December 10, 2009 -- Want an eye-opening perspective on those in Congress and the Obama administration who want the government to control America’s health care system? Then consider the motivations and mindsets of a group that would have been helped by a provision that was stripped from the House bill but that could find its way into the Senate bill.
The provision would require the government to use taxpayer funds to pay for faith healers
Yes folks, you read it right!
Specifically, Christian Scientists run telephone prayer hotlines. Individuals call in requesting that operators offer pleas to God to heal them or their loved ones. Rather than receiving Christian charity, callers receive a bill for services. The House provision would have required the government to pay $20-$40 for those prayer requests as medical expenses.
Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) will try to put the provision in the Senate bill. If they fail, no doubt they’ll try to insert it in the conference committee bill as a bribe in exchange for political support from kooks hoping to get on the government dole. Maybe they’ll receive help from Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), who gives his support
to faith-healing Scientologists!
The Lust for Power
Let’s take a quick look at faith healers and how they compare to politicians.
Many faith healers are just plain con men and con women. They know they’re frauds but don’t care. They lie, they fake, and they deceive those who turn to them for help. What they’re after is power over others.
Picture televangelists who get a kick out of performing for audiences, being the center of attention, whipping up listeners into an emotional frenzy, screaming “You’re healed!”, and eating up the accolades they receive from those who imagine they’re being helped. But when the cameras are off, members of the crowd disperse still sick, relieved not of their afflictions but of their money.
Now substitute “politician” for “televangelist.” It’s a pretty good match!
Many in Congress are control freaks who allow their unchecked lust for power rule them, which in turn drives them to rule us, and no more so than in our health care. Let me set up the current situation.
What Needs Curing?
One Gallup survey
found that about 84 percent of Americans say they’re covered by health insurance. And a Washington Post-
ABC News poll found
that 83 percent of respondents were either “somewhat” or “very” satisfied with their care and 81 percent felt the same way about their insurance.
Maybe 10-20 million Americans are uninsured.
So how bad is the health care problem? The alleged number of the uninsured keeps falling. Paternalist politicians had claimed 47 million, but in a September 10 speech to Congress Barack Obama put the number at 30 million, leaving out illegal immigrants and those who presumably can afford health insurance but prefer to pay their bills out of pocket. The truth is probably a yet lower number
, maybe 10-20 million, a small fraction of the total population.
So why do politicians seek heavy-handed government control of the entire health care system, which is already heavily dominated by government? They want to use the alleged needs of 10 percent to leverage their power over the other 90 percent. They want to make themselves our rulers, and never mind that their policies will have as much chance of curing the ills of the health care system as a faith healer has of curing a disease.
Lying to Themselves
Of course, some faith healers actually delude themselves into believing that they are helping people. From old-style Bible-Belters to New Age gurus, they like to imagine that they have extraordinary powers. Perhaps they observe a placebo effect. Their parishioners or clients are desperate for hope. A kind word of assurance from a “healer” could temporarily ease anxiety and perhaps even pain in the afflicted. But not for long!
Deep down such snake-oil salesmen suspect that they are frauds, which is why they avoid subjecting their alleged powers to objective, scientific study. Of course, if they really were confident in their powers they’d welcome validation.
The James Randi Educational Foundation
has $1 million in escrow, payable to anyone who can demonstrate such healing or any other paranormal powers under controlled conditions. No one has ever collected. And a recent study
, published in the American Heart Journal
, found that patients who knew they were receiving prayers had more
post-operative complications than those who did not. Performance anxiety?
Like self-deluded faith healers, some of the politicians who support government control of health care try to convince themselves and voters that government policy can work miracles. But they too can’t focus their minds too sharply lest they disrupt the mental gymnastics needed to maintain their delusions.
To begin with, few supporters of the several thousand pages of the health care bills have actually read them. They don’t want to look too closely because they suspect that they might not like what they find.
And consider President Obama’s assertion in his September 10 speech that he would “not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits,” in spite of the trillion dollar-plus price tags for the various versions of government health care. How will “The One” perform this miracle?
Obama argued that “Reducing the waste and inefficiencies in Medicare and Medicaid will pay for most of this plan.” He also wants to lower the age of Medicare eligibility, adding millions of new patients to the program. So the government that Obama admits wastes hundreds of billions of dollars in these two programs will be able to run the entire American health care system more efficiently? Talk about an act of faith! Talk about self-delusion!
Victims or Suckers?
To complete the analogy between faith healers and politicians, let’s look at their audiences. Many individuals facing life-or-death situations turn to faith healers through ignorance or desperation when modern medicine, which can’t work literal miracles, fails them. These individuals become the sad victims of cynical exploiters.
Similarly, many who turn to Obama and his kind for the government to heal their health insurance ailments are ignorant of the true causes of the present problems—that is, current government controls. After all, these people were the victims of sub-par government schools and keep up on current events through the elite, pro-government media.
Those who seek the services of faith healers as a substitute for modern medicine are less innocent. They belong to cults—Christian Science, Scientology—that specialize in destroying individual critical thinking and demanding adherence to absurd beliefs that, when applied to health care, have literally led to the deaths of their own children.
Similarly, some who seek the services of politicians belong to ideologies that specialize in destroying individual autonomy and demanding adherence to absurd economic and political beliefs that lead to the deaths of their—and our—liberty.
So it would be appropriate if Obama care supported faith healing. Both follow from the same thinking—or lack of it. But it would be appropriate for humans who want to live and be healthy to reject both false appeals to medical and public policy miracles!
Edward Hudgins writes on political and social issues. He is the editor of Freedom to Trade: Refuting the New Protectionism, Space: The Free Market Frontier, and two books on postal service privatization. His latest collection is entitled An Objectivist Secular Reader. He is director of advocacy for The Atlas Society.