Yet Another Den of Thieves
Culture and Politics – Obama Nation Building
Written by Douglas Wilson
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
In the debate about the repeal of Obamacare, there are people who understand the principles involved, and there are the wafters. The wafters can blow either way, depending upon the prevailing breezes in their district, but wafters they are — whether they blow to the right or to the left. If they blow in the right direction it may benefit both me and the republic at large, but such men are not to be counted on. Winds change direction sometimes.
We can see this in the response of some Republicans to what is perceived to be one popular feature of Obamacare, the fact that “preexisting conditions” are covered. These guys want to repeal the monstrosity at large, but they want to keep (because popular) this small monstrosity. That resonates well with certain audiences. They can put it into their speeches in the home district without wincing. This is because most people in most audiences don’t know what is actually being said by it.
There are two ways to spread risk over a large population. The first way is Christian — it is biblical because the risk is shared voluntarily, and without coercion. The second way is from the pit — because it depends for its success on violence and coercion. These are the two ways — the way of peace and the way of blood. The way of the cross or the way of the gun.
If enough people pool their resources at a rate of ten dollars a month, they can then together take care of some disastrous occurrence that has befallen any one of them. In order for this to work, the disastrous occurrence needs to have not already happened. If it is okay for it to “have already happened,” then a bunch of people to whom it has already happened will show up tomorrow morning, applications filled out, and all of a sudden the math doesn’t work any more. And after the math quits working, and ten bucks a month ain’t cuttin’ it, then the temptation for the other way of doing business kicks in.
This other way still talks about “contributions,” a linguistic vestige of another time and era, but it is the kind of contribution which, if you fail to make, lands you in chokey. This is called strong-arming, extortion, thuggery, intimidation, or, as some brethren on the left would have it, compassion.
The logic of free market insurance is compassionate because it involves free men and women taking care of themselves by means of free transactions. But what about the people with preexisting conditions, who are in a terrible spot? The law of Christ requires compassion here too, of a different nature, but which is still voluntary. This is why Christians should overflow with charitable (and voluntary) giving to take care of such folks. We should take care of them (though they cannot pay) because Christ took care of us when we could not pay. Give. Sacrifice. Bleed. Freely we have received, freely we must give. But this text does not say, please note, that because we have freely received we must haul out the guns, and the jackets with big block letters on the back, to make sure other people are giving, sacrificing, and bleeding enough.
Coercion skews everything. Even something as admirable in principle as Medishare, where Christians try to help take care of one another, is corrupted by the presence of governmental coercion. As a pastor, I know of at least three instances of Christians who belonged to this kind of program who were turned down in their applications, being in effect told that “we will cover this if Medicare turns you down. But you have to apply there first.” In other words, they were told to go soak some unbelieving chump in Kentucky who is struggling with his taxes. If he does not cough up, then we will help out. Ah, a Christian testimony is a glorious thing. Behold how they love one another, after they have put the squeeze on others.
Wanting to have your insurance cover your preexisting condition (at no extra cost to you) is exactly like trying to place a bet at the Kentucky Derby after the race is over. You want to bet somebody that Miles Ahead will come in miles ahead when he already did. More than that, you want good odds in your favor. You can’t get any takers for some reason, and so you call the men with guns to come and make somebody bet with you. The reason this has happened is that the human heart, which ought to be a house of prayer, has become a den of thieves.