Monday, July 19, 2010

"... Politics and Religion."

My sister posted a link about an article titled, "Obesity Rating for Every American Must Be Included in Stimulus-Mandated Electronic Health Records, Says HHS." Having been somewhat of a porker in my past life, I mentioned that I thought it was a good idea, since around 60% of Americans these days are overweight, and obesity is a proven contributing factor in a number of diseases including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. We agreed that obesity is a big problem, but idea that Big Government is her real complaint. This, I can understand. But then, she went down a slippery slope (in my book) by bringing up the topic of Death Panels. I think. Her example was thus:

What may very end up happening in the future is a price tag for our lives. BMI over 25% today, ok you don't qualify, get to the end of the line. Pre-exsisting medical problem? You will need to get behind the obese people. over 65, forget about it, you had your life, you are no longer of service to us. That is my fear with too much government control.

Now, I never really understood how people bought into this idea. When it first came up (last year? Has it been a year already?), I at first thought it was ridiculous, and then I realized that people were taking this seriously. So I opened up the healthcare bill, but try as I might I couldn't find any death panels. Back to the present, I replied that, "I think it's possible to have a system where, if a doctor is given the necessary information (IE BMI, pre-existing medical conditions, patient history), that makes them more able to help their patients; and I also believe in a system where the collective morality of The People can grant certain powers to the government and simultaneously keep [it] in check." There was more to it than that, but I'm saving my massive self-quotage for the end.

So anyways, I go to work for a few hours and come back, and she's replied. Now, I really liked her reply, because it gets down to the root of a lot of the issues. And being one who like things clear, I was happy to reply. However, I got a little out of hand and off-topic, as you will see.

Our collective morality is a declining reflection of the Judeo-Christian creation of our country. So what will our future collective morality be based on? It is my hopes that we can find a solution of caring for our people without forcing all of us. At what point do you believe our government systems can or should not be able to make our decisions for us?

What follows is my long-winded response. One could skip the first two paragraph if one is familiar with History.

Ha, okay so originally I wrote like 4 pages of stuff on my lunch break and told myself i'd finish after work, but having thought about it, 4 pages is probably overdoing it. so I'll try to shorten it.

My understanding from various history, social science and philosophy classes I've taken is that the country was founded on Enlightenment principles, not necessarily Judeo-Christian tradition. In fact, Jefferson's famous "all men are created equal" idea goes back to Thomas Payne's and John Locke's Humanist views. Both of these guys were Diests, not necessarily Christians. A number of them actually found themselves disagreeing with the idea of organized religion -- not to the point that they didn't want it to exist, but to the point where they made it such that anyone with any belief, or no belief at all, would be welcome in the United States, without any favoritism towards one faith or another. That is to say that there were a number of Christians among the founding fathers, but there were also a good number of Enlightenment-Deists, who believed that there was a god, but that this god valued mankind's ability to Reason over his ability to read a book.

I agree with you, however, that society is in a decline (or maybe a slump), but I think that's more tied with 1) the speed at which we as a society live and have come to expect things or information to happen/appear (a general impatience) and 2) a drop in mankind's willingness to use Reason rather than Wikipedia, Michael Savage, Glen Beck or Jesse Jackson. Or, even the Bible, for that matter. This, I think makes people argumentative and unwilling to talk about their differences rationally. Case in point, Megyn Kelly on FOX. I don't believe that our current collective is in SUCH bad of shape -- rape is still illegal, parents still love their children, neighbors will watch your house for you when you go on vacation -- but that said, mankind was never perfect. I think the difference is that before, we didn't know about bad stuff happening because society chose to ignore it, or else couldn't see past their own city limits. Now, though, we are bombarded with news of death, destruction, despotism and so on in the news on a daily basis.

I once watched a video of Glen Beck crying over his "lost America," an era when kids could go outside and play without their parents worrying, where everyone was your friend, and generally all was right in the world. But he never mentioned the copious drug abuse and Iranian Revolution and hostage situation of the 80's, the racial battles of the 70's, the Vietnam War (or the Cold War nuclear attack drills) of the 50's and 60s, McCarthyism, the Korean War, World War II, The Great Depression, WWI, or anything bad that happened while he's been alive.

So, I would hope (and do believe, actually) that our collective morality would be based on a firm grasp on the past and present. Shoot, I look around these days and I see a global degree of empathy in people in MY generation that I just don't see in my brothers', yours, or my Dad's -- that's one of the side effects of having so much information at our fingertips, I think. This, tied in with America's return to the values of its founding fathers, gives me hope that all is not lost. But we gotta relearn to be patient.

As far as our governments being or not being able to make our decisions for us, that's what they've been doing for the past 240-odd years, isn't it? The USA is a representative democracy, wherein we actually go out of our way to vote for people to make our choices for us in terms of how we want to live. We do this hoping that they make choices based on how we want them to, but it ties back into one of the ideas from the Enlightenment era, that of the Social Contract between man and country. We place a certain amount of faith in our elected officials, and if they fail to deliver within a certain amount of time, they lose their job in 2-4 years. This doesn't work so well as of late however, because with communications being as instantaneous and engrossing as they are, it's easy for someone who didn't get their way in an election to make a massive stink about something and rally the public against the government. People do have valid complaints sometimes, and that's fine. But other people use dirty tactics like lying and then denying it, just to plant a seed of doubt in the general population's mind. They can go back later and say, "Oh no, what I MEANT was ..." but the damage is done. And they know it worked, so they do it again and again. And then suddenly, you have people believing that vaccines cause autism (it having nothing to do with the medical world being able to diagnose autism coinciding with vaccinations becoming widespread), that all muslims are terrorists, that the president is a muslim terrorist because his middle name is Hussein and wasn't even BORN in the USA (in spite of his birth certificate), and that government healthcare will, without question, lead to death panels.

... I could go on and on (Man, I already typed way more than I wanted to), but I'm getting off topic. Basically, by voting, I'm saying that the government has my consent to make some of my decisions for me. If they make something that infringes on my rights, there are procedures in place to handle/prevent that. But I want to at least give my government a chance.

Okay. Now if you read all that, I'd like to hear what you have to say. Am I too optimistic? Unrealistic? Is there something I'm missing? By all means, tell me.

1 comment:

  1. the thing with the death panels. howstuffworks did a great article about it, it's not like the name says at all. it's just when enough is enough, people have the option of going in and talking to a counselor when they think enough is enough so they don't have to go through chemo or experimental treatment if they don't want it. if there's not much of a fighting chance pretty much it says "we'll let you stay comfortable and have your family and friends around you" so need be you can die in a comfortable place and not in a nursing home. there are benefits to it as well i think. don't quote me but you get some money back you paid into the system if you chose to opt out of treatment to prolong your life even at a much diminished quality, but by no means by going in and talking to them are you giving up your right to live or are they telling you you need to take them up on that offer. personally i like the system. there are too many cases of people rotting away in nursing homes long after their family forgot about them, and really, that's no way to go out. if the government wants to give you back what you put in, go on a vacation then die with your loved ones by your side, so be it. it's more natural than breathing machines and adult diapers. maybe it's just my opinion.