You know, I've been both participant in and witness to enough of these discussions that you'd think I'd be smart enough to both recognize a rigged game and to refuse to play it. It saves a lot of time, and even on those rare occasions when you can turn the game to your own profit (and, ideally, expose the fact that the game is rigged in the process), the folks who proposed the game in the first place rarely show the level of appreciation you might hope for--quite the contrary: when you figure out how to beat three card monte, they stop playing with you all together.
Nevertheless, there are those occasions upon which it just proves too tempting to rise to the bait. That said, I'm going to do my best to show just how rigged this game is, and then, Lord willin' and the creek don't rise, I'm going to pocket the money I originally laid down, and no more, and walk away and let y'all get on with your con, content in the knowledge that those nearest and dearest to me can, should they be willing to, recognize it for the con it is, and steer clear of making stakes of their own on a losing proposition.
Some background: This all essentially arose from a comment I made, on another forum, in which I dared suggest that nazi analogies, death threats, and blatant disinformation were not, perhaps, the surest road to a healthy conversation about what can be done to make health care in America a little less inhumane. Yes, I think that currently it's far from perfect, and no, I don't agree with the bill that is set to pass in all its particulars: I'd want it to go further. Probably much further. However, I am a reasonable human being who understands that what I might wish for the citizens of the United States, no matter how well intentioned, may suffer from not being fully informed. In fact, I'd suggest I'd be quicker to admit this than most.
Where I do differ with some of my more conservative friends is in the propositions, often twinned, that a) America's health care is equitable enough as it stands (I've lived elsewhere and felt better protected in this respect than I ever did as a wage slave in the US, so I'm not completely ignorant in this respect, although I will admit near complete ignorance in the nuts and bolts of financing these matters...that's what accountants are for, and yeah, I have to place a certain amount of trust in them) and b) assuming that there are flaws within America's medical system, the surest path to correcting these flaws lies in embracing the holy grail of an entirely unregulated market. My trust of accountants only goes so far, and I'm not willing to assume that any human is so completely devoid of greed that they won't take ready advantage of someone who's willing to let them set the terms of exchange in so crucial an area as one's health.
These are points of discussion, and disagreements around these points of discussion are the healthiest argument I know of for championing compromise in such matters, even when, as it usually turns out, the compromise that results is so very far from what I would prefer to see happen. Such compromises also, as I understand it, are crucial to the healthy functioning of a representative democracy, where, yes, we have to put up with some laws with which we are not 100 per cent in agreement. That said, for those compromises to be just, for them to even be palatable, it is necessary that we be able to sit down, disagreements and all, and honestly and forthrightly look at the facts, in a fashion as unclouded by our less civil emotions as we can manage. In this last respect, in the ability to look at the facts in a dispassionate light, and to consider the viewpoint of others who share in the governance of the United States with us, I very much fear for my nation. That's always been true for me, though, so I've learned, over the years, to lay aside this particular fear long enough to tune my ear for what's really being said when these arguments erupt. So I assume the death threats, the ridiculous aligning of what really are fairly minor shifts in laws regulating health care in America with Nationalist Socialism, the "frog in boiling water" rhetoric (that is in fact not literally true), the civil war saber rattling that always seems to emanate from any sizable minority when they're feeling petulant about not holding the reins, the noble concerns about the state of our constitution in the wake of this thing passing, that all of these things, no matter how alarming it may be to see grown humans act in this manner, are but the outward manifestations of a core set of values that could be expressed in a more immediately comprehensible manner if the person engaged in them were willing to sit down and do the difficult work of fully defining just what, precisely, it is they believe.
So let me help, in the interests of that civil discussion. As I understand it, ignoring all of the above rhetoric, there are three core concerns with the proposed health care bill. First, there are the fiscal conservatives, who voice concerns regarding how we're going to pay for it all. Second, there are libertarians who regard any federal intervention in so personal a matter as health care as a potential threat to our civil rights. Third, there are those who are concerned with the constitutionality of the law itself--a concern that has come to be expressed, of late, in movements to get the bill repealed through the courts, with specific emphasis on--wait for it--the tenth amendment to the Constitution of the United States. I'm sure I don't have to remind anyone of what the Tenth Amendment actually says, but, just in case, the full text is as follows:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
In other words, state's rights.
Now, this is all background (and I did not hear that groan of impatience...I'm certain you all have attention spans long enough to follow an argument to its conclusion, and I encourage you to do so now), because my point is not to argue the merits of this particular bill, but to expose a game for being rigged, and to try to show you why you shouldn't play it if it's proposed to you. I was recently involved in a discussion about this bill in which I was challenged to "[N]ame one thing, just one, that the govt has run successfully, within budget, & without having to come back with 'a fix.'"
Not such a big deal, right? I mean, I can argue with that by saying that I think it's fundamental to human nature to much more readily recognize when things are going wrong than when things are going right...the things that work, we take that for granted, but let the mail be late on the day we're expecting that tax refund, and yeah, we notice. But if you take the challenge at face value, I honestly don't think you can do it. In fact, I'm not certain you could name one thing, just one, that any collective, whether privately or publicly funded, has run successfully, within budget, and without having to come back with a fix. Especially that last contingency: without having to come back with a fix. Hell, the best plumber in the world can't do that, because things fall apart, because part of contributing to a functional society is maintaining that society, and no, by and large, things do not maintain themselves. But I'm going to assume, again, for the sake of argument, that somewhere, someone or some entity has run something successfully, within budget, and without having to come back with a fix, and that arguing otherwise is not going to sway anyone to the fundamental reasonableness with which I come to this particular table.
No, for that, I'd like to propose the following: we can assume, first, that the ideal state described above, where it is possible to get things done successfully, within budget, and without having to come back with a fix, is in fact understood to be attainable within the context of this discussion. So assumed. We can assume that any project that does not meet those three criteria is a flawed project, and should be subject to whatever criticism and debate is necessary to correct those flaws, up to and including rejecting the project wholesale. We can further assume, based upon the full-throated defense they have mounted for our nation's foundational documents, that many, indeed, perhaps all, who have risen in such spirited opposition to this clear infringement upon our civil rights would also think it central to such a project's success that it fall entirely within the bounds of those limits our constitution places upon our central governing bodies.
Or, well, at the very least, that it conform to the tenth--tenth--amendment of said constitution.
That it conform to the tenth (and not by quite some measure the last) in a list of amendments added to said constitution in 1791, a constitution that had been ratified nearly 3 years earlier, and which was itself a response to the failure of the original attempt at said project, the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, which had been ratified ten years previously.
That it conform, in short, to a document that does not meet the standards set by the game.
While, yes, it does strike me that a certain flexibility in our policy is a desirable thing, one that allows our government to make adjustments for very real changes over time, and, given all the leisure I'd like to have to fully hash out precisely what I mean by that and why I believe it's necessary, I did promise I'd take my original bet and get out of the way once I felt the game was exposed for what it was. So, if I could just have that twenty back...oh, and folks, if you're watching, don't play the shell game.