Health Care - a revelation of ideology vs morality
It's a long story, a side-track really, so I won't lead you too far down this rabbit trail, which is really more of a confession about my exercise habits. About a year ago, I discovered something called "cross fit", which is mostly about an exercise philosophy that says, "mix it up - don't just jog around the lake every day. Lift some weights. Do some squats. Play tennis. Climb. Jump rope. And importantly, don't just jog, sprint. In fact, sprint up hills!"
"Yes", I say to myself, "jogging is from Satan. After all, look at how sore I am after running around the lake, three times a week, year after year. I'm finished with this nonsense! Instead I'll do what the cross fit people say to do: some lifting here, some sprinting there, an occasional climb."
Well, one year later I'm here to tell you that the easy part was giving up jogging. I mastered that in the first week. That's right; no more mind numbing repetitive exercises for me. Instead I'll be...well, here's the confession part: I'll be either sleeping, or watching TV, or being sedentary in some other way; anything but getting out and doing these short bursts of intensive exercise that are supposed to be so good for you. Actually getting my butt out the door to do these other health giving things is, in fact, much harder than the simple act of declaring that such things are good for me.
The problem, you see, isn't in what I say I believe. The problem is that what I actually believe is revealed, not by what I say, but by what I do. What I say I believe, when the day is done, doesn't matter at all. The coffee shop discussions about justice, poverty, simple living, worship, church life, and sexual ethics might all serve the purpose of helping us clarify where we ought to be going. But unless we go there, the ideology we say a believe becomes an anesthetic, numbing my soul to our own lack of moral fiber.
It wouldn't be so bad if this were only a personal problem. Instead, the evidence is that this is THE problem that prevents so much that is good from ever taking root in our lives, our families, our nations. We confuse our own rhetoric with reality, declaring to ourselves and others that because we have good intentions, we're good.
Nowhere is this more visible at this moment, than in the present health care discussion occurring in congress. We all agree that it's deplorable that our nation spends more per capita on health care than any nation in the developed world, but ranks lower in life expectancy, and higher in infant mortality than most of the nations on the chart. It's sickening that this is the only developed nation in the world where people lose their life savings, retirement income, and homes for a single surgery. Did you know that 18,000 people die each year in our country of treatable diseases?
David Brooks, my favorite conservative journalist, exposes the shame and posturing on both side of the political aisle that will, I'm afraid, ultimately create an emasculated bill, failing to deal with the real issues of cost controls. A bi-partisan proposal that begins by taxing health benefits has been pronounced 'dead on arrival' by those with the power to kill it, even though it has bi-partisan support and will serve to create a real alternative without driving America further into the cave of bankruptcy. You can, and should, read about it here.
Instead, all alternative plans on the table face the challenge of either being too expensive, or too narrowly focused, to be effective in fixing the problem. The Wyden/Bennett plan taxes health care benefits because, and this may come as a surprise to some senators, FIXING HEALTH CARE WILL BE EXPENSIVE. That this fundamental reality is lost on some politicians, as well as millions of Americans, is astonishing to me. In Europe and Canada, people are taxed at much higher levels, and nationalized health care keeps costs (and negatively, some would say, availability) under control, but grants access to 'basic health care' for all people. It's a solution - but it costs taxpayers money, rather than resorting to the treasury's printing presses again.
Unfortunately, nobody wants to pay. So the collective leadership are presently talking a good game, declaring their ideals for affordable health care. But early on in the discussion it's clear that what is meant is this: let's find a way to gain all the benefits of muscle mass without that sweaty nasty thing called excerise. Let's find a way to eat sugar coated 'fried muckos' for breakfast, while lowering our cholestoral and blood sugar. Preaching good health while they dine on moral doughnuts, our leaders are marching the health care initiative to an early grave.