Center for Ethics and Leadership

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Right's Irresponsible Attack on Health-Care Reform

I have kept away from explicitly political positions during this blog's 16-month life, but enough is enough. No one is going to condemn old people to death. The only responsible moral position about end-of-life care is to discuss openly and generously the way of dieing nobly. No philosophy or religion advocates a win-at-all-costs end-of-life strategy.

The town hall ruckuses are clearly orchestrated. Enough.

Medicare is "socialized" medicine that, like social security, often provides recipients more benefits than they have paid in. The United States has had a mixed public-private healthcare system since Medicare was passed in 1965, and healthcare providers have negotiated reimbursement with for-profit payors (insurance companies) for years. And the name-calling "socialized" is as politically unintelligent as it is morally bereft.

A public option may work well, as would the reorganization and assignation of pools of citizens to insurance companies that did not allow the companies to "cherry-pick" only the healthy for customers. Health insurance is not like auto insurance because medical care is not like automotive transportation.

Healthcare became taken for granted in the 1940s when American business petitioned Congress to exempt health insurance from income taxes on the employee so that business could attract more employees. Now American business claims that the cost of health insurance hinders its ability to compete globally. Does this mean that to remain competitive American workers will have to give up access to "the best healthcare in the world"? Might as well have socialized medicine. And the single-payor (government) option should at least have been brought to the table, although even healthcare economists (not the yahoos at the town hall meetings) are unsure of it.

Almost 20 years ago when healthcare was only 14 percent of the GDP, it was thought to be a drag on the economy. It is now 18 percent. Reform is necessary, for the sake of the uninsured and for the sake of the economy.


Two Michaels, Two Controversies

Michael Jackson and Michael Vick, people sure like to be hatin' on 'em.

So here goes. MJ was a genius. When he died, the various music video cable channels played his greatest videos over and over. They were and are terrific, as are the songs and his performances. He was a very frightened child who grew up into a very troubled man. I never bought the accusations, however, and a few weeks ago a guy from my old neighborhood -- I might have gone to high school with his older brother -- who spent time as Michael's bodyguard was on the radio promoting his new book. He didn't buy the accusations, either. He said Michael was set up, and this guy had no reason to lie.

As for Michael Vick, he served his time and that's that. The Eagles waxed righteous and talked about giving him a second chance. Baloney! Their failed second string quarterback, Kevin Kolb, is injured, and they are in trouble at the only position that the organization thinks is sacrosanct, quarterback. Vick is not a good quarterback, although immensely talented, but he is a legitimate NFL quarterback. And he was cheap at $1.6 million.

Welcome Back! And, Greetings to First-Year Students!

This is a brief note to returning students to welcome them back to Alvernia University. I hope you had a good summer.

I am teaching the introductory course in theology this fall, and consequently will have a few of you who are new to college in my class. Remember that you are supposed to respond to this blog, so I hope to see you.

It is a new academic year, and my new year's resolution is to blog much more frequently.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Catholics More Comfortable with Same -Sex Marriage?

Mark Silk of Trinity College in Connecticut has looked at a study about to be released by two political scientists at Columbia University on the matter of gay rights, hate crimes and related issues. Silk has drawn the conclusion, from his own and the additional research, that states with a larger percentage of Catholics may be more likely to support same-sex marriage. USA Today writer Cathy Lynn Grossman calls this finding counter-intuitive and says it may have to do with liberal Catholics' understanding of social justice.

It may be neither.

Andrew Greeley's sociological work has long argued the very positive evaluation of sexual intimacy that distinguishes Catholics from other segments of the population. He has also argued that the same sacramental imagination that leads Catholics to see the work of God in creation leads them to this optimistic view of sex and their lesser condemnation of premarital sex. If Catholics think that faithful same-sex relationships can be fulfilling, their reasons may neither challenge intuition, proclaim justice, nor defy church teaching. It may be just that Catholics are being Catholic.

The Knuckleheads Strike Again

Alvernia suffered another episode of racist vandalism last week, as graffiti were spray painted on campus. It is not the first case of such vandalism. Many Alvernians remember an incident in the athletic fields several years ago. Race remains a troublesome issue in Berks County. About 15 years ago, a student in my Christian social ethics class wrote a paper that attempted to defend the Christian nature of the Ku Klux Klan. I wonder how much things have really changed.

Welcome, Bishop Barres!

The Rev. John O. Barres was ordained bishop of the Allentown Diocese last week. At 48 years old, he is young to ascend to an episcopal chair. Having served as chancellor for the diocese of Wilmington, Delaware, he is well prepared for the job. In addition to a doctoral degree in theology from Rome, Bishop Barres holds an MBA, a degree that will surely see good use in his ministry. There is much more in his personal history that indicates that he will be a good pastor to the diocese. The Center for Ethics and Leadership welcomes Bishop Barres.