Thursday, February 07, 2008

Politics and "Purity"

John McCain is the Rebublican nominee for the Presidency, given that Mitt Romney has pulled out. This is a terrible defeat for principled conservativism, which has lost control of the party. It is not that I loved Romney, but that the GOP could not present a Reagan-style candidate with legs. Some, of course, will rejoice in this "centrism," but half-hearted conservativism combined with elements of full-strength liberalism (insecure borders; American legal rights for enemy combatants; heavy and progressive taxation) is nothing to rejoice in.

However, James Dobson is dead wrong. This is no time to make a statement of "being true to conscience" by withholding support from McCain because he supports stem cell research, is opposed the marriage amendment, and so on. The alternative to McCain will do all that, plus much more, such as jeopardizing our national defense. The left is utterly incapable of recognizing the Islamic threat for what it is. See David Horowitz's Unholy Alliance on this.

Politics is the art of the possible, which require painful compromises. I will vote for John McCain; I will clench my teeth when I do so; but the alternative is unthinkable. The "moral purity" shown by refusing to vote for McCain plays into the hands of either the inexperienced and rhetorically overinflated Omama or the experienced and utterly corrupt and dangerous Hillary Clinton. Either an Obama/Clinton or Clinton/Obama ticket means:

1. Socialized medicine.
2. Internationalism--"talking" to Iran other terrorist states, which cannot be trusted--and the weakening of national defense.
3. The appointement of liberal judges to the Supreme Court, who view it as a "living document" and dispense with authorial intent. There would then be no chance of overturning Roe Vs. Wade in my lifetime.
4. Embracing radical policies on global warming that will hurt our economy and take money aways from other areas where it could do good. It is far from certain that global warming is (a) occuring (b) if occuring that it is man made (c) if it is man made that it can be significantly rectified by human effort (d) that the human effort would be worth it overall, given the vast expendsure of money and economic fallout. See the chapter on global warming in Tom Bethel's excellent book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Science.

So, this election will be come down to "the evil of two lessers." But nevertheless, the lesser of two evils is John McCain.

58 comments:

ST said...

Well said, Dr. Groothuis! I am disappointed as well, but it will be much worse for our country (and the unborn, in particular) if Clinton or Obama is elected. It is sad but necessary to vote for the "not Hillary/Obama" candidate, instead of the man for his own reasons.

It seems that people were either ignorant about McCain, or did not share in conservative principles. I think the conservatives in the Republican party need to do some thinking about how this happened, and what investment can be made prior to the next election to change things. People need to be educated.

Thank you again for your thoughts.

Blessings,

Steve

Peter M. Head said...

This "Socialized medicine" that you object to, is that anything to do with ensuring that poor people get access to decent medical care?

Jeremy Pierce said...

To be fair, McCain has abandoned what little support of embryonic stem cell research he once had. He only supported using stem cells from embryos who were going to be killed anyway, which is morally akin to allowing organ donation from executed innocent adults whose execution you aren't able to prevent. He's now no longer pushing for that given the viability of other methods of attaining stem cells. Here's his official statement (from here):

Stem cell research offers tremendous hope for those suffering from a variety of deadly diseases - hope for both cures and life-extending treatments. However, the compassion to relieve suffering and to cure deadly disease cannot erode moral and ethical principles.

For this reason, John McCain opposes the intentional creation of human embryos for research purposes. To that end, Senator McCain voted to ban the practice of "fetal farming," making it a federal crime for researchers to use cells or fetal tissue from an embryo created for research purposes. Furthermore, he voted to ban attempts to use or obtain human cells gestated in animals. Finally, John McCain strongly opposes human cloning and voted to ban the practice, and any related experimentation, under federal law.

As president, John McCain will strongly support funding for promising research programs, including amniotic fluid and adult stem cell research and other types of scientific study that do not involve the use of human embryos.

Where federal funds are used for stem cell research, Senator McCain believes clear lines should be drawn that reflect a refusal to sacrifice moral values and ethical principles for the sake of scientific progress, and that any such research should be subject to strict federal guidelines.

Jeremy Pierce said...

I did a little more digging, and it seems to be a little more complicated. My suspicion is that he's in the process of changing his view, still wants to defend his initial position as the right one at the time, and moving toward not using so-called "spares" but not yet opposing such use. Sam Brownback is really working on him, and it seems to be having some effect for him to have taken this plank out of his platform, even if he hasn't yet put in one against it.

The Gyrovague said...

I to was appaled to hear Dobson say he would not vote. He said it was his statement as a private citizen, but men in such powerful places do not have that luxury.

I hoped and prayed for Thompson to make it, but he did not. I will buck up and probably vote McCain, I see no other alternative on the ticket.

GB said...

We have Mike Huckabee and all his supporters (and all those who continued to support candidates who clearly had no shot at winning the nomination) to thank that we don't have a more conservative candidate.

Perhaps we need a repeat of the Carter years to have another Reagan era. Maybe that's what would be in the long term best interest for the country. Maybe that's what Huckabee was thinking.

Sarah Scott said...

Dr. Groothuis,

Amen. The left is moving farther to the left and the right is moving towards the center. Nevertheless, voting for a moderate (McCain) is a vastly safer bet.

Tom Hinkle said...

I much prefer a candidate who thinks for him or herself and does the right thing (which is not always the "right-wing" thing) than someone who feels they have to conform to some kind of arbitrary list of what's considered either "conservative" or "liberal."

BJ the Tornado said...

*sigh*

Things like this make me so sad. This on-going strong dislike of McCain is, to me, simply shocking and a sad statement about the state of American politics, particularly politics of the right.

I am very glad you will still vote for Mccain Dr. G -- I am in utter disbelief at the likes of Dr. Dobson over this one.

I strongly recommend this article by Roland Martin that I more or less agree with on the matter. He makes the case that conservatives dislike of McCain makes no sense (exactly right).

Check it out:

http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/02/06/roland.martin/index.html

Martin has a great line:
"Listening to the irrational and hysterical response of conservatives to the presidential candidacy of Sen. John McCain would be laughable if it wasn't so serious."


Let's review:

-- McCain is strongly and ardently pro-life, and always has been.
(That was a very recent and convenient change of heart for Romney, need I remind you).

-- McCain is very strong on national defense, has excellent military experience, has tremendous experience in foreign policy, and is a skilled diplomat and statesmen (something, I am sad to say, we cannot say about our CURRENT CINC).

-- McCain has said that he wants to keep the Bush tax cuts permanent. (This is something I disagree with, but your types should like it).

