Christianity, Capitalism and Healthcare…I need to borrow Romney’s Etch-A-Sketch

One thing that has always puzzled me as a Protestant, as a theological descendant of Calvin and Luther, of Ursinus and Olevianus, is the irrational commitment of American Christians to the idea of what I like to call morally neutral unregulated market capitalism, that market factors are brute facts and the participants self-interest does not override their moral conscience; this bizarre dichotomy between an anthropology which honestly appraises the fallen and ultimately selfish nature of man, yet when it comes to economics, he is somehow able to overcome his own wickedness and be able to function in business ethically without the threat of the law or the necessity of regulation. Somehow, Free Market Capitalism becomes, rather than a neutral system ultimately dependent upon the people who populate it and the regulations which structure it, a self-correcting, moral system of economics populated by virtuous and honest people who see no contradiction with promoting the acquisition of massive wealth as just and the exploitation of societies in the pursuit of profit as just another day at the office. If a group or individual fundamentally believes that mankind, unchecked, is a willful and destructive force that requires law and regulations, an essential structure, to function with anything resembling liberty and personal freedom, they cannot, with consistency, defend a laissez faire system of regulatory absence. Gordon Gecko told us that “greed is good”, essentially, that unchecked aggression in the marketplace is a virtue, one that we have embraced since the beginning; but Capitalism unchecked is in reality a maelstrom of chaos, providing for the consolidation of power and the reduction of community to factory, education to training and creativity to productivity. The problem is not Capitalism itself then, but, rather, the individuals who populate its hierarchical apparatus.

We know that in today’s social environment, a symbol of security and success is access and the ability to afford healthcare. Jobs are pursued, unions are formed all with an essential, unifying component, healthcare. The situation in America today can be fairly well  summed up as saying the Left wants universal access and affordability conceived and implemented independent of market forces; whereas the Right see’s it primarily as an industry, where price and access are largely determined by merit and market savvy. Now, whether you take one position or the other is dependent, I believe on one overriding assumption, is Healthcare a right or a reward. If we leave our healthcare system to the stewardship of the market, then we are in reality advocating a disincentive to universal access. And lets be clear about something, providing someone with directions to the highway which leads to healthcare access without providing the means to traverse and the compensation to afford it is not really access at all, it’s really sadism. And that is part of the fundamental issues of the Healthcare industry, the incompatible grafting of “care” and ‘”industry” together, when a system composed of those who are ethically obligated to care, treat and heal others is leveraged for profit, the human component becomes simply another analytical market factor. But, I believe, when the avenue of access to Healthcare is removed from the market, scarcity ceases to be a valuating factor and by consequence inhibits a socio-economic hierarchy from being developed to differentiate quality and cost of care.

Sadly, Christianity in America today suffers from a bizarre addiction to consumerism, from a delusion of cultural engagement, cultural significance and community solidarity through a capitalistic apparatus which encourages consumption and contribution in order to deflect and distract from actual, human engagement and communion. I don’t know where things got off track, but somehow we’ve politicalized Christianity and de-moralized Capitalism, reducing one from religion to moralism and elevating the other from system and theory to salvific and messianic proportions. I don’t begrudge any fellow Christian their right as those created in Gods image and as Americans their birthright of self-determination and free intellectual/political association, but what I do take exception to is the assumption and promotion of Capitalism, Democracy or any other system or theory of government and social construction as inherently Biblical or Christian. Christian does not mean Republican and Republican does mean moral superiority or lover of Democracy, frankly those word associations infuriate me and make me sad for my country and faith all at the same time. Nor does my Liberal, Progressive politics imply by necessity that I have a liberal theology as a Christian. So as a warning to the Republican Party, if you want to continue to try to hijack and co-opt my religion for social and political ends, I say bring it, because I won’t be quiet any more…silence costs too much.


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