State of Mankind

A New Way Of Thinking

The Catholic Church and F. A. Hayek

Many people have been following the political battle between the Catholic Church and the Obama administration over provisions in the Heath Care law that would force the Catholic Church to provide contraceptive, abortive, and sterilizing services with its health care coverage.  Details can be found here:

http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2012/02/06/catholic-league-poised-to-go-to-war-with-obama-over-mandatory-birth-control-payments/

This brings us to an inevitable showdown between two sides, one which views these reproductive services as a necessary part of healthcare, and the other which cannot be part of such a system and live according to the dictates of it’s conscience.  While President Obama has been challenged for his decision against the freedom of conscience of the Catholic Church even by MSNBC (normally very friendly to the President), a deeper understanding shows that these conflicts are an inevitable part of the State controlling large portions of economic life.  F. A. Hayek explained just how this happens:

“From the two central features of every collectivist system, the need for a commonly accepted system of ends of the group and the all-overriding desire to give the group the maximum power to achieve these ends, grows a definited system of morals, which on some points coincides and on others violently contrasts with ours–but differs from it in one point which makes it doubtful whether we can call it morals:  that IT DOES NOT LEAVE THE INDIVIDUAL CONSCIENCE FREE to apply its own rules and does not even know any general rules which the individual is required or allowed to observe in all circumstances.” (The Road T0 Serfdom, Pg. 166, emphasis mine)

So Hayek taught that a collectivist system (Nationalized Heath Care in this case) needs a commonly accepted system of ends (providing healthcare) and maximum power to achieve these ends (taxation, forced individual mandates, etc.).  Because of these needs, there must be a common moral ground.  This is where trouble starts.  To the Catholic Church, healthcare does not include, and cannot include what other people consider absolutely necessary for it to be healthcare.  For the collectivist healthcare system to work, these two groups must battle it out and one must win, and then the conclusion:  the individual conscience is no longer free.

I will personally stand with the Catholic Church to protect the free exercise of conscience in our country.  It is not a matter of whether I agree with the Catholic Church or not.  It is a simple recognition of the principle that we should have learned before we got to this point:  A collectivist system and the individual free exercise of conscience  are not compatible.  This time it’s the Catholics who are being thrown under the bus.  If we allow it to happen, or even if we don’t, but we keep this collectivist system, next time it could be you or me.

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