This is my response to an email pertaining to my Sunday column, “Feed the hungry, heal the sick.”
Even with existing levels of public support, there is vast need that goes unmet. Private individuals do not step up to the task.
The only organization of which any of us are members that has the resources to significantly alleviate need is the federal government. I reject the idea that it is an external institution. It represents all of us, and has the resources that come from our participation in its missions.
I have no doubt there are some who abuse the system, both rich and poor. I believe our paranoia that someone might be unfairly benefiting at our expense has made us callous to the desperation of millions.
I agree, Jesus was not referring to collective generosity through a government. The closest thing to a collective institution in Judea was the temple, and he was poignant in his belief that it should use resources collected from the people for the needy. The Jews had no control over Rome; we do have control over Washington. Indeed, we will be exercising that control Nov. 6.
It is nearly impossible to know what Romney will do as president on most issues, because he changes his positions depending on his target audience. On one issue, though, he is consistent. He would do his best to undo the Affordable Care Act. My faith rebels against this.
You seem to think you, or someone, has the wisdom to see into the souls of the poor to determine which are deserving. Jesus really had this ability, but I’m unaware of any evidence of him using it to deprive people of healing. Nor do I read any evidence of him being concerned the beneficiaries of his mercy would become “dependent on charity.” I think he would have seen that as a creative way to avoid his clear-cut commandments.
The ACA is not perfect, but it manages to reduce the deficit while giving more than 30 million people access to health care. I have no problem with the capitalist success of individuals determining their wealth. I have a huge problem with it determining whether they are entitled to healing.
The federal government is our institution; it is, as you put it, “our society in general”; and through it we have the power to do much good. On the issue of healing, I think Jesus was painfully clear on how we should use that power.