Worldview Assumptions and the US Healthcare Debate

A new article from Darrow was recently published on The Pearcey Report. The title is “Sarah Palin and Obama Death Panels: Atheistic Ideas Have Unhealthy Consequences.”

This article takes a look at the underlying assumptions in the ongoing healthcare debate in the US, including those of political leaders Sarah Palin and Barack Obama, and how those assumptions lead inevitably to very different consequences, policies and programs. You can read the article here.

  
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4 Responses to Worldview Assumptions and the US Healthcare Debate

  1. Eric Read says:

    My comments are somewhat late, I have onlly just come across this article, when looking at the recent one about ‘It’s the economy stupid’

    I want to start by saying how much I have been helped in my understanding of worldview andmy own worldview by DNA. I have used your materials in my work in Africa and seen individuals, churches and communities transformed in the process. My comments below need to be understood in this context, I am not trying to grind any axe or in any way detract form all the good DNA is doing.

    In reading these two articles, it is very clear to me that none of us holds a truly biblical worldview even though we desire to, but are still strongly influenced by our own culture.

    Being british and benefitting from the National Health Service I was completely bemused by the intensity and vitriol of the debate over healthcare in the US. In your article, you talk about the freedom of the individual to choose for themselves and not have the state choose for them. that would be fine if everybody was in the position to make that choice. the truth is that a large proportion of the US population do not have a choice – they cannot afford to pay for the treatment they need. Where is the dignity in that? Here in the UK, my father had a quadruple heart bypass at the age of 70 and is still going strong at the age of 86. My mother, who had diabetes had a heart attack at 78 and received a triple bypass. Sadly she had a fall and broke her leg a few months later and did not recover. through all of this, not once did we have to worry about where the money would come from, or were they getting the best treatment. Contrast this with a close relative in the US, who had to decide not to take her son to the doctor for his asthma as her husband had recently lost his job and along with it medical insurance, so they had to save money whereever they could. Which of these is closer to the biblical view of all of us being equal – a national health service which treaats people according to their need, irrespective of their age, wealth or lifestyle, or one that only treats those who can afford it? to me the answer is a no brainer.

    This brings me back to the point about us all still being heavily influenced in our worldview by our own culture. You clearly consider big government is bad and small is good – the less the better. I disagree – up to a point. If government had been bigger in it’s regulation of the banks the 2008 crash may have been avoided. Biblically, God institued government for Israel in the old testament. IN the New Testament, Paul had plenty to say in favour of government (even bad government!). The truth is, we need government and government is bibilical. How big government should be will always be debateable. All I am asking is, please don’t claim it to be a truism that small govenrment is better than big. that may be your opinion, but it is not a truism and it is not necessarily biblical.

    • Eric, thank you for your comments. We are grateful to hear that you have found DNA materials helpful in your work in Africa. Have you had contact with our colleagues of Samaritan Strategy Africa. If not you can check out their website. Their network extends to about 40 countries on the continent.

      Your dialog with us is most appreciated. Let me respond with several points.

      “In reading these two articles, it is very clear to me that none of us holds a truly biblical worldview even though we desire to, but are still strongly influenced by our own culture.”
      I would agree, we are all influenced by our culture and the dominant language of our culture. And the process of putting on a biblical worldview lifelong. I was in my mid-twenties before I even heard the word “worldview” and came to realize that I was a Christian “in my heart” and a secular materialist in my thinking; I realized that I needed, as some might say, “be born again, again!” Paul’s call in Romans 12:1-2 is a call for the renewing of the mind, to have every thought captive to Christ. Again, I have found this to be a life-long process that has a begining, but not an ending until Christ returns.

      “Being British and benefitting from the National Health Service I was completely bemused by the intensity and vitriol of the debate over healthcare in the U.S.”
      I have had other friends in Europe say the same thing to me!

      “The truth is that a large proportion of the U.S. population do not have a choice – they cannot afford to pay for the treatment they need. Where is the dignity in that?”
      This may be true in a few respects, but in most municipalities it is a legal requirement that any person who enters an emergency room is to be treated if they have money or not.
      I would agree that there needs to be a “safety net” in society for the poorest of the poor. But at the same time we need to be careful that we do not create more poverty by programs that are designed to help people. My wife worked in the labor and delivery room of a hospital in one of the poorest parts of town. Often, Hispanic women would come across the border to have their children born in the U.S. so the children would be U.S. citizens. Many of them had worked hard and saved the money to pay for the hospital service. And often the hospital would tell them not to mention that they had money. If they did not mention that they had the money then the service would be free to them.

