Thursday, June 28, 2012

What happened today

I thought this summed it up nicely:

Analysis by Jay Cost, reprinted from The Weekly Standard

Jay Cost

June 28, 2012 11:31 AM

Was today's Supreme Court Obamacare decision a win for conservatives or a loss? It depends on what you were rooting for.

If you were above all interested in the bill being struck down, it was mostly a loss. On the other hand, if you were more concerned about the qualitative expansion in the power of the government that the bill represented, it was definitely a win.

First, the Roberts Court put real limits on what the government can and cannot do. For starters, it restricted the limits of the Commerce Clause, which does not give the government the power to create activity for the purpose of regulating it. This is a huge victory for those of us who believe that the Constitution is a document which offers a limited grant of power.

Second, the Roberts Court also threw out a portion of the Medicaid expansion. States have the option of withdrawing from the program without risk of losing their funds. This is another major victory for conservatives who cherish our system of dual sovereignty. This was also a big policy win for conservatives; the Medicaid expansion was a major way the Democrats hid the true cost of the bill, by shifting costs to the states, but they no longer can do this.

Politically, Obama will probably get a short-term boost from this, as the media will not be able to read between the lines and will declare him the winner. But the victory will be short-lived. The Democrats were at pains not to call this a tax because it is inherently regressive: the wealthy overwhelmingly have health insurance so have no fear of the mandate. But now that it is legally a tax, Republicans can and will declare that Obama has slapped the single biggest tax on the middle class in history, after promising not to do that.

Conservatives have a shot at getting the best of both worlds: having the Supreme Court use Obamacare as a way to limit federal power while also using the democratic process to overturn the law. I didn't think we could have one without the other, but now maybe we can.

If Obama loses in November, that is…



  1. I read this. It makes me wonder if Roberts was on to something that the rest of us aren't seeing yet. Especially about it being ruled a tax. My husband says that only the House can approve tax increases, but the Senate created the mandate (which has now been ruled a tax). So can the House relatively easily repeal this "tax?"

    Also, repeal of tax increases can't be filibustered, so a simple majority in the Senate would be all that's required to repeal...assuming there's a Republican president who would sign the repeal.

    Lots going on, and lots more info to be sifted through. Biggest problem is the massive tax increase that is scheduled to hit on Jan. 1.

  2. But besides the "tax" issue, there's also the problem of being required to purchase things that the gov't decides they want us to purchase. But maybe that was taken care of in the first point above? I don't know...definitely don't know enough about this stuff and there's a lot more to read...

  3. I don't know enough about this...but after listening to Rush, it's not a bed of roses.

    The article above isn't in layman's terms enough for me...It seems as though Rush is putting it into a context I can understand and it sure isn't pretty. :)

  4. Yes, there's still a lot to sift through, but this makes sense/is hopeful. In reading (summaries mostly... haven't read it all word for word) both Kennedy's and Robert's opinions they almost seem to.. agree. They agree that the gov't's power's need to remain limited and clearly "call out" the Obama administration's overstepping those bounds in their original arguments using the Commerce Clause, etc.

  5. Sarah - right! It's still very confusing, but the more I read, the more optimistic I get. I think a lot of opinions that have come out have focused on the "upheld" part, but there were in fact a lot of caveats in Roberts' opinion. Like you, I've only read summaries so far, and there is still a lot to figure out.

  6. I thought you were talking about Duns Scotus for a moment.
    From my side of the pond, UK there are many who wonder what everyone over there is so worried about.

    For instance, today I had new hearing aids fitted, £80.00 each but free to me. Why? part of what I pay for with my taxes.

    So my question, what's not to like?

  7. Flying Goose, it's not just about universal healthcare - that's almost a separate discussion. The ruling today was about the government being able to force people to purchase whatever they want us to purchase under threat of fines and taxes. The question is, what next? My bet is on solar energy...

  8. I am having a very, very hard time even beginning to understand all of this. I was very much hoping that they'd overturn the whole law, that lawmakers would get some kind of sense and go back to the drawing board, aiming to make health care reforms that would be truly beneficial. I can't see how our country will survive the federal takeover of so much of the economy - the massive bureaucracy, the politicization of health care, the waste, the cost, the lack of choice for consumers, the complete lack of competence when lawmakers try to be health care businessmen and health care decision makers instead of.... lawmakers.

    I don't have time to be hugely politically active, but I do have time to pray, so that is what I will do. May our country get some sense, and soon.

  9. I suppose, Nicholas, that the government isn't requiring people to purchase health insurance in this ruling. They can impose a tax on people without health insurance, but people can voluntarily pay the tax and still not purchase health insurance. If the tax is cheaper than health insurance, some people may choose to do just that. So I think that is the logic in getting around forced commerce.

  10. But from what I'm hearing that the penalty will become as high as the insurance which will push people to the government health care and out of private sector.

    Next you will be taxed to wipe your butt. :)

  11. What's next is this: "You may have two children. If you have more than two children, you will be taxed for each additional child." The HHS mandate paves the way...

  12. Amen Joanna! Our uterus will be TAXED ..... And then the agents show up at your door to enforce the 2 child policy.

  13. Flying Goose, we Americans love our freedom, and we want limited federal government. That's what our Constitution was all about. Sure, everyone loves free stuff (meaning, they want someone else to pay for what they have)! But all that free stuff comes at a great cost to freedom, and it also is not sustainable. (I understand that some very routine stuff is not accessible in England for older citizens? I have read about the downside of England's "free" healthcare, and I'm not interested in going down that road.)

  14. Sew, Obamacare already has made premiums skyrocket. Soon enough, we will all be forced to take the gov't option, as nothing else will be affordable anymore. It's part of the scheme as far as I can tell. No employers are going to be able to afford private health insurance under Obamacare, so they will drop coverage and all the folks will enroll in the gov't option. Just like Obama wanted anyway (single payer system). Blech. So much for "you will get to keep your doctor and health insurance!" Lies from the beginning.

  15. We already are taxed to wipe our butt. Sales tax.
    -ken pack


  16. Exactly, Leila! Now the government is our saving grace! How I can't wait to be at the mercy of the government. I will pay the money for my hearing aids and keep my tax money form killing millions of babies.

    Where does this stop the government from taxing anything?

    You make me laugh, Ken Pack! :)

    Get this kid out and give me energy! I want to fight, I mean protest! :)

  17. When the government governs my health care, they will also govern my coverage....

    Meaning we are forced to abide by the laws or be taxed.... Isn't that what happens in China?

    I'm talking out loud here..... ;) I'm really trying to piece it together....

    Sean Hannity is about to talk me off the ledge. :) LOL Thank God, I can still listen to what I want. LOL

  18. My ultra-liberal, Obama supporting Con Law Professor counts today's Robert Opinion as a big loss

  19. (FYI, this is my husband's account -- I don't have a google blog.)

    Nice attempt to spin the decision, but I'm not buying it.

    Why are all you conservatives upset about this? I hate to tell you this, but the concept of the individual mandate was actually dreamed up by Conservatives! Conservative economists developed the concept in the late 1980s, when they were searching for a market-based alternative to the government-sponsored, universal health-care system proposed by the Democrats.

    The conservative Heritage Foundation picked up the idea and ran with it, proposing a “Health Care Social Contract”. While this was not a mandate on employers, it was a mandate on individual families. They proposed the the government should require, by law, that all heads of households should obtain at least a basic package of health insurance. Newt Gingrich championed this cause when he fought off Hillarycare in the 1990’s, and of course, your nominee, Mitt Romney seemed to LOVE the idea when he was Governor of Massachusetts.

    (Sources: , and )

    For everyone who is moaning and groaning about the extra “cost” of the mandate being “forced” on us, here is more bad news: you have already been paying for the uninsured for years now! Every single time an uninsured patient shows up in the Emergency Room, we (and I say “we” because I am an ER physician) are LEGALLY required to provide treatment. Who pays for that treatment? Taxpayers do. Not to mention the fact that when they show up to the ER, they are often very ill and require much more expensive intervention than if they had health insurance and were seeing a personal physician who counseled them on preventative medicine! As responsible citizens, we are required to do things all the time, including purchasing car insurance, and I don’t hear you guys complaining about being forced to do that!

    Seriously, guys. If people took the time to read up on the issues for themselves, and not simply rely on the conservative echo-chamber that Fox News is, we’d have much more meaningful discussions! You claim to love "logic", but you make blanket statements like "Obamacare has already made premiums skyrocket" and "No emplyers are going to be able to afford private health insurance under Obamacare". Can you cite your sources for these claims?

    1. So are you saying the poor aren't denied health care?

    2. The poor have very limited access to health care. It's a horrible situation, and a true social sin.

    3. That's interesting....My brother does not have health insurance but received two life saving surgeries and was not denied. Interesting enough they were from Catholic Hospitals. He also receives follow up care....

      And are you saying that everyone else has access to GREAT health insurance. I pay out of pocket at the tune of $6 a minute for health care that I can't get through insurance. They deny all coverage for my choice of care, it isn't even homeopathic or out of the box.

      This is just the beginning of rationing......If we are forced to pay for abortions, will my child that is born with a disability be covered under the government policy for a surgery he needs to save his life? I don't trust that they will....Will my uterus be taxed to a tune that I can not afford to be for children being born because I don't subscribe to the contraception mentality. ? Will my grandmother living with alzheimers under state aid be able to live or will she be euthanized? The government controls it now...What say will I or any have?

      A true social sin is making me pay for contraception, abortion and sterilizations which go against my conscious and religious beliefs. Sounds like tyranny to me...Sounds like someone is chaining me to the ground and forcing me to pay for something that I absolutely do not support. Land of the free..........But it's a good thing, right? For whom?

  20. Sew, I love when you think out loud!! :)

    Abigail, I will have to sit down and really read what your old professor said! Thank you!

