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Relative to health care reform, let's pretend we're Columbo

By       Message Ed Tubbs     Permalink
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The television program may yet exist. I don't know. However, decades back, Monty Hall was the host of a daytime game show called Let's Make a Deal. Hall would summon someone from the studio audience up front, then he'd give that person some prize of varying value. He might, for example, deal out five one hundred dollar bills into the participant's palm, and immediately offer to trade what was being held for an unknown behind one of the curtains on stage. Hidden from view might be a new car, or it might be something of much lesser value.

Regardless, whenever the audience participant did make the swap, he or she might indeed be buying an honest to goodness real live pig in a poke. Monty would never say . . . beforehand.

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It was fun, when the blind choice was made by someone drawn from a game show audience. Not so much when it's a spiel made by a whacko ultraconservative radio or cable TV commentator that's being purchased by my neighbor who has no more clue as to the spiel's actual legitimacy and accuracy. But that's what we're facing today, especially concerning the health care dilemma.

The vexing issues to me are just how to get the deliriously-happy-to-be-close-minded neighbor (relative, work associate, etc.) to be even willing to ponder being open-minded, to actually mull the several questions contained in the issue, and whether I or anyone else has a moral obligation to make the effort.

Taking the latter first, and mindful of Burke's dicta that "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men (and women) do (say) nothing," the question is easily resolved on behalf of the notion that no alternative but to try exists.

To that end I've come up with a few questions those of us who feel the need for genuine health care reform is an exigent necessity have an obligation to pose to those we know who feel differently. As I see it, the matter of health care reform sits on two rather distinct planes: the moral plane and the economic plane.

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The Moral Plane Question

Do we as individuals and as a society have a moral obligation to our fellow life travelers to not permit them to whither and perish as a consequence of either no or inadequate life sustaining health care?

As the question posed included the phrase "life sustaining," the answer must be a no dithering in the spin cycle, a cut and dried "yes," or "no."

For all who can respond in the negative I've a follow-up: Could you truly approve of a child being forced to forgo medical care and the ongoing pharmaceutical therapies for, say, cystic fibrosis, or multiple sclerosis, or cancer? Really, you could do that? Or, what about care for the parent or guardian suffering that same or similar accident of fate? Could you just sit and watch? Or, not having to be an actual witness to the tragedy, could you blithely reconcile yourself to the proposition "Well, that's just the way it goes; it's not my problem"?

The statistic that 80% of Americans like to at least pretend to be subscribers to the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth is so well repeated that I'm going to presume that the same percentage of those reading this are members of that demographic. "Christians" you proclaim yourselves. Let's see.

This atheist has read and studied the Bible and the history of the faith, and I've decided that Jesus was a pretty stand-up guy. He didn't duck issues . . . or the dire consequences his positions would engage.

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When you read Matthew, where he stood on caring for the sick doesn't seem much debatable as an essential moral principle. Also recall that, when it comes to following him, the pious young man turned away when Jesus told him that the only way to do so was that he would have to sell EVERYTHING, then give the proceeds to the poor. Not to invest the money, or surrender only some portion; EVERYTHING! Thus, for any and all who are want to call themselves "Christian," the cost of health care for others cannot possibly be an issue earning the first second's reflective pause.

Only those who are prepared to holler heavenward, "Jesus, you know, you're really full of it on that one," can take any other position. But then to do that would concomitantly indict that person as a hypocrite, and not a "Christian," wouldn't it? Or, is there some other possible conclusion that can be formed?

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An "Old Army Vet" and liberal, qua liberal, with a passion for open inquiry in a neverending quest for truth unpoisoned by religious superstitions. Per Voltaire: "He who can lead you to believe an absurdity can lead you to commit an atrocity."

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