Sunday, March 14, 2010

Fatal Flaws Require Rethinking, Not Better PR

We bought a car once that we couldn't afford. It cost too much. We figured eventually we'd work it out. Never did. The bank took the car back. It was a bad idea. Fundamentally flawed. In its current form, so is Health Care Reform. Not just flawed. FATALLY flawed. Jumping into it anyway will cause ruin, chaos, devastation, and anguish. Just like that minivan did for my family.

The sentiment seems to be that, regardless of how flawed the Health Care Reform bill may be, it is crucial to pass it now, presumably because people are dying because of the flaws of the current system. My sentiment is horror. This was the same general mindset of the people of Germany in the early 1930s. They sold their humanity to the first one who promised a solution. Sorry, that's a bit extreme, but emotional arguments bring that out in me. A slightly less extreme example is our longtime friend, England, whose NHS is currently killing people because of the flaws in their healthcare system. Based on the news from across the pond, this is a constant occurrence. Emotional thinking, wishful thinking, unrealistic thinking, result in bad BAD ideas being tried, resulting in disasters, regardless of how saintly the intentions were.

I once painted a garage floor. I spent more time picking out the color than the right type of paint. After three weeks, the paint was still "tacky" wet. Yeah, I'm that kind of genius. I ended up moving out and leaving the landlord to deal with it. (I'm not proud of that!) This Health Care Reform bill will do the same thing to the American people as I did to my landlord. Not only will more harm than good result, the next few years will be spend undoing the damage, at massive cost to the American people.

There are a few flaws which must be considered as severe enough to kill the current form of Health Care Reform, if they exist. There can be no excuses, no plans to work it out later. If there is a fatal flaw, drop it, and redo it from the ground up.

First, Constitutional flaws. The Legislative branch derives its authority from the Constitution, and even take an oath to defend it. All actions taken by all branches of government, and all employees and agents, must adhere to the Constitution. No excuses. MUST.

Second, legal flaws. This hasn't been a big deal to Congress of either party in recent years, but it needs to be considered when the very weight of the act being considered can have catastrophic consequences. When the bill being considered is whether the Honorable Joseph T. Blow should be on a stamp, it is safe to skip this consideration. Already, there is a massive concern over whether this bill is in violation of the Hyde Amendment, forbidding the Federal Government to pay for abortions. Creating new law which violates old law is insane. Repeal the old law first, or fix the new law. Doing neither invites disaster.

Third, practical impossibility. If Health Care Reform will cost, as I suspect, several trillion dollars over the next decade, during a period of existing financial instability, the result can be unthinkable. US bankruptcy. Not even during the Great Depression did we face this prospect. We are seeing it in Greece now. We may face it this decade if Health Care Reform passes. More of the States may face bankruptcy. More local governments. Who is going to pay for millions more people's health care?? My wife and I decided we would cut spending on a few things to pay for that minivan. Perhaps we should have cut spending first, then bought a car. There is actually an existing law which states new programs must be funded before being implemented. Is it too much to ask for lawmakers to obey that law?

Fourth, social impact. Not quite what it sounds like. Cramming a law down the throats of people who don't want it, at best, is a step towards tyranny. Bad precedent. VERY bad. Eventually, there will be an election, people will get a chance to demonstrate their anger, but only after the damage is done. So, maybe there is a change in the majority party. Sounds good, right? Remember, this is after the precedent of passing a massive bill against the unanimous dissent of the minority party, and even the majority of the American people. The new majority party will now have fresh bitter memories and new superpowers to ram through unpopular destructive legislation. The term "nuclear option" will come to be business as usual.

Fifth, disenfranchisement. This flaw is really more of an effect. Passing a law that 60% of the people hate is saying, "You're little people. You're a nobody." What good could possibly come from that?

The Health Care Reform bill has been pushed from the beginning with secrecy and guile. The "Louisiana Purchase" and the "Cornhusker Kickback" provisions are just the ones we know about. They were "gifts" to balky senators who would otherwise have voted no. So was the Stupak amendment, but he's going to get shafted out of that. My point is, Congress shouldn't have to give gifts to get a law passed. Not if it is good. Certainly not gifts that the American people are paying for. It's beyond sleazy.

Maybe it all doesn't matter anyway. Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she has enough votes to pass it now. She's not worried. It's a little odd that she passed the House version in the middle of the night on a Saturday, within minutes of knowing she had the votes to do it, but she is holding off on voting the Senate version, even though she says she has the numbers. Could she be less than honest? Schedule the vote, Speaker! Commit to your folly. Pass it and live with the consequences.

I don't know whether to dread the flood, or look forward to the cleanup which will follow.