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Phil Jensen: Other People’s Health Doesn’t Matter to Me, Except When It Does

I want to dwell for another moment on Representative Phil Jensen’s (R-33/Rapid City) anti-social comment at Tuesday’s Rapid City school board meeting. SDPB’s Arielle Zionts reported via Twitter that Jensen said we aren’t responsible for anyone’s health but our own:

Arielle Zionts, tweet from Rapid City school board meeting, 2021.09.07
Arielle Zionts, tweet from Rapid City school board meeting, 2021.09.07.

We aren’t responsible for others’ health. Hmm… so to what logical conclusions must that claim lead Representative Jensen and others who maintain such individual separatism?

Representative Jensen certainly must oppose Medicaid, as we have no responsibility to help our low-income neighbors access health care. Yet even when he has spoken publicly against expanding Medicaid, he has expressed concern for others’ health:

At the crackerbarrel, state Sen. Phil Jensen was blunt about the money for expanding Medicaid: “The state has no more money, and the (federal) government is broke.”

“We all care about the poor” and their need for health care, Jensen said, but he added that he sees their plight as “an opportunity for faith-based entities to step forward” and offer help [Jim Stasiowski, “Lawmakers: State Has No Money for Medicaid Expansion,” Rapid City Journal, 2015.02.21].

Why would faith-based organizations help the poor with health care costs if they have no responsibility for others’ health?

Rep. Jensen must similarly oppose Medicare, as we have no responsibility to help elderly folks get health care. Where do we get off taking money from younger people to keep older people healthy?

Rep. Jensen must oppose any government action to protect the health of citizens, yet just last Session, he co-sponsored and voted for 2021 House Bill 1130, which requires that doctors give certain female patients even more information to protect their health. He co-sponsored and voted for 2021 HB 1051, which assumes a profound state responsibility for the health of certain fetuses. He co-spsonored and voted for Senate Bill 83, which directs the Department of Health to disseminate information about perinatal hospice services, as if the state has any responsibility to promote the physical and emotional health of families who lose babies. He supported House Concurrent Resolution 6008, which reauthorized the Mental Health Services Delivery Task Force, as if the Legislature has any responsibility to ensure that people have access to mental health care.

Representative Jensen’s public statements and Legislative record make clear that he doesn’t really believe that individuals aren’t responsible for anyone’s health but our own. He’s just invoking declarations of convenience, saying things that sound good in the moment and justify his and his supporters’ sense that the only freedom that matters is their own.


  1. Eve Fisher 2021-09-09

    This is the new mantra over on the conservative websites – especially, I am heartbroken to say, “Christian” conservative websites. “I take PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY! ” Which means, I can do what I want, and if you don’t want to breathe my air, you can stay home and rot.

    Read this blogpost by Phil Clark of Slacktivist on how evangelical leaders are selling people the idea that empathy is a sin…

    This is part of the reason why people have turned cold and cruel and callous against their neighbors with the swiftness of a lightswitch – because it’s being preached, not just on conservative media, but from conservative pulpits. God help us all.

  2. Donald Pay 2021-09-09

    Eve Fisher is correct. Sometime, if you want to experience a good puke, skip the beer and bourbon and listen to Christian radio. All day long they preach an anti-Christian mantra that Jesus would not recognize. Of course, if you embrace their strange brand of Christian elitism and you believe exactly as they, you are told you are one of the chosen ones and you won’t suffer should you get covid. They do care a little bit about your health, but only insofar as you swallow whatever b.s. they want you to swallow along with your ivermectin. It’s a sick, cultish kind of puke that goes out on the airwaves 24/7. The First Amendment has some drawbacks.

  3. Porter Lansing 2021-09-09

    Kurt Evans – Neal Tapio – Troy Jones

  4. kurtz 2021-09-09

    Most Native Americans don’t want Medicare for All; they want a fully funded Indian Health Service and military personnel want better TRICARE coverage.

    Only 30% of Native Americans know the Hyde Amendment prohibits the use of federal funds for some procedures at Indian Health Service clinics so I like the idea of rolling the funding for TRICARE, Medicare, the IHS and the VA together then offering Medicaid for all by increasing the estate tax, raising taxes on tobacco and adopting a carbon tax. Reproductive freedoms should be included with conditions just like the military does under TRICARE.

