Government-run health care is bad for patients and liberty

Proponents of government-run health care, (i.e. – socialists), want to redistribute wealth from producers to victims. Producers create wealth and victims engage in risky and/or immoral activities that are likely to require medical treatment. (I am concentrating on medical treatment for culpable activities here). Wealth redistribution reduces economic growth because producers stop producing while victims incur more costs, since they do not pay much for their treatment. Eventually, reduced economic growth leads to poor health care, as seen in socialist countries like North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, etc.

Socialists do not trust people to make their own health care decisions, and to deal with the consequences, (i.e. – liberty). In a socialized system, a producer might have his wealth redistributed to victims for services he would never need himself, because of his lifestyle decisions. He might even have his wealth redistributed to victims for services that he objects to on moral grounds, like abortions or sex-changes. He may pay into a mandatory government program for his entire life, without ever making a claim. If at the end of his life, he finally makes a claim, he may be told that he must get in line behind the government’s favored victims – victims who may not have even paid into the system. To see how this actually happens in Canada, watch these excellent 5-minute films from On the Fence Films: Two Women, A Short Course in Brain Surgery, The Lemon, and Dead Meat. Also see this Fraser Institute article.

Imagine how socialism would work if applied to a different business, like auto insurance. Everyone would have to carry mandatory auto insurance, whether they owned a vehicle or not. People would pay into the system based on earned income, not based on personal choices, desired coverages or risks. Different vehicles, driving infractions, vehicle usage, and other risk factors like age would be irrelevant to the price charged. Socialized auto insurance would just be a huge transfer of wealth from non-drivers and safe drivers to risky drivers. The socialist system of redistributing wealth to equalize health care outcomes, destroys productivity and personal responsibility. For further details, see this Heritage Foundation lecture transcript.

Socialized medicine involves price-fixing. The government is the single-payer, and set the prices that doctors can charge for services. Since doctors cannot make a fair profit practicing medicine, compared to other fields, we get fewer doctors. But since health care is “free” to victims, we get more risky and/or immoral behavior, and increased demand for medical care. Fewer doctors, and more victims results in a shortage of medical care, and waiting lists. Medical costs also increase because doctors often practice “defensive medicine” to avoid exposure to lawsuits from lawyers, worsening the shortage, (Investors Business Daily editorial, podcast). Another factor that increases medical costs is mandatory licensing, which forces hospitals to pay more for labor and supplies, (Cato Institute podcast). For further details, see this Cato Institute research paper.

Even if the socialist claims that he wants to set up a parallel system to compete alongside the private medical insurers, the government can easily engage in predatory pricing in order to drive out private businesses from the market. The government is far more able to price medical services lower than private alternatives, and run deficits, until their private rivals go out of business. The government does not have stock that private companies could short in order to prevent this predatory pricing. Monopolies are never good for the consumer, because consumers can’t shop around for the best deal. In a government system, you are forced to pay for services you don’t need. The government is already woefully mismanaging Medicare, and Medicaid, (Investors Business Daily editorial, podcast), do we really really want to give them the whole system to manage?

People need to be responsible for their lifestyle choices, and their medical bills. The free market approach preserves liberty, and economic growth. Medical providers have an incentive to lower costs and improve quality. Consumers keep their liberty by taking responsibility for managing their own risks and costs, (see Investors Business Daily editorial, podcast).

It is important to note that upholding traditional morality and traditional relationships, like marriage, helps to reduce medical costs. Government should therefore avoid assaulting religious beliefs, and moral values. An additional problem with socialized medicine is that Christian medical practitioners often have their religious liberty infringed by the government, (see examples here, and here).

These Cato Institute podcasts describe Obama’s medical policy proposal, (first, second). For more on Obama’s plan, see this Heritage Foundation research paper. For more about socialized health care in other countries, see this Cato Institute research paper. A recent debate on this topic, hosted by the left-wing National Public Radio is here. If you prefer books, there is David Gratzer’s book, Sally C. Pipes’ book, Arnold Kling’s book, and Michael F. Cannon and Michael D. Tanner’s book.

William Lane Craig debates on the Michael Coren show

If you’re looking for William Lane Craig‘s appearance on the Michael Coren show, I found them posted over in his Reasonable Faith forum.

Here are the links:

The show is posted in 5 parts. By the way, Bill Craig has published his latest newsletter with details of his January speaking tour in Ontario, Canada, eh? Don’t forget – Bill will be touring la belle Province (Quebec, Canada) this month.

