Blackadder’s Lair

The home of many a cunning plan

On Learning to See: What is Said and What is Done

And God said, “Let there be light.” And there was light. – Genesis 1:3

The awesome majesty and power of God can be seen in this: that not only is His word law, His word is reality. He says “let there be light” and simply by saying this, there is light. He says “let the earth bring forth living creatures” and it does. Reality itself is in utter conformity to His will, and is molded to His thought.

Human beings are made in the image of God, but they are not like God in this respect. We cannot, simply by speaking, conform reality to our will. We cannot make the world a certain way simply by commanding it to be that way.Stated explicitly, this well all seem quite obvious. Of course you can’t remake the world simply by speaking; it takes action. But unfortunately when it comes to social policy people often mistake words for action and results, and think that because we pass a law saying “there shall be x” that we have achieved x.

Take, as an example, universal health care. It is no doubt desirable that everyone receive needed health care, and we often hear that the United States is the only industrialized country in the world that doesn’t have universal health care. But what does this actually mean? Not, surely, that everyone in these countries who needs care receives it. If a person in a country does not receive needed care either because of a shortage of doctors or because a drug or treatment that would have existed under a free market system is not available, then regardless of whether that person’s name appears on the country’s health care rosters, the country does not really have universal health care.

Nor is it true to say that under a “universal” system everyone would have insurance. Massachusetts, for example, claims to have universal health insurance because the state has made having health insurance mandatory. But, as noted above, simply saying in law that everyone must have health insurance is not the same as everyone actually having health insurance. Car insurance is mandatory in 47 states, yet 14.5% of motorists in those states remain uninsured. According to census data, 31% of people without health insurance in the United States are already eligible for existing government programs.

None of this proves, of course, that any sort of health care system is or is not desirable. It may be that, while not perfect, a government run system would come closer to our goals than would some alternative system. But we must take care to evaluate any such proposal not by what it says, but by what it does, not by what it promises, but by what it delivers. We must, in short, take care that we do not confuse saying that something is so with its being so.


January 18, 2008 - Posted by | Health Care, Seeing

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