Saturday, August 08, 2009

Politics: Health USA: CPJ USA still silent on the faith-based initiative for healthcare: Fed plan to support co-op health insurers

We can't depend on the Center for Public Justice (USA) to do what it was founded to do: advocate for the pluralization of the means whereby intermediate societal organizations may take root firmly in the population and thrive, so that government itself is not forced or self-driven to become an absolutist uniformitarian totality over all spheres of life -- schools, labor representation, and health insurers -- for instance. Obama's negation of the whole idea of sphere sovereignty, and worldview differentiation across spheres (faith-based and community initiatives, in part to fulfill First Amendment requirements on freedom of religion coupled with freedoms of association and speech): our incumbent Prez had already recently whacked us in his privileging uniformitarian anti-pluralist unionism, with no secret ballot and with checkoff of dues partly to finance the union elites' political agenda irrelevant to labor representation -- all the while he meets in weekly consultations with SIEU Boss Stern. I was a member and shop steward in the corrupt mentioned Service International Employees Union (however, that was decades before Stern's takeover thereof).

Just as the Obama govt grasps for more and more power to regiment American life, its libertarian enemies insist that only profit-making orgs are normative, doing so on the basis their own sectarian ideas of individuality (a pernicious individualism that cares nothing for the health of the poor and uninsured). For the libertarians who populate whole sectors of the rightwing and its media, only for-profit corporations (whether individually/family owned, or privately-held partnerships, or stock-market investor-owned) are considered the proper insurers of healthcare. Either totalitarian govt or totalitarian profit-making businesses are exalted to be the nation's one and only alternative. Neither are. And CPJ should be saying so, providing us, as it used to try to do, a practical alternative. I responded in an earlier blog-entry to the analysis for CPJ made by Dr Timothy Sherratt (Gordon College political scientist), "Party Leadership and the Fate of Healthcare" (CPJ's Capital Commentary, Jul 17,2k9).

Is it only a single-payer govt-run massive institution (Federal or divved among the states) that is to be mandated as the only "competitor" allowed to compete against the greed-driven health corporations? As Obama has moved away from his maximalist Fed healthcare ideal, backing down when some of his more clever minions have suggested that the 50 states instead each become surrogate separate single-payer insurers for each state's population; the chief single competitive feature has been elbowed out of the way. Namely, establishing the r+t of insurance-seekers to conduct their healthcare commerce across state boundaries without penalty and (thus) to choose a health-insurer anywhere in the USA: co-op, corporate, or in the last instance a residual govt provision for those poor who won't choose either of these full-menu options (a residual role that shoud not be permitted to leverage the mercy mission into power in the competition; rather just a listening post, as Petro Canada was intended to be -- it's now dead, I guess). USA: Interstate commerce plus the accompanying r+t of portability, when an insured person/family actually moves from one state to another, or from one job (corporation, business, or non-profit) to another. His/her/their insurance goes with them. Of course, not all co-ops are non-profits, one of a thousand details and factoids that needs to be factored in -- starting with CPJ, in my opinion.

Both sides are using the same binomial logic, and most of all both the statists and libertarians have shown they want to finish off any real third way in medical insurance. That's what their actions tell us. CPJ-USA (which should be documenting this and engaging in the debate now) instead is sitting on its hands, whistling and farting, doing so when the country is aflame with anger and fear. CPJ-USA has a long scheduled long-winded lecture coming up sometime in October to address healthcare issues then, in its annual Kuyper Lecture. Too late. Other than the scheduled lecture, CPJ seems to have deserted both we the poor and all rest of us who are not health-business owners and health-stock investors.

Meantime, the crisis has come to a head in America and is obviously working itself out with no courageous basic policy proposal articulated from a reformational Christian viewpoint. Hence the people have no leadership, the Christian community is left to be devoured by the wolves of statism and libertarianism.

For sure, neither the fundamentalist, evangelical, pentecostal, neo-puritan, reformed, emergent or reformational churches are encouraging their members to help each other put together hospitals, clinics, hospices, doctor's co-ops, or healthcare insurance co-ops each organized on an independent Christian communal basis, ready to take on the responsiblity that aggregately these Christian streams have mostly shirked for centuries in America.

Among American Protestants, the Lutherans have strong segments with the very helpful startup infrastructure for such a purpose of healthcare insurance, an infrastructure based on their long-established mutual-benefit society for life insurance, Thrivent, a 2.6 million-member core the members of which are by law, professing members of an explicit faith-based association for the fraternal benefits purposes by which they define themselves. Similar, is the Lutheran Brotherhood. At least, CPJ should be fiting to free these folk from the past restrictions imposed on them by the humanist cultural onslawt which extends to how we Christians pf various kinds care for our ill and provide healthcare insurance viably and long-term. The Adventists have established a marvellous school of medical research in California, Loma Linda University medical school and research center.

In stark contrast, the Christian Reformed community has let Calvin College emerge into its present undergraduate glories without a medical school, no provision for an explicitly Christian training of doctors and nurses has taken place. No Christian philosophy of medicine is nurtured. No Christian philosophy of distinct organization for a normative medical-insurance structure to help create a pluralist consociational environment in American healthcare, embracing and giving new depth and meaning to competition (not just a monetary matter, but that too). And around the inspiration of which, healthcare insurance co-ops could have been generated informally in the milieu Calvin's business programs, healthcare co-op organizing and management thereby becoming a distinguished element of a many-facetted academic business education. Faith, academics, medicine, healthcare insurance -- all of life redeemed.

Calvin College, sad to say, has none of these concerns. This institution, for all its good and achievements, is not a bastion of neo-Calvinism. Instead, it is an institution of the same old ideology of the Liberal Arts + Seminary, where Christ the Healer's dynamic does not work itself out in structured institutional form for our present concern, healthcare insurance. Instead it trains undergraduates as "pre-medicine" candidates only, then turns them over to secularism for their medical training, research, and care-giving. You can see how Calvin College's marketing structurally bypasses the issue of non-state, non-profit, viable innovative healthcare insurance co-ops. It has no communal vision for this particular arrangement, because all its medically-trained alumni seem to have bawt into the libertarian or statist worldviews.

The Christian stance that CPJ has tawt (some) Americans to believe and follow has now shown just how much the organization marinates itself in a "solution" of supine smug self-satisfaction. Now, when the increasingly enflamed "debate" is consuming the nation and when, amidst all this political volatility, we Americans are actually afforded a small opening in the historical situation regarding healthcare insurance law at the Federal level, CPJ's website is silent on the focal issue (except for the recent Sherratt bit). The staff's leaders and advisors have gone fishing. Or haven't yet arrived from Canada to conduct the planned leadership tour to "meet the constituency." Bloody October!

Yet this is the time. August. This is the moment. August. This is the kairos in which to offer a practical third way from the depth of the riches of the Gospel, of which CPJ USA used to speak with such a string of rhetorical niceties.

CPJ's outgoing President, Dr James Skillen, no longer wants to be known as a reformational political leader it woud seem, and instead puts himself forward as a "theologian," so he can keep his head firmly in the sand of Bible texts past. Dooyeweerd is groaning in his grave.

-- Politicarp