10 Things About the Health Bill And a Few Words from the Lord June 3, 2010March 17, 2017 Tomorrow, your thoughts on yesterday’s deeply underwater homeowners. But today: THE AARP’S “10 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE NEW LAW” Here, from their May bulletin: Helps 32 million more Americans get insurance. Makes preexisting conditions a thing of the past . . . Guarantees basic benefits for everyone in Medicare, makes preventive services free for most, and gradually closes the “doughnut hole” . . . Sets up a temporary program in July to help people with pre-existing conditions . . . Provides new benefits for most people who already have insurance . . . Leaves medical decisions in the hands of you and your doctor. Requires most people to have coverage by 2014 . . . Creates state-run insurance exchanges offering a menu of private insurance plans . . . Offers immediate tax credits to help small businesses buy insurance for employees. Keeps Medicare financially sound for nearly 10 more years . . . ☞ To which I would add: Launches a myriad of pilot programs that, over time, will improve efficiency, care, and bend the cost curve down. Pays for the added benefits and expanded coverage mainly by higher taxes on income over $250,000 (filing jointly, $200,000 singly) while still keeping those tax rates well within the range of what upper-income families paid pre-Reagan/Bush, when the nation’s finances were sound. The whole feature is worth reading, even if (like me) you are decades away from retirement. For example, did you know that, members of Congress will be required to buy health plans through the state-run insurance exchanges? They voted to eat the same dog food as the rest of us. Forward this to a well-intentioned Tea Partisan you may know who was sold a bill of goods by such deep thinkers as Joe the Plumber and Sarah Palin? Not to say that the reform bill is perfect. But there’s a lot to like – and a lot to be proud of if your income exceeds $250,000 and you’ll be kicking in a little extra to help to make it all possible. WHAT JESUS WOULD HAVE DONE I was searching for a verse that would make those Tea Partisans who happen to be serious Christians feel good about chipping in a little extra of their income above $250,000 to help the sick. Well, the Bible is a wondrous document, as you know, and open to interpretation. Here is the first thing Google gave me: Wealth In Mark 10:25, Jesus says: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.” Some scholars think that the word “camel” in this statement resulted from an accidental mis-copying of a very similar word which meant “rope”. Thus, Jesus may have actually said “It is easier for a rope to go through the eye of a needle …”, which is a more natural metaphor. But whether he said “camel” or “rope”, his point was that it is very hard for a rich person to go to heaven. In fact, Mark 10:17-22 indicates that the only way a rich person can go to heaven is, in Jesus’ words, to “sell everything you have and give to the poor.” Some people try to avoid this conclusion by pointing to Mark 10:27, which says “all things are possible with God.” Thus, God can make it possible for a rich man to go to heaven. Certainly this is true. But the context of the statement indicates that God would accomplish this by inspiring the rich man to reform his life and willingly give his money to the poor. Jesus also warned against the accumulation of wealth on several other occasions. In Matthew 6:19 he says “do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth”, and a few verses later, in Matthew 6:24, he says “You cannot serve both God and Money”. In Luke 6:24 he says “woe to you who are rich.” Jesus disapproved of wealth because he thought it was wrong for some people to live in wasteful luxury while others starved. According to the Book of Acts, his original followers tried to live by these teachings after he left them. They formed a community in Jerusalem, known as the Nazarenes, in which everyone “had everything in common” (Acts 2:44), and any new member had to sell his or her possessions and give the proceeds to a common fund. But many modern Christians disagree with these ideas. They see nothing wrong with acquiring money and wealth. And people who do become wealthy are often admired by others. ☞ How convenient. (And, of course, I happen to agree with them.) Given the very next topic, I had to keep reading: Non-Marital Relationships In Matthew 5:28-30, Jesus says: “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” In an effort to follow this teaching, some people have become hermits, or found other ways to live in total celibacy. Some of the men in the Heaven’s Gate cult even castrated themselves. But most people aren’t willing to take such drastic measures, and many doubt that it’s really necessary. ☞ I am one of those doubters. But especially as it is only the Old Testament that marks the eating of shellfish (or the touching of a football, or the laying down together of two gay men, or the wearing of a cotton-wool blend) “abominations,” I have to ask the good Christian Senators and Congressmen who live over at the C Street house – and anyone else who may see the Bible as justification for slavery (Colossians 3:22; Ephesians 6:5) or for female subservience or for discriminating against gays and lesbians . . . really? It’s 2010. If it’s okay to be rich (and vote solidly against the minimum wage or extending health care coverage to more children) . . . if it’s okay not to gouge out your eye if you look lustfully at a woman (or hike the Appalachian Trail with one in Argentina) . . . why is it not okay to extend hate crimes legislation to cover hate crimes against gays along with everyone else? Why is it not okay to extend employment and housing antidiscrimination protections to gays along with everyone else? Why not recognize – for civil purposes, like Social Security benefits – same-sex marriages legally performed in Iowa or Canada or Massachusetts or South Africa or Connecticut or Spain or Vermont or Holland or our nation’s capital or Mexico City? Really.