Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Why I am a Republican - Part VI - The End

Earlier I argued “civil government should be limited to (1) ensuring the safety and security of the nation’s citizens, (2) protecting individuals and minority groups from abuse, i.e., ensuring their rights, and (3) providing the services the citizens assign to it.” This statement fails to fully address the role of government in economic matters and it fails to cover some aspects of the role of a federal government in a republic. In economics I recognize the role of the federal government in establishing a sound financial currency and ensuring a just system of interstate commerce. In this age, this later issue requires oversight of a complex national economic system. In short, the federal government must mediate relationships between the various states and protect the citizens from economic abuse.

I further stated “We can best achieve our national potential by helping each member of our society achieve their fullest human potential; this requires (1) a sense of personal responsibility for one’s future, and (2) hope that one can attain to an abundant life.” For me this is the bottom line of distinction between conservative and liberal philosophies. How can we best achieve peace and prosperity for everyone? How can we maintain a balance of personal responsibility with government assistance? As a conservative I believe our society has a responsibility to provide for the needs of those who cannot provide for themselves, i.e., the disabled. When economic problems make it impossible for citizens to work, the government (cooperating on various levels) has a responsibility to assist them in finding gainful employment. However, I am opposed to extended welfare for those who are able to work; I consider subsidizing adult (re-)education focused on employment a good investment in society’s future; I support workfare or public works programs that provide the unemployed temporary employment at near market wages on projects for the public good (highway construction, shelving books in the library, teaching in under-served schools, mentoring youth, etc., the options are limitless).

On healthcare, I favor free enterprise as the base model. Personal choice should be protected. However, I believe we have a responsibility through our government to ensure everyone has access to health-care and that is best achieved through universal access to health insurance. I prefer a model that mandates that individuals purchase insurance over a model that gives universal medical insurance or universal direct healthcare to individuals. While I am hesitant to endorse a law requiring everyone to purchase insurance, I recognize we have already entered into an age where basic healthcare is considered a human right, i.e., we have laws making emergency healthcare available to all. I would therefore endorse a mandatory insurance law on grounds similar to state mandated liability insurance for drivers and this on the basis of protecting the innocent, i.e., the principle of justice. It can thus be argued that we have a moral obligation to ensure we do not accrue medical debts we cannot pay and therefore insurance is a civil responsibility. In short, require everyone to have minimal medical insurance with the government providing assistance for those who cannot afford it. In any case, parents should be required to provide insurance for their children with the government making up the necessary gap in funding. I am of course opposed to socialized medicine.

On international relations, I prefer a model of cooperation and support. We have a moral obligation to promote democracy, justice, and the general well being of all. Our aid to other countries should be modeled on the suggestions I have given for domestic aid, integrated with the principle of self-responsibility. We should not act militarily without (1) having first been attacked, or (2) broad international support, with (3) undeniable evidence of gross injustice and human suffering, with the only exception being irrefutable evidence of an imminent attack on the USA or her allies. In other words, I am generally opposed to war as contrary to the Word of God and serving as a platform for gross evil. I allow for violence only when necessary for defense of self or others; nations can work together to police rogue states that threaten peace or act immorally toward their own citizens (think the killing fields of Cambodia, or present day Somalia).

With this, I end this series. No doubt I have rambled and failed to close all the loops. I will probably make other comments on politics this election season and beyond. Some seem to think I have written this series to try to convert them to my political views. However, my purpose has been to simply explain why I am a Republican. Many people I greatly love and respect, people who share my religious beliefs and social concerns, are Democrats or independents who usually vote for the ticket of the Democrats. For the most part they have not asked me why I am a Republican. Well, I have a deep psychological need to be understood (grounded in a childhood speech impediment no doubt), in this case to be accepted as a person who has seriously attempted to integrate his faith with his political philosophy. I am a holiness-Pentecostal follower of Christ; I am committed to social justice; I abhor idolatrous patriotism – the nation should not be worshipped or in any way equated with Christ or His Kingdom; I am committed to being a good citizen as a Christian duty; in my opinion the United States of America is the greatest country in the history of humanity but not free of guilt; I believe we can be better – God expects us to be better; I believe the conservative political philosophy is the best means of holding all of these together, serving the needs of all citizens, and achieving our greatest national potential. My goal in things political is not to enlarge the rolls of the Republican Party; it is to serve the cause of Christ by promoting the common good. In this I trust I bear witness to the gracious presence of God among and within all His creation and our need for salvation through His Son.


Human Growth & Transformation said...

