30 November, 2005

Chai Tea in The Cumberland

We've come to a pretty pass when someone seems to think that I am in favour of TennCare.

How exactly does one be a libertarian in a country that has gone so far down the big government road? All you can do is choke on the exhaust in the certain knowledge that you have indeed missed the bus. It seems like all the modern libertarian can do is sit back, moan about Government These Days and post a "porkbusters" logo on his blog. Being a libertarian in 2005 is like being Anthony Michael Hall in 16 Candles. We just know deep down that we're a solid hit--except we don't actually have any girls who are interested.

Take TennCare. I think it is a bad implementation of a hideous idea. I love that it exists because it is the most fantastic cautionary tale imaginable. I love being able to say "Do you see how screwed up it is? That's what happens when you let the Government Take Care Of You. You die because you didn't fill out the correct form on time. Welcome to Brazil, ladies and gentlemen."

The hardest thing for me to accept is that the seperation of Church and State is effectively dead. These things that are the bailiwick of the individual--caring for the sick and needy--are now being handled by our drunken Uncle Sam. Jesus asked His Church to do unto the least, but we've been happy to say "here are my taxes. You go ahead." I've even had more than one Christian tell me that they count part of their taxes as their tithe, since it goes to social programs.

Let's have a moment of silence.

Okay. We're back. Hope none of you fell into a giggle loop. So, we've let the State do the Church's job, leaving the Church free to buy used sports stadiums. And we've elected to allow our money to be taken from us by force. All we have left is to sit like a cranky grandmother on the porch screaming "You be careful with that!!!" as Congress burns through it all on a perpetual sugar-high.

So, what next? What do we do? Revolution is a young man's game, and I think most of us are too worried about paying down a mortgage to think about trying to overthrow the bastards. I was gonna dump my Chai Latte in the river as a mini protest, but I don't think that'd help.


At 9:21 AM, November 30, 2005, Anonymous Hubby said...

Sorry if this is semi-off-topic, but I just read the mega-church story that you linked to and I honestly don't know whether to laugh or cry.

The body of that article contained 463 words praising this supposedly thriving, vibrant congregation of Christians and never once did it make mention of, or even allude to, God, Jesus or Christ. Of course, plenty of copy was dedicated to the three giant video screens, the governor's speech,the collection plates and the giant rotating gold globe - not to mention the crowd's almost constant cheers of approval.

While I lament our country's "let the government take care of you" philosophy, it's krep like this that makes me wonder if a lot of churches haven't lost their ability, or at least their inclination, to offer a better alternative. I think it goes beyond bad stewardship. These kinds of congregations seem to demonstrate the kind of appetite for pork that would make most politicians blush.

For every dollar a modern church spends on reaching out to the needy, how many does it first channel into building and maintaining ever-bigger facilities? Large full-time staffs? Non-essential (or at least ancillary) programs like music, dramma, sports and "fellowship" activities? Printing and advertising? Sure, none of these are inherently bad, but why do they seem to consume such inordinately large chunks of a church's attention and resources? Why do so many churches pay for these kinds of things out of their primary budget, but then have to conduct one-off giving campaigns to fund outreach ministries?

If Jesus instructed us to, "Love the Lord thy God and love thy neighbor as thyself" and emphasized that all of the law hinged on these two commandments, then why does looking after "the least of these" so consistently seem to get budgeted for somewhere between renovating the pipe organ and hanging plasma screens in the entryway?

Maybe government programs like TennCare are perceived by some as viable and necessary tools for addressing social needs because lately the Christian community seems too preoccupied with building gymnasiums (or spending $75 million to add five stories onto the gymnasium) to step up, put their faith into action and do something about eliminating the need.

Sorry for the rant, but it's been a long time comin'.

At 10:41 AM, November 30, 2005, Blogger Ivy, the Great and Powerful said...

I know what would solve the whole, "healthcare is too damn expensive" issue, but I don't know how we'd go about implementing it. And you're gonna DIE when you see what I think about it, haha, because it's about as non-liberal as it gets.

First of all, cut out government sponsored healthcare altogether. No more medicare, no more TennCare, no more medicaid. Nothing. The government should NOT be in the business of healthcare. They're the government, not doctors or insurance companies.

The next thing we need to do is (and this is the part I have no idea how it would be implemented) stop companies from offering health insurance as a benefit. No more of this big, group plan crap. I'd do away with "group coverage" altogether.

