Morality and the Health Care Debate

Last week, after it became apparent that the GOP campaign of disinformation regarding the health care legislation was working wonderfully [1] President Obama shifted gears a bit to talk about *why* this change is necessary.

WASHINGTON — President Obama sought Wednesday to reframe the health care debate as “a core ethical and moral obligation,” imploring a coalition of religious leaders to help promote the plan to lower costs and expand insurance coverage for all Americans.

“I know there’s been a lot of misinformation in this debate, and there are some folks out there who are frankly bearing false witness,” Mr. Obama told a multidenominational group of pastors, rabbis and other religious leaders who support his goal to remake the nation’s health care system.

To be sure, I’m no multi-denominational preacher.   In fact, my spiritual beliefs and the foundation of my moral system is largely outside of those of the ancient religions.  But more on that in a moment.  Let’s look at the problem here from a slightly larger perspective.

As has been widely reported, there are 47,000,000 red-blooded American citizens that don’t have health insurance.  As we are a compassionate country (in some ways) when any of these 47,000,000 living, breathing, humans show up at an emergency room, they will get treated for what is likely to make them dead humans.

The problem with this “final solution” is that treating illness when it becomes life threatening is extremely expensive and that cost is then paid completely by those not currently receiving life saving treatment.

Every single other large industrialized country on our planet has determined that providing preventative and diagnostic health care for emerging problems has proved far more economical than just ignoring the fact that forty-seven-million Americans don’t get any health care until they are at, or near, their death beds.

For those of us with morals, this situation is untenable.

As mentioned previously, my moral foundation is grounded not in faith in the supernatural, but in the preponderous amount of qualified information we now have regarding the natural world and it’s wondrous creations [2].  In this formulation, based on understanding as much verified information as possible and providing the best possible explanation (aka “theory”), the question of morality and health care is even simpler.

And the theory is also getting stronger, as more information becomes available.  Which brings up to Operation Stardust, and the latest bit of verified information.

For the first time, a building block of proteins — and hence of life as we know it — has been found in a comet.

That adds to the prevailing notion that many of the ingredients for the origin of life showered down on the early Earth when asteroids (interplanetary rocks orbiting the inner solar system) and comets (dirty ice balls that generally congregate in the outer solar system beyond Neptune) made impact with the planet.

In the new research, scientists at the Goddard Space Flight Center, in Greenbelt, Md., detected the amino acid glycine in comet bits brought back in 2006 by the NASA space probe Stardust.

So what does finding an amino acid in a comet’s tail have to do with providing healthcare for all Americans?

Good question, and I’ll be honest, we’re doing a bit of misdirection here [3].  You see, my moral foundation comes from the idea that simple elements combined over time is vast explosions in space created more complex elements.   The more complex elements, attracted to each other by the natural bending of space known as gravity, came together to form larger, more stable structures (like the glycine mentioned above, verifying this step of theory).

Once the stable building of blocks of life existed, all that was needed was a wet warm place to grow, which brings us (literally) to Planet Earth.

Mix in a few billions years, and tendency of more efficient organisms (in terms of survival and propagation) to gain in complexity and the ability to alter and effect reality, and you get life as we know it.  Mix in a few more million years, and you get life that we would call human.

Mix in another 10,000 years and you get human life that we would call civilized.

Mix in another 100 years and you get industrialized human life, where machines do most of the work, and human’s biggest health problem in now one that we ourselves create.

We now know so much about ourselves and our world most health problems and horrible diseases can be treated, and these amazing things we have become can life happy and healthy lives…when given the amazing medical care now available to prevent and treat disease before they can become life-threatening and chronic.

Which is why I support a health care system reform that places profits over people.  In the industrialized world, there is but one country that places profit in the marketplace above and beyond the amazing thing we call life.  That country is the United States of America, and it is time for that country to change.

It is, quite simply, the right thing to do.

——-

[1] “THE POLL: 45 percent said it’s likely the government will decide when to stop care for the elderly; 50 percent said it’s not likely.

THE FACTS: Nothing being debated in Washington would give the government such authority.

THE POLL: 55 percent expect the overhaul will give coverage to illegal immigrants; 34 percent don’t.

THE FACTS: The proposals being negotiated do not provide coverage for illegal immigrants.

THE POLL: 54 percent said the overhaul will lead to a government takeover of health care; 39 percent disagree.

THE FACTS: Obama is not proposing a single-payer system in which the government covers everyone, like in Canada or some European countries.

THE POLL: 50 percent expect taxpayer dollars will be used to pay for abortions; 37 percent don’t.

THE FACTS: The House version of legislation would allow coverage for abortion, but the bill says a beneficiary’s own money — not taxpayer funds — must be used to pay for the procedure.

[source]

[2] For those with a moral foundation in the supernatural religions, the question of whether or not health care should be provided to all fellow citizens was decided long ago.  The question now is only how to make it more efficient.

[3] The necessity for the misdirection is explained by the results of this study.

“In fact,” he says, “for the most part people completely ignore contrary information.

“The study demonstrates voters’ ability to develop elaborate rationalizations based on faulty information,” he explains.

While numerous scholars have blamed a campaign of false information and innuendo from the Bush administration, this study argues that the primary cause of misperception in the 9/11-Saddam Hussein case was not the presence or absence of accurate data but a respondent’s desire to believe in particular kinds of information.

“The argument here is that people get deeply attached to their beliefs,” Hoffman says.

