I’ve always wondered about the Parable of the Talents. The parable tells of a master who was leaving home for a while, and before setting out, gave his three servants different amounts of money. The first servant got five talents, the second got two talents and the third got one. The first two invested their talents (which in those days was a lot of money) and had a nice fat profit for the boss. The third servant didn’t take any chances; he buried his cash in the ground so it would be safe and sound when the master came home.
I’m sure you know how the master reacted. He praised the first two servants and dumped all over the third. I can’t help feeling the third guy got a raw deal. But the message is clear: the Lord wants us to go for it… to take a chance on the future … to get in the game with whatever stakes we have, not to sit on the sidelines. Or, as Lee Ann Womack put it:
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance… I hope you dance.
And, little Jamaica has joined the dance, while mighty America sits timidly on the sidelines pondering the risks involved.
What on earth am I talking about? Why, health care, of course.
Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding is forging ahead with plans to abolish hospital user fees, despite a torrent of criticism and the head-scratching conundrum of paying for the plan. He is suggesting that Jamaicans who can afford to pay should contribute whatever they can afford. But to quote from a Jamaica Information Service press release:
The problem has always been that the country was never able to develop an appropriate means to determine whether a person can afford to pay and, if so, how much.
“It is an administrative nightmare,” Mr. Golding said, noting that studies done over the years indicate that the vast majority of people could not afford to pay, and when they do, they do so at tremendous sacrifice. He said that in light of this, the decision the Government took was necessary and must be sustained.
Admitting that it is not a perfect arrangement, the Prime Minister said that one of the weaknesses is in the area of health insurance, which should be covering some of the costs.
Sound familiar? Of course, Golding could just as easily be talking about the good ol’ USA. Nobody pretends that creating an equitable health care system is easy. There are swarms of problems involved. Especially in figuring out how to pay for it. But governments all over the world have accepted the challenge, and are in the game. The U.S. is imagining the worst, too scared to take a chance, defeated before the game has even started.