Alibris Secondhand Books Standard

Monday, June 05, 2006

congressional stuff

Senator Sam Brownback has succeeded in adding a provision to the Senate's immigration bill, to bring more nurses to the U.S. This will have a negative effect on health care in the poorer countries that have educated and trained these nurses. The New York Times has the story (registration required).

It's a case of seeking the easy solution to a complex problem. The United States has a shortage of nurses, the Senate is discussing immigration policy, so Senator Brownback finds a quick fix. The problem is, this does not eliminate the shortage. It just moves it out of our sight -- and places it squarely in the worst possible location. The places that are most desperately in need of health care workers will now suffer even more. A better solution, it seems to me, would be to train more nurses. Provide funding to schools that want to expand their nursing programs, or to create new ones. As the population ages, this is one profession that will only increase in demand in the coming years. We shouldn't have to steal from other countries to make up for our shortsightedness.

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Meanwhile, President Bush is urging Congress to pass a Constitutional Amendment to ban same-sex marriages. See the story at To amend the Constitution requires support from 2/3 of the members of both houses of Congress. This amendment appears headed for defeat: The Senate does not even have a simple majority in favor.

Bush's attempt to pander to his base will likely end up hurting him. This maneuver shows his lack of leadership ability and his misunderstanding of the role of the federal government. Even some who oppose same-sex marriage are nervous about rewriting the Constitution over it. Those who know their history will recall that the last time the Constitution was amended to outlaw a specific behavior of citizens -- the 18th Amendment, banning the manufacture, sale, or transportation of alcohol -- was a dismal failure. Alcohol consumption rates may have dropped, but some people still found ways to get it, and those who broke the law to supply it became much more sophisticated in their efforts to evade prosecution. One unintended side effect of prohibition was the rise of organized crime. It would have been better to let Uncle Fred have his beer after dinner than to provide Al Capone with an additional source of income.

A same-sex marriage prohibition probably wouldn't have quite so dire consequences, but haven't we learned the lesson that the federal government isn't up to the task of overseeing our morality?

Personally, I think the government should get out of the marriage business altogether. When states are given the right to say who should be married and who should not, they can easily abuse their power. The wave of no-fault divorce laws that have swept the United States since the 1970s have probably done more to destroy the American family than any other factor. After the states introduced this innovation, churches have learned to accept it. How can they do otherwise, when half of all marriages now end in divorce?

Same-sex marriage wouldn't have nearly the impact that no-fault divorce has had; the number of people affected would be much smaller. And taking it out of the states' hands wouldn't end the controversy; many churches are wrestling with this issue as well. But they should have the freedom to wrestle and to come to their conclusions, without being forced to follow the dictates of the state. That's why this country's founders proposed to separate church and state in the first place.

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Hat tips to Seth at Samaritanity for the first article, and to Eddie(F) at Edge of Faith for the second.

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At 6/06/2006 6:09 AM, Blogger truevyne said...

I'm not convinced no fault divorce is what deconstructs the family today. It's the spiritual commitment to marriage which wavers.
The divorce rate of the couples married at the Bible college from which I graduated are higher than the national average. Scary isn't it?
And while I deeply love my one and only husband of seventeen years, marriage is hard work which so many refuse put in.

At 6/06/2006 7:22 AM, Blogger BruceA said...

You make some good points. Marriage is hard work, and a lot of people today aren't very committed to it.

Still, I think that the ability to end a marriage without prosecuting one's spouse has made it much easier to end that commitment. People who might have stayed in a marriage to avoid the embarrassment of testifying in court about their spouse's failings now have a much easier way out.

On the other hand, if someone remains married only because it would be embarrassing to go through a divorce, their marriage isn't very healthy. I'm not sure what the solution is, but I don't think legislation is the answer. And that was my main point about no fault divorce.

At 6/12/2006 6:55 AM, Blogger John said...

There's no shortage of nurses at all. Not a bit. There's just a shortage of nurses who will work for $30,000 a year. Let the hospital administrators whine all they want. But if they put out the cash necessary to entice nurses, they will hire them.


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