my feeble attempt to avoid a rant: healthcare reform.

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Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

my feeble attempt to avoid a rant: healthcare reform.

here’s your mission: spend 5 minutes talking to me about politics or general social justice issues and see if i can make it without a passionate/frustrated rant about the status of our healthcare system.

unfortunately for you, this is sort of like a casino: the house is designed to always win. maybe you hit the jackpot once in a million tries, but the odds are stacked against you.

i just can’t talk about either of these issues and avoid the topic of healthcare. much like the current debate in the political—and beyond political—sphere, the issue of healthcare is one that demands critical analysis and, subsequently, immediate change. we are long past due for a radical change in this system that we call healthcare.

let me offer a two-fold approach to the issue. (p.s. i’m not here to offer a step-by-step plan for reform or a strategic system that can be implemented. i’m not that smart and i trust that we have very, very intelligent and learned elected and non-elected people who are doing just that.)

1. my fundamental starting place in this conversation is that quality, affordable healthcare is a right for every single human and not a privilege.

why? because it’s the most personal and fundamental need in life. people break. we get sick. we deteriorate. we cannot function without proper healthcare. we can get by without a lot of other things: shelter, clothing, companionship, education, etc. without healthcare, though, we will a.) die, b.) prolong inevitable death or c.) live in a physical state that is not worth living.

the argument, of course, is that it just shouldn’t be provided by the government, so the only thing we’re left with is the current system—even if it is broken. what about education? i listed that above in the “we can get by without it” list. should education be a “good luck, hope you can find something you can afford” thing? i don’t think most people would support that proposition. neither would i. i like that our government provides education. i went to public school from kindergarten through 12th grade. i had a higher-than-average intelligence, i scored very high on the ACT, i was accepted into (a state, a.k.a. government-funded) college with an academic scholarship and i consider myself a very bright and functional citizen. all from my government-run education. could i function without my education: yes. my life would certainly be very different, but i could, of course, function in society.

what if i couldn’t get quality, affordable healthcare? if i break my arm, it might grow back correctly. if i get strep throat, i can probably do some home remedies. what if my spleen bursts? or i get a brain tumor? or somebody shoots me in the brain with a nail gun? well, i’m screwed.

so, the government—the thing i pay for and that i AM (if the people truly are the government)—pays for the thing i could get by without but not the thing my life is potentially contingent upon. hmm. i’m all for government-sponsored education and i’m certainly in favor of government-sponsored healthcare. i’m glad to put my taxes toward education and i’m equally (and more) glad to be putting it toward healthcare. i’m not glad to be putting it toward war. i’m not glad to be putting it toward the death penalty. i’m not glad to be putting it toward more prisons. but i’m certainly glad to be putting it toward healthcare for every single person.

2. my aforementioned fundamental starting point is directly derivative of the fact that i don’t view healthcare from solely a political lens, but a jesus lens.

with any political issue, i try to begin (and end, for that matter) with a point-of-view that places jesus as the lens. i see the world through jesus.

now, this is a good time to pause and make something clear. i’m not advocating that i believe jesus is sitting up in heaven looking at his watch waiting for us to implement universal healthcare here in america. further, i don’t believe that jesus stated in scriptural accounts that government-sponsored universal healthcare is imperative. i certainly don’t imply those things. in fact, i don’t think jesus cares one bit how we go about meeting the health needs of people.

as long as we do it equally and adequately for every. single. human. being.

healthcare is certainly a jesus issue. so why do i believe that jesus has anything to do with my desire to see universal healthcare?

first, i believe that when we see the world through a jesus lens, we don’t see rich and poor, deserving or undeserving or tax-payer or non-tax-payer. we see people. people who are created in the image of god. people who are loved by god. people who should be loved and cared for by us. i don’t care if someone is making millions of dollars a year and finding the cure for cancer or if he or she is strung out and living on the streets. they both deserve equal healthcare.

second, i believe those who have should give to those who do not. period. if i have resources to share, i should be compelled to do just that. so, again, what does that have to do with government-sponsored healthcare? well, i have money to give (sorta…). i give to the church. i give to causes i feel are important. and, i give to the government. with each paycheck, i give to uncle sam. therefore, i am the government. i make the decisions because i pay to make the decisions (via a representative government system). so, what do i choose? i choose to mandate a policy in which every single human being is given adequate, affordable healthcare. i voluntarily pay the government (they don’t take it…i voluntarily pay because i’ve chosen to call the united states home) to enact things that i believe are important and valuable and right for any civilized nation of people.

now, let me address one more jesus-related healthcare consideration. one thing we don’t need to forget here is the responsibility of the church. if the church really acted like jesus, quite frankly, government-sponsored healthcare wouldn’t be so pressing. jesus healed people and fed people and met physical needs. what if the church did that? we could make a huge global impact. no doubt about it. BUT…i would still be in favor of government-sponsored universal healthcare. why? because i think it still goes back to fundamental rights of citizens of a country. the organizing members of a nation should feel compelled to have the decency to offer quality, affordable options to people who are sick and broken. yes, the church should take the reigns on this, but also, yes, governments should feel compelled to do the same.

do we need healthcare reform? clearly, yes. do we need drastic overhaul? yes. do i want to see universal healthcare? yes. do i know exactly how to make that happen? absolutely not. i’m simply asserting that it needs to happen and feel confident that i have helped to elect personal representatives who can make logical and learned decisions about these matters. what if they don’t? well, then we need to share in the responsibility and elect people we can trust.

so, until we get drastic healthcare reform, let’s all just sit around watching michael moore’s sicko as a silent, frumpy fat guys protest of the system. 🙂