Friday, September 14, 2012

Religious right doesn't respect others


By George Templeton
Gazette Columnist

For man that is born of woman is of few days, and full of trouble.  He flees like a shadow, and continues not.

When Adam and Eve ate from the tree of knowledge they violated the one prohibition that God had given them, giving birth to sin, the curse of conscious perplexity, suffering, and death.

Science claims that there was a time before death.  Death did not appear simultaneously with life and is not prerequisite for it.  The cells that make up our body are the result of a billion years or more of evolution leading to sex, obligatory DNA programmed aging and unavoidable death.

Religion simplifies illness as demonic possession, testifying to the power of our inner self while retreating to antiquity.  Science narrows illness by reducing it to our worn-out parts.  Bill Moyer’s book Healing and The Mind seems forgotten or discredited.  We yearn for the simplicity of a time gone past and avoid unpleasant realities.  Regardless, aging and death will not be denied.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) concerns everyone, not just individuals, but also our nation’s productivity and economic competitiveness.  It helps the sick and infirm and is the mark of a moral civilization.  Will we be a country where we accept that uninsured millions are subject to devastating economic and health risks?  Can unfettered free enterprise alone solve complexity and confusion, a lack of performance benchmarks, costly inaccurate paperwork, and a system that manages disease instead of promoting health?

They say the government is the problem, but it is us and they are wrong.  They say that business greed is the problem, but America must make instead of take.  When government and business work together, only then will the whole be greater than the sum of its parts.

How can hunger justify government crop insurance when health care is divisive?  Divisiveness is more than rhetoric.  It is not simple, certain, or safe, but embraces our innermost being.  Conflict from diverse opinion must be welcome, not feared.  The politics of envy should be feared, not supported.

The ACA is friendly to the market.  It is not socialized medicine or a “one size fits all” plan.  It does not disregard free market competition and individual choice.  The insurance plans that are offered are all private.  There is no public option.  The government does not own or operate the hospitals and their equipment, or hire the doctors, nurses, and technicians.  The ACA uses private contractors and the same providers, doctors, nurses, specialists, laboratories, and insurers that now exist.  The ACA won’t take your doctor away.  It’s like the health care provided for Congress. 

When an uninsured person is billed ten times the cost for the same medical procedure, it is not free enterprise.  Our insurance premiums carry the costs of poverty and lack of preventative care.  This extortion could be stopped by denying service to those who can’t pay, leaving them to die on the steps of the emergency room.

There is no youthful demographic to help with the inevitable illness of baby boomers.  There is no way to pay-off our incurred debts without more from the wealthy and middle class.  That’s why both the ACA and Paul Ryan’s plan include the same 716 billion dollars of cost reduction.  They are not Medicare benefit cuts.  Hospitals and insurance companies will be asked to be more efficient and results oriented.  We can help by adopting a healthier lifestyle.

When Republicans say that America has the best health care in the world they mean for the wealthy. When parameters like cost, preventable death, infant mortality, life expectancy, and end of life counseling are considered we do not fare so well.
The individual “tax” mandate and reduced spending will shrink our national debt.  Standardization of electronic records will improve accuracy, reducing fraud and waste.  Already, the law has improved efficiency, generating more than $1.1 billion in refunds because it requires more than 80% of your premium to be used for you instead of profits and promotion.

Our transition over the last forty years to a minimum wage, part-time, service economy has left many without benefits.  When companies provide health insurance, they advise that there is no guarantee that they will continue to do so in the future.  Secure portable insurance will increase employee mobility helping employers to hire the people with the skills they need.   Isn’t it good that the ACA will allow pre-existing conditions and provide health coverage for 50 million uninsured Americans?   Many poor people who would drift into poverty and Medicaid will be covered.

The cost of small company insurance is related to business size and whether any employees have an expensive illness.  Management pressure to encourage the voluntary separation of employees with costly chronic health conditions can be avoided.  The ACA spreads costs over a larger typically healthy population, eliminating the choice between competitive insurance cost and just treatment of the employee.

If you don’t have a pre-existing condition, aging will give you one.  New DNA bio-technology could reveal pleasant truths about your destiny.  You can keep your record clean by refusing treatment, but for how long?  Our current health care system denies insurance to those who need it the most.  Premiums jump thirty to fifty percent.  People are charged more than they can afford.

Health care is not like recreational shopping.  Doctors define the treatments we should have.  The ACA does not create a board of bureaucrats to ration health care or a “death panel”.  It sets standards to reduce confusion and the sparring between doctors and insurance companies. For example, insurance sold in the exchanges have to provide equal prices for women and men.  HMO’s and insurance companies, or the governor in the case of Medicaid, can deny coverage or funding.  De facto rationing results from the inability of people to pay.   The ACA will reduce this by spreading costs over a larger population.

