Mike Huckabee: A Lesson in Missing the Point

Dear Mr. Huckabee,

Yesterday you gave a speech in which you said,

“If the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it,” Huckabee said at the RNC winter meeting. “Let’s take that discussion all across America.”

May I respectfully submit that you are thoroughly and completely missing the point of the conversation. Let’s start with the subject at hand: the Affordable Care Act’s mandated contraceptive coverage. There are many points being made by the Democrats about this coverage, none of which is that “women are helpless” and “cannot control their libido or reproductive system” without the help of the government. Personally I resent the statement that women who want their private insurance companies to be required to cover birth control are akin to having a sugar daddy. Mr. Huckabee, if your goal with this speech was to dispel the myth that there is a war on women, you are doing it wrong.

Up until recently, I have been a life-long Republican. It amazes me that there isn’t a meeting where someone from Party HQ sits every candidate and elected official down and says, listen, “STOP TALKING ABOUT WOMEN AND SEX AND BODY PARTS. It never goes well for us.” Honestly, what is amazing to me is that when you sat down to write this speech with your speech writers and advisors, you all thought this sounded like something that would play well with American women. Heck, my guess is that this line of bs doesn’t even go over well with most Republican women.

Let me tell you a little bit about myself. I grew up in a middle class American home. As I said before, I have been a life-long Republican until recently. I am 44 and have been married since I was 18 years old (26 years – thought I’d save you the math). I come from a military family and my father is a decorated retired Air Force Colonel. My husband and I waited 13 years to get pregnant with our first child. I have 2 beautiful children and 1 lost to miscarriage. I have never had an abortion (not that it is any of your business). My husband was the first in his family to graduate from college and now holds a JD from Pepperdine University. I have a BFA in Graphic Design from The University of Texas at Arlington. We did not always live as comfortably as we do now. When we were young, my husband and I had to rely on Planned Parenthood for free/low cost birth control pills. Thank God for them. At the time we had no health insurance and the cost of going to an Ob/Gyn and the prescription was just more than we had. I want you to know a few things, Mr. Huckabee,

  1. I did not need “Uncle Sugar” to help me control my libido.  I was married.
  2. I was, by going to Planned Parenthood, controlling my reproductive system.
  3. I was not helpless, but I would have been without the services provided to me by Planned Parenthood.
  4. My husband and I knew we were not ready to be parents, but we would have been forced to practice less effective methods of birth control were it not for PP.

Sir, I understand you do not personally think I needed the government to control my libido, etc., but you think that the Democrats do. YOU ARE AGAIN MISSING THE POINT. The point is…

Providing women with free/low cost Ob/Gyn care and birth control empowers them to be able to follow through on exercising wise and informed family planning. Also, studies show that providing free birth control actually REDUCES ABORTIONS. And isn’t that something we can agree on?

I personally am done having babies and using birth control. However, I am happy to pay my ACA health plan premiums so that other women and families can be provided the services I was, but at their doctor’s office instead of Planned Parenthood. Why, when women just want to be responsible with their choices, do you not want to help them do so? As far as I can tell, you want to do away with the ACA and Planned Parenthood. What then, sir, are we as women supposed to do when we cannot afford a health plan that covers Ob/Gyn care as well as birth control? Have an abortion? I don’t think any of us want that. Have a baby when we cannot afford one or take care of one? Doesn’t that just cause more family and societal issues? What about adoption? What if every woman who has used birth control to prevent a pregnancy since the advent of modern contraception had just had all those babies and given them up for adoption? That would be MILLIONS of babies. Do you honestly think we would have homes for them all? We would have to go back to having orphanages. Not everyone would be able to afford to take care of those children, especially since younger people are most likely to be on birth control. Some of us would not have been able to finish college. And that would add even more people to the welfare system. Perhaps you think women should only have sex when they are prepared to have a baby and that couples should have as many children as God gives them. That is up to you and your wife; you get to make that choice. When and how others choose to plan their families is not up to you. With all due respect, butt out.

The Myth that the Church Alone Can and Should Take Care of the Poor

Tuesday Jesse Graston, the South Carolina Coordinator of the John Birch Society, stood on the steps of the South Carolina Statehouse and called on Americans to nullify the Affordable Care Act and replace it with charity from churches. Frankly this is a sentiment I have heard for years. The government should get out of the “charity business) i.e. welfare, medicare, medicaid and Social Security and let the churches do their job. Well, I have news for you. That is just flat-out never going to happen. Not only because it wouldn’t work and people would be missed but also because they simply do not have the resources to carry out the task. Follow the math with me for a second.
(If math makes you queasy look for the statements in BOLD)

The federal budget expenditures from the year 2011 (the most recent year data is available) for these programs is as follows:

  • 746 billion for welfare programs (283 billion is also contributed to these programs by the states for a total of 1.3 trillion)
  • 725 billion for Social Security
  • 480 billion for Medicare

The grand total of these expenditures is 2.505 trillion dollars per year. There are about 338,000 Christian congregations any given year that works out to $7,411,242.60 per church.

Now let’s look at  Christian church budgets in the United States.

In a survey performed by the Evangelical Christian Credit Union this is how churches responded that they spend their money:

Chart

Let’s look at a few line items…

  • Total average spending on personnel, buildings and administration is 85%
  • Total average spending on local/national/international benevolence 3%.
  • Yes, you read that right THREE FREAKING PERCENT!

