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The Healthcare Debate and the "Moral Imperative"

By Peter Mirus (bio - articles - email) | Nov 30, 2009

Thus far, I've stayed out of the healthcare debate--mostly because it is a thorny and complex subject, which I do not pretend to know everything about.

However, here is where I would like to comment:

I have heard it expressed in many places that affordable healthcare for all people in the United States is a moral imperative (with the implication that the federal government has the responsibility to make it so).

This "moral imperative" argument is simply not true. The U.S. government does not have the moral obligation to provide (or legislate the provision of) health coverage to all of its citizens. Equally, the U.S. government does not have the obligation to clothe all naked people, feed all hungry people, bury all dead people, etc.

There are many compelling arguments to extending a level of medical care to the less fortunate. However, it is wrong to create an artificial moral imperative (unsubstantiated by Church teachings) to dictate either who is responsible for creating/providing the solution or the required level of medical services to be provided.

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  • Posted by: John J Plick - Dec. 10, 2009 2:02 PM ET USA

    Posted by: tleecat5005 - Dec. 01, 2009 10:20 PM ET USA The Catechism of the Catholic Church--Respect for health: 2288 states: Life and physical health are precious gifts entrusted to us by God. We must take reasonable care of them..., NOT an excuse to justify control by the State or even the Church. Judas Iscariot used the same argument with the annointing of Jesus' feet.. A posture that was just a bit too carnal... Seemed to sound "good" at the time, though...

  • Posted by: Samsung - Dec. 08, 2009 8:40 AM ET USA

    Government is a poor method of fulfilling our obligations towards the poor. The US government forcibly takes money from people via the IRS. Politicians spend the money in order to make themselves look benevolent while buying votes. Which do you think helps the giver more? Volunteering their own time and money or doing their taxes every year. As a practical means of charity, I'd rather give my money to a responsive organization with low overhead than a huge government bureaucracy.

  • Posted by: Frodo1945 - Dec. 06, 2009 9:23 PM ET USA

    Yep, believers have a moral imperative. I don't think that the government does and our Constitution certainly does not state that anywhere.

  • Posted by: michaelrafferty5029 - Dec. 04, 2009 1:39 PM ET USA

    Yes, in fact, we do have a moral obligation to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and care for the sick. Jesus clearly stated that obligation in Matthew 25: what you do for the least of my brothers, that you do for me. Government programs are just vehicles for our carrying out that obligation. The "principle" of subsidiarity is worthy of the best objections of the Pharisees.

  • Posted by: michaelrafferty5029 - Dec. 03, 2009 9:09 PM ET USA

    Peter, as Catholics, we most certainly do have a moral imperative to clothe the naked, feed the hungry and care for the sick. It is quite literally expected of us by Jesus, as Matthew 25 makes absolutely clear. This would actually be an interesting topic for your On Business blog, more so than long discourses on business ethics. Even the atheists can have ethics.

  • Posted by: [email protected] - Dec. 03, 2009 5:24 PM ET USA

    I want health care for those who cannot afford it. I also want those who CAN afford it to be able to keep what they have without being punished for it. Some do not want to believe this idea is in the health bill. It really is. Authorities have verified it. The forced health care on all is tyrannical and unAmerican. The ones who have written this will NEVER use it, assured.

  • Posted by: marianjohn7861 - Dec. 02, 2009 8:55 AM ET USA

    Even if the government had an obligation to provide..... the responsibility would fall to STATE, not federal, by virtue of subsidiarity.....give me the constitution or else

  • Posted by: [email protected] - Dec. 02, 2009 1:57 AM ET USA

    I believe this 'moral imperative' is bogus poppycock. The language supports lies and their imperative to take control of every aspect of our lives. Watch and listen closely to those words. There's much double-talk and repeat phrases that say nothing in the "O"s language. Pray your face off about Cap n Trade...Health care is just the beginning. When one needs a license to keep a home with yearly fees...that's 'the turbulent times'Christ talked about. Sure hope I'm wrong.

  • Posted by: tleecat5005 - Dec. 01, 2009 10:20 PM ET USA

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church--Respect for health: 2288 states: Life and physical health are precious gifts entrusted to us by God. We must take reasonable care of them, taking into account the needs of others and the common good. Concern for the health of its citizens requires that society help in the attainment of living conditions that allow them to grow and reach maturity: ... health care... Wouldn't this be a moral imperative? tlp

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