Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Moral Law

There is law, and then there are morals. Sometimes the two overlap, sometimes they greatly diverge. One good example of that is health care in the U.S. of A. Plenty of laws, not enough morals.

It is immoral to let people die because they lack access to basic health care services, the type of services that are commonplace in other industrialized and civilized countries. It is also immoral to say that we cannot afford the cost of closing the health care gap in this country while billions of dollars are wasted on military enterprise, on bailing financial institutions out of the mess they created, and on tax loopholes for corporations that seek shelter under foreign law, or that outsource living-wage jobs to countries that employ modern forms of slavery. It is immoral, but not illegal, mind you. Just immoral. But immoral for whom?

Christians believe that without God there would be no morals. They speak of God as the source of the moral law, of moral obligation, and of the virtues and goals necessary to morality, without which mankind would be lost in a sea of relativity and subject to the law of the jungle. For them "evil opposes the moral will of God."

Since Republican elected officials are for the most part devout Christians (they like to trot out their Christian faith at every opportunity), it is hard to reconcile their indubitable sense of moral superiority, a sense that descends from their acceptance of and belief in a god which is supposed to be the source of morality, with their unanimous vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

The Affordable Care Act is not perfect, in fact it was lacking in many respects, and--as much as it did to close the gap with civilized countries on health care--it fell short of providing the safeguards and protections from discrimination by health insurance companies and providers that civilized nations offer. However, without it, people will die. Not two, or three, or three hundred: 32,000 according to some estimates, more based on others. Not even that knowledge prevented 242 Republicans and 3 Democrats in the House from voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Since Republicans are the party of Country and God, we can presume that in casting this symbolic vote these good Christians were guided by the moral principles acquired through the belief in their God, the source of moral law.

Prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, the law did not prevent insurance companies form dropping patients that had become to risky or too expensive to cover. It did not prevent them from denying customers coverage for pre-existing conditions. It didn't even prevent them from denying people coverage altogether. The Affordable Care Act closed some of those gaps, though not all. It was a step, a baby step, in the right direction. It was an attempt to reduce the gap between what the law provides for and what is moral.

But for Republicans, paladins of morality that they are, the Affordable Care Act is too expensive, too intrusive into the freedom of Americans (presumably the sacred freedom to be sick without care), and too hard on poor insurance companies because it might push them out of business (in reality all it would have done is to cut into their gargantuan and ill gotten gains.) Is it immoral also? Well, unless you are thinking about the part of it which provides for abortion paid for with public funds (you know, the part of it that does not exist), it would have been hard to call immoral a piece of legislation that attempted to reduce the ever increasing gap between the haves and the have-nots (and the have-not-so-much-as-they-think-they-do-until-they-need-it). And so, with the exception of the non-existent abortion clause mentioned above, Republicans threw everything but the kitchen sink at the law but stopped short of calling it immoral.

And there you have it. The Republican/Christian hypocrisy on health care reform is so thick you could cut it with a knife. It is at least as egregious as the claim that God is the giver of moral law. Either there are no precepts that a good Republican/Christian will not ignore, or the existence of such God-given precepts and their godly origin is highly questionable. Because it is hard to believe that a morally perfect being would pass down to his followers such crappy moral laws that they could be interpreted so as to make the ability of insurance companies to make a profit a higher priority than, say, taking care of the sick and the infirm.

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