David Brooks: The Debt Ceiling Debate Is Really a Denial of DeathI don't want bureaucrats in Washington deciding what kind of treatments people can get but I do want people to know the freedom, hope, and peace available to Christians in the face of death.Amy Julia Becker
David Brooks has yet another insightful piece in the New York Times. He argues that to the extent that ever-rising health care costs are a major reason for the U.S. federal deficit, the stalled debate in Washington about the debt ceiling is actually the result of cultural assumptions about death. A stretch? As a nation, we spend an incredible amount of money extending the lives of the very ill just a few more months. We do so, Brooks and others argue, because we believe that
A) death is something to be afraid of and that
B) if we just spend enough money we can solve the death problem.
Brooks provides an example of a person who bravely stares death in the eye and is determined to make the best of rest of his life, but not to prolong it through medicine. I commend the man's courage. I don't think that I could be so brave if I weren't a Christian–the only reason I hope to end my life with the same courage of Brooks' example (or the courage my mother-in-law showed) is that I trust that on the other side of my mortal life lies full life with God. Otherwise, I'd be staring into an abyss, I think, and I'd be freaking out and trying to figure out how to put it off as long as possible.
This raises so many issues, especially when discussed in the context of the federal government and health care. I don't want bureaucrats in Washington deciding what kind of treatments people can get but I do want people to know the freedom, hope, and peace available to Christians in the face of death. If that lowers health care costs, great. More importantly, it will be a major step towards a healthier (in the fullest sense) culture.