  5. SuFu+Matt 2021-09-09

    I am confused. Were the people booing his comments, or the comments of the lady whose family members have cancer?

  6. Kurt Evans 2021-09-09

    Porter Lansing writes:

    Kurt Evans – Neal Tapio – Troy Jones

    I’ve never supported Donald Trump the way Neal has, and I’ve never supported the pope the way Troy has, but Neal and Troy both seem like basically decent guys, at least from a distance.

  7. Porter Lansing 2021-09-09

    You’re pretty decent, too KE.

    Just checking to see that you made it through the first quarter of the Great Pandemic of the Twenty First Century.

    On we go.

    Seniors are dead. Babies are next.

  8. Porter Lansing 2021-09-09

    For Comrade Dalekivef,

    I got my double dose, senior flu shot, this morning.

    I now have X-ray vision.

    Great for those Deep State dark corners, where you hang out.

  9. mtr 2021-09-09

    Does this also mean my kids can take Snickers to school now?

  10. ArloBlundt 2021-09-09

    Well…Phil Jensen is a dim bulb, politically and as a theologian…a Christian revisionist…Would Jesus get a Covid shot, Phil???Would Jesus, the healer of the sick, get vaccinated and urge others to do so?? Would Jesus want everyone to have health care?? Would Jesus allow an ectopic pregnancy to continue and threaten the life of the mother??If Jesus walked on Earth, would he try to hang Mike Pence?? Would He love his neighbor? His kingdom is not of this World.

  11. DaveFN 2021-09-09

    If ethical altruism holds that moral agents have an obligation to help others, ethical egoism holds that moral agents do what is in their own self-interest.

    A large sector of the populace is oblivious, however, that ethical egoism also endorses the consequentialist view that only those actions that benefit the individual are considered ethical.

    Which is where that sector of the populace runs amok since their actions undermine not only our but their own health and well-being as well as right to life, liberty, and happiness.

    As James Rachels writes “Ethical egoism…endorses selfishness, but it doesn’t endorse foolishness.” (“Ethical Egoism.” In Reason & Responsibility: Readings in Some Basic Problems of Philosophy).

    Of course ethical theory if not ethical behavior itself is totally over the heads of the sector under discussion. I’m being charitable when I say this foolish sector of the populace has an attention span and intellectual capability limited to what can be expressed on a bumper sticker.

    As far as Rep. Phil Jensen, he can’t even distinguish a non-communicable disease such as cancer from a highly communicable disease.

    One recent consequence: the Rapid City Public Library posted a notice this week that it will now be temporarily closed on Sundays. Reason: too many staff are out with COVID.

  12. Kyle Krause 2021-09-10

    The lady in question wrote in the to RC Journal today. The “horrible nasty man” she refers to is Phil Jensen. Having been there, I would say that is an accurate description. There was zero reason for him to address his comments to this lady personally, and it was honestly a lot worse than media reports make it appear. Her letter is below:

    I wish to thank the caring people that approached me at the school board meeting. There are some really wonderful, caring individuals in Rapid City. I am not a public speaker and I wanted to let the school board know my concerns not based on politics but based on my family.

    There was a horrible nasty man that spoke after me and really made me feel personally attacked and uncomfortable to the point that it was really upsetting to me, especially after I shared about my families health concerns.

    I left upset and so many people came and hugged me and gave me support that a negative really turned into a positive. So thank you one and all for being a bright spot to my dark day.

  13. Bob Newland 2021-09-10

    There is no dissension with the characterization of Phil Jensen as a horrible, nasty, man.

  14. kurtz 2021-09-10

    Rapid City is represented in the Legislature by a gaggle of misanthropes, philanderers and earth haters.

    Lynne DiSanto posted an ‘all lives splatter’ expletive to her Facebook page, Mike Diedrich is South Dakota’s Callista Gingrich and Phil Jensen calls all LGBTQ people paedophiles.

    When what to my wondering eyes did appear, but a miniature slay and a Phil Jensen brain smear.

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