Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Essays No More?

I’ve scrolled back over this site, and came to realize that I have reduced it to a spot where the contributors just dump the detritus of their shutterbuggin’ fingers.

Kind of like an electronic version of a porn star’s tits. Or worse. . . .

No more.  Why, take Health Care Reform.

Fifteen months ago, Thomas Paine would have posted a lengthy screed against the government and its foolhardy, lying ways in “doing the right thing” [i.e. health care restructuring], and I might have posted a piece about either the government’s and parties’ end-justifying-the-means approach to the debate, or a common, rather stock analysis of the “gee, it looks nice, and sure feels good, but the risks are enormous” variety. And Torqueymada could easily point out the Bush-like methods of President Obama, setting up straw men and false choices in a [more literate and articulate] series of obfuscatory speeches intended to “enlighten.”

Everybody here feels all of those things.

And also feels some warmth and goodness about a country doing the right thing and trying to address an uncharitable world (without addressing the systemic flaws that made the situation easily occur, of course).

But I lack the energy. The MythMon would chime in with a thoughtful examination of one of the theses of the entry, drilling down to a more honed, and accurate, exposition. Jestaplero would, if he had the time to stop by, jump on something I said, and would [likely] faithfully defend the merits of many of the health care changes, and methods, whilst confessing one or two missteps. I would then take the bait, and engage, and Thomas Paine would feign umbrage. Chick Who Occasionally Enjoys Politics would pick up on the most interesting details, something we said without thought, and offer a new insight. Little Johnny Jewel would reminds us we’re all dunderheads. tomanonynous would urge the use of yellowjackets.

A few anonymous readers or newcomers might actually elucidate us.

That would all be fun.

But I lack the energy. I’m not going to change any minds. My constant refrain that both sides are fundamentally right, and both sides are fundamentally wrong – and that both sides are undisputably wrong-headed and craven – would fall on largely deaf ears. It’s easier to stick with your team, and not confess that the general manager is a boozed-up old has-been looking to get in his twenty years and be a consultant in Florida.

Oh, I forgot – the posts would be full of those inimitable digressions and stupidities.

Anyway, I think the health care reform will be the ruin of the country, but it will be a slow ruin that will largely be felt by my grandkids [if I ever have any – my son better get to bangin’!]. It won’t be immediate. And it won’t stem from a calamitous socialist takeover of America – it will stem from the proponents’ callow unwillingness to remotely address any genuinely chafing issue.

Following on the heels of at least eight years of similar conduct, it also shouldn’t surprise anyone.

There are no good guys here.

I, of course, benefit from the changes – I will benefit almost immediately [well, my offspring will].

I will also “suffer” from an immediate tax increase, paying a surtax for Medicare. You know, because I’m one of the wealthy Americans who should progressively bear the burden.

It could, of course, all turn out great.  I sure as shit hope so.  That just depends on strong leadership and a willingness to make tough choices at each step of the way in the next twenty years.

You know, the strong leadership and touch-choice-making that the current leadership kicked down the road for somebody else to struggle with.

ADDENDUM: I blew past my one biggest gripe -- the tendency of just about everyone in the world to not treat their own world view, or position on an issue, as the right one, and presume that opponents are just dumb and/or evil.

Sure, people will admit "it could be better," but they blithely discuss these incredibly complex, difficult issues as if the solutions are only difficult to achieve because there's opposition -- not that they're difficult to achieve, and that that condition leads to opposition.

Or, more accurately, the form of opposition. Opposition will pop up as long as there's power to be grabbed.


Mister Parker a.k.a. Mythical Monkey said...

Welcome back, Mister Muleboy. I won't presume to speak for you, I'll only say that in my case, dealing with an Alzheimer-y mom was a tremendous energy sapper and also tended to make everything else feel irrelevant. College football, politics, movies, writing and lots of other stuff went right out the window, and only some of those interests have returned -- baseball, movies but with an altered approach, writing but only partially (what you've been seeing is pretty much all you're getting). College football is out, probably never to return.

As for the topic at hand, health care turned out to be the mixed bag legislation I figured it would be. That they tackled it at all and actually passed something is pretty close to a miracle. Whether anyone will ever address its flaws in a meaningful way, I can't say. We've been kicking the social security and medicare cans down the road for decades without coming to grips with the fact that we're now cashing IOU's to pay for them.

On the other hand, the free market has done a lousy job with medical insurance. It's not like we can truthfully say, Don't fix what ain't broke. It's about as broke as it can get.

But anyway, there are many countries that have made a public-private insurance system work. We aren't doomed to wind up like Greece if we choose not to. As always it'll take a great leader to make it happen.

Somehow this all reminds me of Lou Gehrig's record, and how people said the typical modern ballplayer didn't have the wherewithal to break it. And they were right. A typical ballplayer of any generation doesn't have the wherewithal to break a record. But an atypical ballplayer such as, oh, say, Cal Ripken could and did break Gehrig's record.

Similarly, a typical politician will never lead the country to address the hard questions. Never have, never will. But an atypically great one will. Or can.

Blah blah. I'm not on my own computer today. I don't even have access to a pencil and paper. So no thought out analysis today, just top o' the head spewing.

mister muleboy said...