-- McCain has never been for "open borders" -- please don't lower yourself to such flagrant falsehoods. He is (and always has been) for a very strong & secure border. The problem of then what to do with and how to handle our 12 Mil plus illegal immigrant population that is already here is a very tricky problem. McCain is looking for humane, intelligent, and (above all) workable answers to this vexing problem.

-- McCain never said we should extend full American citizen legal rights to enemy combatants. McCain argued (passionately and rightly so) that we need to abide by such things as our own constitution and the geneva convention. Our own constitution makes it clear that ALL peoples have a right to habeas corpus, not just American Citizens. This Cheney-Rumsfeild-Bush made up term, "enemy combatant", where we can hold people for literally YEARS without charging them is wrong -- it's not the kind of thing the US should do, it's not who we are. We need to either call them POWs, or charge them as criminals. McCain is dead right on this one.

-- McCain has never been for "heavy & progressive taxation". If you look at the facts of his record and not Sean Hannity or Rush's spin, you'll see he has a long and solid record of fiscal responsibility.

Why is that so many on the Right hate McCain? It really makes no sense and I cannot figure it out. It's as if they WANT the deep polarization and antagonism to continue in our country and McCain is too level-headed to be the guy to continue that for them. So he *GASP* reaches across the aisle at times and works for bipartisan accomplishments for the betterment of our country... this is a bad thing???

I don't get it.

Go McCain! He could be a very good thing for our country.
(And this is coming from a guy who strongly disagrees with him on Iraq).

Marty "the fly" Rosenbloom said...

Pastor Groothius:

I agree. I'm angry so forgive this rant. Poor people should not be helped by those of us who work. The Bible tells us "a worker is worthy of his wages!" and just because some lazy person can't pay (because s/he doesn't work) for health care doesn't mean that we should help. I'm glad that you echo this sentiment.

Stand strong against the sentimentalism of liberalism and pray, instead for those who are poor. Free handouts only teach them how not to fish.

I'm tired of liberals. They control universities and media. Just because we haven't gone to good schools, doesn't mean that we're dumb. In other words, having a sub-par education doesn't mean that our political views are any less nuanced or principled. That whole "mail-order" degree thing that you are accused of is a bit overblown. Sure Oregon isn't a great school, but it is better than University of Phoenix.

Sarah Scott said...

"Marty",

Your satire is absurd, getting old and is accomplishing nothing. Give it up.

Kyl Schalk said...

Dr. Groothuis,

Thanks for that great post.

Marty,

Please raise the level of your dialogue. If you don’t, your comments are not worth reading. Try to make convincing arguments. If you articulate convincing arguments, your comments will be more interesting. We want to read sophisticated arguments. I’m not trying to be mean. Since you seem to be enjoying yourself, we are probably going to be reading your posts for awhile:-(

Sirfab said...

Courage everybody!

Coming from eight years of Bush, Cheney, Gonzales, Rumsfeld, DeLay, Santorum, Hyde, Coburn, Frist... (I can stop here, can't I?) I think we are going to survive a Clinton, Obama, or even a McCain presidency quite well.

We have had to survive six years of squandering lives and money in Iraq, Katrina and the loss of New Orleans, a president who did not act to secure borders or airports even after reading a PDB entitled "Bin Laden determined to strike in the United States", who neglected to confront global warming until finally he caved (in words) after a panel or former U.S. generals highlighted the national security implication of global warming, who all but repealed Fourth Amendment rights, and who used signing statements as a replacement for the unconstitutional line-item veto.

Universal healthcare, high-level discussions with foreign officials, subsidizing research for environmentally-friendly energy, and even a John McCain presidency, are hardly going to break a nation that survived a gang of incompetents and aspiring dictators.

Danny Vice said...

Conservatives are beginning to amaze me in their inability to see what's really at stake here.

This election is about more than McCain and his inability to follow conservative principals - and that has been proven true a hundred times.

But how is handing the whole country over to liberals a suitable alternative to McCain?

There is a serious difference between McCain and a pure bread liberal who is bent on destroying ALL conservative values as well as our country with them.

Anti McCain commentators such as Rush Limbaugh have ventured the idea that perhaps we should sit this election out and let the Dems have a term in office, claiming it might pave the way for a future shot at a candidate he and others will like in four years.

Imagine the damage our country will endure if Democrats control all three branches of government for 4 to 8 years.

This would give liberals what they will treat as a clear sign from America that is it ready to move sharply to the left. Not slightly to the left.

My daughters will come of age in the next 4 to 8 years, and I'd rather have 50% of McCains earn than 0% of a destruction bent liberal's ear.

Cherry picking our candidate is exactly what got us INTO this mess, and if conservatives aren’t careful, they may throw the entire country into a liberal spin that can take a decade(s) to pull back out of.

There is no such thing as a quick recovery from 4 years of liberalism unchecked. We may be facing what will take years and years of damage to undo. What’s more, there’s no guarantee that it WILL be undone. Have conservatives completely forgotten Roe v. Wade and other extremely important issues? We need an allie on every core issue we can get.

Questioning McCain was right and highly useful for a time and a season. Many of us wish we had acted sooner to support Romney or Huck....

But staying home on election day allows liberals a pass to capture all THREE branches of Government. Do you want your kids growing up in that kind of environment?

I'm not asking anyone to sacrifice their own belief or convictions, but we have a serious serious problem here, that we can't afford to fall asleep on.

Give it some thought, friends.

Danny Vice
http://weeklyvice.blogspot.com
http://thalunatic.blogspot.com

Kyl Schalk said...

Danny,

Thanks for your energetic post. Imagine if a supporter of slavery was trying to become president. We must vigorously refute people that try to minimize the elective abortion issue. The abortion holocaust is an immeasurably important issue. Never let these people minimize elective abortion. If they try to minimize it, refute them with even stronger arguments, more energy, and more perseverance. Gerard V. Bradley wrote, “…none can match McCain’s record of opposing abortion.”

Sarah Scott said...

sirfab,

Thanks for the upbeat exhortation! However, for what it is worth, a concern that I have is that which I have heard called "value erosion".

Value erosion can be seen when an idea, a proposition or even an entire worldview which is considered extreme is introduced and most people respond with so much shock that it is soundly defeated. The next time it is brought up, people have heard it before so they are not quite so shocked. It may still be thrown out. Later, it surfaces again and most are not suprised at all and may even give in. Each additional exposure increases the likelihood of those originally opposed compromising their values to accomodate the new "not-so-extreme-anymore" concept. The original values have been "eroded" by the persistent lapping of the waves of extremism.

