In my post on September 14, I made reference to the problem of universal health care, which is so much in the news nowadays. In response, I received the following comments (among others).
One Thinking Friend (TF) wrote (in an e-mail): "I do not think bringing politics into the equation is beneficial. It is too corrupting of both Spiritual and Religion."
MPH said in his posted comments, "It's clear that our society needs health care reform, but not just any health care reform will do. Who could question that caring for the poor is of paramount import, recognized intuitively by even the most callous in our society; and, explicitly stated in the words of Jesus as preserved by the Evangelists. But how to do it so that it is broadly effective and just is a matter demanding great contemplation."
Another TF sent me an e-mail in which he wrote, in part: "A very bright Libertarian friend of mine distinguishes between voluntary philanthropy (as, for example, when I am moved for the need of the hungry, and give to Bread for the World) and coerced philanthropy (as in government programs to care for the needy). In the latter case, we generously give away a little of our money. We also coerce others to pay taxes to support the philanthropic need. He concludes that the two types of philanthropy are not the same, even though they both involve needy people and the transfer of money from the haves to the have-nots. His other conclusion: 'Feel free to give away your own money to the needy. Don't feel free to give away my money to help the needy (or, for that matter, most other government programs).'"
In response to the above, let me just make some brief comments: (1) I am a firm believer in the separation of church and state--but not in the separation of faith and politics (as Jim Wallis often says). I believe our Christian faith should be reflected in the public policies we support (or do not support) and the politicians we vote for--and that our support of public policy or politicians should always be based upon our faith.
(2) It seems to me that there are many who do not think in terms of helping the poor in our society. ("The poor need to get to work and take care of themselves.") That is the impression I get from listening to "talk radio" (on a very limited basis; I can't take much of it at a time), and that is the impression I got from watching some of the "March on Washington" sponsored by the Tea Party Movement. (Look at their website and see if you can find any concern for the poor and uninsured people in our society.) I agree that not just any plan is OK--but this is an issue that has been pending for more than forty years now, and something needs to be done sooner rather than later.
(3) Many Libertarian groups seem to be supporters of the Tea Party movement, and my TF's "very bright" friend possibly is a supporter of that movement. I am a big supporter of liberty, especially when it comes to freedom of religion or freedom of conscience. But I am not convinced that not paying taxes for the public good is a matter of liberty as much as it is a matter of selfishness. Private philanthropy--or the work of churches and other religious institutions--will never be sufficient to take care of all the needs in society. Shouldn't a government "of the people, by the people, and for the people" do all it can to provide health care for those who do not have it and cannot afford it?