What we hear in politics these days is, "Now! Now! Now! There can be no waiting, because this change/reform/action is so important that if we wait, we will be doomed!" We heard it in the various bailout bills, and we hear it again here. We heard it over global warming, and we will hear it again. There are two reasons I can come up with why this "doomsday approach" to legislating is being used. First, there is the fact that the government has limited money and attention to spend on various topics, and so the one that is most pressing will get the most money, simple economics (or manipulation). Second, there is the more dangerous aspect, which is the desire to sneak through legislation with less popular measures in it because it will take too long to fix the unpopular parts of the bill.
Last week a British Catholic journal, in an editorial titled "U.S. bishops must back Obama," claimed that America's bishops "have so far concentrated on a specifically Catholic issue - making sure state-funded health care does not include abortion - rather than the more general principle of the common good." [It is unfortunate that I tire of this phrase, because of its misuse among some.]
It went on to say that if U.S. Catholic leaders would get over their parochial preoccupations, "they could play a central role in salvaging Mr. Obama's health-care programme."
The editorial has value [I'm not so sure...] for several reasons. First, it proves once again that people don't need to actually live in the United States to have unhelpful and badly informed opinions about our domestic issues. Second, some of the same pious voices that once criticized U.S. Catholics for supporting a previous president now sound very much like acolytes of a new president. Third, abortion is not, and has never been, a "specifically Catholic issue," and the editors know it. And fourth, the growing misuse of Catholic "common ground" and "common good" language in the current health-care debate can only stem from one of two sources: ignorance or cynicism. [It's as if he read my mind on this one.]
No system that allows or helps fund - no matter how subtly or indirectly -- the killing of unborn children, or discrimination against the elderly and persons with special needs, can bill itself as "common ground." Doing so is a lie. [I would say it is part of the "progressive" and "modern" plans to usurp the language, and change the meaning of words, to hoodwink the masses. Consider what is now called "freedom" and "right" as compared to years ago.]
On the same day the British journal released its editorial, I got an email from a young couple on the east coast whose second child was born with Down syndrome. The mother's words deserve a wider audience:
[Here, he goes on to share this story, of a child who "'consumes' a lot of health care." I add the final paragraph here for context]
We are unsure and uneasy about how this might change. We worry that we, and Magdalena's siblings, will somehow be cut out of the process down the line when her health issues are sure to pile up. I can't forget that this is the same president [Obama] who made a distasteful joke about the Special Olympics. He apologized through a spokesman . . . [but] I truly believe that the people around him don't know -- or don't care to know -- the value and blessedness of a child with special needs. And I don't trust them to mold policy that accounts for my daughter in all of her humanity or puts "value" on her life.
Of course, President Obama isn't the first leader to make clumsy gaffes. Anyone can make similar mistakes over the course of a career. And the special needs community is as divided about proposed health-care reforms as everyone else.
Some might claim that the young mother quoted here has misread the intent and content of Washington's plans. That can be argued. But what's most striking about the young mother's email -- and I believe warranted -- is the parental distrust behind her words. She's already well acquainted, from direct experience, with how hard it is to deal with government-related programs and to secure public resources and services for her child. In fact, I've heard from enough intelligent, worried parents of children with special needs here in Colorado to know that many feel the current health-care proposals pressed by Washington are troubling and untrustworthy.
Health-care reform is vital. That's why America's bishops have supported it so vigorously for decades. They still do. But fast-tracking a flawed, complex effort this fall, in the face of so many growing and serious concerns, is bad policy. It's not only imprudent; it's also dangerous. As Sioux City's Bishop R. Walker Nickless wrote last week, "no health-care reform is better than the wrong sort of health-care reform." [This is the perennial drum-beat of the modern political system. More below.]
If Congress and the White House want to genuinely serve the health-care needs of the American public, they need to slow down, listen to people's concerns more honestly -- and learn what the "common good" really means.
This, I am sure, is what is happening with the health care reform bill. The legislators have made up their mind what they want to see in the bill, and under the guise of urgency have been pushing this plan forward. The thing is, this isn't Calcutta, people aren't dying in the street. Do we need some kind of reform; sure. Is the status quo so bad that we can't continue as a nation; I don't think so.
Archbishop Chaput did a good job, I think, dealing with the arguments put forward by The Tablet.