It is therefore doubtful in my mind that politicians who push the value envelope will end their term without having dulled the public's reaction to what they originally had the sense to strongly oppose.

Tom said...

Sarah,

I'm probably just being slow, but I'm not seeing the connection between Sir Fab's (IMHO dead-on) post and your discussion of value erosion. Are you suggesting that McCain will somehow lead to value erosion? If that's right, which values do you think McCain might erode? If that's not right, I'm really lost. (Wouldn't be the first time!)

Sarah Scott said...

Tom,

Sorry for the confusion. My response was because to merely "survive" an administration is not enough. We must make certain that we are standing firm in our convictions, and are not allowing the current to pull us out where we originally did not want to be. The fact that McCain will be the Republican nominee proves a definate shift within that party. However, Obama and Hillary are SO extreme in their views on human rights, dignity and life that they would threaten to erode values even further and faster.

Tom said...

One other thing: I'd be interested in seeing what Doug and others who dislike McCain have to say about BJ Tornado's comments. I'm with the Tornado; I don't get why conservatives have such a hard time with McCain. And how a conservative could have preferred the chameleon Romney to McCain is really beyond me.

Tom said...

Sarah,

Thanks for the response. That helps me understand what you were getting at.

It won't surprise you to learn that I don't think H.Clinton and Obama are "SO extreme" on human rights and dignity. In my view, our current president is the one who has an extreme (and historically unAmerican) view on these matters.

Kyl Schalk said...

Sarah,

Thanks for the clarification, Sarah. You seem to be talking about how society has become morally velocitized.
http://www.str.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5456

I hold that people like Obama and Clinton will disastrously speed up the culture's decline in values. People like Obama and Clinton will make our morally velocitized culture far, far worse. McCain is clearly the best.


Tom (above) writes, “It won't surprise you to learn that I don't think H.Clinton and Obama are "SO extreme" on human rights and dignity.” As if this (the following link is an abortion picture) http://prolifetraining.com/AbortionPictures/11-Weeks.htm is not a human rights problem!! When people like Tom make comments like that, pro-lifers know they have a lot of educating to do.

Jake said...

Funny Kyl. When people like you consistently seem to ignore (in your posts) EVERY other issue besides abortion, it makes me think that there is a lot of education to be done as well.

Kyl Schalk said...

Notice how Jake completely ignored the abortion picture. That tells us a lot about the thinking of some of the people in our society. This is one of my favorite quotes from Greg Koukl:

“During the slavery debate, both in this country and at the turn of the century in England, the issues were framed in the same way: choice, the government shouldn't be in the position of legislating morality, the government shouldn't tell us how to run our private lives. Yet there a human being clearly was at issue. Even then when you had a living, breathing human being standing there staring back, they still could argue that way. I'm not a bit surprised that it could be done with an unseen infant that is growing out of sight in the womb of its mother.”

Below are some ways to show the ignorance. I wrote these examples out to show how bad they sound:

“You act as if slavery is much more important than many others issues. We should be talking about other issues at the expense of the (small) slavery issue.”

“You act as if elective abortion is much more important than many other issues. We should be talking about other issues at the expense of the (small) elective abortion issue. It isn’t like unborn human beings are intrinsically valuable like a three year old child. If unborn human beings were intrinsically valuable like a three year old, then it would be a huge, huge problem that millions of them have been killed. It would actually be more important than many other issues!”

Jake said...

Kyl,

Since you don't know me or my position on abortion, perhaps you should refrain from statements like "notice how Jake completely ignored the abortion picture."

For the record, I think abortion is horrible. I want to see it end. It is definitely an important moral issue. So is the decision to go to war, and the innocent people who are hurt in such a decision. The millions of people who die each year from hunger and preventable disease are an important moral issue. The genocide currently occurring in Darfur is an important moral issue. How we deal with poor people in our own country and others is an important moral issue. How we address the problem of unwanted children when we prevent someone from having an abortion is also an important moral issue.

So please, Kyl, refrain from implying that I don't care about abortion. I definitely do. But I also firmly believe that it is NOT the ONLY important moral issue, and therefore it is not the only issue I consider when deciding which candidate I should support.

Kyl Schalk said...

Jake,

People like Obama and Clinton hold that elective abortion should be allowed! They hold that slaughtering millions of intrinsically valuable human beings through elective abortion should be allowed. Since these things still don’t seem to be obvious to a lot of people, we have even more evidence of our culture’s current ignorance. That is why the following question is crucial:

What if a potential president supported slavery of black people?

If one truly understands what the unborn is, one can have a far, far better understanding of what should be done to get rid of the large-scale slaughter of the unborn.

Sirfab said...

Once again, everyone on this blog talks about abortion, and candidates' views on abortion, as if abortion were the only true measure of a president's (or a politician's) morality and the direction in which he or she will take the country from a moral point of view. This is false, and it hurts the cause of those who would like to see abortion be reduced (it won't be eliminated, even if Roe v Wade is reversed).

Regardless of George Bush's personal views on abortion, and of how his nomination of SCJs Alito and Roberts may play out in the long run, I cannot think of any administration that has done more to destroy every other aspect of collective morality and social justice in my lifetime. I think of what victims of Katrina had to endure and of how many people needlessly died because, however keen Mr. Bush's sense of morality may be on abortion, he had no sense of urgency about the role of federal government in providing help. (He may be excused for having such a detached view of the tragedy. He is his mother's son, and it was his mother who said, "[...] so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them" about the evacuees in the Houston Astrodome). His appointment of cronies to posts of high responsibility, even those that had national security implications, was immoral. His rush to war with Iraq was immoral, costing billions and lost lives. His promises of bringing to justice anyone involved in outing Valerie Plame (whatever you think of her role in the CIA) were empty (he rushed to commute Scooter Libby's sentence) and immoral. His budgets were immoral (as many, even some Evangelicals, contend). His favoritism towards oil companies in shaping energy policy was immoral, and dangerous for national security. And I could go on and on.

Yes, Mr. Bush's views on abortion are different (in name) than Mr. Clinton's were. But even under President Clinton abortion steadily declined, as one would expect to happen in times of economic prosperity and confidence in the future, regardless of Monicagate and the blue dress.

I share, to a point, all of your views on the importance of reversing abortion, just not through legislation only (which ebbs and flows) but through education. But, as Dr. Groothuis put it, politics operates in the realm of the possible, not of platonic ideals. Therefore it is important that people learn to see the whole picture, instead of a detail, as important as it might be. Without a big picture view of morality, the changes we can bring into effect will be short-lived and easily reversible.

