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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.

Originally posted to tchitcherine on Tue Mar 23, 2010 at 08:53 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Um, proposed health (5+ / 0-)

    care bill?

    This diary is a wee bit late.

    "As long as I think it might make [homophobic 'baggers] happy, I can never retire." - Barney Frank

    by indiemcemopants on Tue Mar 23, 2010 at 08:56:37 AM PDT

  •  OK (5+ / 0-)

    How about the CDC?  The government runs that, successfully and without a fix.  And it relates to health care.  The CDC is required to swoop in and cleans up problems like salmonella and giardia that you get with an unfettered free market in the food industry.  

    •  CDC (2+ / 0-)

      Yes indeed. That's why they call it Public Health!

      If the preference were to leave it to privately owned hospitals, they might or might not choose to share what they find within their walls with other hospitals, other doctors, and not required to tell any government official anything.

      Thankfully, the underlying purpose of providing a public service is to serve the public, whether or not the private sector down the street likes it.

      In all my years, I have not had a single case of an entity NOT doing what it was set up to do, whether public OR private. And yet, I find the same types of errors and mistakes are made by both. In the case of the public sector mistakes, however, the impact is diffused. In the private sector, the company, the board members and/or all executives may be replaced. Even if replaced, the company may not survive.

      Since they do NOT serve the public good, but rather the shareholders, the public is harmed only when the failure of that private entity is so great as to endanger the economy, as in the case of derivatives pushed by banks large and larger. We still live in this climate, and simply believing that all will be better, all will be solved, by having everything be handled by the private sector is to engage in the same shell game(s) the diarist would appear (it seems) to abhor.

      American managers only know what they've been taught, enriched or depleted by their experience. If they were taught that people were costs and not assets, they will treat them that way. They will not fear cutting those people out who were good enough to be hired in the first place. They see no contradiction in that.

      American managers who grew up believing what the Donald told them, will act out on their employees with great ease and with simple justification the right and privilege bestowed on them by others; they will say You're Fired. They will pretend, along with their HR department, aiding and abetting in the process, that they somehow know who among the ranks is to be declared unfit for duty, non-performers, dispensable.

      I say to those managers - go back to school, for you have learned the wrong lessons. The truth is that private sector management is responsible for almost all of the outcomes in a company or organization, not the employees.

      I'll stop; my blood pressure is up.

  •  cut and paste spam (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dirtandiron

    is there anything worse?

    (regarding the bank mess) They want to cure the patient but not deal with the disease.

    by dark daze on Tue Mar 23, 2010 at 09:12:56 AM PDT

  •  Oh, brother. (4+ / 0-)
    (...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)

    not for this.

  •  The question itself is wrong and irrelevant (8+ / 0-)

    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.  

    No, this is wrong. First, just about every county and city/town has a balanced budget every year. There are a few dozen towns that have been taken over by their state, some may have amended their budget mid year, and some have used debt.  But for the vast majority for which none of these is the case, they have gotten things done successfully, within budget, and without a fix.

    Second, it is wrong to assume that a project that needs a "fix" is flawed. Social Security and Medicare are both programs that have been tremendously successful in improving the quality of life and longetivity of life. They have, actually, been done within budget for all these years.  But, their very success is what drives the need for changes to these programs in order to continue the success in the face of changing population demographics and other conditions which have changed or were not present at the time these programs were implemented.

    This kind of thinking is exactly what the teabaggers fail to comprehend, it is the exact kind of stupidity that leads to talk of "flip flop".  Business leaders make changes within their organization all the time - does it mean that their business was flawed? No.  Is there some miracle company, program or government initiative that can ever be set up at the start, always be successful, on budget and never have to change? No, it's ridiculous to even contemplate.

    Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear. ~William E. Gladstone, 1866

    by absdoggy on Tue Mar 23, 2010 at 09:15:14 AM PDT

  •  So, if I get the crux of your argument, it is (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lost and Found, jediwashuu, pistolSO

    that it is your contention that government can not do anything successfully, and that the only structural cure for that condition is a wholly unregulated market for everything.  Is that right?

    If so, I think that it would be impossible to put public services, which we all share and from which we all benefit in unequal measure (roads, security in the form of police, prisons and fire departments, etc., to name but two obvious examples) into commercial competition in any way that would equitably benefit we the people.

    •  That's not what I get from this diary at all... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      confitesprit

      What the diarist is proposing is mental judo.

      Lead your subject (the teabagger arguing against health care) into a verbal trap.

      The trap is simple:

      (1) Teabaggers believe that centralized control, as expressed by anyfederal law, is bad.

      (2) Teabaggers invoke the 10th Amendment to argue for local control, at which time you point out that:

      (3)The 10th Amendment is, itself, the product of the federal government, and that the Constitution they so revere is a flawed product of a flawed federal government.

      My only problem with this is that your average teabagger lacks the intellectual sophistication to realize that he/she has been punked.

  •  Wow. (0+ / 0-)

    Just wow.

    No, this was an argument against a tenther, and one that basically outlines why fixes are a fundamental part of governance.

    I very clearly misjudged the audience here. Sorry about that, folks. I'll stop now.

    •  Misjudged the Audience? (0+ / 0-)

      Would you suspect that we're all fools here, and blind at that? A lot of wind but not much fresh air is what I see in this diary.

      I would like it to be otherwise; perhaps you might provide some enlightenment so as to make it easier to decipher. I know shell games, and Three Card Monty too.

      It must be me. I'm just an ignorant person who doesn't know history or anything else. I yield.

      Now, provide something of substance.

      •  No, I get it. (0+ / 0-)

        I'm fairly certain that if I had not chosen an ironic title, and had formatted the diary with multiple lists of bullet points to sort out the long sentences with multiple clauses in a way that was immediately accessible, I would at least not have received so many comments indicating that I was saying exactly the opposite of what I thought I was saying.

        Its been a while since I've sat down to write something of this sort, and I'm out of practice. Still, I was a little surprised to see people responding to it as if I were advocating a free market approach to handling the health care crisis. And I very much accept that the fault lies in the writing style.

        Misjudged does not equal "I think the audience is stupid." Impatient, maybe. But not stupid.

  •  It was... (0+ / 0-)

    ...in fact, what I thought was an homage to this diary:

    http://www.dailykos.com/...

    ...but with an attempt to approach it in a less vitriolic way. Obviously, you're reading the very opposite into it, so it needs work.

  •  I'm truly late! (0+ / 0-)

    What happened to the firster, seconder, thirder, fourther, fifther, sixther, seventher, eighter, and ninther?

    "If you run with the Big Dogs, you cannot pee with the Puppies".

    by secret38b on Tue Mar 23, 2010 at 09:32:23 AM PDT

  •  Shell Game? (0+ / 0-)

    And so your point was what?

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