I was recently asked what I thought to be the logic behind Obama’s push for national health care, considering the superiority of our market-based system. The traditional answer is that Obama wants a fair health care system, one that provides for those too poor to afford basic medical services. The irony, of course, is that nationalization results in a lower supply of doctors, fewer medical services and health care rationing. The people that suffer the most under nationalization are the poor, sick and elderly, the very people our president wishes to save.
Obama’s plan ignores the unbending, inescapable self-interest of aspiring doctors who, with their profit motive limited, would no longer be willing to go through the ardors of medical school to supply their services. The disconnect between Obama’s policies and the reality of supply and demand does not point to some deficiency of intelligence in the president, but rather is symptomatic of modern day progressivism. It must be understood that the refusal by progressives to accept the ruthless efficiency of free markets comes not out of some irrationality, but rather a fear of undermining their fundamental worldview.
The ideas of limited government and free markets, founding principles of our country, originated out of both Enlightenment thinking and, particularly in the United States, Judeo-Christian culture. The fundamental tenet behind Christianity is the depravity of man, for “there is no one righteous, not even one… there is no one who does good, not even one” (Romans 3), and we were all “sinful at birth, sinful from the time [our] mother conceived [us]” (Psalm 51). The Christian believes that, because of this inescapable sin, man is incapable of choosing to do good or following God’s will. Even followers of Jesus, saved by his merciful death on the cross, are plagued by a sinful nature. Man has always been, and will always be, a creature of self-interest, corrupted by power and inclined toward conflict. Nobody is capable of attaining perfection on earth, thus poverty, suffering and war are the inevitable realities of life.
Therefore, from a Judeo-Christian perspective, the most efficient form of governance is one that acknowledges, and even embraces, man’s certain and predictable imperfection. A decentralized government, kept in check by the people and held accountable to a Constitution, will prevent evil men from gaining power over others. A free market, regulated by the self-interest of individuals, will create abundant prosperity, all while increasing the standard of living and social mobility of the poor. Neither system is perfect, yet they produce the greatest levels of peace, freedom and prosperity amid a broken world.
For that reason, if progressives were to accept the free market’s “maldistribution” as an unfortunate yet necessary side effect to an otherwise efficient and desirable system, they must first accept that the world is indeed broken. It would require admitting that economic outcomes cannot result in both prosperity and perfect equity, and understanding that no amount of regulation can make self-motivated doctors provide expensive services to poor people at negative profit. To concede the triumph of the individual over the collective is to indirectly concede that man is hopelessly depraved, a conclusion that would shatter the progressives’ moral foundations.
At the core of everyone’s being is a desire to be “good,” yet Christianity shatters the notion that any man, whether an atheist or a devout Christian, can follow their own moral standards. It is only through the grace of Jesus Christ that the individual can be saved from the irreversible evil of their human nature. Yet the progressive, who rejects Judeo-Christian culture and clings to the false hope of human strength, resorts to political policies of regulation, forced equality and collective wisdom in a vain effort to do good and feel like a good person. They must believe that mankind can be made better, more equal, less greedy and more tolerant, for they must convince themselves that they too are capable of moral goodness and self-improvement outside of a divine savior.
That is why, seemingly against all evidence and reason, the progressives will continue to push agendas such as national health care. Their philosophy simply compels them to do so.