Look at things from another perspective: whatever you think of Barak Obama (I am not too sure about Hilary Clinton myself), he seems reasonable and open to different ideas. He seems more interested in effecting positive change, than he appears to be attached to an ideology. Think about the good he could do, the unity he could foster, the peace and prosperity he would strive to bring about, and pray that he sees the issue of abortion for what it really is. Why, write to the White House and let him know. Without enmity, with grace.

Voting for McCain, would not be the disaster that voting for eight years of Bush under false pretenses has been. His views on abortion are generally (not entirely) pro-life (he does not support the repeal of Roe v. Wade in the short term, while in the past he said he supported a constitutional amendment to ban abortion, which is an appalling view of what issues the constitution should address), he supports an expansion of federal stem cell research funding, he is hawkish in foreign policy, and would wage permanent war against those he perceives to be a national security threat without qualms for innocent lives lost (which are a byproduct of every war). Historian and informal McCain advisor Niall Ferguson said of him that if the U.S. has an imperialist class, then John McCain sits at its head.

I beg you to consider all of the above when you vote. Evangelicals alone, Christians alone, cannot change the course of this nation on abortion. Public opinion often matters more than politics. You need everyone on board if you want to accomplish permanent change. But every time you speak of morality as if abortion was the only issue that matters, you alienate many who, like me, see morality in a broader sense, and you ultimately hurt the cause that is so important to us all.

Sirfab said...

Howdy, Dr Groothuis.

Of the four things you list as grave threats in your post if a Democratic candidate wins the WH, one is socialized medicine, the other is "embracing radical policies on global warming that will hurt our economy and take money aways from other areas where it could do good."

So I would like to ask you a few things:

What are other areas where money could be better spent than on radical environmental policies (or socialized medicine)?

Do you allow for the possibility that radical changes in energy policy would serve to stimulate our sagging economy more than sending each American $600 back every election year, and help us to achieve less dependence on foreign oil, with the geopolitical advantages that would ensue?

What do you think of the fact that we have spent half a trillion dollars to date on an elective war (there were/are many enemies that present a higher danger for national security that Iraq did when we attacked it), and that the cost of the war, by the time we are done if John McCain is elected, could surpass 1 trillion dollars?

Is federal money better spent on guaranteeing that no one in a civilized nation goes without healthcare, on being good stewards of the environment, or on waging permanent Orwellian wars?

What is a moral budget for you?

I think you owe us an explanation, since you make such radical statements against liberals and even against John McCain.

Thank you.

Kyl Schalk said...

Jake,

(continued from above)
If a potential president thought that slavery of black people should be allowed, I don’t think people would like that person’s views very much. We are talking about a gigantic understatement here.


Sirfab,

Sirfab writes, “But every time you speak of morality as if abortion was the only issue that matters, you alienate many who, like me, see morality in a broader sense, and you ultimately hurt the cause that is so important to us all.”

There were 1.2 million abortions in the United States in 2005. Let’s say that a person said this:

“But every time you speak of morality as if the killing of 1.2 million three year old children was the only issue that matters, you alienate many who, like me, see morality in a broader sense, and you ultimately hurt the cause that is so important to us all.” The aforementioned quote doesn’t sound too good does it? Pro-lifers don’t hold that elective abortion is the only issue that matters, but pro-lifers do hold that it is one of the absolutely crucial issues of our time. Sirfab’s approach is clearly incorrect. We must constantly and respectfully “trot out a toddler” with people like Sirfab. http://prolifetraining.com/Articles/FiveMinute3.htm

Sirfab said...

Kyl, I respect your conviction.

But let's say instead that a person said this:

“every time you speak of morality as if the squandering of a trillion dollars over Iraq that could have been spent to end poverty in the world..."

or

"every time you choose to squander a trillion dollar in Iraq instead of saving hundreds of thousands from genocide in Darfur..."

or

"every time you choose engage in elective wars which cost at least one hundred thousand lives between civilians and soldiers..."

or

"every time the American President pledges $35 million dollar in aid to help countries that have just lost 250,000 people and where millions have been displaced by the deadliest tsunami in history..."

See what I mean? Playing rhetorical tricks or trotting out toddlers does not buy you any good will.

Clearly, Kyl, your approach is incorrect.

Kyl Schalk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kyl Schalk said...

Sirfab,

http://www.abortionno.org/Resources/fastfacts.html

There are reasons the abortion holocaust is an enormous issue. People like Obama and Clinton will only make things far worse. The “trot out the toddler” still seems to be flying right past you (try to use your imagination on this one), Sirfab. As our culture continues to learn more about the issue, it will become far more difficult for you to teach the kind of approach you are encouraging for this crucial issue. 45 million is incomprehensible. If one doesn’t understand how problematic a 45 million type number is, one must be terribly blinded by his or her culture.

Best.

http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_induced_abortion.html
The following is from the Guttmacher Institute:

• In 2005, 1.21 million abortions were performed, down from 1.31 million in 2000. From 1973 through 2005, more than 45 million legal abortions occurred.[2]

Kyl Schalk said...

Sirfab,

You seem to like to discuss Bush a lot. However, what about the actions that Clinton or Obama would do? Obama and Clinton will (in the long run) make the 45 million (slaughtered human beings) grow larger than you could ever imagine. 45 million is a lot. We have to understand that Obama and Clinton think that killing the unborn for elective reasons should be allowed. Although you claim that I’m playing rhetorical tricks, the 45 million is there for everybody to see (i.e., there is not any tricks here). This is not rocket science. The lesser of two evils is clearly John McCain.

Best.

Sirfab said...

Sorry Kyl. You want the moral high ground on this issue, but I won't concede it.

As I said, I respect your conviction, but I decry the claim that "people like Obama and Clinton will only make things far worse": It is partisan, unfounded, and irrational.

As I already said, abortions numbers decreased steadily since the Carter presidency, and that includes a remarkable decrease under the much loathed (by the right) Bill Clinton. I am convinced that abortion numbers will keep dropping under either Democratic candidate in the White House, because comprehensive social policies are needed to improve social policy and living conditions for ALL Americans and for citizens of the world in general. Prosperity and education are key in reducing the demand for abortion, not obstinate ideology.

I am also familiar with the Guttmacher Institute, and I link to it from my own blog. In fact, I will pass on a couple of links here.

Adding It Up (this is a pdf)

Abstinence-only

As you can see from both links, taking a purely ideological approach to the abortion is self-defeating.

