Someone directed me to this gentlemen here who labels himself a conservative, the feral conservative, in fact. I’m not impressed. One of the articles is called “The Ten Things You Must Believe in order to Oppose Universal Health Care.” It is filled with nonsense. This notion that the only way you can care for people is by supporting and implementing universal health care is positively ridiculous. I’m seeing it so much lately that I wonder if there are talking points somewhere. My blog (which you are reading now) is just one example of a place where it is affirmed that we should like to take care of those who need help and proposes other mechanisms to do it.
You may contend that these mechanisms would not be effective, but it cannot be said- as people are insisting- that Christian conservatives don’t care. Of course, people are saying it. It is up to the reasonable person to challenge insinuations to the contrary. Good intentions employing bad arguments that are essentially sentimental propaganda should not be tolerated.
I wanted to briefly speak to one of the Feral Conservative’s latest posts, The Moral Compass of America’s Compassionate Conservatives.
After President Obama signed health care reform into law, I noted the reaction of the “compassionate conservatives” on line, in person, and in talk media. In short, their reaction is; “I do not want my money going to lazy people.” The presumption is that these reforms are the redistribution of wealth; taken from hard honest, hard working, self reliant people and handed out to immoral, dishonest, human parasites. Indeed!
So who are these lazy people?
Well, what I would like to know is where are these people saying that they don’t want their money going to lazy people! I see he doesn’t provide a source…
I’ve been reading an awful lot and I haven’t seen anything that could rightly be distilled into this position. Any argument along those lines is much more sophisticated. For example, when laying out my long argument for why I was against universal health care, after providing passages speaking about ‘laziness’ I said,
Now, we should be clear here that these passages- like nearly all passages about ’social justice’ type issues- are speaking only to the Christian within the Christian community. So, it would not be right to mindlessly extend these prohibitions to the non-Christian community. We might chastise a lazy fellow believer, but we are not called upon to chastise our lazy neighbor, because we do not have the same basis to make our appeal, which is Jesus Christ (Philippians 4:2).
That said, we can from these and other passages draw some important principles. Let us begin with one big one: in the name of love it is never right to enslave anyone.
The last bolded sentence makes a critical point that I have heard conservatives speaking to. Namely, we are not doing anyone any favors by creating a culture of dependency, which welfare programs invariably- and demonstrably- always tend to do. On this argument, it isn’t that the people receiving the services are lazy, it is that the services will, over time, make them lazy. It will make them de-value the services that they receive and become ungrateful for receiving them, carrying themselves with the arrogant notion that the services they are receiving are not the product of a compassionate society but that the services they are receiving are owed to them.
This is a legitimate concern, but the sentimentalists reduce this to “You just don’t want to help those lazy people.” Not only is that not true, it is dishonest to say otherwise. And you can tell me that Jesus would have happily promoted universal health care if only he had been asked but I know he wouldn’t have said it was ok to flat out lie to implement and defend it.
The aptly named Feral Conservative then says,
“Lastly, I noticed that a majority of “compassionate conservatives” profess to be Christian. I would remind them that in the Book of Matthew, 25:45, it is written “I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these; you did not do for me.”
He admits that he is not a Christian or a Bible scholar. I’d be happy if he merely read accurately. This passage does not support his position. Read it again:
“I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these; you did not do for me.”
As I argued in one of my recent posts, Christians are among the most generous people on the planet and in America alone last year gave out more than 100 billion dollars- without being coerced- to churches, schools, and hospitals. Americans together donated more than 300 billion dollars- that’s 1/3 of the amount that the current health care bill will cost over ten years donated in just a single year. Read it again: in 10 years, this health care bill will cost (we are told) 940 billion dollars. In that same time, assuming current trends persist, Americans will donate more than 3 trillion dollars, three times the amount that this health care bill will cost.
The difference between this and what Mr. Feral proposes and the passage he used to support it is that these are the donor’s own dollars. The passage does not read:
“I tell you the truth, whatever you did not make somebody else do for one of the least of these; you did not do for me.”
The Bible constantly and consistently urges individuals to be generous with their own money and resources. It never, to my knowledge, urges people to be generous with other people’s money and resources and never says, or even gives the impression, that we will be considered morally righteous at an individual level by working to make other people carry out morally righteous deeds in our stead.
In a recent comment the person insisted that he would have no problem with the government forcing him to help someone else. What I want to know is, “What are you waiting for?” Why should you need the government to poke you with a stick before you are ‘loving’?
Perhaps we should raise a new objection to universal health care: it isn’t that the people receiving the care are lazy, it’s that the tender-hearted ‘truly compassionate’ people are lazy… they want to have people helped, but they aren’t willing to do it themselves unless the government tells them to do it or if they can get everyone else forced to ‘help’ in the same way.
I for one do not believe that it is any ‘help’ to make an entire nation wards of the state.