Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Religious Social Conservatives: Pay up or Shut up.

So there’s this guy I work with, “Brian” I’ll call him, who said something to me the other day that was quite interesting.  Brian’s wife has a pretty serious illness which obviously leads to some ridiculously large medical bills.  In our conversation that day I suggested that since I was likely to be cutting back my hours perhaps he could pick up those hours.   Funny thing, he said that he was actually trying to not work too much (to not make too much money) because if he made too much money his wife would no longer be eligible for Medicare.

Needless to say, that caught me off guard; I’ve heard so much of people “mooching” off the government, “dependent” on the system, and living off “entitlements” and just like so many Republicans have been saying, here right in front of me was someone disregarding his own “personal responsibility” and instead expecting the government to take care of him.  What a lazy bum right?

Brian has several problems which are clearly his fault, and he shouldn’t be expecting Uncle Sam to bail him out. First of all, his full-time job is working for a religious, non-profit organization which pays him basically nothing.  Forget that he totally loves what he does (he talks about it constantly!), that he seems to find fulfillment and meaning in doing it, and that it seems to fit him perfectly.  Brian should have gotten a worthwhile degree and gone out and gotten a private sector job that actually makes money instead of being a drag on society.  Brian’s second problem is that he chose to marry someone with a serious illness; talk about stupid.  Why would anyone want to marry someone who will inevitably rack up huge medical bills? Love, no, that’s not a good enough reason—and don’t tell me they go great together or that she’s a wonderful person—she’s an unproductive member of society who’s taking our tax dollars rather than being responsible enough to pay for her own medical issues.  Sure enough, she’s also dumb enough to work for that same religious non-profit organization.   It should be just like what has been suggested at Republican presidential debates—if someone gets sick and doesn’t have insurance, let them die.

There’s an even bigger problem here, that non-profit religious organization.  What the heck are they doing? Making a difference in kids lives—how much money does that make? Nothing!  Instead of wasting time and resources “ministering” to kids, trying to help them become better people, they should just rent out their facilities to the highest bidder and make some money.   Really, ultimate blame for Bran and his wife should fall on this organization; if it was a legit, productive, money-making business they could pay a good wage so Brian and his wife could pay for their own bills.  What kind of country is this where we allow non-profit, religious organizations like this to exist?

…Now back to the real world…

In reality people do devote their lives to causes that don’t pay well but provide invaluable worth to the people these causes help and also to the lives of the people themselves who work for the cause.  In reality people get sick, through no fault of their own, and often don’t have the money to pay for it.  In reality, people fall in love regardless of “pre-existing conditions” and commit to be there for one another “in sickness and in health.” 
In reality Brian and his wife are fantastic people and I’d be thrilled to be counted by them as a friend.   In reality Brian is a wonderful, loving husband who emits unbelievable faith and courage in spite of the health of his wife.   In reality Brian would do anything he could to take care of his wife.  Far from a “lazy entitlement moocher,” Brian is a great person.

So we have to ask ourselves, what kind of country do we live in?  Or better, what kind of country do we want to live in? Do we want America to be about helping the less fortunate like Brian and his wife? Do we want America to a place where people are cared for and receive the medical attention they need? 

Or do we want America to be a place where it’s everyone for their own interests and no one else?

Yes, there are lazy people in our country, people who do want to simply mooch off the hard work of others, and there are people who receive government assistance who are lazy; but there all also lazy people who are middle-class, lazy people who are upper-class, lazy people who are rich—and all of these lazy people benefit from the government as well.  We must remember, for every “lazy” welfare recipient, there are many, many more people like Brian and his wife who really need the help. 

Oddly enough, I’d bet that nearly everyone involved in Brian’s religious organization will vote Republican—they will vote for an agenda that wants to reduce government assistance that goes to people like Brian and his wife.   So while so many conservative Christians vote Republican because it’s the party of “morals” and “family values,” I have to wonder how anyone who would want to take away funding for the medical care that Brian’s wife so desperately needs could ever consider themselves to be moral.

So if you’re a religious person reading this and you support politicians and policies aimed at ending social programs that truly serve the less fortunate you basically have two options:

      Create a charity to pay for people’s medical expenses (all expenses, not just a token amount)


      Quit whining and pay your taxes so Brian’s wife can get the care she needs thanks to the government

So, it comes down to this, you can pay up (through significant charitable giving or via taxes to support government programs), or you can shut up, but it has to be one or the other, because if you’re going to tell me you support “family values” and a “Judeo-Christian” ethic—you better pay up, or else I’m going to tell you to shut up.

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