Sunday, March 19, 2017

Getting past healthcare noise

On September 9, 2009, before a joint session of Congress, President Barrack Obama revealed his Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (commonly ACA or ObamaCare).  He said of the bill, “It will provide more security and stability to those who have health insurance. [it did not] It will provide insurance for those who don't [it did for many]. And it will slow the growth of health care costs for our families, our businesses, and our government. [it did not]”

The ObamaCare bill was flawed, its adoption was flawed, its implementation was flawed, and its result was flawed.  It is teetering on a precipice of unsustainable rising cost and unacceptable declining choices.

Its complexity is at the core of its failure. Being all things to all people in complex schemes with untold numbers of variables is a common formula for failure - especially when done without transparency and in a highly partisan manner.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Brotherhood and Borders

From pulpits across America sermons and homilies exhort parishioners to fulfill their Christian responsibilities toward migrants whether they are immigrants (legal or illegal) or refugees.  The message focuses appropriately on treating the migrant with dignity, but often fails to address the responsibility and authority of government to regulate migration for the common good of citizens.  Clergy could better inform parishioners of the righteousness of both of these potentially competing interests so that they may balance them appropriately.

Christian faith communities generally accept two major principles regarding migration.  The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops instructs Catholics to, “treat the stranger as we would treat Christ himself.” The Bishops and other faith leaders, such as the Presbyterian Church (USA), also recognize “the right and responsibility of the U.S. to maintain our country’s borders.”

Jesus’ commandment to “love one another as I have loved you” is the foundation of the Christian obligation towards the migrant.  Other Bible passages are often cited in this regard, to include: "You shall treat the stranger who resides with you no differently than the natives born among you, have the same love for him as for yourself; for you too were once strangers in the land of Egypt" (Lv 19:33-34).

The Catholic Catechism provides the clearest statement on the second principle:  "Political authorities, for the sake of the common good for which they are responsible may make the exercise of the right to immigrate subject to various juridical conditions, especially with regard to the immigrants' duties toward their country of adoption. Immigrants are obliged to respect with gratitude the material and spiritual heritage of the country that receives them, to obey its laws and to assist in carrying civic burdens."

Religious leaders often issue policy and pastoral guidance that can be very detailed regarding these issues such as the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s Outline of General Assembly Policy related to Comprehensive Immigration Reform, Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in America, and the Conference of Catholic Bishop’s Catholic Church's Position On Immigration Reform.