If you’ve watched the news over the past few weeks, no doubt you’ve seen numerous video clips of angry people shouting down their congressmen at townhall meetings. From all the uproar, it’s clear that people take health care to heart in a way they do few other things. Wall Street can steal obscene amounts of money from taxpayers, and for the most part people take it with a few murmurs of discontent. But let the federal government try to expand its role in health care, and townhall meetings are filled to bursting with angry protesters.
Several commentators on the liberal side have put forth the notion that the protests are motivated by latent racism, but there’s no evidence for this. Some on the conservative side view the uproar as evidence that the principles of limited government are gaining popularity. But I’m skeptical of this as well. As one who loves liberty, I have to say it’s nice to see arrogant public “servants” getting an earful from the folks back home. And the Obama administration’s whining about organized protests is hilariously ironic, considering that Obama himself was a community organizer back in the day. But while watching the protest scene unfold, I also detect an underlying problem. For all their anger at Obama’s health care proposal, the protesters don’t seem to have any consistent philosophy of liberty to support their opposition to the latest federal government power grab. Generally speaking people are upset not that the government is getting involved in health care, but rather that it is getting more deeply involved than in the past. Perhaps some don’t even realize that our healthcare system is, far from being a bastion of free market economics, already heavily socialized.
In any debate, the more logically consistent party has the advantage and tends to prevail. By calling for greater socialization of health care, Obama and his supporters are consistently applying their socialist principles, whereas those who oppose Obamacare have failed to clearly state why the government should not play doctor. Unless those what advocate liberty make philosophically sound, non-contradictory arguments against further government intrusion into the health care industry, I think it likely that the proponents of medical socialism will prevail and some form of Obama’s plan will pass.
This raises the question, where do supporters of liberty find such arguments? Some may invoke natural law, believing that liberty can be defended by the study of nature. But, as the Marquis de Sade demonstrated, nature can be called upon to defend things other than freedom. Others prefer arguments from tradition. “We’ve never done this before,” is their mantra. Common sense persuades many. “Everyone knows this is a bad idea,” they say. “Government health care doesn’t work,” is the claim of the pragmatists, who seek “results” however that word is defined. While all of these methods are frequently tried, none is adequate for defending liberty in health care, or, for that matter, in society generally.
A wiser head may argue that control over healthcare is not one of the enumerated powers of the Federal Government in the US Constitution; therefore, since nationalized health care is unconstitutional, it should be rejected. This is a valid argument, and at one time it would have ended the dispute. For that matter, it likely would have prevented the dispute from arising in the first place. But Americans long ago rejected the Constitution as the touchstone for judging the worth of legislative proposals. The rejection of the Constitution as the nation’s supreme law followed hard upon, and was caused by, the rejection of biblical Christianity in the nation’s churches. This should not be surprising, for the idea of a limited government of enumerated powers was a product of the Protestant Reformation. When the American people rejected Christianity, the constitutional superstructure erected upon it inevitably began to crumble.
Therefore, although it’s true that a federal takeover of the nation’s health care industry is unconsitutional, pointing this out is not enough to win the argument. If we are to have freedom in healthcare, people must first be convinced that this is the ethical position. For that to take place, we must demonstrate this by sound arguments. And the only place to find those arguments is God’s revealed word: the Bible. Now some may protest that the Bible has nothing to say about medical care or the government’s role in society. But recall what the apostle Paul said to Timothy,
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Tim.3:16).
If every good work includes politics and providing medical care, and it does, then Scripture has much to teach us on these subjects. What does it say?