John that was my point and sentiment exactly!
And I for one as a Catholic Christian believes everyone and I underline everyone should have access to affordable health care, but definitely NOT a government run program.
May I be allowed to chime in as someone who lives in a country
with a comprehensive and tax-funded health care system.
There seems little point that I should have any continuing involvement in this
debate since people here are arguing it on American premises and not Christian ones.
I am speaking as an outsider, as one who is not American, and while you have
the notion that your principles on these matters are grounded in
Christianity, they are not. They are grounded in the mindset and ideas
peculiar to your local culture. What you write has no necessary connection
with Catholicism or Christianity. It has every connection with the American mindset.
That is not meant to be an affront to you or to any other Americans on list.
After all, my own ideas on this are themselves grounded in my own New
Zealand culture which is derived from that of Great Britain, but I would
contend that my country's way of dealing with issues of poverty and the like
is a much better outworking of Christianity than the American way. In other
words Christian principles are more deeply embedded in New Zealand's social
and political structures than they are in the US.
This country, and other Commonwealth countries, is orientated towards the
common weal. We see the duty of Government as primarily that of managing
the country for the common good of the entire populace. In order to achieve
this common weal we cheerfully hand over our taxes. And while there is
nothing to prevent a man becoming immensely rich there is, thank God, a
government policy which protects a man from becoming obscenely poor.
But this is *not* the view of American government, at least among those who
hold to the original founding of the US. Your Declaration of Independence
specifically states, "...Governments are instituted among men to preserve
these rights..." In other words, you did *not* see government as managing
the country or imposing a blue print for the common well-being of all citizens;
you saw it as the means to guarantee people liberty. It is a very different
Neither concept of government is in and of itself Christian, but I would
argue that government established for the common weal is more Christian than
government focused on personal liberty.
It is a major mistake however to assume that the American abhorrence of
Government involvement (whether in general or for poverty relief) has anything
to do with Christian principles, and it is really very distressing to find people
looking for scriptural and patristic argumentation to justify their own
culturally conditioned attitudes towards it. Perhaps a meditation on Romans
13 and Saint Paul's teaching on taxation would be useful?
Now the NZ and Canadian approach is all based on a legacy of English church/state
established relationships with a dollop of 19th century Methodist good works
thrown in and this has spread out to the Commonwealth. But I can see how the
American culture of separation of Church and State with the pot of wholesome
libertarianism thrown in can be horrified by the thought of actively putting
someone on welfare.
But for us social security provision as a safety net to help the most needy,
and a free health care system for all is a Christian response and a
Christian use of our taxes.
Now as Church and State drift further apart it remains to be seen if that
partnership will continue but I still argue that we in New Zealand (and
perhaps slightly less now in the UK) enjoy a culture where people have
invested into the state the outworking of its Christian principles as
the basis of its law and care for its citizens.
In my experience, the people who extol the dignity and sense of self-worth
to be found in grinding labour for miserable pay, no health care
and no future have themselves experienced none of those things.
For days now people have been locked in this debate about economics,health,
welfare and the poor. But, as this is a site dedicated to Christian
spirituality, I think both sides should make more reference to Scriptural
and traditional moral teaching on the topic. Do the principles and values
advocated by the Neo-classical Capitalists here (self-reliance,
entrepreneurship, success as the achievement of wealth, etc.) mesh with what
we read in Scripture, the Fathers of the Church and the Saints? Or do they
contradict the sources of our faith?
Can one be a true Christian and a social Darwinist?