Kyl Schalk said...

Sirfab,

Dr. Groothuis wrote, “The appointement of liberal judges to the Supreme Court, who view it as a "living document" and dispense with authorial intent. There would then be no chance of overturning Roe Vs. Wade in my lifetime.”

Everybody knows how important the Justices of the Supreme Court are for the unborn. As if Clinton/Obama’s appointment of liberal judges is going to contribute to a major, major reduction of the 1.21 million that are being killed per year. We are looking at killings on the largest-scale conceivable. We need reductions that are far greater than the type you mentioned. Clinton/Obama are not going to contribute to the start of a major, major reduction in the intentional killing of innocent human beings (i.e., the unborn).

Sirfab wrote, “As I said, I respect your conviction, but I decry the claim that "people like Obama and Clinton will only make things far worse": It is partisan, unfounded, and irrational.”

As if it is partisan, unfounded, and irrational to vote for a person that will contribute to the start of a major, major change for the unborn. We are (once again) talking about 45 million slaughtered people. These things should be glaringly obvious to anybody. However, our culture is still very confused.

Clinton/Obama are not the type of leaders that will contribute to the aforementioned positive start that will make a difference for the 1.21 million people that continue to be killed every year.

Kyl Schalk said...

(continued from above)

Sirfab writes, “As you can see from both links, taking a purely ideological approach to the abortion is self-defeating.”

Below is the approach we should take:

We should take the best approach (i.e., the approach that contributes to major changes). We need more than the relatively small changes that Sirfab seems to be talking about.

Sirfab said...

Supreme Court appointments are important indeed. Unfortunately, conservative justices will issue other rulings that will do much harm to America. You will say that it does not matter, that anything the court does will be outweighed by the importance of reversing Roe v Wade. It will save the lives of 1.21 million children, won't it? No, it won't.

Assume a Republican appoints a conservative justice, and that justice is instrumental in reversing Roe v Wade: What will really happen? The reversal of Roe v Wade will transfer the power to legislate on abortion back to the states. Liberal states will NEVER ban abortion. They would rather secede, and might very well do it. Some conservative states may try to ban abortion, and many states already have laws that make it near impossible to have an abortion, but an outright ban goes too far for most Americans, including me and at least the good citizens of South Dakota, who in 2006 rejected an attempt by the legislature to do just that. Women who live in states where abortion is all but illegal will still get it in states that allow it. Those who cannot will find a way to end the pregnancy anyway. At what cost?

The likely answer is that a conservative Supreme Court will also be instrumental in limiting the rights of individuals versus corporations, for example in the area of workers rights, or equal pay for women. It will limit the right of individuals to appeal against corporations by reforming tort law (not all lawsuits are as frivolous as corporate America would have you believe). It might extending the power of the president over congress in times of war. It may reverse some of the desegregation laws that have an impact on the quality of education for inner city students (this has already been done, by the way, by the current right-leaning Supreme Court). It will likely limit state's powers to demand cleaner air and water for their citizens. It will rule in favor of more media deregulation and on, and on, and on…

Abortion is a fundamental issue for many voters. The problem is that no judicial appointment alone will end abortion. But it might put a stop to progress in the lives of those individuals who have had the fortune/misfortune to make it out of the womb already. Think well before you vote, and before your principled, one-issue-above-all stand wreaks havoc on the nation.

Sirfab said...

By the way, Kyl, thanks for staying civil throughout our discussion. We disagree, but in peace.

This blog sparks high emotions, and sometimes people get carried away, including yours truly. So I appreciate your attitude.

And thanks, Dr. Groothuis, for providing such a stimulating forum.

(I only hope you will find the time to answer my earlier post on spending. If not, perhaps you can give me your answers when we meet to see Expelled!)

Fab

Jake said...

Sirfab - I always appreciate reading your comments on this board. Thanks for your well-reasoned discussion and for presenting another view - one that I think deserves to be heard and considered.

Kyl - I have no idea what your introduction of slavery has to do with this discussion - it has no bearing whatsoever. I've continually said that yes, abortion is an important issue. But you have never once addressed my assertion that other issues are important as well. I would love to hear if there are any other issues you consider when choosing a candidate to support. If not, I would respectfully suggest that you consider the very real possibility that your view of important issues is far too narrow.

I agree with Sirfab - the assertion that we will see drastically more abortions under Clinton or Obama is completely unfounded. I'd love to see some sort of support for that statement, but I just don't think you can provide it. Yes, they do support keeping elective abortion legal (and no, I do not agree with that particular position). But it seems to me that is supporting the status quo - I'm not sure how that would increase abortions. And I have seen both of them discuss their desire to see LESS elective abortions. Perhaps we are better off (as people like Jim Wallis have suggested) working with one another to drastically reduce the number of abortions by working against contributing factors like poverty.

Sirfab said...

Jake, I agree with you completely.

Peace, brother.

Kyl Schalk said...

Sirbab,

Best.

Jake,

“Perhaps we are better off (as people like Jim Wallis have suggested) working with one another to drastically reduce the number of abortions by working against contributing factors like poverty.”

The above quote sounds like ending abortion with a group hug. In addition, the comparison of slavery to the killing of unborn human beings shows the magnitude of the issue. The comparison has been widely used.

Best.

Kyl Schalk said...

I accidentally wrote Sirbab above, Sirfab (typing error).

Jake said...

Kyl,

The comparison does little but over-sensationalize the issue. Its a red herring, and adds little to the discussion. Is anybody here saying that abortion doesn't matter? I'm certainly not - which I think I've made clear in my comments.

Ending abortion with a group hug? Clever, but not real helpful, although it allows you to dismiss the suggestion without considering it at all. By all means, please continue trying to legislate it out of existence - that's worked really well over the past 30+ years, hasn't it? Seriously, Kyl - instead of focusing on the differences between political conservatives and liberals on this issue, it would be far more productive to focus on the things most agree with - drastically reducing the number of elective abortions which occur by dealing with root causes. Add to that the church (and others, with respect to SirFab) actually changing hearts on an individual level (as opposed to constantly trying to legislate people into agreement with us), and I think we would have a much greater recipe for success than what we have seen since Roe v. Wade, when the majority of the focus has been on legislating abortion of of existence.

Kyl, once again you have completely ignored my entire point - that abortion, while important, is not the ONLY issue which should concern Christians when they go to the voting booths. I suppose I should take that silence as a refusal to consider this idea, but I'd still love to hear an argument. But I'll admit, I'm starting to feel a little like I'm beating my head against a brick wall here.