  21. Flying Goose, another point that is majorly a problem (IMHO) is that "Obamacare" does not include essential language for those of us who do not want to violate our consciences. This is one point that the US Bishops have been harping on since before it was signed into law a few years ago, and haven't stopped harping on since then. The recent HHS Mandate just solidified all of the bishops' fears (mine too). Here's a quote from their statement today:

    "Second, the Act fails to include necessary language to provide essential conscience protection, both within and beyond the abortion context.We have provided extensive analyses of ACA's defects with respect to both abortion and conscience.The lack of statutory conscience protections applicable to ACA's new mandates has been illustrated in dramatic fashion by HHS's "preventive services" mandate, which forces religious and other employers to cover sterilization and contraception, including abortifacient drugs."

    original link here:

    This is a HUGE problem, and one that we were hoping to be able to avoid if the individual mandate went out the window. We would simply not have to participate in the program if the individual mandate was thrown out (and instead participate in something like a Catholic health share to help alleviate health care costs). Now, we can still choose to not participate, but we will be taxed mightily for it, making it a double-sided punishment. We'd have to pay outright for our health care AND pay the tax. Many of us cannot afford to do so.

  22. You claim to love "logic", but you make blanket statements like "Obamacare has already made premiums skyrocket" and "No emplyers are going to be able to afford private health insurance under Obamacare". Can you cite your sources for these claims?

    Um, yeah. My husband is a small business owner. And we read the news. And we are not stupid. And my husband, before he owned a small business, was a high level state government employee, with his expertise in corporations, taxes and how business interfaces with government. And, I live in Arizona, and I know very well how many uninsured have used the ER system. And, my family is all medical (dad and uncle are doctors, mom is a nurse, uncle is a pharmacists). I get this stuff. And, you act as if all the experts on the conservative side are idiots who have never studied any of this, do not have any resources and or expertise in any of these areas to come to their conclusions. But, actually, our experts are pretty smart, too. I guess I am just not liking your tone that somehow conservatives are reactionary, uneducated bumpkins, and the other side is full of logical, enlightened, scholarly sages.

    It's insulting, frankly.

  23. Jet, I think you might be missing the point of our arguments, to be honest.

    The problem is not whether or not we want affordable health care coverage for all.

    The problem is that we do not want to be forced to participate in an already broken system. Your car insurance example is faulty - you only need car insurance if you own a car. You can choose to not own a car and use public (or manual, I suppose, as in walking) transportation, if you'd so prefer. You are not required to buy car insurance based solely on the fact that you may, someday, maybe far in the future, own a car.

    We will be taxed merely for existing, by this law. It makes the assumption that someday, somewhere, we are going to have to pull more from the system than we've put into it. That may be the case for the majority of people, but then, the problem isn't really the insurance, is it? The problem is the cost of health care, and we're back to our common goal of affordable health care for all.

    Many of us here do not oppose affordable health coverage for all, but we do not believe that this extremely massive law is the correct choice.

    Can you prove that my family's premium increase is not a direct result of Obamacare? You make a few blanket statements but do not provide proof.

    Based on the actual percentages from Obamacare itself, my family would have to pay 10% of our income towards our health insurance, or pay a fine (oh, sorry, tax). Currently, we pay 5%. Can you prove to me that my premiums/cost will not increase, based on the actual numbers/percentages in the bill?

    I've seen plenty of news reports (not on Fox News, by the way) about how the MA system that you refer to actually DID increase health care premiums, so it's not just me. I'd be happy to link to them, if you'd like.

  24. Also, some people who are currently without health care coverage will be covered by 2014.

    I know that political conservatives masquerading as Christians never seem to remember that part, but...

    You know, whatever.

    1. comment was deleted.

      1) The issue is about affordable health care coverage not universal.

      2) Was uninsured myself. There are options. Many clinics have payment programs. It's totally doable.

      3) Very insulted by your comment about political conservatives masquerading as Christians. See comment three. Many Catholic clinics offer free or low cost health services. So to some secular clinics.

      Again, if you are uninsured that does not mean you don't have access to health care. Everyone pays somehow. Even insured people have premiums. It's just more direct with the uninsured.

  25. I apologize if I came off as condescending. I did not mean to imply you or anyone else was an "uneducated bumpkin". I would never call anyone that. I looked back at what I wrote and I still can't find a statement that would imply that I thought anything like that. That said, if you felt that I was insulting, again, I am very sorry.

    You still haven't shown me your basis for making those claims, though. My husband is a small business owner as well, and frankly, he was very hesitant about the possible cost he would incur when it came to the individual mandate. Small businesses owners are not simply required to purchase heath insurance for their employees and left to their own devices. They get tax incentives when they provide their employees with insurance. When my husband looked at the actual numbers, the tax incentives actually offset most of the costs.

    1. Jet Fletcher! thanks for being such a refreshing breath of fresh air here!!

      Don't worry about these trumped up claims that you implied everyone is an uneducated bumpkin-that's the standard defense line around here, and it doesn't hold water.

      I notice no one so far has addressed the actual point of your I'll keep reading to see if someone did actually respond to it...

      I know this comment is late, but thank you, thank you, thank you for your perspective.

    2. Jet Fletcher! thanks for being such a refreshing breath of fresh air here!!

      Don't worry about these trumped up claims that you implied everyone is an uneducated bumpkin-that's the standard defense line around here, and it doesn't hold water.

      I notice no one so far has addressed the actual point of your I'll keep reading to see if someone did actually respond to it...

      I know this comment is late, but thank you, thank you, thank you for your perspective.

  26. Jet...Thanks for your thoughts, but you don't have to be condescending. I have read up on the issues, and I don't rely on a "conservative echo box" to form my opinions. I also know other physicians who, while they agree with the problem with ERs, would not agree with your assessment. I have worked in ERs myself, I agree with your statement on ER problems, but I disagree with Obamacare as a solution.

    Anyway, my point is this -- We all have different backgrounds, and most of us are intelligent, thinking individuals even when we disagree. Please don't assume that we all just sit around reading Fox News and then stop there. A productive conversation does not start by assuming you understand the other party's intelligence level and background, followed by direct insults.

  27. Okay, my comment came late :).

  28. "Sure, everyone loves free stuff (meaning, they want someone else to pay for what they have!"

    No we all pay for it, those who have more contribute more, but then they contribute more to being defended as well. Only the most right wing Conservatives question the principle of a universal health provision. When I say right wing, I mean right wing enough to make Margaret Thatcher look like a liberal.

    "But all that free stuff comes at a great cost to freedom,"

    How so? I would have thought good health was one of the prerequisites of freedom.

    "and it also is not sustainable."

    We have sustained it for over 60 years.

    "(I understand that some very routine stuff is not accessible in England for older citizens?"

    You understand incorrectly, my own elderly relatives receive excellent health care.

    "I have read about the downside of England's "free" healthcare, and I'm not interested in going down that road."

    I have also read about how the most vulnerable in US society are left with little or no health care at all. I would not want to go down that road either. But having said that I have never visited the US, so I really should not comment on things I have no experience of. Hence my question, most of us Brits, of whatever political or religious affiliation are completely perplexed by what seems to be a majority view in the US.

    1. I have a Canadian friend who says Universal healthcare in Canada (at least I don't know much about British) is you die waiting for care while in the US you die because you can't afford it.

      Freedom, per American thought, is the ability to chose your own doctor, hospital, clinic, coverage, etc etc. Correct me if I'm wrong, but in a lot of Universal health care coverages, you are assigned a doctor.

      The most vulnerable in the US get health care through the government. It's the middle class who struggles. But then they can afford payment plans which a number of clinics provide.

      Other point to make, in Britain you pay for services you may not agree with based on your religious affiliation. In the US, we do not, at least until now. That's our freedom, written into the Constitution.

    2. And you don't always die waiting for care in the US. A family member of ours who had a terrible stroke and needed very specialized therapy that cost upwards of 25K out of their pocket raised the money through donations and the community. That's not practical for everyone and not a solution to the entire system, however, it does demonstrate the beauty of private citizenship helping out those in need. If he was just denied being able to see a doctor *at all* due to red tape, it would have been a tragedy.

  29. What "direct insults" did I say?

  30. Well, it depends on the individual situation for the business. For my father's business to insure one employee and her husband (he only had one employee), it would cost him $3,500 a month because of the husband's health. Tax incentives did not "make up the difference" there. He had to drop insurance and just paid her more to help offset her personal costs. But he couldn't afford that every month.

  31. Jet, from your post:

    "Seriously, guys. If people took the time to read up on the issues for themselves, and not simply rely on the conservative echo-chamber that Fox News is, we’d have much more meaningful discussions!"

    You suggest that we don't take time to read up on the issues, that rely on Fox news for our information, and that our discussions aren't meaningful as a result. I find that pretty insulting and presumptuous. And the "Seriously, guys" preceding it comes off as a scolding lecture.

  32. I looked back at what I wrote and I still can't find a statement that would imply that I thought anything like that.

    Jet Fletcher, I think it was this:

    Seriously, guys. If people took the time to read up on the issues for themselves, and not simply rely on the conservative echo-chamber that Fox News is, we’d have much more meaningful discussions!

    But I appreciate the apology.

    Look, this is a MASSIVELY complicated issue. And adding a quickly-written, jammed-through-Congress, 2,000+ page health care law is not going to uncomplicate anything, nor bring down costs. Are you aware that the regulations alone for Obamacare are running FIVE THOUSAND PAGES long so far? Regulations on the 2,000+ page law. How on earth is a small businessman, or anyone, supposed to have a hope to stay on the right side of all that? That is called oppressive, burdensome government, and it is crushing this nation and her citizens. It's not freedom. Nothing is worth the price we are going to pay for this ill-concecieved monstrosity of a law. And Heidi's points about our loss of religious liberty are paramount.

  33. Just for future reference when trying to convey tone in writing, which I realize is a challenging art. I don't always convey my tone perfectly either.

  34. It was me who she claimed was relying on "conservative echo box" to form my opinion......LOL I was listening to Rush earlier..... Gasp! LOL

  35. I know that political conservatives masquerading as Christians never seem to remember that part, but…

    Katy, another insult, but let's start with the basics. You are aware, right, that what to do about health care reform (which we all agree needs to happen) is a matter of "prudential jugdement"? Meaning, there is no mandate for a Christian to support this legislative solution instead of another legislative (or other) solution, correct?

    Obamacare was not delivered on 2,000 stone tablets from On High. It is a debatable law, and no Christian is bound to support it simply because someone has declared that it's going to "help people".

    Same thing with welfare reform, environmental policy, education policy, etc. How we find the best solution to these societal problems is a matter of prudential judgement.

    But I'm interested: Are you saying I am not really a Christian because I do not support Barack Obama's health care proposal?

