Healthcare and Charity

Healthcare – so much to say and no idea where to even start with a bill so full of manipulations, cost-shifting, and purchased votes.

I think I’ll begin with a few of the responses of liberal friends since the bill’s passage.  They tend to go something like this:

“I just don’t understand why people who claim to know of God’s love would deny help to their fellowman.”

“My family has plenty of money and we don’t mind helping those in need.  We can afford it.”

Those who “claim to know of God’s love” were already helping others before this bill ever came along, and to a greater degree than those without God.  Arthur Brooks, a former professor at Syracuse University, spent twenty years studying the issue of philanthropy.  His book, Who Really Cares, is based upon hundreds of studies and the underlying theme is that those who truly care have always helped their fellowman.  No government program of forced redistribution necessary.  I mentioned a very small portion of this in a previous ultra-simplified post entitled Ideology, Religion, and Charity.

We are a country of givers.

This, from an article by Arthur Brooks, citing some of the data from his book:

In 1995 (the most recent year for which data are available), Americans gave, per capita, three and a half times as much to causes and charities as the French, seven times as much as the Germans, and 14 times as much as the Italians. Similarly, in 1998, Americans were 15 percent more likely to volunteer their time than the Dutch, 21 percent more likely than the Swiss, and 32 percent more likely than the Germans.

It seems as though those who give formally are also those we’d want to run into on the street if we happen to need help.

One nationwide survey from 2002 tells us that monetary donors are nearly three times as likely as non-donors to give money informally to friends and strangers. People who give to charity at least once per year are twice as likely to donate blood as people who don’t give money. They are also significantly more likely to give food or money to a homeless person, or to give up their seat to someone on a bus.

To the issue of those who “know of God’s love” – not only are the people in the US the most charitable on the face of the earth (in any way that can be measured), but religious people in the US are even more charitable than the average citizen.  They are 25 percent more likely to give to charity than the non-religious, and 23 percent more likely to volunteer.  When looking at the average dollar amounts and average time volunteered, religious people give nearly four times as much money and volunteer twice as often.  This is the difference between giving $2,210 versus $642 and volunteering 12 times/year versus 5.8 times.

Certainly we would see a much different world if all gave to same degree as the religious.  Unfortunately, what tends to happen in any society is that the more government does for the people, the less they do for themselves and for each other.  Thus, increasing government programs that limit the freedom of individuals and decrease their available resources doesn’t bode well for our future.

The answer to the second response is based on the first, “Well, if you have plenty of money, then why do you need government to take it from you in order to help those in need?”  Incidentally, the income of this family is generated by an ER doctor.  Apparently he never thought to donate his time and efforts to those who can’t afford medical care or to establish a charity that would treat indigent patients.  Maybe that would take just a little more than he’s willing to give, while still speaking the language of charity (with a little bit of his money and a whole lot of ours).

What he also fails to understand is that pretty soon he won’t have “plenty of money.”  As more and more individuals are forced onto the government plan, his income will decrease.  The reimbursements rates of government plans must be driven down over time in order to not only cover an additional 30 million new Americans, but all those whose employers can no longer afford to pay their rising premiums (premiums that will have to rise as a result of what will surely be a slew of new mandates placed on insurance companies by the federal government when the plan finally goes into effect).  Incidentally, most of this plan doesn’t begin until after the next presidential election.

Government policies have consequences.  If we truly believe that this new entitlement program that robs from the future prosperity of this country in order to establish rights never envisioned by the founders will make us a better country, then we have certainly come a long way from their “land of the free.”

Incidentally, while we’re changing the meaning and intent of the Constitution, it might be nice to note that the right to healthcare was part of a constitution, but it was the constitution of the USSR.  Heaven help us.

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