I can’t just go at the issue for those that have already decided, and become emotionally enamoured with the idea that Obama is an evil socialist/Muslim bent on taking away their guns.  You have to go with the science, and attack from the flank.

2 thoughts on “Morality and the Health Care Debate

  1. “This study argues that the primary cause of misperception in the 9/11-Saddam Hussein case was not the presence or absence of accurate data but a respondent’s desire to believe in particular kinds of information.”

    “As mentioned previously, my moral foundation is grounded not in faith in the supernatural, but in the preponderous amount of qualified information we now have regarding the natural world and it’s wondrous creations [2]. ”

    You cite the above study as evidence of the “need for” misdirection, while you yourself argue that your morals are based not on “faith” but “information.”

    The problem is the assumption that there is a neutral way to evaluate data so as to get one, and only one, reasonable conclusion. By the by, “creation” is an activity of God, not of a nature that exists apart from an intelligent being, so the top quotation doesn’t make sense.

    Everyone has a lens through which they evaluate data, a worldview as they say. There is no getting around this. This is one of the chief insights of postmodern philosophy…there is no single and neutral, even “scientific” way to view information.

    As to the following quote:
    “For those with a moral foundation in the supernatural religions, the question of whether or not health care should be provided to all fellow citizens was decided long ago. The question now is only how to make it more efficient.”

    Quite simply, no. This has not been decided now or long ago. I’m not sure what ‘the supernatural religions’ are, but they probably do not speak in the same voice on anything. All of the monotheistic religions were conceived before (a) the modern nation state existed and (b) before anyone had a notion that part of the government’s duty was to provide health care. From a Christian perspective, there is in the Bible a tradition of healing and concern for the afflicted, but this by no means easily transitions, today, into Obama’s health care plan. Perhaps it does. But certainly it is not, as you suggest, a settled question.

    And how, exactly, do we get morality from “nature.” Is this the law of the jungle?

  2. Howdy Pastor Mack,

    I must say, that’s a very insightful analysis. You have pinpointed a number of assumptions that went into this, in fact hitting exactly on the main ones.

    Let me see if I can address your concerns is systematic manner.

    PM: “You cite the above study as evidence of the “need for” misdirection, while you yourself argue that your morals are based not on “faith” but “information.”

    Perhaps I should have been clearer in the expression of said information. Given the highly evolved nature of sentient human life, it would seem to me that the only reasonable conclusion is to provide services to keep said life functioning in something close to an optimum state, in this case translating to “in good health.”

    PM: “The problem is the assumption that there is a neutral way to evaluate data so as to get one, and only one, reasonable conclusion.”

    There is, and that way is generally known as “mathematics”. Formulating the question is such a manner than it can be evaluated in such a manner is the more difficult task. The question here, as framed, is whether or not it is moral to provide health care for all the citizens of a modern industrialized country. Given that the U.S. is a statistical outlier when compared to every other such entity, I think there is only one reasonable conclusion: the U.S. needs to find a way to provide a reasonable level of health care for all its citizens.

    PM: “By the by, “creation” is an activity of God, not of a nature that exists apart from an intelligent being, so the top quotation doesn’t make sense.”

    Well, I think here we might have different definition of the word “God.” I gave a very brief outline of how sentient life evolved/was created through processes that are replicable and knowable. It is through the practice of science that such information has been obtained. Each step of the evolution is presented in a way that anyone can test the data for themselves and achieve the same result.

    PM: “Everyone has a lens through which they evaluate data, a worldview as they say. There is no getting around this. This is one of the chief insights of postmodern philosophy…there is no single and neutral, even “scientific” way to view information.”

    There is, however, a way to compare said worldviews. What we do know is that *everyone* processes information through these lenses and it is my argument that by comparing these lenses, we can more closely approximate the objective truth of a statement or proposition.

    PM: “I’m not sure what ‘the supernatural religions’ are, but they probably do not speak in the same voice on anything.”

    The supernatural religions would be those that declare things which are supernatural to be real. Things that defy the laws of physics and biology.

    PM: “All of the monotheistic religions were conceived before (a) the modern nation state existed and (b) before anyone had a notion that part of the government’s duty was to provide health care.”

    Indeed. They all do, however, share the concept of empathy and service to one’s fellow man as a divine act. They also share the concept that God, as it were, exists in each and every one of us, and therefore each and every one of us is deserving of compassion and fair treatment.

    PM: “From a Christian perspective, there is in the Bible a tradition of healing and concern for the afflicted, but this by no means easily transitions, today, into Obama’s health care plan. Perhaps it does. But certainly it is not, as you suggest, a settled question.”

    I would consider it a settled question (obviously) as I don’t see how anyone could argue that a system which casts so many people to the side of the road to fend for themselves to be anything resembling the Christian ideal for how one should treat their fellow humans. I’ve yet to see anyone make a religious argument against providing health care. I’ve seen a number of economic ones, but nothing in the spiritual realm.

    Is the current plan perfect? Obviously not. Would it be an improvement upon our current system and be seen as progress towards that ideal? I think so.

    PM: “And how, exactly, do we get morality from “nature.” Is this the law of the jungle?”

    No, not the law of the jungle. As I feel that humans and all our conceptions (including morality) came from Nature (through the processes outlined above), I don’t see from whence else it could come.

    Thanks for your comment, and I’m curious to see where this conversation might lead. I would hope it leads to understanding, and perhaps some form of agreement, so let’s try and keep it civil. 🙂

    peace.
    -RPN

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