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John Witherspoon on Health Care
Thursday, September 17, 2009

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Wayne Shepherd

Wayne Shepherd: Welcome to today’s edition of the Public Square®, with Dave Zanotti. I’m Wayne Shepherd. And Dave way back in the day, you know, when they were writing the Constitution, do you think that they were thinking health care in those days?

Dave Zanotti: Well let’s go back a few years even before that. Let’s go back to the Declaration of Independence.

WS: Oh sure.

DZ: “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men (and women implied) are created equal. That they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Life, that’s first and foremost! A right given by God that government exists to secure those rights.

So somebody could say well if I need health care, the government is going to secure my right to life by making sure I have health care. So somebody could try to make that argument.

But let’s go back to one of the signer’s of the Declaration of Independence, the Reverend Dr. John Witherspoon who was the President of the college of New Jersey, which would become Princeton. Dr. Witherspoon, a pastor, talked about bureaucracy in this way; he said it’s like the branches of a tree, when they get too large and too heavy they fall from the trunk. He said in the same way government that is too far away from the people can’t really execute. He said, you know, the sharpest sword will not pierce, said Witherspoon, where it cannot reach.

WS: Boy there’s a man before his time.

DZ: So basically the real question here isn’t can we justify this, but does it make sense? Where can we prove that top-down management over these many decisions will in fact work effectively? And then the flip side—Witherspoon said that if government reaches too far, then it will either end up in resulting separation with the people, or tyranny. So the question is, can the government do this well? And history seems to indicate that this is not what America does best.

WS: You can read a transcript of the Public Square® online at

Dr. McGowen's Blog "On Healthcare"

The Healthcare Bill as of July 23, 2009

Organizational Chart of the House Democrats' Health Plan

John Witherspoon on Health Care - August 18th, 2009

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