  36. Elizabeth: Thank you for your comments. I really am not trying to "flame" anyone here, i promise.

    We have a very long road ahead of us when it comes to fixing the health care system in this country. Obama's health care reform is far from a perfect solution, and the experience in your father's business is clear proof of that. I think the point is, though, that the reform will bring down costs for everyone overall:
    - children can stay on their parent's health insurance longer
    - Seniors pay less for prescription drugs
    - Insurance companies can no longer refuse you on the basis of a pre-existing condition
    - Insurance companies can no longer place lifetime limits on coverage
    - small business get tax breaks for providing insurance to their employees

    What's not to like?

    1. Having to pay for abortions.

      Having to pay for contraceptives.

      Having to pay for health conditions based on life style.

  37. Katy, this might help you understand the difference between the Christian non-negotiables and issues of prudential judgement:

  38. As far as higher premiums, we got a letter in the mail from our insurance company specifically citing Obamacare for their increase in premiums. They outlined the premium increase in detail. So if you want physical proof for rising premiums directly connected to this law, I have that. Now, of course, the premiums haven't hit their max, because the entire law is not implemented yet. The premium hike was in response to just the first small steps, so I hate to see the results down the line.

  39. I've seen plenty of news reports (not on Fox News, by the way) about how the MA system that you refer to actually DID increase health care premiums, so it's not just me. I'd be happy to link to them, if you'd like.

    Heidi, I've heard the same thing, from folks in MA. Could you link them? Thanks!

  40. Leila on the Christian non negotiables, here is a Franciscan you might not agree with. But he makes a forceful argument for a more authentic set of non negotiables.

  41. BTW I should have introduced my self, I am Marcus we have been in conversation at Fr Ed's Blog. I did not happen here by chance, his blog directed us here. Just saw an interesting topic.

  42. Flying Goose, when even the uber-liberal, socialist NYTimes can find the flaws and loss of freedom in your system, then you know there are problems than what even they are admitting:

    We could go back and forth all day.

    1. Oh, wait for it....there it is! that favorite "slam" from conservative folks, tossing around the word "socialist."
      And yet, as usual it's nonsensical in this statement. The New York Times, is neither "uber-liberal" nor is it advocating a socialist government agenda. And why is it that everytime someone who self identifies as liberal suggests that paying taxes is patriotic, especially for services covered that help everyone (like healthcare, clean water, trash retrieval, etc.) conservatives cry out, "socialist! socialist!" Please, get a new mantra.

  43. Oh, hi Marcus! I was wondering if you came from Fr. Ed's blog! It was such a joy finding him! I have not been back there today, as I've been focused here, and starting a month-long blog fast in July. :)

  44. Leila on the Christian non negotiables, here is a Franciscan you might not agree with. But he makes a forceful argument for a more authentic set of non negotiables.

    As you know from Fr. Ed's blog, I defer to the Pope and Bishops (the Magisterium) on the non-negotiables. :)

    The link I gave at 1:08PM (to Katy) has quotes from the Popes and bishops. They are the Church's teaching authority, not any particular Franciscan.

  45. Jet, aside from bankrupting the economy and a massive loss of freedom and the biggest tax hike in history, what's not to love? That and the fact that costs will most certainly NOT go down. Where are you getting the idea that costs will go down? All the momentum has been the other way. I have such a problem with solutions that "sound good" but end up costing us dearly, on so many levels. Just like the left's war on poverty, like liberal environmental policies, like federalizing of education, etc. All of this "sounds" so good, but in reality it's a big, fat, FAIL. And we all suffer for it. I think we have lost our way.

    Oh, and for more about how to approach social problems and policies, from a Catholic perspective, there's this that I wrote a while back:

    The Catholic principle of subsidiarity.

  46. A blog fast, a good discipline, one I often do as well.

    Yes we could play ping pong with this. I can only speak as a user of the NHS. It works, it doesn't always work well, although its much improved from 15 years ago. But its not about having a perfect system.

    But any party that promised to abolish the NHS would face political oblivion. The opposition to such a party would be far in excess of opposition Obama faces in your country.

    What I notice here is although we Brits speak the same language, our polity is so very different from yours. Only in the US could our system be called socialist, or worse still communist.

  47. The poor have very limited access to health care. It's a horrible situation, and a true social sin.

    Catholics have served the poor for hundreds of years in America. Our hospitals treat millions a year. And with Obamacare, those hospitals are threatened, and may very well be forced to close.

    Also, before the gov't started regulating everything doctors do and say and think, they took care of the poor much more easily. My dad always treated the poor for free or for very little. With the way things have evolved, it's almost impossible for doctors to do that anymore. So many things wrong with the system. Obamacare doesn't fix them. Scrap it and let's start again. REAL reform.

  48. Flying Goose, I like you!

    And yes, we speak English, but we are very different indeed. That's why we cut from King George, remember? :)

  49. Jet, I personally don't like our current insurance system at all, and I don't think regulating it as such helps the situation. I think health insurance should operate more like car insurance --- to cover major, catastrophic events, not to cover every expense incurred in owning a vehicle (or for our health). Car insurance would be far more expensive if it covered oil changes, transmission replacements, yearly maintenance, etc. I know family physicians who do not take insurance and can cut out a lot of their administrative expenses, cut their fees, save money for the uninsured patients, and still make the same average as other family physicians who take insurance. Even with three kids, it is cheaper for me to pay for a doctor visit in full, out of pocket, then to pay our insurance premiums month after month. I could take a fraction of that cost, save it, and easily pay for routine health issues, and that is true even when dealing with chronic issues. But plans offered by our employers have never offered pure catastrophic insurance.

    The same could be done with some specialty practices, although we would need some good analysis and tweaking, since specialists are more expensive than routine care. But I have seen many specialists in my day, and is still cheaper for me to pay out of pocket than to pay my premiums.

    Now...Insurance is still important for catastrophes -- cancer, real emergencies, etc. We still need catastrophic insurance, because we could not dream of saving for that or making monthly payments once it happened.

    And ERs -- I know ERs end up treating lots of simple cold viruses, non-life threatening illnesses purely because they cannot deny a patient and no one else is open at that hour. I also have a friend who drives illegals to the ER for their routine medical care. I know of an ER that bankrupted an entire hospital because of uninsured folks using it for routine care. But I have also seen successful business models with urgent care facilities opening to cover those tough hours and charging much less than the ER. If permitted, we could have triage screen non-life threatening cases, send them to an urgent care facility (possibly in the same building) where the patient would pay something up front for medical care if they did not have insurance.

    Anyway...I know it is complicated out there, but I see so many opportunities for private, more cost effective, more patient-centered solutions. I won't claim to have all the answers or to suggest that we can even create Utopia on earth, but I think we can do better than our current options, including Obamacare. I am also a big advocate of our Catholic health system, where our institutions have been caring for the poorest of the poor, often free of charge, for centuries.

    This doesn't even address the conscience issues, and I feel those are even more important than playing with cost and quality.

  50. Sorry for the mini blog post in the combox :). Screaming kids here, so I stopped paring it down...and I guess I should take care of them!

  51. I will try to find the links to the video reports I saw. They're quite stunning. For now, here are a few "regular" links:

    (This one is interesting because it says what so many of us are saying - premiums skyrocketed until the actual root problem - the cost of the health care itself - was addressed. Until there was a set fee/cost schedule for services, the cost to the citizen was extreme).

    (This one is obviously biased, but I'm trying to find correlating facts/sources. It's interesting, to say the least)

    Again, the solution was not requiring insurance, but treating the actual problem of health care costs. Before they did that, premiums rose about 22%

    I'll keep looking - I know I saw news clips on major news networks about it (I don't want Fox News, so they would most likely have come from NBC or CNN).

  52. I thought you might say that, however here are the Catholic Bishops in my own country, I think their words are relevant to this discussion.

    "The common good implies that every
    individual, no matter how high or low, has a
    duty to share in promoting the welfare of the
    community as well as a right to benefit from
    that welfare. The common good is
    contradicted if any section of the population
    is excluded from participation in the life of
    the community, even at a minimal level.
    There must come a point at which the
    scale of the gap between the very wealthy
    and those at the bottom of the range of
    income begins to undermine the common
    good. This is the point at which society
    starts to be run for the benefit of the rich, not
    for all its members.
    Catholic social teaching recognizes the
    fundamental and positive value of business,
    the market, private property and free human
    creativity in the economic sector. But
    sometimes market forces cannot deliver
    what the common good demands, and other
    remedies have to be sought. The poor must
    not be excluded from society."

  53. I think we can all make the mistake of too closely identifying our own political and economic culture with Christian. It is easy for Europeans to see American's doing that all the time. I suspect we all do it. Hence, and here I am going to slightly agree with your other blog post, for a teaching authority. It is often well placed to stand above all that. What I won't accept is that that authority is not sometimes compromised by its own temporal needs and ambitions. Which is why I am cautious about it.

  54. Deltaflute, just to add to your thoughts, take a look at U.S. military health care. That is an easy predictor for a larger-scale operation in this country. It's like going to the DMV for medical care -- you literally take a number. It's hard to get an appointment, with high waiting time. They don't offer options for medical treatment. Heck, it's hard to even get your child vaccinated based on your vaccination preferences. You have to fight them to personalize medicine. Who wants to fight their doctors and nurses? And then the stories of the substandard care...

    I'm sure there are success stories. I'm sure there are nice people in that system. But I sure don't want that to be my health care, and I know many who use that system long for a more flexible, private, efficient option with higher quality care. If you cut out all the red tape and bureaucracy, that is actually affordable too!

  55. I'm not sure about the British system, so maybe you can fill me in on the details? My only experience with socialized medicine is in Canada.

    Leila asked me to share my grandfather's story with you all. I know it's anecdotal, but I do feel it shares some light on issues of viewpoint/mentality that socialized medicine can foster. Forgive me if this gets a bit long.

    My mother is Canadian. My grandparents live in Canada, and only have provincial health coverage for their health insurance. My grandfather is a decorated retiree of the Ontario Provincial Police. He was quite the "hot shot" in his work days - including running the security for John Paul II's visit to Toronto. He gave his entire life to the "system," and did it well.

    He's 75. About 5 years ago, he started having some health problems. (He'd been retired for about 15 years). He went again and again to his family care office (two different docs - first one, and then the other after the first moved), with more and more symptoms, but never got anywhere. He was told, again and again, that he was not "acute" enough for referrals to specialists.

