I do not normally use my Minister’s Column to talk about current issues. I think it usually ought to be either informative about Church matters or meditative about our spiritual lives. But I have to say I was quite pleased when the health care reform bill was signed into law. And it speaks to our spiritual health as a nation.
For me this is only a partial reform. Some of you will know or guess that I believe in a single payer, government sponsored health care approach. To me, the free market is a great engine of innovation, of creativity and of wealth production; but it is a terrible place to make policy decisions about the basics of life. As I have said before, I believe that food, clothing, shelter, medical care and education belong in the hands of government. The free market is about making a profit; government is about serving people. The two are vastly different.
I also believe that government is the one means that a society has of controlling rogue corporations. The pursuit of profits too often (but by no means always) causes corporations to behave in an immoral manner. (For too many corporations “morality” means profits.) Government–that is, we together–is needed to protect workers, consumers and the environment.
However, though the health care bill that was passed falls far short of what I believe should have been done, it at least is a recognition of the fundamental principle that we as a nation are a single family and that we have a moral responsibility to care for one another. To me, that principle should lie at the heart of all of government actions.
Because of that I have been rather unhappy with some of the coverage in the news media about the health care reform bill. Their focus has been on the presumed question of their viewers, “What does this mean for me?” They are correct that many Americans are asking that question, but that is the wrong question for Americans to be asking. That is the selfish question. The “right” questions are, “What does this mean for America?” and “What does this mean for the poor?”.
Some of you will remember the phrase, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country”?
How far we have fallen short of that call.
Our national spirituality is strong when we work to help one another, when we are willing to care for and support one another. The national spirituality is a bit stronger today than it was last week.