God does have a recipe for a successful economy and health care system. The idea of health care for the poor was birthed in the concern for the “least of these” that turned the Roman Empire upside down. It was once unfathomable that anyone except the upper class had access to health care until a spiritual awakening among the middle and upper class led to radical and lavish charity to the poor, according to sociologist Rodney Stark in his book “The Victory of Reason.”
This personal compassion ethic flowed from an understanding of Jesus’s parable of the Good Samaritan. Abraham’s generosity to strangers (who were revealed later to be God in disguise) became the basis of “what you do unto the least of these, you do unto Me.”
So, what is the best way to provide health care which offers the Holy Grail recipe of great quality and lower price? History and economics provide the answer: Free enterprise, increased competition, and trajectory toward first party purchases.
Why free enterprise? Free enterprise is built on one timeless truth from the Scriptures: Property rights. They are articulated in 20 percent of the Ten Commandments: You shall not steal someone else’s property or even covet their property.
Property rights are the basis of Godonomics-style free enterprise. Property leads to responsibility. Responsibility leads to productivity. Productivity leads to generosity. When I am responsible for my body, my health, and my money, I make wiser decisions with my habits. When I am spending other people’s money, I am less responsible.
Like the old joke, “What’s the difference between an SUV and a rental car? You can take a rental car anywhere.” When we don’t own it, we don’t exercise responsible care. Look at government housing as a key example.
Capitalism is not just a good idea, it’s God’s idea built on timeless biblical principles including property rights, freedom, incentive, and the rule of law. These Godonomic principles saved the pilgrims from the spiral of starvation caused by practicing socialism.
When Gov. William Bradford, of the Plymouth Colony, switched to a free enterprise system that he extracted from the Scriptures, productivity and generosity were released. Free enterprise resulted in the bounty of our first Thanksgiving. (If a group of zealot Puritans can’t make socialism work, why would we think that Washington D.C. could make it work?)
Social medicine always comes to us like Jimmy Stewart from “It’s a Wonderful Life” promising that “little moon beams will come out of our eyeballs,” but ends with increased costs, thicker red tape, and a loss of quality.
Why? Socialized medicine is plagued with politics, which comes from two words: “poly,” meaning “many,” and “ticks,” meaning “blood sucking.” Only politicized medicine could suck between $300-600 million from tax payers to build a website that is more incompetent than the U.S. Congress.
Why does free enterprise and competition lead to lower prices? Because when a company wants to profit (which the Bible affirms clearly as a great incentive in Proverbs 31), they must put the customer’s needs first. They do this by offering a service with a price and quality that will woo the customer to engage. The business owner in Proverbs does just that as she “discerns her merchandise is good” before selling it. The Bible even celebrates her profits as her incentive.
Why has the price of Lasik surgery gone down over the past twenty years while the health care premiums on insurance have risen exponentially? Lasik companies have to market directly to the customers by increasingly competing with each other to bring quality up and costs down.
With medical care, the customer rarely deals with his medical provider to negotiate rates. Instead, the provider is negotiating with government standards, HMO’s, insurance plans, and other third-party bureaucracy. A solution must move toward first-party purchases where I use my money to pay for a service I will consume. This will incentivize me to make healthier decisions about smoking, indulging, or lack of exercise. Because I will “reap what I sow” financially, I must consider the cost.
A move toward socialized medicine is a move toward third-party purchases. The government uses money that is not theirs to purchase services they will not consume. The result is always an increase in price and a decrease in quality, as we are seeing in the unveiling of Obamacare.
MSNBC’s Ed Schultz, says anyone who disagrees with Obamacare is a phony Christian who doesn’t want to be his brother’s keeper. As the author of “Godonomics,” I dispel the rumor that the Bible advocates being your brother’s keeper.
The Bible NEVER advocates being our brother’s keeper. The phrase is only used once by Cain right after he KILLED his brother. And, on a personal note to politicians who use this phrase in speeches: When advocating taking care of your brother, it is best not to quote the guy who killed his brother…I’m just saying.
Being your brother’s keeper is almost a textbook definition of codependency. I have worked with the poorest of poor in Chicago, Atlanta, and Cincinnati. I have worked at a Methadone clinic helping addicts find freedom from addiction. I can assure you that it is impossible to be anyone’s keeper. Disagree? Try it for yourself one day. Try to make someone else responsible, generous, or hardworking. It is impossible.
If Obamacare is so wonderful, why has Congress, who passed the bill, exempted themselves out of it? This is a clear violation of God’s call to the rule of law where everyone is under the same standard. The rule of law was unique to Mosaic Law and is totally abandoned when we have “tax payer” laws vs. Bureaucrat laws.
Apparently political porkers are running the country assuming all are equal, but some are “more equal” than others. Abandoning the rule of law neglects God’s warnings against large intrusive governments. In 1 Samuel 8, God says, “Forewarn them” that a king-sized government will take what is yours and make it his.
Capitalism is not just a good idea; it’s God’s idea. It only works every time it is tried.
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