    5 years of fighting the system....5 years of developing health problems, significantly worse in the past year and a half. To give you an example, 2 years ago, he was volunteering at the golf course, golfing regularly, driving, functioning except for these symptoms that seemed to be physical in nature. Today, he cannot drive, he doesn't know who my grandmother is, he cannot even make himself a sandwich. If you ask him, his house is full of random people, and the paranoia is intense.

    The past 5 years have been horrible for my grandmother. She's gone to doctors trying to get his care. He's never "acute" enough. Even now, with being unable to care for himself, he could not receive a diagnosis (which would make him eligible for dementia care) until he received an MRI. He could not receive an MRI in less than a year of time, because he wasn't "high priority." His decline from golfing to not being able to make a sandwich took 8 months.

    Here in the states, my husband (an ob/gyn) is regularly able to get his patients scheduled within a week of his ordering an MRI. Not a year.

    Turns out he has Lewy Body Dementia ( His symptoms were textbook. However, without being eligible for diagnostic tests in a timely manner because he wasn't "high priority", he has not been able to receive the treatment that has been proven to slow down the dementia and improve the length and quality of life. When they finally got to the specialist, my grandmother asked if it would have been seen on an MRI. The specialist said it would have most definitely been able to be seen at that point, and that most likely, even just being able to get into the specialist would have been able to get the diagnosis, since he was showing textbook symptoms as far back as 5 years ago.

    My grandmother was flat-out told (multiple times) that if my grandfather was either younger or had a purchased a private insurance that could cover the cost of the tests/appointments, he would have been considered "high priority" and able to get in before a year's worth of time.

  56. I think this is what Leila is referring to when she talks about elder care. After going through this with my grandfather and trying to navigate the system, I've been put in touch with multiple families all over Canada who struggle with the same thing. When elderly get sick, typically, they decline much, much faster than a young person (especially with dementia). Our ability to slow or stop the progression of some of these diseases is incredible - but without a way to get the care to the elderly, they fall through the cracks over and over again. It's not just my grandfather, it seems.

    My fear - based on this experience - is that the combination of our current culture (where we don't, culturally, care for the elderly on our own - instead we put them into the hands of the health system and places like nursing homes) and the reliance on a person's usefulness (socialized systems are paid for by taxes - those who are working and buying/selling pay the most in taxes) to the economy will lead to more of what has happened to my grandfather, unless we fix some of these "cracks" in socialized medicine. Our populations are growing older, statistically. If we rely on laws like Obamacare, as written, then we're going to have a real hard time not turning into a society that only cares about you if you produce some good for it.

    1. And why do we think this is a good thing in our country?

  57. Marcus, did you read our bishops' statement?

    Our bishops are FOR affordable healthcare for all, not just the rich. They'd agree with your bishops' statement.

    The problem is what is (and isn't) in this particular law. Here's the link to the USCCB's statement from today:

  58. Leila: I think I may have gotten off on the wrong foot here. I hope I can start again. And I promise to try to watch my tone.

    I am a Catholic and that is actually why I found your blog in the first place. While I disagree with many of your political assertions, I truly believe that you and I probably agree on much more than we disagree on.

    Catholic hospitals are wonderful institutions. When I was medical student, I trained at a Catholic hospital. The work we are doing there to treat the poor is truly God's work. The situation gets sticky though, when Catholic hospitals accept billions of dollars in federal funding - essentially, money from taxpayers, many of whom are not Catholic -- and then claim to right to dictate how to provide healthcare to their patients.

    What about public hospitals? I did my residency at Cook County Hospital in Chicago, where 100% of our funding was from public funds. We prided ourselves as being one of the few hospitals in the country that truly provided free health care to our patients. I can remember how all that changed when the Gulf War started and all of a sudden, the government's priority was funding a war overseas. We lost most of our funding overnight. The results were disastrous. The hospital started charging billing patients and I found myself in the unenviable positioning of rationing out medical care.

    Leila, the government does not regulate what I do, say, or think. The sad truth is, private insurance companies try to dictate how I treat my patients much more than the government does. I hardly ever run into roadblocks with my Medicare patients, but the insurance companies are often very unreasonable.

    Here's a wild thought: maybe we can stop declaring war on countries and stop throwing money at the Department of Defense and we can finally start taking care of our poor?

    1. You do realize that ObamaCare forces contraceptive coverage and abortifites (okay I can't spell today)?...that's against what Catholicism teaches. You do know that, yes?

    2. that sounds pretty condescending Deltaflute.

      Jet, I'm curious-Leila et. al frequently spew out around here that you can't be Catholic and anything else politically except conservative, capitalistic and maybe libertarian. They may not say it in so many words, but that's the gist of it. Do you agree?

  59. Wait you are "Catholic" and support Obamacare???

  60. "While I disagree with many of your political assertions, I truly believe that you and I probably agree on much more than we disagree on."

    This is a very false statement because if you pick and choose what you want to agree on with the church and you reject other teachings....YOU DO NOT AGREE AT ALL and I'm sorry it doesn't make you Catholic. It makes you protestant.

  61. You also realize that the funding received by hospitals from the government has nothing to do with agreeing with government policies, right?

    They receive funding as payment for services that they provide that the government then doesn't have to. It's like someone coming to my husband and using Medicaid to pay for the care they receive. That doesn't mean my husband has to agree with every policy/let the government dictate every action - it means they are paying him for a service.

    Also, government funding has nothing to do with whether or not a citizen/organization/healthcare provider must comply. It is not based on whether or not one receives federal dollars - even if a hospital/university/whathaveyou does not accept any federal dollar, it must still comply with what is within Obamacare (including the HHS Mandate). If that was not the case, and only those who received federal funding had to comply, your argument might be valid.

  62. Why would you even waste your time being in a religion you do not agree with. The church will not change for you, but you have many other options to pick and choose what you want to believe in somewhere else....

    You support babies being murdered in the womb at our tax paying dollars...You support abortifacients.....You support millions of tax paying dollars being given to planned parenthood.

    This does not make you Catholic, I am very sorry to inform you. Did you miss that memo? Catholics do not support contraception, sterilization and abortions?

  63. Okay, okay...before we start lashing out at the dissenting commenter (those who are for ObamaCare) let's remember to act like Christians.

    There's no need to jump to conclusions. If a person says they are for ObamaCare, that doesn't necessarily mean that they support abortion. Maybe they don't like that part but support ObamaCare overall.

    And let's refrain from dictating what a person is or isn't. Comments like "political conservatives masquerading as Christians" are below the belt.

    Can we agree to keep the discussion civil and not jump to conclusions until a person says otherwise?

    If your temper is getting the best of you, remember Avarice is a sin. Step away from the computer and come back when you've calmed down.

    1. Dang, meant Wrath. hair must be on fire or something...

  64. Isn't it ironic?

  65. I have not read the comments since the last time I wrote, so forgive me for jumping ahead… I'll go back and read. However, Delatflute, you sound a bit like the owner of the blog, or a moderator! ha ha, leave that to me if you don't mind. :)


    There's no need to jump to conclusions. If a person says they are for ObamaCare, that doesn't necessarily mean that they support abortion. Maybe they don't like that part but support ObamaCare overall.

    Actually, the bishops don't support Obamacare overall precisely because of "that part" (abortion).

    It's pretty serious stuff for a Catholic.

  66. I'm not NOT acting like a Christian. :) Being pissed for what is at stake, sir/mam, is not a sin. It's holy rage....I live in America and I do not want to see my religious liberties stripped from me. Or nor do I want to hear of "catholics" pretending to be Catholic when we are at war.

    And how can you support Obamacare that has a clause in there to mandate contraception coverage and be Catholic? Please do explain? And maybe Leila will come in to calm the waters.... :)

    And if some more of us would speak up with passion maybe we wouldn't be in 1/2 the mess we are in.....

    But the giant is awake ;) I'm truly asking questions...You can not be for support of abortion and be Catholic. I'm sorry, it just doesn't mix. You can not agree with 1/2 of what the church teaches and call yourself catholic. Sorry, it doesn't work.

    And for that I have every right to be passionate about this discussion.

  67. Thank you, Deltaflute. You are right, some of the assumptions made are false: I do not support elective abortions at all. That said, I support and encourage the full spectrum of contraception, from abstinence and NFP all the way to artificial forms.

    Yes, I am a Liberal and I support health care reform, but I am also against the death penalty, wars and all forms of foreign aggression, and I support a preferential option for the poor, all of which are very much in line with my Catholic upbringing.

    I was born a Catholic, am very proud of my Jesuit education, and I will remain a Catholic until I die. I love the Catholic Church dearly, and if I criticize the Church, it is because it means a lot to me. I stand with several Catholics who are not lock-step with the Vatican. Does this somehow make us inferior Catholics? I would argue that nobody on this earth can be the judge of that. I choose to have a faith that is thought-about and reflected on. While I respect the Magisterium and hold it in the highest regard, i do not accept that it is the sole source of what is right or wrong in this world. Even Pope Benedict declared that there is "sin within the Church". The Bishops are human too, you know.

    1. So your conscious leads you?

    2. I speak to priests, I speak to my aunts (I have 4 of them and they are all Catholic sisters!), and yes, I pray and trust my own conscience. Dignitatis Humanae backs me up on that.

      Sew, I am at peace with the way I live my faith. I think some of your "holy rage" is a bit misplaced. I am not your enemy.

    3. You can be at peace all you want to be with your conscious.

      I'm not saying you are my enemy because I strongly disagree with everything you are saying. I just don't have it in me for people who call themselves Catholic and only agree with 1/2 of the church. And truthfully I'm not really concerned with your aunts being 4 religious...That has NOTHING to do with this.

      And I have spoken to Priests before who have not lead me in the right direction, especially according to church teaching. Thank you God, I did not go down the road I was instructed to by a Priest, I would have been out of line with teaching.

      My holy rage is not on you but what the Obamacare stands for....

      I didn't mean to turn this debate on you or away from the health care debate, but I don't have it in me with dissenting Catholics picking and choosing what they wish to believe.

