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Lobbying is theft

26 August 2009

A couple of weeks ago I commented about the ethical assumptions that seemed to lie behind a statement I found on another blog, that “universal healthcare is theft”. Now Liz Dyer has drawn my attention to this:

Daily Dose – Lobbyists Spend Millions to Influence Health Care:

Drugmakers, hospitals and insurers continued to pour millions of dollars into lobbying during the second quarter of this year, hoping to limit the damage to their bottom line as lawmakers and the Obama administration wrangle over landmark health-care legislation.

New disclosure reports that began arriving Monday in Congress showed familiar players at the top of the health-care influence heap, including $6.2 million in lobbying by the dominant Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) and $4 million by the American Medical Association.

Many health companies and associations increased their first-quarter lobbying expenditures, sometimes dramatically. The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association upped its lobbying expenditures by a full million, to 2.8 million dollars in the second quarter; GlaxoSmithKline’s spending jumped from $1.8 million to $2.3 million; Novartis grew from $1.4 million to $1.8 million; and Metlife Group reported $1.7 million, up nearly 50 percent. Allstate, which spent less than $900,000 on lobbying through March, boosted its spending to more than $1.5 million from April to June.

Those who attempted to defend (rather unconvincingly, I think) the statement that “universal healthcare is theft” did so with some rather obscure arguments about taxes. But it seems to me that, using the same kind of reasoning, one could make a much stronger case for saying that the kind of lobbying activity described in the article cited above is theft. These people are simply stealing from the sick.

This kind of lobbying is theft.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. 26 August 2009 8:55 am

    Lobbying is far worse than theft. It’s the most insidiously corrupting influence on American lawmaking.

  2. 26 August 2009 10:58 pm

    Steve – this was better than a retweet! Thanks for helping to get the word out about this travesty.

    I just hope people start paying attention before long.

    I guess one reason drugmakers, hospitals and insurers in America charge so much is so they will have enough money to influence our elected officials to support them.

    I believe with all my heart that our gov. is bought off when it comes to health care.

  3. Fr. Andrew permalink
    27 August 2009 6:59 pm

    Honestly, this is the same thing — it’s the other side of the unholy statist-corporatist alliance which is bent not on allowing people their freedom (which is the only proper context for being able to build and provide good things like universal health care), but rather on keeping the elite in government and in the corporations in power.

    It’s all theft.

  4. Fr. Andrew permalink
    27 August 2009 9:14 pm

    By the way, just as an addendum:

    In case you had me in mind (as you seem to) as one who “defend[ed]… the statement that ‘universal healthcare is theft’,” my intention was no such thing.

    I intended rather to try to explain what was most likely meant by it (i.e., that granting universal health care by means of taxation is theft). I do not agree with the meaning of that statement which you criticized. (Namely, that universal healthcare is theft without any reference to how it may be provided.)

    Anyway, I largely think that our political contexts are enough different that snippets of text taken from debates in one or the other will likely not be seen in the light in which they are being discussed natively. (Liberal, for instance, seems to mean quite a different thing in South Africa than it does in the United States.)

    • 28 August 2009 7:49 am

      Fr Andrew,

      My criticism was directed at the statement rather than any person, and I tried to make it clear that when the statement is stripped of context and uttered as if it were a self-evident truth, thus turning it into a slogan, it is not merely un-Christian but anti-Christian.

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