Monday, November 08, 2010

How We Got Here

As usual, The Onion nailed it. The greatest strength of a democracy such as ours is the potential to have the government we want. The greatest weakness is that we get the government we deserve.

Let’s leave aside how many people do or don’t vote. Voter levels aren’t really the problem. I’ll all for making it a little harder to register to vote in the first place, as someone too lazy to do even that probably isn’t going to extend himself when it comes time to have his say. Too many sheeple (as the Beloved Spouse calls them) on both sides of the aisle do this.

Disagree? That’s your right, but I dis-disagree back atcha. Consider health care reform, probably the most controversial law passed by the current Congress. The people are about evenly divided. About 47-48% are for it, and 47-48% are against it. (The other 5-6% don’t understand the question.) Here’s where it gets complicated. Individual components of the law are overwhelmingly popular, ebven with those who want to get rid of it.

Should your insurance provider be allowed to drop you because you actually got sick? No one wants that. How about doing away with lifetime caps? People like that, too. Allowing children to remain covered under their parents’ policies up to age 26 if the kids’ employers don’t pick them up? Sounds good to most folks. How about lowering health care costs by standardizing forms and lowering administrative overhead? No one complaining about that.

No one thinks kids should be denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition. People who are trying to eat healthier want to be able to see the nutritional information on what they’re considering at a restaurant. Despite overwhelming approval of these (and other) aspects of the law, the polling numbers show many of the people who like these things still want to repeal the law that provides them.

There are people today who are paying for, or reluctantly doing without, end-of-life planning, who know it’s a good thing, and yet screamed foul words at their congressman two summers ago because of the “death panels.” These folks didn’t realize the death panels they were so upset about were the same end-of-life care and advice they’re so worried about now. All they knew was that attention whore Sarah Palin told them these were bad. I don’t know what to say about those who became hysterical over the idea of the government running Medicare; Medicare is, and has always been, a government program, and, as the level of vitriol indicated, a highly popular one.

People argue there will be fraud. Of course there will; it can’t be helped. There has never been a large program, in either the public or the private sector, that didn’t have fraud. There’s Social Security fraud, and we know well how people feel about shutting down that government program. (Socialist government program, no less.) The trick is to weed it out as well as we can, while understanding you can’t eliminate it. No one is served if 99 people are hurt just so one guy can’t get over.

American voters aren’t bad people. They are short-sighted and gullible. Looking two steps down the road seems to be beyond most of them. They see Problem A and Glenn Beck proposes Solution B, and no one cares that it will not only not eradicate the problem it was intended to solve, but will also create Condition C, which is almost as bad as A, but just not to me personally.

Think, people. Others can advise you, but only you can do the actual thinking. And it’s way past time we got busy about it.

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