Then we have everyone out purchasing their own health insurance plans. Insurance companies will have to compete for our business. The price WILL go down. As an added benefit, we can decide what sort of coverage WE want, not the companies we work for. I'd like cheap office co-pays, because we go to the doctor every 5 minutes because of the small children. Perhaps people without children might want a plan with higher co-pays, since they don't go to the doctor's office as much. (in theory, of course)

And because I'm a big pansy liberal, I'd make the government pay (directly to the company, and not the indvidual) for health insurance for the poorest, the sickest, etc. They get to choose their own plan, but the government has a model of what they should pay, and they only pay a certain amount of money. It's complicated, but I have this plan worked out in my mind.

That's how we solve the health insurance issue, I think.

At 10:44 AM, November 30, 2005, Blogger Kat Coble said...


Nice rant, even though there may be a place or two where we disagree ever so slightly.

For every dollar a modern church spends on reaching out to the needy, how many does it first channel into building and maintaining ever-bigger facilities? Large full-time staffs? Non-essential (or at least ancillary) programs like music, dramma, sports and "fellowship" activities?

I'd say that my church, for instance, does do a lot of feeding of the people who go there. And that is a primary purpose of the church. Were I not adequately fed spiritually I think I'd be a weak Christian. There are seven churches in John's Revelation, each of which has different characteristics and intrinsic flaws. I think various churches have various combinations of the Seven Flaws. I don't think every plasma screen is necessarily a bad thing. But maybe I'm justifiying. It does bear more thought.

Also, keeping in mind how many people are less needy because they have jobs building church additions, selling plasma screens or writing plays for church performance, there is a valid application of trickle-down theory in church spending.

But I still think you're correct, in the main.

BTW, I don't know if you caught this from the article, but the Stadium Church is pastored by Joel Osteen. He's the latest Word of Faith champion. He's the snake-oil-shiny embodiment of 'God wants you to be rich and healthy, and if you're not then you're not right with God.' I imagine that convenient philosophy enables one to subrogate one's feelings about paying for health care altogether.

At 10:46 AM, November 30, 2005, Blogger Kat Coble said...

Ivy, I know it pains you, but you really are doing a very nice job at being a libertarian....;=p

I like your plan very much. I'm sure a lot of corporations would like it, too. And unemployed people. If the corporation is not paying for heath insurance, they can hire more folks.

At 11:13 AM, November 30, 2005, Blogger Ivy, the Great and Powerful said...

I know, I know, man. I have a lot of libertarian ideas, but I still can't seem to make the break. I seriously need to start a new political party.

The only people I think that wouldn't like it, is the insurance companies. Since they have a great big bunch of lobbyists, my idea would probably never come to fruition.

Well, the insurance companies and the losers that wouldn't stop and actually THINK about how it would work- some people are so short-sighted, they'd just be angry that they were losing their "free insurance" through work. I know, I've mentioned it to various friends that have "free insurance" through work, and they get 700 kinds of pissy with me, because I "want to take away their free insurance". Because, as you know, I have so much clout, I can run on up to Washington and have policy changed any time I feel like it. ;)

At 11:50 AM, November 30, 2005, Blogger Kat Coble said...

Do they know how much their "free insurance" costs? Wouldn't they rather get a $10,000/year Medical Incentive Bonus from their employer to spend on whatever plan they see fit?

Ahh. People.

At 1:28 PM, November 30, 2005, Blogger Lee said...

OZ, I agree with you. I'm young, not married, and in good health. All I want from my insurance is to cover something freakishly catastrophic like a bad accident or cancer.

That and coverage for my eyesight, which is wretched. And said flexibility I am not getting from my company plan, for which I pay too much for out of my paycheck.

At 3:28 PM, November 30, 2005, Blogger TVonthefritz said...

Weren't you a musician once? I think I saw your mugshot in the local band Mellow Down Easy.

At 5:25 PM, November 30, 2005, Blogger Kat Coble said...

Who? Me or Lee?

Cause I was definitely never a musician. My piano teacher, Ursula Jarosz, will testify to that.

Although, creepily enough, the lead singer Andrew from MDE does look vaguely like a thinner me in certain photos.

I dont' know whether to be proud or ashamed.

At 12:33 PM, December 01, 2005, Blogger TVonthefritz said...

Oh. It's a man. I'm sorry about all this. If it's any consolation, I've been told that I look like Bob Saget.

At 1:16 PM, December 01, 2005, Blogger Kat Coble said...

Don't worry about it... thanks to Photoshop, he looks kinda like a woman...and I look kinda like a man.

I'm sure both MDE singer and I are both completely gender-appropriate when you see us in real life.

I know he doesn't have 40D gazongas.

At 8:17 PM, December 01, 2005, Anonymous Beth said...

That guy doesn't look anything like you!!! You look nothing like a man! And I am not biased!


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