So no thought out analysis today, just top o' the head spewing.

When in Rome, eh. . . ?

Well, now, here you've gone and opened up some substantive points and thought:

On the other hand, the free market has done a lousy job with medical insurance. It's not like we can truthfully say, Don't fix what ain't broke. It's about as broke as it can get.

This is probably my biggest gripe and fear. We did essentially nothing to change the broken system. We just expanded its reach.

Once Candidate Obama squared off against the apparently-more-progressive John McCain, and rejected the need and any plan to tax employer-provided health benefits, a huge necessary change was abandoned. This is the "insurance" / benefits side that remains broke and unaddressed.

Oh, yeah -- you can also wait for the tax on "Cadillac Plans" -- it will come roughly when the Prez starts killing turkeys again on Thanksgiving.

The other unaddressed side is the Pay for Service model. The absolute demon driving almost all that's wrong in the public policy.

It's like we launched a war on poverty, and then put all of our efforts into ensuring that neighbourhood gardens are safe for children. . . .

My final gripe (this isn't about the substance of the legislation at all -- strictly the politics) was the apparently-successful tactic of making this The People v. The Insurance Companies.

The system of health care payment is, of course, wholly ill-suited to any concept of "insurance." We don't really insure, we just use "insurance companies" as out payment vehicles. But the profits pulled out by the insurance companies are a minute fractino of the money involved, and a cap on insurance company profits at exactly the levels in place would not appreciably change or slow the rise in rates, or the changes in service. It really isn't about insurance companies v. the people at all.

It was, of course, about insurance companies v. a system that changed and harmed insurance companies -- they certainly were active in opposing. It was worth siccing supporters on the political opposition. But it was demagogueryat its finest to cast the question as the President chose to cast it.

Change indeed.

He ran on a change in process, and has instead embraced process to effect change in policy.

And so it goes. . . .

Mister Parker said...

No, you're right. The health care bill doesn't address costs -- overall costs of health care as an industry, that is. It's pretty much just a means of seeing that everybody (or nearly everybody) can get it.

Addressing costs is the next bill. And if the gap between medicare and this bill are any indicator, we'll tackle the issue in 2054 when both of us will no doubt be well past worrying about it.

Mister Parker said...

... and presume that opponents are just dumb and/or evil.

Fortunately, we completely agree on this point or I'd be forced to demonize you.

Little Johnny Jewel said...


Tomanonymous said...


Alnico Yellowjackets.

mister muleboy said...

I should reiterate, and emphasize, that I'm really not a naysayer who wants these changes to fail. I just see them as an extension of the New Politics -- wishful thinking.

Just as Donald Rumsfeld knew that we could go into Iraq light, go in fast, go in unarmoured, and then we could secure nothing, and have no headaches,

we know this thing will work because fraud, waste, and abuse that has heretofore gone unrecognized [including after a year of "the Good Guys" administration, as opposed to "the Bad Guys"] will suddenly become apparent, and because cuts to Medicare that no one is willing to make today will be made in a few years, and taxes on Cadillac Plans that no one is willing to make today will be imposed, and advisory committees will cut down on wasteful use of medical advances without stifling medical advancement (which heretofore had exacted a cost).

You know, as that wacky mister parker often said, our policy in Iraq was a simple one -- we would roll 7s one hundred times in a row.

My pessimism about the "reform" is that I think there is some similar policy-making going on, but perhaps an even more cynical one that knows the 7s won't come up, but also knows that's somebody else's problem. . . .

Of course, I'm a dunderhead.

word verification: eurama

mister muleboy said...

PS: I have little or no problem with this, but instead with the things I wrote about in my previous comment.

The rising inequality has been a stain on our history, having returned to a kinder, gentler robber baron society. They've got their boots on the neck of the common man. . . .

Chick Who Occasionally Enjoys Politics said...

Well, I got no insight ... but was hoping you might tackle this issue. In fact, yesterday I thought, "I wish Mister Muleboy would write about health care reform." Because this is an area where one such as I -- who needs some assist with What It All Means -- deeply wishes for an intelligent, even-minded discussion that offers a bit of honest perspective, shall we say. And due to the aforementioned presumptions of evil-minded opponents abounding, it's not easy to find. But have so often found that the Mule addresses such issues with the former perspective, so am most pleased that you did choose to address it.

Although, yes, agree that health care absolutely needs some kind of reform and that our current system ain't working -- and am very glad that it is on the table for us -- have been unable to get past my discomfort over the way it's been forced along with this idea of "We must pass this NOW . . . Okay, well let's just pass this . . . or this . . ." Which may just be politics, and may be the only way it gets done, but -- silly, naive, only occasionally-political me -- have puzzled over why they put what seem to be rather unrealistic deadlines on such a complex issue/set of issues. It just seems, well, wacky. Perhaps they are just looking to pat themselves on the back asap, dunno. Maybe they just got so excited about it all they couldn't wait to make it better. But certainly do hope that great leadership of which you speak emerges to make it all just peachy in the future.

Anyhow, thanks to you and Mister Parker for illuminating a shadowy and confusing set of concerns for me, minus the demonizing. It helps. And of course to LJJ and Tomanon for rounding out the discussion with dunderheads and yellowjackets, respectively --