Marty "the fly" Rosenbloom said...

Please stop attacking me.

"As if it is partisan, unfounded, and irrational to vote for a person that will contribute to the start of a major, major change for the unborn. We are (once again) talking about 45 million slaughtered people. These things should be glaringly obvious to anybody. However, our culture is still very confused."

Kyl: Do you believe that life begins at conception?

If so, why don't you count birth control (e.g. the pill) as abortive? Sometimes (we don't know exactly how often) conception occurs but is unable to attach.

Also, is one abortion because of birth control acceptable? If not, would you outlaw birth control?

Please answer these questions directly.

Doug Groothuis said...

SirFab asks:


So I would like to ask you a few things:

"What are other areas where money could be better spent than on radical environmental policies (or socialized medicine)?"

I don't want much governmental money spent elsewhere. I believe in minimal state government. The basic purpose of the state is to enforce justice, not redistribute wealth. See Romans 13:1-7.

Let people keep more of their money and use it as they see fit (within the law).

"Do you allow for the possibility that radical changes in energy policy would serve to stimulate our sagging economy more than sending each American $600 back every election year, and help us to achieve less dependence on foreign oil, with the geopolitical advantages that would ensue?"

We need more independence from foreign oil. Let the market produce more energy efficient cars and let American's be more responsible in using gas. Moreover, drill at ANWAR (in Alaska) and tap into that oil. Also ramp up nuclear power; it is safe and efficient.

What do you think of the fact that we have spent half a trillion dollars to date on an elective war (there were/are many enemies that present a higher danger for national security that Iraq did when we attacked it), and that the cost of the war, by the time we are done if John McCain is elected, could surpass 1 trillion dollars?

Afganistan was a require war. Iraq is tougher to call, but since we are there we cannot abandon it to terrorists. We need to stay the course or be worse off.

Is federal money better spent on guaranteeing that no one in a civilized nation goes without healthcare, on being good stewards of the environment, or on waging permanent Orwellian wars?

Few go without health care now, without socialized medicine. Many refuse to take out insurance even if they can afford it. Changes need to happen in health care, but socialized medicine--with its gigantic bureaucracy and chronic waits and shortages--is not the answer.

What is a moral budget for you

A balanced budget, if at all possible.

Sirfab said...

Jake: I don't want to gang up on Kyl here, but I could have written your last post myself.

Perhaps Kyl would do well to read God's Politics (Jim Wallis) to learn a socially progressive religious perspective. As you and I have both said, achieving change requires changing hearts and minds, in combination with introducing restrictive legislation.

Kyl: we have not even touched upon an aspect of the abortion issue which is very important to the majority of Americans. You do understand that, as adamant as you are about abolishing abortion rights, a large section of the population sees abortion as an integral component of sexual freedom, don't you? Bear with me, please.

We are men, and we are in the privileged position of carrying the seed necessary to procreation, without having to carry the baby ourselves. Our natural instinct, which may or may not be tempered by moral consideration or religious beliefs, is to spread that seed. We are designed, biologically, to act as inseminators. And, historically, some men have no great regard for the consequences that this part of their nature has for women, or have been overwhelmed by instinct).

Prior to the extensive availability of contraception, women were at the mercy of men in terms of the consequences of sexuality. Sexual freedom for women is a fairly recent conquest in most societies, and abortion has been regarded as an indispensable component of a woman's sexual freedom. (With proper contraception, it is far from indispensable, but that is a more recent development).

When religious conservatives fight not just against abortion, but also for abstinence-only education (which has been shown not to work as well as its supporters pretend and poses collateral health dangers) instead of comprehensive sexual education, or to prevent access to vaccination against HPV or to the day after pill, which many consider a form of abortion (a long philosophical discussion on intent and a biological one on fertilization and embryology would be required), many people naturally push back against limiting access to abortion, because they see the fight of religious conservatives as a fundamentalist attempt to control sexuality and morality, based on very restrictive religious moral standards, which many do not adhere to.

Much as religious conservatives would like a world of monogamous, committed, and married couples, the world’s view of sexuality and relationships has changed irreversibly, and a degree of sexual promiscuity is accepted by a large sector of society. That is fact, and wishing otherwise, though not illegal, is anachronistic.

Going back to abortion, then, it is important in my opinion that those who would like to see it limited to fairly exceptional circumstances focus on achieving that goal, rather than on trying to bring about broad changes in the larger sexual behavior issue. Those who cannot separate the two, in my opinion, are hypocritical about reducing abortion and have a hidden agenda of controlling sexuality, which, by the way, is a staple of repressive, undemocratic governments.

Several factors make abortion more widespread than it needs to be: poverty is certainly one (even though abortion is limited to poor women, not at all); the lack of environmental stability for mothers is another. So are lack of access to health care, lack of access to or education about contraception, as well as employment laws which do not protect the job of a pregnant woman and "force" her to terminate the pregnancy (I put "force" in quotes because that's the way some women in that position see their action, as a forced choice, though it is not). More work needs to be done on improving counseling and on promoting better parenting on issues of sexuality; and, last but no least, a common sense discussion in society about the value of human life is needed.

Working together, we can achieve significant change in the near future. Those who base their opposition to abortion on religious principles need to find common ground with those who oppose abortion from a secular perspective. Criminalizing or outlawing abortion does nothing to address the problem of why there is a demand for it, much like outlawing and criminalizing drug and alcohol use have not eliminated either. Pitting ideology against common sense only delays the achievement of significant results and further divides people who could be united in an important fight.

Sirfab said...

Correction.

In my previous post I wrote:

"Several factors make abortion more widespread than it needs to be: poverty is certainly one (even though abortion is limited to poor women, not at all);"

It should read "(even though abortion is NOT limited to poor women);"

I hope the meaning was clear.

Sirfab

Sirfab said...

Thank you, Dr. Groothuis, for taking the time to answer my questions.

We are in agreement about some things, like a balanced budget (even that is a very broad concept) and the need for more energy independence. We also agree that while going to Iraq was hard to justify for you (and impossible to justify for me) we cannot leave behind the gigantic mess that we have created.

We disagree on nuclear energy. Nuclear energy has intrinsically huge risks and leaves the problem of what we do about the nuclear waste, other than making bullets and shells with depleted uranium. It has ethical implications as well. The French draw most of their power from nuclear energy, leaving Italy, and other bordering nations that do not make nuclear power in the unenviable situation of having none of the benefits and all of the dangers. That could very well happen here. States that decide to maximize the use of wind and solar power instead of nuclear energy would likely suffer for the nuclear choice of neighboring states. In any case, energy independence is not easy to achieve and we should not count exclusively on the private sector to solve the problem. Too often government-funded research does the bulk of the work, only for the profits to be reaped by the private sector.

