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Gazette Premium Content Debate over health care reform rages over different beliefs

Barry Fagin Updated: August 19, 2009 at 12:00 am

I am opposed to a national religion for America. I don’t care if the party that campaigned for it won the election. I don’t care if Congress calls in the best theologians in the country to draft the legislation. As a free American, I ought to be allowed to not support a national religion with my tax dollars. It doesn’t matter if more than half of the people who show up on election day pull the lever in favor of it. It doesn’t matter if 99 percent do. The remaining 1 percent, along with people who didn’t vote at all, deserves to be left alone.

I’m sorry, did I say national religion? I meant national health care.

Oh sure, it’s not called that. And there are promising signs that enough Americans are protesting ObamaPelosiCare that we might get something less objectionable than the equivalent of the Postal Service running our hospitals. But I want to make a different point.

Why is the idea of national religion so repugnant to liberals, but national health care is just fine?

After all, America is in spiritual turmoil. Clearly we have religious problems, a hodgepodge of beliefs that are contradictory, inefficient, and contentious. Wouldn’t one religious system be simpler? Think of the cost savings in terms of liturgy, the ability to standardize churches, not to mention religious holidays. Nobody would need to worry about special treatment at their job, because religious holidays would be national holidays. And when it comes to tithing, it’s the ultimate Single Payer system.

Why must health care reform be something that society does together through force of law in the social contract, like national defense? Unlike national defense, health care is not a public good. Equal access to it is not inherently efficient, and one person’s consumption of it absolutely affects another’s ability to do the same.

We have national health care, or attempts at it, because people are unhappy with the current system (as well they should be), and because when people talk about fixing it, they can get voted into office.

Some people really, really believe in government-run health care, because they believe health care is a right. They believe that if they can just make people do what they tell them to, health care will be better. Ultimately, that’s really what it comes down to.

I disagree with this premise. I believe making people do things should be a last resort, not the first. I believe health care is not a right, because it is far too important. Better, cheaper, and a right: Pick any two. I know which two I want.

Instead of a system that grants health care as an entitlement, I want a system that makes health care get better and cheaper every day. That requires less government involvement, less regulation, more markets, more competition, and more health care freedom. Ultimately, that’s the best way to solve our health care “crisis.”

If you disagree, that’s fine, but why can’t we handle our disagreement on health care like we handle disagreements on religion? You practice your faith, I’ll practice mine. If you believe health care is a right, join the Church of St. Pelosi and pledge her a tenth of your income. Or just write a check to the Democratic Party, and agree only to support and use Obama and Pelosi-approved health care.

Provide health care to anyone who asks you, because after all it’s their right. Pay for it according to your ability. After all, that’s consistent with your beliefs that supporting health care is your moral obligation as a caring, compassionate person.

Think it’d never work? Think such a system would fall apart within months? Then why would a non-voluntary system be any better? Why is it OK for you to force your idea of health care as a right on those of us who disagree?

Before we engage in a congressional top-down takeover of health care, shouldn’t we ask if there are other ways we can achieve the same goals? Ways that are more consistent with the American ideals of diversity, competition, free choice and personal liberty?

I know what I believe. I know there are others who agree. I just wish Democrats respected our beliefs enough to let us practice them. They might learn a thing or two.

Fagin, of Colorado Springs, is a research associate at the Independence Institute. The views expressed here are his alone, and not necessarily those of the Independence Institute. Readers can e-mail him at barry@faginfamily.net.

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