Stephen Baskerville on Dennis Prager show today

I just received an e-mail from Stephen Baskerville, who is an expert on the effects on marriage and family caused by our divorce laws and divorce courts. He is scheduled to be on the Dennis Prager show today at 2:00 PM Eastern, 11:00 AM PST. (It was pushed back from 1:30 PM to 2:00 PM)
Here are some places where you can listen online:
Or you can try a radio guide here:

For more information about Stephen Baskerville, check out his cover story on marriage and divorce for Touchstone Magazine, here.

Today’s show (02/06/09) is available here.
Baskerville’s previous appearance (12/19/2007) on the show is here.

An appearance on Milt Rosenberg’s Extension 720 is here.

Democrats vote to discriminate against students of faith

Did you know that Obama’s massive stimulus bill contains a provision that “prohibits renovation money for schools that allow religious groups to meet on campus”? Jay Sekulow of the ACLJ describes the provision here. According to this Fox News story, Senator James “Jim” Demint (R. – SC), proposed an amendment to the pork-filled bill to remove the anti-religious provision. However, Demint reported that the amendment failed in the Senate 43-54, with almost all Republicans voting for religious liberty, and almost all the Democrats voting against it. The provision had previously passed in the Democrat-controlled House, with every Republican voting against it.

I think this defeat is a helpful reminder to people of faith about the role of government-run schools, and teacher’s unions, in imposing secular-leftist values on the next generation. I recently finished reading Jonah Goldberg’s book “Liberal Fascism”, in which the author explains what the word fascist really means. Fascism is the political philosophy that seeks to undermine individual goals and values, including religious and entrepreneurial values, and to substitute the values of the society, as expressed by the party in power.

A common thread in fascist regimes is the effort to separate children from parents at a young age, so that adult teachers can impose the state’s values on the children when they are least able to resist them. That is why, accoring to the Guardian, the National Socialist party abolished homeschooling in fascist Germany in 1938. (A review of Goldberg’s book by Canadian author Denyse O’Leary is here). My favorite quote from Goldberg’s book is about the role of government-run schools in a fascist state:

Hence a phalanx of progressive reformers saw the home as the front line in the war to transform men into compliant social organs. Often the answer was to get the children out of the home as soon as possible. An archipelago of agencies, commissions, and bureaus sprang up overnight to take the place of the anti-organic, contra-evolutionary influences of the family. The home could no longer be seen as an island, separate and sovereign from the rest of society. John Dewey helped create kindergartens in American for precisely this purpose — to help shape the apples before they fell from the tree — while at the other end of the educational process stood reformers like Wilson, who summarized the progressive attitude perfectly when, as president of Princeton, he told an audience, “Our problem is not merely to help the students to adjust themselves to world life … [but] to make them as unlike their fathers as possible.”

The United States is also heading in this direction. In California, Human Events reported that homeschooling was effectively banned by an activist court. Dinesh D’Souza frankly explains why the left is so intent on keeping control of the schools here. He notes that secular people do not form families and do not have children, because it is too much of a constraint on their autonomy. Instead, D’Souza writes, secularists simply seize control of the children of religious parents, and pass their values on to the children in the mandatory government-run schools.

This plan has become so successful, that even young evangelicals are abandoning their faith at the ballot box. Phyllis Schlafly recently noted that 32% of young evangelicals voted for Obama in 2008, compared to 16% of them who voted for Kerry in 2004. Some of this slide to the left is due to parents focusing too much on entertainment and material gain. But a large portion of the blame should be pinned on the government-run schools and universities. USA Today notes that 70% of Protestant Christians abandon their faith by age 23.

Once you understand that the secular left has an interest in separating children from their parents, you begin to see why they support policies that transfer more familial responsibilities to the state. Higher taxes ensure that mothers must work, so that the child’s vulnerable pre-school years may be spent with government-certified instructors in day care. The emphasis on sex-education in the government-run schools leads young people into behaviors that later undermine marital stability. And, as Stephen Baskerville argues, the state encourages divorces to make business for itself.

I’ve argued here that Democrats favor secularizing government-run schools in order to undermine the faith of children. This is something that people of faith, who want to pass on their worldview and values to their children, need to think about. If you voted for Obama for nationalized health care, taxing of the rich, stopping global warming, etc., then now may be a good time to think again. Do a little studying about what conservatives believe – you may find out that conservatism is more consistent with the goals of faith-based voters than you had first thought.

By the way, as Ezra Levant reports, it happens in Canada, too. Often.

UPDATE: Wow, Ezra Levant is really mad at the University of Calgary for censoring pro-life students! National Post story is here.