      And no disrespect.......I just respectfully disagree with you calling yourself Catholic. ;)

    4. And if you are inline with church teaching why are the bishops against this?

    5. Well, I guess I also respectfully disagree with your self-declared authority on judging whether or not I am Catholic. :-)

  68. Serious question for you (not being snarky):

    How do you reconcile this statement:

    "While I respect the Magisterium and hold it in the highest regard, i do not accept that it is the sole source of what is right or wrong in this world."

    with this from the Catechism (from CCC 891):

    "The infallibility promised to the Church is also present in the body of bishops when, together with Peter's successor, they exercise the supreme Magisterium," above all in an Ecumenical Council. When the Church through its supreme Magisterium proposes a doctrine "for belief as being divinely revealed," and as the teaching of Christ, the definitions "must be adhered to with the obedience of faith."

    I truly do not understand. If it is infallible in its teaching authority, how can you not accept it as a source of what is right or wrong?

    1. Followed by CCC 892:

      "Divine assistance is also given to the successors of the apostles, teaching in communion with the successor of Peter, and, in a particular way, to the bishop of Rome, pastor of the whole Church, when, without arriving at an infallible definition and without pronouncing in a "definitive manner," they propose in the exercise of the ordinary Magisterium a teaching that leads to better understanding of Revelation in matters of faith and morals. To this ordinary teaching the faithful "are to adhere to it with religious assent" which, though distinct from the assent of faith, is nonetheless an extension of it."

    2. There are only two things that have been declared infallible teachings: the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption of Mary. I am completely in line when it comes to these. I am not aware of any other ex cathedra declarations in the Catholic Church.

    3. Those were infallible teachings made by a pope, that's not what this is talking about. There's a difference between papal infallibility and infallibility in the teaching authority of the Magisterium.

      Teachings of councils, for example, have also been considered infallible. Many more have been taught as binding.

      Here are some basic links: (this one is in regarding to contraception and how that teaching is infallible)

    4. Well, it seems like, apart for the two declarations about Our Holy Mother, there is still a whole lot of discussion on the matter.

    5. I'm not sure why you posted that link? It even refers to infallible teachings made by ecumenical councils, as well as mentions that other decrees are considered binding...

    6. I posted it because it said that neither side was correct (neither my original assertion, nor the assertion that all the ecumenical councils are infallible).

    7. Was there an assertion that all councils were infallible? I never said that.

      I said teachings were - not ALL teachings, just teachings. That's also why I said that many have been considered binding (in contrast to infallible).

      Just like papal infallibility, there are requirements that a council has to meet before a teaching is considered infallible. That was defined in the links I posted (very clearly in the EWTN one, actually).

  69. Just to be clear, the private sins of bishops and popes, who are human and do sin out of free will, are not the same as the infallible teachings of the Church. We can recognize their humanity, but that does not give us license to ignore infallible doctrine, which does not include their sins.

  70. So those are the only two teachings that you feel one must believe to be Catholic? If yes, can you explain that?

    1. No, that's not what I meant. I meant exactly what I said: that those were the only two teachings that have been declared infallible doctrines in the Catholic Church. I don't make judgements on whether people can be "Catholic" or not. Do I believe it is possible to disagree with Church teachings and remain a Catholic? Yes. My family is Liberal and also very Catholic (like I said, I have 4 aunts who are Catholic sisters!).

  71. Let me rephrase it...Are you saying those two doctrines are the only "deal breakers" in the only infallible ones...and we have flexibility with the rest?

    I'm, of course, with Heidi...It doesn't make an ounce of sense that those two are the only infallible teachings of the Church.

  72. Not to mention the fact that when they show up to the ER, they are often very ill and require much more expensive intervention than if they had health insurance and were seeing a personal physician who counseled them on preventative medicine! As responsible citizens, we are required to do things all the time, including purchasing car insurance, and I don’t hear you guys complaining about being forced to do that!

    Jet! Yes. Very well put.

  73. Car insurance laws are handled on the state level, not federally mandated. Car insurance does not violate our conscience in any way. If car insurance started requiring contraceptive and abortion coverage, you bet we'd start to speak up! There are two major differences there.

  74. Jet, do you support or oppose the HHS mandate?

    Re: car insurance - apples and oranges. We are not forced to buy a car. If the federal government forced everyone (even those who did not own a car) to buy car insurance on the pretext that they MIGHT someday own a car, then it'd be a better analogy.

  75. Jet, Heidi's links expand on your link and explain it. They both agree with each other, but the point is that there are more than two infallible teachings. Even your post expresses this.

    Out of your post:

    "The Nicene Creed (adopted by the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D.) states the faith of the Church on a very crucial point: Is Jesus “of the same substance” [nature] as God the Father? The Council of Nicaea said that Jesus is and, therefore, took an existing Profession of Faith and inserted the term homoousious (“of the same substance”) at the proper place. This is an infallible statement of what the Church believes."

    Now it's time to start researching all the infallible teachings...Or reading all of Leila's blog posts! Haha. She explains it so well :).

  76. To continue the analogy... the Obama administration would also levy a fine - or rather, a tax - against those who used public transportation in lieu of purchasing car insurance.

  77. It's not "self-declared," it's what's known as "logic."

    If self-identify as a vegan but you eat bacon, then you're not a vegan.

    If you're a Catholic who supports intrinsic evil, then you may be a Catholic by baptism but in practice you're a Protestant (since you are, by definition, protesting against the teachings of the Church).

    That's just simple logic.

  78. I'm not sure if you are talking to me, but I don't see anyone here making "self-declared" authoritative statements on your Catholicism. We're just trying to clarify Catholic teaching and understand your perspective, which sounds misguided and misinformed on our end. Just trying to understand the source of these ideas. If there is clarity out there that contradicts your understanding up until now, would you not want to read it? I am always reading in order to obtain a greater understanding of our faith. We just aren't big enough to figure it out all by ourselves, and we never grow wise enough to stop seeking the full truth. Thank God we have the Magisterium, because it would be tough to sort it all out on our own.

    1. I'm sorry, Elizabeth, I was talking to Sew who keeps insisting I am not a Catholic. It was getting to be offensive and i have been trying very hard to avoid personal attacks and I was frustrated. Like I said, I don't think that anyone on this earth can be the judge of that.

      I appreciate that you have engaged me in a discussion that was free from personal attacks/judgements.

      The argument about being a vegan is flawed because the very definition of vegan is someone who abstains from animal products. That's it. The Catholic Church, however is a very diverse group of people -- it not homogenous. like I said, not all Catholics are lock-step with the Vatican.

  79. Not meaning to be disrespectful, Leila, just simply a reminder. It's my Christian duty, if you please.

    Sew~ There is a difference between righteous anger and wrath. Righteous anger is being angry about the situation, which I am too. Wrath is being angry at the person in an uncharitable manner. At least, that's what my confessor tells me. I leave you to judge if your comments reflect one or the other.

    As for Jet's comments, it's not for me to judge whether a person's beliefs make them Catholic or not. Certainly, I agree that where Jet currently stands does not make her in accord with the Church. However, that doesn't mean Jet isn't currently working herself through the discernment process. I've had to work my way through many issues. As I'm sure we all have.

    And Jet may not agree, but engaging in dialogue about political/morality issues is the Holy Spirit at work.

    Again, not being in accord with the Church doesn't make one less of a Catholic. Just makes them working out their "faith with fear and trepidation." We are all on a journey to holiness; it's just that some of us are at different points along the way.

    Personally, it makes it more difficult for a person to hear the Holy Spirit's call when someone is making a judgement call on whether or not a person is indeed a Catholic. When dealing with issues, I hate it when a person tells me that "I'm not Catholic" when it's really a specific issue.

    Perhaps the better wordage is a confused Catholic or *shudders* cafeteria Catholic. But I'd rather refrain from labeling people and let them decide who and what they are.

  80. We are trying to say that there are infallible teachings through the councils...not that everything said at every council is infallible. Make sense? Your article says the same thing. So it's not an issue of either side being correct, but of clarifying infallibility. The Church knows and understands infallible doctrine and teachings...It is not up for debate. But we do need to properly learn our faith. Sometimes we think something is infallible, and it's not. Or we think we can interpret something for ourselves, and that's not true either. So the challenge is knowing our faith well, and I know that I need to look things up often. Misunderstanding our faith does not make it "undecided".

  81. It's okay, Jet! I just wanted to make sure that I didn't unintentionally sound too harsh. Like I said earlier, sometimes I don't convey my tone well either :).

  82. The definition of a "Catholic" is one who is a member of the Catholic Church.

    The Catholic Church requires its members to believe in and adhere to its teachings.

    If a member does not, then that member is, in effect, a Protestant even if s/he is still a member of the Church on paper.

  83. Why would you want to be a member of a church that you believed taught error as doctrine, anyway? I don't get it. When I became convinced that the ELCA taught error as doctrine, I left it. I didn't hang around and claim to be Lutheran while believing in Catholic doctrine.

    I just don't get the logic. *shrug*

  84. Oh, I agree. I'm not at all insinuating anyone is a "good Catholic" vs a "bad Catholic." We're all sinners, and I'm sure we've all got points that we're trying to discern ourselves.

    I think what I'm trying to understand is how one cannot accept the teachings on faith while trying to discern through them. Does that make sense?

    The Catechism is very clear that we are to adhere to the teachings of the Church, even if we do not understand them. The teaching authority of the Church is the Magisterium.

    I'm truly confused as to how one can reconcile the idea that the Magisterium is not an authority on what is right and wrong with the directives in the Catechism itself.

    I'm not really interested in a tit-for-tat as to what teachings are and are not infallible. That doesn't get to the root of the conversation: whether or not the faithful need to adhere to the teaching authority of the Magisterium.

  85. But the vegan analogy does fit. The definition of a vegan is someone who does not eat animal products, correct?

    The definition of a Catholic is a member of the Catholic Church, adhering to Her teachings (you can find this in CCC 74-100).

    So just as a vegan cannot eat a BLT and be faithful to his "veganism", a Catholic cannot, in good conscience, knowingly dissent from the teachings of the Catholic Church and be faithful to his Catholic identity. This is why I'm confused.

  86. On a side note, I'm an anthropologist, by training, and there's a term that floats around the sociology/anthropology worlds that I think fits much better than "cafeteria" Catholic or "confused" Catholic. The social scientists use the term "cultural Catholic," which I like.

    There ARE aspects of the Catholic faith that build/shape cultural traditions (music, art, dance, structure of life, language). These can often be separated from the theology that originated them. I think we see a lot of that, in general, in our American society. (Not relating that to anyone here - just a comment from my anthropologist brain, haha)

    1. Yes, I think cultural Catholic is a better wordage. Sorry. Had a baby crying in my ear.

      I've known a lot of people, especially Hispanics, who call themselves Catholic but when you talk to them only go to Mass for the major feast days.