      “Which of these is closer to the biblical view of all of us being equal – a national health service which treats people according to their need, irrespective of their age, wealth or lifestyle, or one that only treats those who can afford it?”
      Your argument has merit, but I would argue that freedom and equality before the law take precedent over a government’s efforts to artifically create equal outcomes. Perhaps England has found the perfect balance. If so, those working on health care policy in the U.S. should have a good look at the British experiment. However I have seen too many countries where the government is sovereign.

      “The truth is, we need government and government is biblical.”
      I would agree. But there is to be a separation between the institutions of the church, the government and the family. The church is not to dominate the role of civil governance and government is not to dominate the church or the family. Too often the government replaces God as the sovereign of the universe, thereby amassing too much control and power. Part of the debate in the U.S. is over end-of-life issues. I would prefer the individual and family have authority over these issues than the government. I believe the Bible does not sanction government power to make health care decisions for individuals and families.

      “How big government should be will always be debatable. All I am asking is, please don’t claim it to be a truism that small government is better than big. that may be your opinion, but it is not a truism and it is not necessarily biblical. “
      You are correct, it is always debatable. However the principles of mankind being endowed by God with certain inalienable rights. These have been translated into such principles as the right to free speech, freedom of worship, the right to own property, etc. These are granted to all human beings by God, not by the state. If the state grants these rights then the state can take them away. When the state becomes so large that it seeks sovereignity over all of life, then it denies these God-given rights. We have seen this all too often in the last hundred years.

      Thank you for your thoughtful response and the beautiful tone in which it was expressed. The questions you have raised are worthy of a more detailed response than I have given. When I started my response my intention was to have the discussion be on the principle, but found myself more responding on the level or policy or program and I am afraid that that has not given your questions their due.

      Darrow Miller

      • Eric, I wanted to add a few more reflections.

        I wrote earlier about freedom and equality before the law taking precedence over a government’s efforts to create equal outcomes. We have seen the tyranny of this in communist China and the Soviet Union where people ate the same food, lived in similar houses, had “equal access to education and health care” and were obliged even to think the same. How many millions were killed so that people would be the same?

        Please do not misunderstand me: this is not the case with all large governments or with all national health systems. My argument is simply that larger governments make smaller citizens; where the government does more, people do less for themselves and become more dependent on the government. The larger the government and more dependent its people, the easier for tyranny to develop. Perhaps England has found the perfect balance. And it would behoove those who are looking at health care policy in the USA to have a good look at the British experiment. However I have seen too many countries where the government becomes sovereign over too many things.

        Eric Metaxas, in his excellent biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, demonstrates how the Third Reich grew slowly for a decade. The government of Germany had taken over more and more responsibility for the health and safety of the German people, for such things as education and health care. More and more the government was preparing a generation of young people with social Darwinian thinking. They were providing more and more for the health needs of the people. When war came, money was tight and all monies were needed for the war effort. The care of handicapped and mentally delayed children was expensive. The holocaust began very quietly. Doctors and nurses who delivered handicapped children were required to file a full report on the child, their handicap, family, etc. These records were given to the government health service. When the war began, the government policy changed toward handicapped children. The most severely infirmed, and later even those with lesser infirmities, were removed from their families and from the institutions where they were being cared for. The government moved them to “special centers” where they could be “treated.” But in these centers they were murdered. The parents would receive a letter from the government health care system that the child had died of pneumonia. A few days later the child’s ashes would arrive at the family home. This is the quiet way that the holocaust began, by saving money from the government health care system.

        Again, please understand that I am not saying that all government run health care plans will end up here. But a society of free men and women making personal and family decisions within the framework of a health care safety net is healthier than a society where the government is responsible for all health care decisions for all her people.

        Eric, you are absolutely correct that the Bible does not specify health care systems. It does specify that we are to be our brother’s keeper, and that the church has a responsibility to care for the least of these. Not sure if you have seen <a href="“>Scott Allen’s post about the issue of the church and health care.

        I’m grateful that we still live in free societies where we may dialog in this way. Freedom, however, only exists for a season. It belongs to us to pass free societies onto our children. May God give us wisdom to do so at the beginning of the 21st century.

        Darrow Miller

  2. Further to the above thread, here’s something I just came across today.

    According to a BBC article “Huge gap in world cancer survival” ” … the United States had the highest five-year survival rates for breast cancer, at 83.9% and prostate cancer, at 91.9%. … The UK had 69.7% survival for breast cancer … and 51.1% for prostate cancer.”

    Access to health care for all is important, but access alone isn’t the whole picture. To the degree that universal access comes at the cost of effective treatment, a socialized system loses its appeal.

    Gary Brumbelow

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