Last, we have a major disagreement on socialized medicine. As an Italian, I have direct experience with socialized medicine, and I do not understand why Americans are so repulsed by the concept. Perhaps it has to do with how they were brainwashed to associate any word that starts with the letters *social* with communism and repression. In any case, I would never trade Italy's socialized healthcare for America's.

In Italy, I never had to fear that I would have nowhere to go in times of need. When I went to the doctor, he took time for a thorough visit, instead of rushing me through as happens here in the U.S. I had the utmost confidence in the opinion of the doctors and the professors that visited me. And healthcare never cost me a penny, except for a small co-pay for visits and medicines.

The system is paid for by tax dollars, so everybody contributes in proportion to their income (which is a form of providing “for the least of them”). Private insurance provides supplemental healthcare for those who can afford it. It is a fact of life that money buys power, and Italy is no different in that sense. But those who choose to buy private insurance are not exempt from paying taxes for healthcare.

I know that all is not well with the way healthcare works in Italy. There are structural delays, not enough hospital beds in certain areas, waiting lists for non-life critical care (in the case of transplants or other critical care, some Italians go to private clinics or abroad, so they do not have to wait). It is not a perfect system, but fears of rationing are greatly exaggerated. (The U.S. healthcare system is not perfect either, and stealth-rationing occurs in the form of those who are not insured and cannot afford to pay.)

Things changed when I moved to America.

I have never felt as depressed, angry, and helpless as when I was sick after coming to America. I had no health insurance and my wife was a temp. We did not have health insurance not because we thought we did not need it or because we wanted to spend money irresponsibly. We did not have health insurance because we could not afford it. We went without health insurance for 5 of the first 7 years in our marriage (which, to an extent, suffered because of it). The one time I had to go to the emergency room, for something that luckily was not serious and which took one hour to investigate, I had to pay $350 out of pocket (in 1993), on wages of $750 a month. I am glad to report that I have had a good job and good health insurance for many years now, but rest assured that I understand the plight of those who don’t, in a country that relies on people being covered by insurance companies.

So now you understand why, when you say that almost everyone has access to healthcare, my nerves are raw. Everybody has access to healthcare, but too many are uninsured and choose not to use it or get stuck with a bill they cannot afford. Either way, the monetary and psychological costs of people who should see a doctor or go to a hospital, but cannot afford to and choose not to, is incalculable, not the mention the public health risks for the rest of the population.

From my standpoint, Americans have an overinflated and unjustified sense of pride in their healthcare system. This is the fault of free-market insurance advocates and of those who believe them when they say that taxes are already high enough and that socialized medicine would make matters wars. To them I say this: I agree that taxes are high enough (for the middle-class), but you don't need to raise taxes on everyone, only on the wealthy, and/or you can shift your national priorities, so that instead of waging war because you can, you wage it because you have to. And instead of inflating military budgets, you can shift funds to services that make people lives' better, instead of destroying them. That is what civilized nations do. And in so doing, they probably need less money for defense (fewer enemies) and have more money for everything else. Instead, in America I pay a lot of taxes, AND I have to BUY my own health insurance.

A country that spends so much money on defense (twice as much as the European Union combined and more than ten times as China) but does not have universal healthcare is not a shining example to the world. A country that cuts taxes for the very wealthy and does allows loopholes for corporations to escape taxes, while anyone has to go without healthcare is not the beacon of freedom, democracy and justice that it would have its citizens and the rest of the world believe. It is certainly not a model to follow or to export to the rest of the world, and its conviction in its superiority flies in the face of all evidence to the contrary. On healthcare, America needs to stop asking the mirror to confirm its belief in its superiority and take a good look around. It might learn something healthy.

Tom said...

Doug,

As with SirFab, I was a little taken aback by your claim that "few go without health care" in the States. True, few who are in immediate danger of dying will not be given aid. But the low-wage worker whose employer doesn't provide benefits will very often have no choice but to let conditions that are not immediately life threatening go untreated.

My oldest daughter has had moderate (although at times severe) asthma since she was five. If I worked a low-wage job that came with no benefits (as many low wage jobs do), I simply couldn't have afforded the midnight emergency room visits, the many expensive medications, or the nebulizer that effective care of her condition has required.

For a great, great many poor Americans, going without health insurance is hardly a choice. The price of health insurance that is not subsidized by one's employer makes it not a possibility for the poor. For a great many others it is a choice, I suppose: they can pay the rising costs of rent, utilities, and food or they can pay their health insurance premiums. Some choice.

Doug Groothuis said...

Tom:

Our health care situation needs improvement, no doubt. I simply believe that socialized medicine is worse than the present situation. So, the alternatives are not limited to (1) the present deal or (2) socialized medicine; I take that to be a false dichotomy. I am not enough of an expert to know what the best process of amelioration is.

I am sorry about your daughter.

Sirfab said...

Dr. Groothuis:

You are right: the present insurance-based system v. socialized medicine is a false dichotomy.

Personally, as I wrote earlier, I believe that insurance companies should be able to participate in the system, but in addition to, not instead of, a single-payer system, which works better than the American system everywhere it has been adopted.

Currently, we have a situation where health insurance companies and PhRMA basically set the rules. Congress does not want to be accused of interfering with the free-market, so regulation in the healthcare industry is too limited, and allows health insurance companies to get away with, if not murder, negligent homicide.

But the role of government in modern societies should be that of a moderator between the interests of big business and the interests of the general public, and--when in doubt--the common good should prevail. Instead, the contrary has been true for too long.

I am very mystified that even those who recognize that the current insurance-based health system is not working (including all remaining presidential candidates) propose to fix it by expanding insurance coverage to everybody through universal mandates. Am I alone?

No Name said...

"I am not enough of an expert to know what the best process of amelioration is."

You ought to place your opinion in abeyence. Declaiming certain policies without knowledge of even the most basic facts is at best irresponsible and at worst demagoguery. Lets leave saber-rattling buzzwords to others.

We spend 16% of our GDP on health care--the next highest is 7%.

You've been blessed with a job that provides excellent health care--just suppose for one second that you lost your health care and had to purchase care for you wife. She'd be denied because of a pre-existing condition and you'd be doomed to poverty. Consider for one second who you are condemning: they might be someone else's wife.

