impeccable, but some of the clients with whom I'm on very good terms behave in less admirable ways. It seems churlish to maintain good relationships with people engaged in frankly heinous things, while being angry that evangelicals often vote stupidly.