Pastoral Musings from Rain City

it's about 'what is church?' it's about whether 'emergent' is the latest Christian trend or something more substantial. it's musing on what it means to live faithfully...in the city, in America, in community, intergenerationally, at this time in history...

Monday, October 05, 2009

Generosity Requires Resources -

It's a general principle, right?  You can't give what you don't have.  A second, and equally important principle, is that real life is found in giving what we've received, as Jesus reminds us here.  I speak of the necessity of both receiving and giving in my o2 book, showing how God invites us to freely receive from the wellsprings of His life, AND to freely give out what we've received by blessing our world in tangible ways.   Learning to do this is like learning anything:  it takes practice.  o2 can help you develop the kinds of habits that will make your inhaling of Christ and your exhaling of blessing more real and consistent.  

I'd like to depart, for the purpose of this post however, from the spiritualized implications of this and note that the principle applies, not only to our life in Christ, but to the realities of this physical world.  An example of this was paraded before our eyes this past weekend, if we listened to the President's radio address, and the Republican response. 

In listening to Obama, I realized that the challenge before him is that he's trying to lead us into the kinds of social safety nets many Europeans have, but failing to mention that most Europeans are taxed at a higher rate than us (when personal income tax, VAT, and business taxes are all taken together).  To have these kinds of services, all of us would need to ante up, and that won't happen anytime soon.  So the deficit spirals out of control, which will lead, inevitably, to a tanking dollar.  Obama's plea this morning was that we needed his health care reform in order to save businesses, a legitimate concern, but he's calling for a reform that can't be paid for without either raising taxes and inflating the deficit.  

How do the Republicans respond?  Their senator from Michigan responded to Obama's radio address by calling for (hold your breath now, because this is really radical coming from Republicans):  TAX CUTS!   Yes, tax cuts will make everyone healthy, and solve the deficit. I'm growing weary of the pattern here - entrenched politicians shouting at each other across the aisle while unemployment goes up, the dollar goes down, and we continue to fail in our attempts to find solutions to real and entrenched problems.  

Could someone please stand up and say to both sides:  Generosity Requires Resources.  Both sides are trying to gain votes by being generous with money that doesn't exist.  It's dangerous and irresponsible, but the charade will continue until we begin to the price.  We'll pay the price soon enough, in one or more of these ways:  interest rates will rise, inflation will become an unquenchable fire, the dollar will decline.  Of course, in all this, the people who'll be hurt most are the poor.  

Both parties are entrenched in the paradigm of being generous with resources they don't have.  How should we, as followers of Christ respond?  

5 Comments:

At 6/10/09 00:57, Blogger postcall said...

Actually, Obama would disagree that his plans would require additional "resources." He claims that his party's bill will be "revenue neutral" over a 10 year period by utilizing the savings from Medicare to provide near-universal coverage.

But your point is well taken. If you read Postwar (by Tony Judt), he argues that the reason for high European tax rates was because of the intense privations of postwar Europe, which lasted for several years. Europeans were thus highly predisposed to vote for the social safety net that they currently have.

I do feel that you are a bit too harsh on our politicians on both sides of the aisle. They're limited by the resources we give them, and we usually don't like to have our programs cut or our taxes increased.

 
At 6/10/09 07:23, Anonymous DBarton said...

My favorite economist is Walter Williams, a black professor at George Mason University. If you want the highest quality with the lowest cost, then you have to have competition. Real, open competition is totally missing in anything coming out of Congress. None of the vendors of health-care want this: hospitals, doctors, pharmacy, the government etc. Each has a mega-lobby to protect their income streams. The only answer is competition and published pricing at every level of service. Americans are not stupid; we are good buyers of good products. I say, make them all compete in the open market. The answer is simple-publish all prices and drive insurance policies towards "cost-consciousness"...i.e."junk" the $5 or $45 copay system. There are about 9,000,000 truly uninsured people out of 300,000,000. The USA is about to ruin a health care system that is the best in the world for a 3% of population problem.

 
At 6/10/09 09:03, Anonymous Dr. David said...

DBarton,

The experts would disagree with you.

The number of uninsured is approximately 50,000,000 (20 percent of Americans) see: www.nchc.org/facts/coverage.shtml.

As far as healthcare delivery, in almost every major indicator the US ranks poorly with regard to health care outcomes compared to other developed nations.

This includes life expectancy, infant mortality, preventable cardiovascular disease and cancer death rates. The only "best in the world" health care delivery is given to those who have full time jobs with benefits and many of our elderly Medicare recipients.

Unless we expand affordable health care options to the currently uninsured who show up at our very expensive Emergency Rooms for routine health care we will bankrupt the system. These patients have clinic manageable diseases such as diabetes and hypertension and need health care prevention education.

Respectfully,
David Spiro MD

 
At 8/10/09 08:48, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Christians should be wise stewards of their resources, and not go into debt. We should expect our elected officials do to the same, to balance the budget.

National Healthcare is not a right, but health insurance should be regulated to ensure it is affordable and accessible.

 
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