Fifty-four percent of youth aged 18 to 26 are unemployed.  The ACA lets them have coverage under their parent’s insurance until age 26.  The assertion that the ACA favors the poor at the expense of the middle class and the old at the expense of the young is wrong. 

The sixteenth amendment to the Constitution implemented wealth redistribution.  Taxes take our money and give it to others for services deemed essential to a healthy society.  Voluntary individuality is too capricious to sustain the job that is needed.
The requirement for individuals to purchase health care insurance came from a conservative think tank and was endorsed by Republican representatives and senators who called it individual responsibility, a responsibility that was not person to person, much bigger, and for the good of all.  Mitt Romney implemented an individual mandate.  Now he calls it socialism and government overreach.

The purpose of the individual mandate was to protect the private insurance companies, who would be required to cover people with pre-existing conditions.  People who can afford to buy insurance, but don’t, are the only ones who will have to pay a fine.  There will be help with insurance cost by tax credits scaled according to income.  Healthy young people will have to buy insurance to fund coverage for the ill and elderly.  Even healthy young people need insurance, because accidents can permanently change lives.

Market values are not the only morality.  Ethics springs from the subconscious self, not politics.  The inner world is more important than outer rationalization.  Politics inflames intolerance and incites envy when it fibs that birth control will be free under the ACA because there is no copayment.

The bumper sticker reads “God said it, no further discussion allowed”.  Arguing that divine inspiration directs us, the preacher warns his  followers not to associate with or listen to any opposing views that might lead one astray from God’s will.  Christian soldiers, marching in a culture war, do not act in a spirit of love and humility.  They incorrectly argue that “biblical law” requires the overthrow of the ACA because it confiscates wealth and redistributes it.

The culture of life is more than opposition to abortion and birth control.  It is more than punishment, coercion, and trying to force an absolute morality that lacks empathy and understanding of the individual situation.  It recognizes the efficiency of preventative medicine, pre-natal care, the reality of sexually transmitted diseases, and domestic violence.

Unfortunately the morning after pill works identically to prescription birth control.  So now, birth control and abortion have merged.  Birth control has become a wedge strategy to destroy the ACA, in spite of the fact that no one forces anyone to take it.  Insurance companies have offered to make it free to their beneficiaries, eliminating employer subsidization.  This is not sufficient when freedom means forcing values on others.  The solution is to legally define “personhood” at the moment of conception and to deny abortion unless rape was “legitimate and forcible”.  This language reveals suspicion that some girl, who should become a mother, might game the system and get away with it. 

Mark Rubio’s religious freedom bill would hamper government’s compelling interest to reduce abortion by supporting woman’s health, birth control, and counseling.  This is divisive!  What is not divisive is the ACA’s requirement that every state must offer at least one health exchange plan that does not cover abortion.  Principled individuals can buy from it.

Republicans should be flattered that the ACA mirrors Romney Care.  Massachusetts, the Romney Care state, requires insurance to cover abortion, but law prohibits federal coverage except in cases of rape, incest, and threat to the mother’s life.  The ACA does not preempt state law.  Many states will prohibit abortion coverage.

Does religious freedom go beyond churches to include “for profit” businesses and individual citizens?  Should we be required to pay taxes when we do not agree with our government?  Did we exempt those who disagreed with war from the draft?

The religious right claims that only voluntary one-on-one charity is dignified, liberating, and moral, and that only they are personal and caring.  Does their absolute prohibition of abortion and birth control reveal their respect and empathy for others?

Carl Jung said, “Where love rules, there is no will to power, and where power predominates, love is lacking.  The one is the shadow of the other”.  A communal illness springs from the denial of our God given instincts.  Lost innocence abandons subconscious intuition and morality to the world of conscious politics reflecting our materialistic culture and our economic and spiritual distress.  Envy, pride and greed must be overruled by kindness, humility, and charity.

[Payson resident George Templeton writes a regular column for the Rim Country Gazette Blog.]

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

While I can agree our health care system is unfair and cost containment must be achieve, Obamacare does NOTHING to contain costs. It pledges to make insurance AVAILABLE to all, but not necessarily AFFORDABLE to all. My premiums have already started shooting through the roof because of all the so-called "free" stuff it requires insurance companies to provide.


People are all excited about Obamacare now because of the free services they can get but who the hell do they think is paying for them? Wait till it's time to pay the piper and see how happy people are with this boondoggle of a law.

Wait until employers stop paying for insurance, or start laying off workers to enable them to afford to cover the rest. Wait until all these people who are used to having their insurance benefits delivered up gratis because of an employee benefit package start having to pay their own insurance bill, like I do.

Wait until they realize that they're forking over 1/4 or 1/3 of their income for health insurance with increasingly higher deductibles and co-pays.

Anyone who thinks Obamacare solves anything doesn't have a clue what is in that bill, nor what is coming up in the next couple of years.