      And I agree it can be confusing when a person seems very adamant about their beliefs. But I wonder just how adamant a person is when they are coming to a Catholic blog arguing over things. When I see that it seems to me that there's a small crack in the window (maybe just the Holy Spirit's tiny voice) where they are open to another idea. Nothing is set in stone.

      I've changed my mind about many things that I thought I once supported. And it's all because I came on a blog and listened and spoke and people talked to me rather than yell at me or define me. And I mean that in no disrespectful way to anyone who is a little bit more "passionate." It just doesn't work for me.

      That's why I said something. I feel for Jet and I pray for Jet. I want that crack to get larger not seal up. We really have to know a person well enough to know whether passion works or holding off. Unfortunately we can't discern that over a computer. It would be easier in person.

      And that's my two cents. I'm not trying to start something. I'm a peace maker of sorts.

  87. Gosh, I missed a LOT! But you all covered things very well, thanks, guys!

    Deltaflute, no worries, it's just that Sew is sort of the Queen of my Heart and one of the folks who got me started with the Bubble… Her passion and expression is, well, passionately expressed, but that's what I love about her! Nothing was over the line.

    Flying Goose, great quote from the British bishops! But not relevant to Obamacare. Catholics are not required to agree with a horrendous law simply because people on the left think it sounds good. Somethings that sound good are actually not so good in practice. So, I can agree with that great quote, and still be opposed to Obama's prescription for our health care problems.

    more in a second...

  88. Jet, I know the conversation might have moved on to questioning your Catholicism, but I'm interested in hearing your doctor's perspective on what you think an ideal system (or closer to ideal, at least) would look like. I do see Obamacare as an improvement, but I imagine you would have ideas as to how it could be made better. I'm curious!

    I also like this: "Here's a wild thought: maybe we can stop declaring war on countries and stop throwing money at the Department of Defense and we can finally start taking care of our poor?" Wild thought indeed. :)

  89. Oh, I agree, Michelle. And maybe we can take all the money we spend throwing birth control and abortion at women in other countries and use that money for authentic medical care for the poor of the USA, as well.

    And perhaps we can stop insisting that abortion and birth control are the Holy Grail of health care so that the Catholic Church can continue providing top-notch help to victims of human trafficking.

  90. Jet, I thank you for your gracious comments, and welcome to the blog! I smiled when I heard you were educated by the Jesuits… me, too! When I went to Boston College, I had tons of practicing Catholic friends. After the Jesuits got through with us, none were faithful Catholics anymore, ha ha! I actually figured out my faith in the years after college (you can read my whole story at the top of the blog), but as of this day, 23 years later, not one of my friends from BC is a practicing Catholic, and many are pretty much *nothing*. That is the legacy of Jesuit education since the middle of the last century. There are still some faithful Jesuits around, don't get me wrong! But they are like hen's teeth.

    Okay, here's the 411 on infallibility:

    Yours is a very common misunderstanding, and I hope that the little explanation I gave will clear it up.

    Also, here is something I wrote recently, about what it means to be a Catholic:

    And, as a nod to your aunts who are sisters (probably supporters of the LCWR), here is an extremely important post I wrote about conscience and dissent from Church teaching:

    I hope those clear up some of the questions that many of us had before we took that leap and became faithful Catholics, in submission to the Magisterium.

    I am glad you are here, because you are respectful and because you are representative of so many Catholics in America. How did you find the Bubble?

  91. I do see Obamacare as an improvement, but I imagine you would have ideas as to how it could be made better.

    Michelle, how does one keep up with the regulations on Obamacare, with said regulations already covering 5,000 pages? How will that work, exactly?

  92. And maybe we can take all the money we spend throwing birth control and abortion at women in other countries and use that money for authentic medical care for the poor of the USA, as well.

    AMEN, JoAnna! Seems we have money to fund a lot of things. And, don't get me started on the human trafficking/Obama travesty. That's when my "holy rage" will start...

  93. And, does anyone else see the whimsy today? We have flying geese, and jets, and bubbles and flutes! And maybe the Jet is a Delta! Too fun, guys!

  94. I have to congratulate you, Leila, again, on creating so much energetic dialog.

  95. Johanne, I've missed you! Nice to "see" you! :)

    And, thanks Deltaflute. You are right, and thanks for the reminder!

  96. I'm going to study more about this ObamaCare and today's ruling and then decide if I like it or not. Of course, I don't like the free contraceptives aspects of it. Maybe the whole thing will work out in my favor. I am neck deep in medical bills and insurance premiums*. Oh yeah, I'm still unemployed and have a chronic condition. And I'm single and live on my own. In the meantime, my local Catholic hospital has sent me to collections, but I don't care. If I cared, I would just acquire another stress-induced illness. My credit rating is probably in the negative numbers at this point.

    *A state program I pay into. This state program is for medical losers and covers crap.

    I hear (read) a lot of criticism. Maybe somebody has a good idea that provide everyone with good healthcare and a way to pay for it?????????

    Now, that I'm feeling sorry for myself, I'm going to cry now. I know my sad story isn't the only one.

  97. Leila, not quite sure what you're asking. I'm just curious as to what Jet's ideal system would be - I don't often get to talk to liberal Catholic doctors, so I want to seize the opportunity while I've got it! :)

  98. I just think the law is out of control, unwieldy and cannot possibly be efficient. Not too mention the bad stuff in it. Just the application is nightmarish. But the left loves big government and tons of regulations.

    Lena, that is awful! So sorry. There are lots of good ideas out there, but Obama would not HEAR of them. He ignored everyone else's ideas to fundamentally reform things.

    Interestingly, if anyone heard Obama's statement today, he mentioned my relative (Natoma Canfield) again (he's used her letter before). That's an interesting story in itself, and one I might tell (like in a few decades, ha ha). But even though he's used her to campaign for his bill about a zillion times, he never once went to visit her in the hospital, when he was in the area, at the same time he was using her. Interesting. Anyway, it's surreal when he keeps talking about my cousin. :)

  99. And Michelle, there are TONS of liberal dissenting Catholics in the nation! They are not hard to find, ha ha!

  100. Haha, Leila, I know a few myself, just not doctors! Anyway, Jet being a doctor is what interested me most, since that's a perspective I don't think is represented on the Bubble too often.

    I'm actually interested to hear what anyone thinks would be an ideal system - I don't have a perfect (or even better) solution myself, so I'm all ears.

  101. Personally, I'd like to see tort reform, portability of insurance (why is it tied to an employer?), a la carte ordering (why does a 60-year-old man need maternity coverage? Why do I need birth control or sterilization coverage?), and frankly, about a ZILLION fewer regulations and twenty less layers of bureaucracy.

    I'm also not a fan of middle men (insurance for everything). No wonder it all costs so much.

    And, lest anyone forget, we can't get 21st century health care for 1960s prices. Have you seen the new machines? ;)

    And, we are headed for a doctor shortage (but no lawyer shortage!), so that's not gonna help shorten the lines, is it? Especially as many docs are going to quit if they have to live under the constraints of Obamacare, PLUS no tort reform. I don't blame them. Some are uber-rich, sure, but others are most definitely NOT. Especially with 100's of thousands in student loan debt. Not worth it, you know? I hope my son does not catch my cynicism, ha ha.

  102. Also, the ability to buy insurance across state lines.

    I am glad that ObamaCare is getting rid of the pre-existing conditions regs. I've always thought those were dumb.

  103. Lena, I read a great Op/Ed a few months back (need to dig it out) written by a Catholic physician. He argued for medicine under the subsidiarity logic -- cutting out the insurance middle man or any third party and reinstating that doctor-patient relationship with the two parties who were most knowledgeable and have most at stake. In order to make care affordable, he expressed the Catholic physicians obligation to provide the service based on the patient's ability to pay, even offering it for free in certain cases with the extremely poor. I think he was speaking mostly for family docs and specialists and not for catastrophically expensive illnesses, where we may still need some level of insurance. But in a perfectly Catholic world, you would not be in collections with a Catholic hospital, and I am sorry to hear about that. They are operating in a very broken system, so I imagine that contributes to the problem.

    Any talk of negotiations on price or payment plans? I once had an anesthesiologist wave $3,000 in fees after 9 months of phone calls to their office. Finally got a really nice and merciful guy. He completely understood my predicament, and reduced the charges to their average negotiated insurance price instead of the inflated price. I know hospitals will often reduce the bill price to recover something. When they charge more than one can afford, they risk throwing the patient into bankruptcy and seeing none of it. I pray it gets better for you!

  104. JoAnna, completely agreed on both!

    Leila, I'm not quite sure what the effect on doctors' pay will be, but if it does take a hit, I do hope people (your son too!) won't be discouraged from pursuing medicine. Salary was never part of my decision to become a doctor, but I wonder if the price of med school might go down to match the pay decrease if that proves to be a problem...? I have no idea, but I do realize that could unfortunately be a deciding factor for some people.

  105. Please, please, please stop telling Catholics they aren't Catholics because you feel like it. Catholics are Catholics are Catholics until they choose to leave the Church.

    Yes, we are required to live by the rules and teachings of the Church but that is to be a Catholic in GOOD STANDING- it doesn't mean they aren't a Catholic.

    For a group that seems to take great joy in telling others they can't "pick and choose what the Church teaches" you seem to forget awfully quick the Church would still consider Jet a Catholic.

  106. @Leila
    Would you say there are also conservative dissenting Catholics? Or are liberals not true Catholics by default. Thanks.

    P.S. I know many physicians who are thrilled about Obamacare.

  107. Starfire, I don't think any of us are saying that someone "isn't Catholic." What we are doing, however, is trying to gently correct public dissent and understand just where the confusion lies, so we can help our fellow Catholic.

    Isn't our goal to get each of our fellow Catholics into a position of "good standing?"

    At what point, I'm curious, does one officially "leave the Church?" Does public dissent qualify? Does publicly renouncing the Catholic faith qualify? Does not attending Mass qualify? How do we - the observer - determine when someone has left the Church?

    Can we not assume that one is still Catholic, but is either confused about teaching or knowingly dissenting (and needs to be lovingly corrected)?