Mike Licona to debate Bart Ehrman in April at SES

I sent an e-mail to Mike Licona last night to see if he had any upcoming debates. Mike debates in favor of the view that we can know historically, on the evidence, that God raised Jesus from the dead. Mike replied back to let me know that he will be debating Bart Ehrman, a professor at UNC Chapel Hill, again at Southern Evangelical Seminary in NC, on April 2, 2009. The topic of their debate will be “Can Historians Prove Jesus Rose From The Dead?”

In Mike’s first debate with Ehrman, (audio, video), Licona used the minimal facts approach pioneered by Gary Habermas, which is similar to Bill Craig’s approach. Mike’s minimal facts approach does not require that the Bible be inspired, inerrant, or generally reliable.  Mike uses only a fraction of the New Testament, the minimal facts, which are facts that are accepted nearly unanimously by scholars across the ideological spectrum, including atheists. He leans especially hard on 1 Corinthians 15:3-7, which contains the basics of the resurrection narrative and is dated to 1-5 years after the cross.

The minimal facts are accepted because they pass a variety of tests that the other passages do not pass. To be considered a minimal fact, the passage must be cited in one early source, such as Paul’s letters or Mark, and it must be in other independent sources. It also helps if the passage is attested to by enemies, or is dissimilar from Jesus’ Jewish milieu, or if it embarrasses the people who are recording and preserving the text. So, a fact like the guard at the tomb, which is only recorded in one source, (Matthew), is not a minimal fact.

Licona’s 4 facts last time were: 1) Jesus was crucified, 2) Jesus’ followers experienced visions of Jesus after his death, 3) Jesus’ enemy, Paul, had an experience that transformed into a powerful advocate for Christianity, and 4) Jesus’ brother, James, also had a post-mortem experience of Jesus, and changed from being skeptical of Jesus during his lifetime to being a leader in the early church. Both Paul and James were eventually martyred for their new faith in Jesus. This approach to the resurrection is a lot more acceptable to skeptics. There is no blind faith – just pure historical analysis.

Interestingly, Licona does not argue for the empty tomb, as Craig does. In the recent debate between J.D. Crossan and N.T. Wright, I was surprised to hear that Crossan was willing to grant the empty tomb, for the sake of argument, to Wright. Crossan is a radical liberal, so if he grants the empty tomb, then you and I can use it. I think that the fact that the earliest witnesses to the empty tomb were women, whose testimony was not regarded as reliable at that time, enhances the reliability of the empty tomb narrative.

Ehrman argues that the New Testament is not a reliable source for history, because there are manuscripts that differ from other manuscripts. He concludes that the resurrection cannot be proved historically. He also makes a point about how miracles are the “least probable” explanation, (which William Lane Craig demolishes in their debate, see transcript here). These manuscript differences are called variants, and there are quite a high number of them, because there are quite a high number of manuscripts. The number of variants sounds alarming, until you realize that no New Testament doctrine is affected by the large number of invariants.

In Ehrman’s debate with Peter Williams on the UK-based Unbelievable radio show, and in Ehrman’s debate with Dan Wallace, Ehrman lists the 4 worst problems caused by the invariants:

  1. the woman caught in adultery (John 7:53-8:11) is a late addition not present in the earliest manuscripts
  2. the long ending of Mark (Mark 16:9-20) is a late addition not present in the earliest manuscripts
  3. Jesus was angry and not compassionate when he healed the leper (Mark 1:41)
  4. that Jesus died apart from God, and not by the grace of God (Hebrews 2:9)

Now I have to tell you, these disputes are irrelevant to standard Christian doctrine. Also, I personally prefer the woman at the well story being left out, and I prefer angry Jesus in 3). Why? Because I am snarky. The only variant that bugs me is the ending in Mark, because I liked the long ending. But none of these “worst cases” affects anything that Mike Licona might say on behalf of the resurrection, which is what the debate is supposed to be about, right?

For further study of Licona and Ehrman, I would recommend the book “The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus”, by Gary Habermas and Mike Licona on the resurrection, which is the best introductory book you can get on how to argue the minimal facts case. If you like Lee Strobel’s interviewing style, then you can’t go wrong with this book, “The Case for the Real Jesus”. If you prefer books featuring debates between opposing scholars, check out William Lane Craig against Gerd Ludemann here, (audio of their re-match is here), William Lane Craig against John Dominic Crossan here, (audio of the debate is here), or N. T. Wright against John Dominic Crossan here, (audio of the debate only is here).

If you can get the audio for the N.T. Wright and J.D. Crossan debate, that’s quite useful because of the strong respondents, (Doug Geivett, Craig Evans and Charles Quarles). The audio from the Ben Wallace vs. Bart Ehrman debate is also worth getting. These are both available to buy here.

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

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