Like any system there are problems. No doubt socialized medicine has problems, but does it provide benefits that outweigh the costs? Economically it is proven, but you might have to wait a little longer. I'd be willing to bear that cross for you, your wife, or your children should you lose your job. Would you be willing to do that for others?

Tom said...

Doug,

Thanks for responding. Of course, I never meant to suggest that the only options were "socialized medicine" (whatever that comes to precisely) and the current system. I was reacting only to your pair of claims that "few go without health care" and that many who go without care do so by choice.

And thanks for you concern for my daughter. I'm glad to report that she's a happy, healthy 20 year-old. She still battles her asthma sometimes, but (thanks to the good health care she's been able to have) it's generally more of a nuisance than a debilitating condition.

Doug Groothuis said...

Tom:

I'm glad about your daughter. When I met you, you were younger than that! And now we are grasshoppers (Eccles. 12). Or at least I am.

Best,
DG

Doug Groothuis said...

No name:

You are wrong. I pointed out a false dichotomy: socialized medicine or the present situation. My knowledge of socialism tells me it is never the best solution. So, while I'm not sure on the details of improving health care, I reject socialism, given its gigantic bureaucracies, its controls, and so on.

No Name said...

You need to nuance your language. Even on a blog. Simply stating that people are wrong requires tempering and makes me question the contexts that you operate in regularly.

Socialized medicine doesn't equal socialism anymore than having a national army equal socialism if such de facto definitions are your rubric. In other words, don't equivocate socialized medicine with socialism unless you are willing to do the same with national defense and other socialized programs. I expect better thinking from you. Forgive my expectations.

Again: would you deny your wife health care knowing her pre-existing condition? You realize that she receives a disproportionate amount of service at the expense of healthy individuals (such as yourself and other people in the plan). No insurance company would see her as an investment, but as a liability. That's the inherent moral problem with for-profit health care.

Here's my advice: before you decry "socialized medicine" consider the real and nominal costs, consider what realms of society are already socialized, and ask yourself if you'd really condemn your wife to utter poverty should you lose your job. You would do well to read the vade mecum of Reaganomics, A. Smith. Until then your opinions should be meek at best about health care.

You should use this standard on the rest of your blog. It is far too incendiary, especially on topics on which you are ignorant. Train your students to give cautious, reasoned and well-studied statements; we might see a Denver Seminary graduate at Notre Dame (or a top program) in the future. Leading by example would be a start, and admissions groups will know that they are getting recommendations from a philosopher rather than an evangelist. (Yes, students participate and your blog would be investigated to determine your credibility.)

Notre Dame graduate;
former fundamentalist

Sirfab said...

Dr. Groothuis, you wrote the following:

"My knowledge of socialism tells me it is never the best solution. So, while I'm not sure on the details of improving health care, I reject socialism, given its gigantic bureaucracies, its controls, and so on."

First one comment: perhaps it would be wiser to refer to the healthcare system adopted by the overwhelming majority of western nations as publicly-funded healthcare healthcare, instead of socialized healthcare, given the glib pejorative nature of the adjective socialized.

Next, I have a couple of questions.

First, what precisely in the description of my experience of 26 years with the Italian healthcare system (v my experience of healthcare in the United States) did you find so terrifying that it makes you want to reject publicly-funded healthcare without even trying it (or have you, with bad experiences)? As I said, based on direct experience I have no qualms in calling the Italian system superior to the one adopted by the United States.

My other question is: as I said above, the overwhelming majority of western nations has chosen publicly-funded healthcare. This includes countries as diverse as the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Sweden, Australia, Japan, and so on). Are we to assume, based on your sweeping and rather unsubstantiated equation of socialized medicine with socialism, that all such nations are socialists? And if that were the case, which it is obviously not, wouldn't that be proof that socialism's bad reputation in the United States is irrational?

As usual, though not required, your answer is much appreciated.

Best,

Doug Groothuis said...

Fab:

Majorities are often wrong. So, you need substance to back up the claim that they are better than we are.

Problems include: rationing, long waits, people not getting needed treatments, and so on. Moreover, there is a basic loss of economic freedom: you cannot choose your provider, when and where to pay, and so on. It is absorbed by the state. The state does a better job protecting from violence and enforcing justice than trying to provide for everyone.

The poor need affordable health care and costs are out of line for everyone. Still, socialism is not the answer.

Sirfab said...

Good evening, Dr. Groothuis, and thank you for your response.

While I appreciate your response, I cannot say that I appreciate the arguments you make against publicly-funded healthcare. I have heard them often, and they reflect typical, fear-mongering conservative attitudes on the subject.

Also, your remark that the majority is not always right does not mean that it is never right. In this case, I believe it is.

Now, on to specifics problems with your statements about publicly-funded healthcare.

"Problems include: rationing, long waits, people not getting needed treatments, and so on."

As I already said, I am not denying that some rationing exists, but no one in countries that have universal coverage must turn to prayer as their sole resource against getting sick. Since the value of prayer as a healthcare technique has already been shown to be deficient, I would rather have some form of coverage for everyone, than Porsches for those who can afford them and foot-power for those who can't (a good analogy for private health insurance.)

Besides, many have made the (in my opinion) correct argument that a system which arbitrarily excludes a large portion of the population from getting healthcare (or one that passes the cost of the sickest and poorest on to taxpayers, who already spend money on their own health insurance) is itself practicing a deceitful form of rationing, with the further aggravating factor that it is a form of economic discrimination. The fact that Christians do not rise up in arms about such a blatant form of social injustice, directed at the poorest of us, is one of the biggest mysteries of our times.

"Moreover, there is a basic loss of economic freedom: you cannot choose your provider, when and where to pay, and so on."

This is false. Completely. I don't know which system you are thinking about, but I know it does not apply to Italy, nor it applies to France, so I would like to see data to support your claim. And, in any case, how is economic freedom of any use to those who cannot afford the prohibitive cost of comprehensive health care? In Italy, France, and I am sure other nations as well, if you have extra money to spend, you can pay to see the specialist of your choice, at an added cost, which is only fair.

"[Health care] is absorbed by the state. The state does a better job protecting from violence and enforcing justice than trying to provide for everyone."

That is a very dark view of the job of the government that you project. Under the outgoing Republican administration we have actually gotten the worst of both worlds: intrusive government that has began to sell security to for-profit entities that operate outside the constraints that the military and public police have to respect, and fewer much needed social services. The fact that the current administration combines the worst that government can offer does not mean that we have to give hope up on what government can do in a civil society.