  108. And I'm not trying to be argumentative. I think in "bulletpoints" so I write like that, too. I'm not good at making my posts all word-y.

    I'm truly curious. Is there a line that we cannot cross, as a fellow Catholic? Obviously doing it online and not in person makes it more difficult, but does that mean we should not do it at all?

  109. Johanne, yes there are definitely conservative dissenting Catholics! In fact, there is a whole group that has broken from Rome and are in full schism. They fancy themselves more Catholic than the Pope. To be a faithful Catholic means to submit to Church teaching. Everything in the Deposit of Faith and also the precepts of the Church (the binding and loosing, or Canon Law). One can be outside of that on a number of fronts. But the most common thing we see here the western world is those who dissent on the sexual issues. The sexual sins are the sin of choice in our era and culture, and those are mostly folks on the left.

    Yes, there are doctors for Obamacare. I haven't met any, but I have seen them on TV. I think the AMA supports Obamacare? But the AMA long ago stopped speaking for all doctors. Sort of like the AARP and seniors.

  110. Heidi, your questions are valid. I echo them… at what point does one cease to be a practicing Catholic or a Catholic in good standing?

    Technically, if one is baptized a Catholic, then one is a Catholic. That is the incorporation into the Body of Christ. Technically, there are Catholics in Hell. One cannot undo one's baptism. So, yes, StarFireKK, Jet is a Catholic. And I was a Catholic even when I was not practicing. In the old days, people understood that they were a "bad Catholic" (maybe even said with a chuckle, but still acknowledged) when they were disobedient or dissenting. Today, every Catholic seems under the notion that one can completely disregard the teaching authority of the Church and still be in perfectly good standing, even going up to Communion.

    If you asked me 20 years ago, I would have said I was a Catholic and that I was "devout", even though I was in full blown mortal sin and skipped mass on top of it (another mortal sin). I am so glad I was eventually told that there is more to being a good Catholic than what I was doing. I didn't understand. Someone had to say it. I liked that I got a wake up call. It was that spiritual work of mercy: Instructing the ignorant. And in my case: Admonishing the sinner.

    Maybe Jet has never encountered the idea that one must be in good standing, or not in a state of mortal sin, to fully live the Catholic Faith, and to receive Communion. It is entirely possible (probable) that people don't know this. They were never taught. Hopefully, she is a big girl and is not running away screaming because this idea is presented to her. I think she might be interested in learning more about her faith. I could be wrong and I don't want to presume. But those are my thoughts, and she is welcome to respond and straighten me out if I have it wrong.

    1. And yikes, PLEASE don't read that second paragraph to mean that I think Jet is going to hell! That was an unfortunate juxtaposition that I only caught upon re-reading it! I would never imply that about anyone! My point was that anyone who is baptized Catholic, from the saints to the worst sinners, are technically Catholic. That is the criterion: Baptism.

      But as I said, then there is a question of if one is a practicing Catholic or not, a faithful Catholic or not...

  111. Couldn't get to the bottom of the comments. Being Catholic means assenting to the teachings handed down from the teaching magisterium, fyi.

    I thought this analysis was good, also...and hopeful?

  112. Leila, I am scrambling to read up on my Constitutional Law books and the decision but I am not as quick to the draw as you are. My take for right now is that the spiritual warfare's just begun and we know who wins the war...that's thanks to Lady in the Pew by the way.

  113. Leila, I just read your comments about being Catholic, whether you follow the teachings or not...I wasn't trying to argue with you there, yikes! ;) I just get so frustrated when people who don't follow the Church's official teachings still want to remain Catholic...and I don't understand for the life of me, WHY?

    1. I'm still waiting for that question to be answered myself.........

  114. Elizabeth, thanks for "hearing" me. My insurance has already paid the Catholic hospital its portion. The hospital is after me for the remaining 20 percent or whatever my co-pay is. My female doctors in private practice are very patient with my small monthly payments while continuing to treat me. The hospital set up a different (and new) account every time I walked in last year for a different outpatient procedure. Let's say I have $25.00 a month to pay on those accounts. I could send $5.00 a month on five different accounts or put the $25 towards one account. Plus I get aggravated that this hospital keeps advertising on the television and radio as if we don't notice the huge brick complex right in the middle of the town on the busiest street. And the hospital keeps sponsoring community events. And of all the times I've applied to work there, I've never been called to an interview. And when they built the addition and decorated it, they choose ugly colors to boot! Okay, the ugly paint and wallpaper has nothing to do with healthcare payments. Thanks for letting me express my aggravation.

  115. I have always been taught a Catholic is a Catholic. Just because someone is struggling with the faith and the teachings does not make them NOT a Catholic. To defect from the Church requires much more than just public disagreement or even non-compliance.

    Not that public disagreement or non-compliance is good thing but it doesn't strip the baptism away from the person. They can always come home because they are always family.

    Insisting someone shouldn't call themselves Catholic because they are not living a Catholic life is a personal opinion and not the Church's stance.

    While some here might not understand why someone would associate with a Church they don't fully agree with I don't understand why a Church based on universal Truth and love wouldn't rejoice that there is still something in that person that makes them _want_ to be a part of this Church even if they struggle with other issues.

    Insisting they drop any connection to the name may make it that much harder for them to return when they are ready. Why make that path harder for someone? What do you really gain or lose by it?

  116. StarFire, I really like your family example regarding Catholic v. not Catholic. That helps clarify it a bit for me. Even if my brother completely disgraces, embarrasses, ridicules, etc., the family, he is still a "Smith" and will always be a "Smith". And in a perfectly holy world, we would welcome the prodigal son home and reconcile if he ever realized the error of his ways. But he was always part of the family even when wrong. I also agree that we should do everything within our power to keep that dialogue and door open so as not to push someone away through own faults...It is tricky to balance conviction, truth, and love!

    And, of course, Leila is right in that one can be Catholic and still not make it to Heaven.

  117. StarFire, I get what you are saying. But what are your thoughts about scandal? We aren't talking about Catholics who "struggle" with Church teaching. We are talking about people who out and out reject them. Yes, they are still Catholic, but sometimes, we should modify the description, no? To avoid scandal? For example, Nancy Pelosi is a Catholic. She describes herself as a "devout" Catholic, and yet she is as big a dissenter as they come, including legislating against the Church and leading others to do so. Also, the bishops themselves have corrected her errors publicly and chastised her, and the Pope refused her a photo op. Would it be okay to modify the description of her to a "dissenting" Catholic, or can we call her an "unfaithful" Catholic? She causes scandal and confusion on a grand scale. Non-Catholics actually believe that she and Biden and Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, and most non-practicing Catholics in America are in good standing. It's confusing. They say, as our friend Johanne says, "How can I tell who is a faithful Catholic or not?" and then they believe that being a good Catholic means one can skip mass, advocate for abortion rights, gay marriage, rebel against Church authority, etc., and that's all completely kosher in our Faith. But it's not. So, what do you propose as a way to avoid scandal and confusion about what it means to live an authentically Catholic life?

    When does "admonish the sinner" and "instruct the ignorant" come in, if we are all simply "Catholic", with no modifiers?

    That said, yes, they can always come home, like I did and like so many on this blog. But I don't think most dissenters even think they are "away"! How do we let them know, and why should they care?

    Those are not rhetorical questions. I am interested in your take.

  118. Catholic by birth is not the same thing as Catholic by practice. Martin Luther was also a Catholic, if we used the definition "once a Catholic, always a Catholic."

    Those who are not Catholic by practice should, IMO, have the integrity not to self-identify as Catholic even if they are Catholic by birth. I'm Lutheran by birth but, having left the Lutheran church and repudiated some of its teachings, I now identify as Catholic. It'd be dishonest for me to call myself Lutheran when I have strenuous disagreements with much of their doctrine.

  119. You know ObamaCare is not the perfect law. There is no such thing. Every law in the books could have been written better, executed better, interpreted better. Human law is full of errors.

    But the history of our country clearly shows when we fail to act- the government steps in. When we fail to protect the workers- the government steps in. When we fail to protect and care for children- the government steps in. When we do not treat others fairly- because they are different than us (sex, race, creed, etc) - the government steps in. When we commit crimes against each other- the government steps in.

    The fact remains- we have a horrible situation in this country where millions are going without health care. Not without insurance- without CARE.

    Sure, we have some charities who do their best to serve the communities they are in but they do not have the resources to meet the demand. They are not always accessible to those that need them most.

    We don't need the fancy houses, all the cars, all the vacations, the average 15,000 consumer debt per household in this country.....we certainly don't need them at the expense of someone's else health.

    We failed to act, we failed to take care of our own. So the government, with its infrastructure, is stepping in to fulfill that need we didn't or couldn't fill.

    Is it the government's job? Of course not- it is ours. But the government is ours too. It is filled with people we elect and funded with money we earn.

    Why is it "where your treasure is, your heart is also" only seems to apply when the parish wants to raise money?

  120. The problem is, StarFire, that it's largely the government who prevents us from trying to take care of our own (for example, the HHS mandate, denying the USCCB the grant to help human trafficking victims, etc). And while we try to elect officials who won't constantly throw up roadblocks, it's not always possible.

  121. Leila, with high-profile public figures, we need to provide absolute clarity on their dissent. I think it is actually more clear cut with public figures, and that is why bishops and popes make clear statements. A public figure can harm a lot of people. It is trickier with private individuals, and our approach should be more tailored. I think sometimes "tough love" is the only way to reach someone, but many people get very defensive with an outright immediate confrontation. If they are open to dialogue on a calmer level, then we should start there. The conversation has a better chance of benefiting the other party. I always think of Chesterton and his brilliant conversational abilities, which drew people to him and to the truth.

    I also think of some of our extremely liberal friends, childhood friends of my husband. They love to visit. One secular atheist in particular loves to talk about matters of faith and morals, and he said once, "You guys are the only Christians I like!" But we are very straightforward with our Catholic views -- No glossing over, no dodging the hard issues, no compromising. I think my husband has a gift for relationships (I don't!), and God uses that sometimes.

  122. Also, Starfire, lots of us are not opposed to universal healthcare...if this healthcare law did not infringe upon our religious freedoms or fund abortions and if I actually believed it would help more people than harm them I could maybe support it.

