September 24, 2009

Subsidiarity. Something all conservatives should be for...

From a column by Archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis...

....Reading the commentaries of my brother bishops, I realized that I did not mention another essential Catholic principle that should have been included in my last column: subsidiarity, which posits that health care ought to be determined, administered and coordinated at the lowest level of society whenever possible.

In other words, those intermediary communities and associations that exist between the federal government and the individual must be strengthened and given greater control over policies and practices rather than being given less and less control. [have this sentence tattooed on your arm.]

To usurp this "hierarchy of communities" is terribly damaging in the long run, both to society as a whole and the individual citizen (See Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 1883, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, No. 185 ff).

Papal insights

Two quotes from Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI are instructive in this regard:

Pope John Paul II has written:
"By intervening directly and depriving society of its responsibility, the Social Assistance State leads to a loss of human energies and an inordinate increase of public agencies, which are dominated more by bureaucratic ways of thinking than by concern for serving their clients, and which are accompanied by an enormous increase in spending" (Pope John Paul II, "Centesimus Annus," No. 48).
Pope Benedict writes:
"The State which would provide everything, [That sounds familiar somehow] absorbing everything into itself, would ultimately become a mere bureaucracy incapable of guaranteeing the very thing which the suffering person — every person — needs: namely, loving personal concern. We do not need a State which regulates and controls everything, but a State which, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, generously acknowledges and supports initiatives arising from the different social forces and combines spontaneity with closeness to those in need . . . . In the end, the claim that just social structures would make works of charity superfluous masks a materialist conception of man: the mistaken notion that man can live ‘by bread alone’ (Mt 4:4; cf. Dt 8:3) — a conviction that demeans man and ultimately disregards all that is specifically human" (Pope Benedict XVI, "Deus Caritas Est," No. 28).
To neglect the principle of subsidiarity inevitably leads to the excessive centralization of human services, which leads to higher costs, less personal responsibility for the individual and a lower quality of care...

Leftism always tends toward increasing the power of the state, and decreasing that of individuals, families, communities churches, and organizations of mutual benefit. In this, and in many other things, Leftism is profoundly anti-Christian. (Also anti-American) It is materialism, it is living by bread alone.

A Christian (or conservative) health care plan would put power into the hands of individuals and families. How to do that? Easy. Put the money in their hands, and let them choose how to best spend it. Then health care organizations and providers would bend their efforts to serving the people, the same way businesses work tirelessly to satisfy and keep customers. (Here are examples. Link. Link]

But that's what you will never see in a Leftist health-care proposal. Instead you get thousands of pages of rules and laws and fines and criminal penalties. And that's just the laws themselves. Those are always supplemented by the regulations. They will end up being tens-of-thousands of pages of the CFR. Just as with the tax laws and regs, no one will know them all, so everyone will be a criminal in having violated some regulation they've never heard of. Which is precisely the point.

Posted by John Weidner at September 24, 2009 8:09 PM
Weblog by John Weidner