Monday, November 09, 2009

Jody Bottum of First Things:

Why is the United States doing this? Why are we trying to create a bureaucracy with a $3 trillion price tag, at a time of deep financial trouble? Why are we aiming at governmental management of a huge sector of the American economy at a time when the government is proving itself incompetent to manage the American economy? And why are we giving the culture of Washington new powers of life and death—making ourselves “God’s Partners,” in President Obama’s language—at a time when that culture has proved itself so vague and so deluded about all the issues of life and death that have come before it: war, and embryos, and the unborn, and the weak, and the vulnerable?

That the health-care system in the United States is inequitable seems undeniable. That it is amazingly innovative and robust is also undeniable. The great goal of competent government would be to cure the one and preserve the other. The bill the House of Representatives passed this weekend will do neither.
The whole piece is here.


Mark Gordon said...


With the passage of the Stupak Amendment, the House healthcare reform bill is a lot closer to the spirit of Catholic social teaching that the situation we have now.
The Bishops of the United States have long supported universal healthcare in accordance with Catholic teaching on the diginiy of the human person and in conformity to the following principles:

-A truly universal health policy with respect for human life and dignity

-Access for all with a special concern for the poor and inclusion of immigrants

-Pursuing the common good and preserving pluralism including freedom of conscience and variety of options

-Restraining costs and applying them equitably across the spectrum of payers

As Catholics, it seems to me that these ought to be the criteria driving our evaluation of healthcare reform. Jody Bottum is writing much more as a Republican than as a Catholic, something that one finds happening more and more at First Things these days.

Boris said...

I totally agree, Mark. Thanks for your remarks. As for First Things, still an interesting read, but I don't like this chumminess with Republican politics. We should cleave to the teaching of our church in this respect, as you so well point out.


Mark Gordon said...

Thanks, Boris. Fact is, if we hew closely to the teaching of the Church, we will earn the enmity of both the Abortion Party and the War & Torture Party. That's a good place to be, frankly.

Dan Florio said...

I think it is high time for us Catholics, and any Protestants, Jews, or other people of good will who would like to join us, to come apart and be separate from both those who would be cavalier about dropping bombs on children and those who would be cavalier about scraping children from the womb and throwing them in the trash.

Unknown said...


Great points, Agree about First Things. It seems like they should be closer to the First Principles as you note re the USCCB position. Litte worried about Gil and FT losing perspective here. Human life and its protection is the measure of the need and driver for universal access. The rest is mechanics. This is the truly pro-life position. Phony cost benfit from industry and gov't takeover nonsense are being slung around by many who don't share any of the principles that motivate the USCCB...particularly the common good, respect for human life and special care for the poor and (gasp) immigrant. They also should have mentioned "solidarity" as this is the real threat to eventual passage....from the "I've got mine, screw everyone else attitude..." that the Republics will be playing to the hilt whatever the smiling veil accompanies.

Michael Ward

David said...

Sometimes it's hard for me to believe that this is the same Gil who used to quote Howard Thurman, Dorothy Day, and Thomas Merton so readily, all adovcates of solidarity with the poor at the level of public policy (and, more specifically in the case of the latter two, close adherents to Catholic social teaching).

I don't think outrage over abortion should muddle the issue of universal healthcare.
This Manichaean thinking is part of the "spirit of the age" Gil (via St. Paul) regularly refers to. It's stinkin' thinkin' that's gotta go! I myself am viscerally anti-abortion and don't shy from being a "sign of contradiction" on the issue amongst liberal friends and family.

Gregory Wolfe at the Image Journal cogently argued that conservatism itself can become an ideology (in the Voegelian sense) that deviates from Christian truth. (To what extent Voegelin was an orthodox Chrisian himself I'll leave up to other commentators, but I find his ideas instructive, and I do believe conservatives--esp. neocons--can themselves be capable of "immanentizing the eschaton.")