  123. StarFire, I think you oversimplify the Obamacare problem. We know that "we will always have the poor". We could also improve our system in the U.S., as well as improve some of our behaviors. But if "we will always have the poor" and we truly believe that, as humans, we cannot create Utopia on earth no matter our efforts, then that always leaves an excuse for government to take over and intervene by your logic. Of course, we should always put forth our best effort, and we often fail to do this. But human nature does not justify government takeover, especially when government contributes to the problem.

    Big government rarely leads to healthier societies.

  124. Elizabeth, I totally agree. The nature of the beast (gov't) is to always expand. It take a herculean effort to reign it in, and then only if the populace still has the fortitude to do so. I fear most people don't care anymore and have almost given up (let the gov't take care of it/me). It's a mindset that is hard to fight once it's set (and I'm not only talking about healthcare!). I truly believe that subsidiarity is the key here.

    And yes, it's true, LOTS of reforms are needed to get our healthcare system to work at it's best, just not the reforms that Obamacare is proposing. There are better ideas out there, and many have tried to propose them. Let's revisit them.

    Also, Elizabeth said something so key: we cannot create Utopia on this earth. That is a fatal mistake that the left believes (because this earth is all they have, or so they believe), and it leads to some really horrific political systems and regimes. Usually with a huge body count and loss of freedom. Religious freedom for sure, and then all other freedoms as well. But that's a post for another day, and today is not that day for me! :)

    1. * meaning, the left believes they can create Utopia on this earth. That belief is a fatal mistake.

  125. True- unchecked large governments can and do become tyrants. Having a very weak government and allowing the control to be with the strongest/fastest/whatever-est individuals- also leads to tyrants.

    That's why we have the Federal system. Fed government checked by the states but also acts as a check on the states. (For example, even if the states wanted separate schools for children because of their race it would not be allowed because it violates our federal rights.)

    So the point is- what devil do you trust? The government you fund and the people you elect? Or Private business and organizations?

    Both have pros and cons. But what most of the people who favor government over private business is because we feel we have more control over the government. Our government is designed the way it is because "men are not angels" business on the other hand.....not so much.

    My say as a stockholder insurance companies and hospitals is even less than my say as a member of the voting public. Also, the oversight on private organizations is FAR less than the government. (I'm not saying stamping out corruption in the government is any easier but it IS easier to identify.)

    As for the point my argument can be an excuse for any government action- that's true. So can the argument "we'll never have utopia" can be used to say we should never take ANY action. But that's not what you are saying, is it? So why don't you show me enough respect to acknowledge I'm not saying the government should hop in whenever and where-ever it pleases.

    If you want to say the government can't be part of the solution because they are part of the problem (which seems like pretty silly reasoning to me) who are you going to let be a part of the solution? The insurance companies and hospitals? Because they didn't contribute to the problem?

  126. Starfire, no one is saying that insurance companies (of which I am not a fan) or doctors or hospitals (which I do not ever want to live without) don't have a share in the problems. But I don't care for big government solutions and bureaucracy. Not a bit.

    As far as the scope of the federal government? I like the Constitution. Very few enumerated powers for the federal government, and all else is left to the states. I'm good with that. Subsidiarity in action. Some folks like a different paradigm. Not me. I don't think the operation of things become more efficient and effective as they get further away from their source. The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen. That is my political opinion. I know that others vehemently disagree.

    My wish (that I was talking about with a judge friend of mine today at lunch… my best high school friend, love you girl! When did we turn 45??) is that every American student (and perhaps adult) be required (well, encouraged) to read The Federalist Papers and de Tocqueville. On that note, I am fading out on this conversation and will let others pick up this conversation. Blessings!

  127. I understand your point Leila about liking the smaller weaker federal government and the theory the closer the government the more powerful the citizen.

    The problem is historically, in this country, that system has failed. Arguably we haven't had a weak federal system since Jefferson's administration.

    If you study the development of constitutional law you can see how the federal government's role has changed since the founder's time. It has changed because we realized the state can abuse the citizen as easily as the federal system. What started out as the belief the states will check the federals has turned into the federals working far more often as a check against the state.

    You know in the founder's time the bill of rights DIDN'T apply to the State governments. That's not the case anymore- the law has expanded to include most (but not all) of the federal constitutional protections to the state as well as the federal governments.

    I don't see the problem as being a strong or large federal government. I see the problem is the fact the vast majority of Americans just plain don't care about being active participants in the system.

  128. Here's a wild thought: maybe we can stop declaring war on countries and stop throwing money at the Department of Defense and we can finally start taking care of our poor?

    Here's an even wilder thought, let's stop throwing money at these three pits:
    Dept of Education- public sector adds nothing, states manage everything. All they do is take, redistribute and create mandates.
    Dept of Agriculture- which produces nothing and
    the Postal Service - it's losing money, we have fedex and ups who are shown to be more effective. If they can handle large packages, I'm pretty sure they can handle letter sized envelopes.

  129. Nubby- Let's assume deleting those three departments would not cause any problems with the areas they regulate/service. I don't think that's the case but let's assume it is.

    In a job poor economy, what's going to happen to all those people you just made unemployed?

    Are they going to get severance? unemployment? their pensions? If so all that will be coming out of the government's funds- do we really save that much?

    That's not even going into the fact you have flooded the market with workers desperate for a job and who will be cutting their spending (part of what makes our economy strong) Not to mention probably causing widespread panic in other departments and maybe even state departments. I don't think it has to be explained that a vast number of people in a panic over their economic future does not bode well for our economy.

    So now that you fired them.....whatcha going to do?

  130. Maybe I should clarify -- Greater government regulation compounds the problem, so I don't think increasing regulation will help the problem. Cost is a huge factor with our medical system, and the very nature of regulating our medical system from afar increases costs.

    I think that A) Medicine is very personal and should be from the bottom up (subsidiarity). B) Centralized control is inefficient, dangerous, and ultimately ineffective. C) Centralized government programs often motivates workers in ways that do not serve the goal of the organization. Regulations often don't encourage human nature in the right direction. The regulations may be well intended, but human behavior often does not respond with the desired result. I had an uncle work for the post office -- lifelong dream. He finally retired frustrated and disgusted. He had the best of intentions and a strong moral compass, but centralized systems aren't often designed to foster that in a person. And, in many cases of centralized government, the customer can't just take their business elsewhere. The post office is now seeing this happen, but we still subsidize it for now. I don't think it will be as easy to "take our business elsewhere" with centrally regulated medicine.

    StarFire, maybe you trust government more than private business. I trust my doctor and my community more than government or big business. Private business is different to me than big business, just like local government is different to me than federal or even state. I also appreciate the law in that it protects us on some levels. I can sue and recover damages from a private business. I can file a lawsuit, petition, etc. It is much, much harder to negotiate with or fight against a government or regulatory body than it is to legally or personally right a wrong from a private business. With two law firms in our family, this has become very clear to me! I would like to see government and law provide a form of check/balance against private business, not take over private business. When it takes over private business, where do we go when the injustices start? With the exception of insurance companies (and I said earlier I don't care for their scope right now), most of our doctors and hospitals are local, and many are small private practices.

    I'm a big fan of Thomas Sowell after reading "Basic Economics". If you've read it, you will know my perspective even though I know you disagree with some of my thoughts. If not, I wish I could expand and elaborate with his voice and on his scale!

  131. May I jump in? First, StarFire, you start with a hiring freeze. Then, you don't hire any new people and begin to slowly shrink the departments as people leave. These massive gov't departments (esp. education…oh, my! Who benefits besides federal employees?), do not grow the economy.

    It sounds like you think that economic stimulus comes from gov't expansion (maybe I am wrong, and you don't think that?). But where do you think the gov't gets its money? Government can always grow and bloat and expand and get fatter, because it can keep raising taxes to fund itself (and print more money, which is increasingly devalued). And most of governmental spending is entitlements. This is not "growing the economy" and it's not sustainable. The government cannot afford to put everyone on the dole, and something like 50% of the households in America are now receiving some kind of gov't check (and the gov't just keeps printing more money so that it can spend more… how convenient is that). And gov't is never accountable. No bottom line that the gov't has to meet. Most gov't workers are unionized, so you can't get rid of the bad apples. Great benefits (I know, because my husband used to work in gov't), much better than those of us in the private sector can get. But we can fail, and the gov't can't. It just grows. Something is wrong with the way we are doing things.

    We need more private sector help and private sector jobs.

    I'm sorry that we've grown the federal government so huge that now we have a problem with too many people employed by (and thus dependent on) the government. Again, not sustainable. Bad model.

    My opinion.

  132. Elizabeth, thank you! And, I LOVE Thomas Sowell. I have not read his book (Basic Economics) but it's going on the list. Maybe I'll get to that this month while I'm on break?

  133. My priest just put up a blog post about the Obamacare ruling. He's a straight talker, and he has some good points:

  134. Yes, Leila! Read it on your break :). It's a fascinating and enjoyable read. And his facts and sources are spot on. You know Sowell, so you know it's great!

  135. StarfireKK-

    Are you suggesting that it's worse when the government reduces work staff rather than the private sector? Who pays for the govt workers? Most tax revenue is from corporate taxes. So as govt grows, taxes will increase through various ways. As the taxes increase, the private sector will be forced to reduce work staff.

    Ironic that the gov't takes money from people who can employ people, only to employ people with money that's not even theirs.

    DoE total budget is an estimated $50B. Administration Costs roughly $1.8B. So even if you pay a 12mo severance, $48.2B can go back to the state level so that can appropriate as they see fit.

    Bottom line: the govt has never made a profit. They lose money every year. In fact, it they were a private entity, they would have been bankrupt and out of business years ago. I would rather my money be in the private sector and state level govt. As less tax money is needed at the federal level, there should be less burden on the tax base. Thus, the private sector will have more money to invest and absorb the jobs.

    We can't look to the government to create jobs. The gov't can only tax and redistribute. They cannot produce anything and, as I've stated, can't even break even year to year.

  136. Looking further, every bullet point on the DoE's proposal for the 2011 budget is completely manageable at the state level.

    See Section I: key proposals

    By the way, the gov't would be laying of 4,600 people in the DoE (see section V). This would hardly create "panic". It wouldn't even make a dent.

    A person shouldn't be any better off working for the govt than they would at the private sector.

  137. Pope Gregory the Great famously said .. "If people are scandalized at the truth, it is better to allow the birth of scandal, than to abandon the truth”

    Have a great July! You will be missed! :)


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