If a nonprofit had this kind of percentage going to the actual people they were serving you would never give your money there. As an example, according to the Christian Science Monitor here are the percentage of total expenses spent on programs for a few well-known non-profits:

  • American Red Cross 92.2%
  • United Way 90.6%
  • Feeding America 97.2%
  • Habitat for Humanity 83.7%

If you do the math this works out to $8,270.00 average allotted in each congregation’s budget for benevolence. Do you remember the amount each congregation would have to provide to cover federal and state spending on these programs? $7,411,242.60.

I think we are a little short.

[Don’t even get me started on church debt.  According to Church Finance Today, “68% of churches in the West-South Central U.S., and 64% of churches in the East-South Central U.S. have expenses exceeding income. These are the best regions in the country.”]

All of this assumes that the numbers stay the same you say. Ok,  think about this…

  • Even if we threw 100% of church revenue at it we would still be over 7.4 million short per congregation. EVERY YEAR.
  • Even if giving doubled because taxes were cut, you cut spending in half and threw it all at benevolence, we would still be over 3.6 million dollars PER CONGREGATION SHORT. EVERY. YEAR.

All that to say, it is mathematically impossible.

Also, if only the Christian Churches, as Mr. Graston and many others assert, are charged with caring for the poor, they would have to give 100% of their annual income. And it STILL wouldn’t be enough.

How’s that for a tax increase?

According to World Christian Trends AD 30-AD 2000: Interpreting the Annual Christian Megacensus, in the year 2000, total Christian income in the United States was $5.2 trillion annually and according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, median income for working-age households slid 12.4 percent from 2000 to 2011. But for the sake of argument let’s say that number stayed the same. Church members would have to give a little less than 50% of their income to cover for it all and that wouldn’t include the remaining taxes they would still owe the government to pay for defense, infrastructure and education.

Talk about a tax hike.

Next Mr. Graston threw out this doozie about the difference between the way liberals and conservatives view taking care of the poor,

“They think it’s the duty of others to help them take care of the poor,” he remarked. “We believe that we shouldn’t take from others to help take care of the poor or to help ourself, but we follow Christ’s example.”

“He did not steal from his disciples to feed the hungry,” Graston continued. “No, he gave of his own substance to those that were in need, and I believe that as we’re saying no to the encroachments of the federal government, that we will have to stand up and the churches must take their place to take care of the needy. I’m asking as we push the government out of the way that we need to fill that vacuum and begin to see those that around us and take that initiative ourself.”

Let’s take what he said point by point, shall we?

#1. “They think it is the duty of others to help them take care of the poor.”

Last time I checked we (the citizens) are the government. The money the government spends on taking care of the least of these is money given to the government by we the people. The government is nothing else but the people we hire to steward our collective money. If we do not like the way they spend it we have recourse for that. It is called voting.

#2. “We believe that we shouldn’t take from others to help take care of the poor or to help ourself, but we follow Christ’s example.”

Hmm. When Jesus fed the 5,000 what did he start with? Loaves and fish from a person in the crowd. When Jesus made wine, what did he start with? Pots of water owned by the host of the party. Who was it who supported Jesus and provided him with the money to care for people? According to Luke 8, a group of women. As far as I can tell, Jesus used resources acquired from others to take care of people.

#3. “He did not steal from his disciples to feed the hungry. No, he gave of his own substance to those that were in need…”

Of course he did not steal from them. Neither is the government stealing from the people. We elect our representatives who then administer the finances. As the Declaration of Independence clearly states,

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

The government gets its power from who? From us. Humans set up governments to secure rights for all our citizens. Rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We declared and continue to declare that all our citizens are created equal. This is what our government is for and that includes but is not limited to using our tax dollars to help ensure this. If you ask me this is a very practical way to take care of people. We the people have spoken and we have decided we want our government to help us carry out the commands to love our neighbor, to care for the poor, the widow and the orphan. If you don’t like the way they are doing it, or think you have a better way, the beauty of our system is  you have the right as a citizen to try to persuade people that you are right, you have a right to organize and vote and change things. 

#4. “…I believe that as we’re saying no to the encroachments of the federal government, that we will have to stand up and the churches must take their place to take care of the needy. I’m asking as we push the government out of the way that we need to fill that vacuum and begin to see those that around us and take that initiative ourself.”

Taking care of people is not an encroachment of the federal government. And, as fully detailed above, churches are actually not capable of taking care of all the needs.  [As a side note this is a major reason why at novitas church we have no paid staff and meet in a building we use for free. We do this so we can use all of our money to take care of people.] I actually agree with one part of his last line. We do need to “begin to see those around us and take the initiative ourself” to be part of the solution. I just don’t think we need to push the government out of the way to do that. I believe we need to come along side the government and encourage fiscal responsibility, cut waste and streamline so that we can take care of people more efficiently. Honestly this is part of the reason President Bush instituted The White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships which has been continued under President Obama, so that, according to ABC News to,

“coordinate with faith-based and community organizations on social service outreach and will work to utilize these organizations’ efforts to advance the administration’s policies, with a primary focus on poverty.”

Now that is a beautiful thing.

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This Mind Blowing Fact Proves That Christian Churches Cannot Provide For The Poor