I have come into civilization to check e-mail etc. Murphy is a beautiful town and I hope that we can live near here on a permanent basis one day.
You know what comes to my mind in regards to the lack of socialized, universal heath care? The large plastic container at the check out counter at the grocery store or Wal Mart (hey it could be for one of their employees!). This container will have a photo of someone needing financial help due to a major illness or major surgery. People stop to read about the need for a transplant, etc. and will drop in some change to help the person.
We should not reduce out citizens, many of whom are hard working, to such charity. Yet, this happens all the time when the health care cost becomes so enormous that people face the loss of their homes, etc in order to pay.
It is not their shame that we see plastered on these containers. It is our corporate shame.
Miss you and love you,

Jackie Johns said...

Is it less “charity” for people to receive financial assistance through the government? In one sense, I think it is. Do we not all lose some of our humanity, our dignity, when we hide behind the mask of bureaucracy? Which is more demeaning, to ask for the help of neighbors or to depend on the impersonal and anonymous gifts of government.

Never the less, you must not have read my piece carefully (in my experience, liberals often do not having decided beforehand to reject anything a conservative suggests). I proposed a universal health care system. I stated we have come to consider health care a basic human right and we therefore have to develop a system to provide it. I proceeded to offer a plan (which by the way is closer to Hillary’s proposal than Barack’s, not to mention McCain). In my plan everyone would be required to have health insurance and thereby retain control over his or her own health care. Everyone would be required to accept responsibility but with government assistance for those who need it.

Finally, do you believe universal health care in socialist countries is comprehensive health care? My minimal readings suggest socialist systems provide an inferior quality of care in many respects. Not everyone has access to the latest treatments, but there is no reason to make milk-carton pleas for assistance because in addition to the cost of the treatment they would have to raise enough money for the trip to America (or elsewhere) to get the needed treatment. When bureaucracies say, “we do not do that here” it is almost never done.

Universally accessible and comprehensive health care -- “YES;”
Socialized health care --“NO!”

I guess that makes me unwanted in both parties, but maybe the Republicans have room for one more maverick.

Lisa Campagna said...

"Is it less “charity” for people to receive financial assistance through the government? In one sense, I think it is. Do we not all lose some of our humanity, our dignity, when we hide behind the mask of bureaucracy? Which is more demeaning, to ask for the help of neighbors or to depend on the impersonal and anonymous gifts of government."

Admittedly, I don't know enough about politics to know for sure what i'm talking about. :-)

Not sure if you were specifically addressing healthcare, or if you were talking more generally about government assistance, or perhaps including socialized healthcare under the same umbrella as welfare, etc. In either scenario, though, I don't know that I'd see it as charity. If I'm paying into a system (via taxes deducted from my sad weekly paycheck), I don't see it as charity to benefit from that system.

I'm not sure how that logic follows through with regard to programs such as welfare, as I wouldn't need their assistance if I were supporting them with deductions from a sad weekly paycheck. And I'm sure there are many people who don't view/use government assistance responsibly and so leech more from the programs than they contribute. hm.

I guess it's never a great, dignified feeling to need help; to me, though, it's more "dignified" (for lack of a better word) to seek help from the programs I help to support, versus relying on other individuals who also support the programs which are in place to help me when I need it.

Specifically with regard to healthcare, I get fuzzy on how it would be better or worse to pay required healthcare premiums to either insurance companies or to the government.

For the record.. I SO appreciate you breaking down your thoughts on this blog. While it comes through that you're firm in your beliefs, I haven't felt you've tried to convert anyone.

This has been a ridiculously long comment. :)

Jackie Johns said...

I am not against all government assistance. For me my response to Cheryl is a philosophical question. What are the effects of divorcing our human needs from community context? I certainly do not believe that in a just society people have to beg for health care. But the truth is that most of the jugs placed in checkout lines are placed there by concerned neighbors, not by the individuals themselves. It seems to me that this sends a different message ("this community loves this person"), than receiving a comparable gift from the government. Further, this difference affects our self-perception.

Social Security is fundamentally an insurance program that affords benefits to its participants. Certainly there is nothing demeaning about claiming insurance benefits. It is different to be the recipient of social welfare; provisions are drawn from the public tax pool. (Granted liberals view all taxes as part of a social welfare insurance program.) As a conservative, I see a problem when citizens feel entitled to provisions without having fully participated.

Concerning the difference between being required to buy insurance and being required to participate in a government health insurance program, the answer for me is control and efficiency. With private insurance I have more control over my health care. Competition between companies provides the most cost efficient system.

Phil Hoover, Chicago said...

I have insurance through my employer, and it is STILL outrageously expensive.

I lived in NORWAY for two years, and the "socialized" healthcare (if one could call it that) was MARVELOUS....

Of course, we Americans are so accustomed to ABUSING our healthcare systems, that we need some MAJOR overhauling from the patient to the ER...and all points in between.

I should know...I've worked in two hospitals. And people abuse the "system" in both places...