Government can and will break its own rules.

When I say that the introduction of single-payer healthcare would not lead to the en – or even a significant reduction in – the circumcision of infant males in the United States, I do not hope I’m right. But I still see no reason to think I’m wrong. My analysis includes the evidence that countries with nationalized healthcare don’t pay for ritual/cultural circumcision. I also understand that claiming any particular market is somehow different is dangerous. But it’s quite clear that Americans have an irrational affinity for cutting the genitals of male children. That is a political rather than economic factor in this debate. Our politicians have never shown an ability to say “no” when confronted with a choice of excessive spending or the potential loss of votes. Wrap in religion and it’s a perfect combination for everyone to ignore facts (and the child).

There is one fact in the above narrative that is not accurate. If you’ve guessed that countries with nationalized healhtcare pay for ritual circumcision, congratulations, you understand politics at the expense of economics. From England:

… medical opinion has swung against it, and the procedure is now mainly carried out here for religious reasons.

As such, according to NHS guidelines, it should only be carried out, and paid for, privately.

But an investigation by More4 News has found an increasing number of health trusts are bowing to pressure, and offering circumcisions free on the NHS.

I’d normally embed the video here. I do not like the still image presented before the video plays. You can find it at the link above, or directly here.

Take note that no one in the report mentions what the boys might want. It’s a religious requirement for the parents to impose on their children. That’s enough for everyone to ignore the obvious questions beyond the cost, even though unnecessary circumcision is unjust, both morally and legally. But even in a culture like England that generally does not circumcise, mix the parents’ religion with an inability to pay and the state pays. America will be different how?

The bit about “unscrupulous circumcision practitioners” is particularly fascinating. The doctor interviewed in the beginning of the report operates in a glass house. No, he’s not a mechanic circumcising an infant with a soldering iron. Yet, he is a professional sworn to an oath placing the patient’s health as his first priority. As long as his child patients are healthy when he mutilates them, he is nothing more than an unscrupulous circumcision practitioner with training. The physical results may be less troublesome, but those children will still carry the mark of his criminal lack of ethics for the rest of their lives.

Post Script: I still detest the idea of single-payer healthcare because of the inevitable deterioration in health and care before we get to any discussion of rights.

6 thoughts on “Government can and will break its own rules.”

  1. The Muslims in Britain are far more likely to ask for state favors than any religious minority in the United States that practices circumcision. In the United States, First Amendment concerns would probably get in the way, whereas in Britain, there’s a much greater culture of entitlement.
    Incidentally, how well does your anti-spam orange thing work? I’ve had spam problems that Akismet doesn’t fully solve, and I’d like to look into other options.

  2. This is similar to a point I have made about the political feasibility of a national sales tax that exempts nothing (with or without a so-called “prebate”).
    There is no way, none whatsoever, that the United States Congress would ever impose a federal sales tax that did not exempt diapers and baby food. Absolutely politically impossible.
    Same principle.

  3. Jason,
    The overall approach between Muslims in Britain and religious minority groups in the U.S. is absolutely different. The problem as it applies to circumcision is not quite so different, I fear. I regularly encounter infant circumcision opponents who believe we should keep a religious exemption under any law protecting boys as girls are now protected. People are afraid to offend the faithful instead of realizing that challenging a practice is merely that, not an attempt to discredit or offend that faith.
    Exactly. Politician is as politician does.

  4. Thanks to More4, there will be scrutiny on this gross violation of human rights, and the public will not be so likely to get stuck with the bill for an immoral barbaric superstitious blood ritual.

  5. I hope that this investigation does wake people up to this problem and move them to put a stop to it. Those doctors perpetrating this will site the problems of laymen circumcisions as justifications. But rather than bending toward this pressure they should be taking their oaths seriously and strongly discouraging the practice and refusing to perform it. It may be the more difficult path to take but you come out better in the long term.
    Also, Tony, the thought of a secular ban has crossed my mind. Not so much because of a fear of offending religious sensibilities but I would be easier to implement and could provided good leverage for an equal protection case down the road. But I also realize the implicit message that might send.

  6. I’ve been thinking over the undeniable problem implicit in a ban on routine/ritual child circumcision. I haven’t, and won’t, change my mind on a ban, but there are issues that need to be addressed. Expect a post sometime in the near-ish future on this.
    The ban has to be worded exactly like the FGM Act. That law contains an explicit rejection of religious claims as sufficient to ignore a lack of medical need. The only difference Americans seem to see is between Islam and Judaism. That’s flawed.
    That’s not to say that there is something wrong with circumcision as a religious requirement. I genuinely do not care. Circumcision is neutral to me in that regard. On whom and why is all that matters. Freely chosen will always be acceptable, even if cultural influence suggests it’s merely a desire to conform. Imposed on another who can’t or doesn’t consent is never acceptable under any circumstances, even if the individual would likely consent retroactively as most Americans do.
    We must push that because it’s based on rights first, which is what the Constitution protects. That trumps our society’s misguided understanding of the First Amendment as it informs parental “rights”.

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