Gestation has ended. The bill has arrived. On Thursday, Speaker Pelosi proudly announced the arrival of her 1990 page, $894 billion health care bill in the House of Representatives. Labor and delivery occurred in smoke-filled back rooms, unviewed by the layman's eye, and it is not known if an epidural was required.
Much has been made of Washington's wrangling over health care in the past few months. Pundits from all sides, and a few from the faith community, have weighed in on the right and the left of health care reform.
However, very little has been written about the morality of health care reform, and of this bill in particular. The few commentatorswho have written on the morality of health care have focused on the basic moral teaching that human beings deserve health care and that Jesus has commanded his followers to serve the poor and the disfranchised. That is a noble, moral end to be sure; however, moral thinking does not end there. Rigorous examination also requires that we consider the means by which we provide for one another and offer health and help to those who have none. Very simply, the end does not necessarily justify the means. It is important that we not only do the right thing, but also that we do it in the right way(s).
With that in mind, an analysis of the morality of the means of this healthcare bill's proposed actions is in order. In the end, it is found morally lacking for at least three reasons.
Humans are called to manage our resources well. Just as pollution of the creation is an example of poor stewardship of our resources, so too is the squandering of our material wealth. We live in a world of finite resources. Leadership requires careful decisions on the highest and best use of those finite resources. In the end, we answer for how we use what has been entrusted to us.
If the goal (as has often been stated) is to provide health insurance coverage for all those who currently cannot afford to purchase their own, this health care bill spends twice as much as is needed to achieve this noble end. Given Washington's predilection for spending, that should not surprise us. For bureaucracies, waste is a way of life, and overspending an ever-present reality. How such bureaucracies degrade human dignity is a moral discussion for another day. For now, bureaucratic squandering is more than enough moral material.