Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Mexican Standoff

The title of this photo is "Mexican Standoff"

Just some brief thoughts on the political scene; skip if desired.

I've watched, like everyone else, the unfolding story of the health care law. Obviously over the course of last summer many folks--people reasonably described as "ordinary American citizens"--have become more and more upset with the impending passage, and then actual passage, of a big, complex law which aims at changing certain aspects of what we call the American Medical Care Delivery system. Now we have a number of state attorneys general actually suing the US government about the new law. (And cudos to NC's Attorney General, Roy Cooper, for not joining that band wagon). The right wing radio pundits continue to rail about the law, day after day after day. Some, such as Mr. Hannity, actually go out on tour with some of the right wing political personalities such as Palin and Bachmann. Rallies are ginned up, the latest being focused on the day that we all have to file income tax returns. Some politicians actually make statements such as "I will work to repeal the income tax, and get rid of the Internal Revenue Service."

No one likes to pay taxes. Basically, no one much likes to part with their money. People will go to a restaurant and enjoy a really great meal, and still be annoyed at the bill. Sometimes people will not tip just because they're annoyed at the amount of the bill for the meal that they actually really enjoyed until the bill came. This is a truth of human nature. It's not a truth about every person, but it's true about a whole lot of people. Same deal with just about anything that has to be paid for: car repairs, dental repairs, doctors visits, construction work. Most people want stuff, and also want to keep their money. All of it.

I bought my little piece of Chatham County from an old couple back in '78. They fumed for years, as the price of land went up, about what they sold it to me for. But at the time they sold it, it was pretty much the market price. And while they didn't have the land after they sold it, they did have the money. Human nature.

The people who want to end taxes are still going to use the stuff the taxes pay for.
And, in fact, if they really got in a government that didn't have an income tax, and if the real price of a government with no funds became evident to them via the potholes and lack of fire protection and no social security check and etc. etc., they would all be pretty darn mad--mad to the extent of getting out and marching around the Court House and yelling at their Congress persons.

I have to think, then, that the so called "tea party" cohort has an incoherent agenda--they want a world that is actually inconsistent, that cannot exist. They are what Garrison Keillor once called the curmudgeon party. (That's a pretty good definition of "curmudgeon" by example, actually.) When you toss in some particular factors in the current political situation: Mr. Obama is our first black President, and at least moderately liberal and also quite smart; we have in the public media a 24/7 political attack ad in the form of the right wing punditry--a spew of vitriol which truely never stops, and which shapes the point of view of anyone who makes the mistake of listening to much of it without their critical mind fully alert; and more over, we have one of the two primary political parties operating on a policy of unconditional defeat and surrender of the other party; and of course, we have a real situation of recession, worry, an aging population, a world that doesn't see the United States as it's savior. Well, add all that up and you get at the minimum, slow combusion. And I certainly think we have the potential of a pile of oily rags in the back of a closet.

Nontheless, I hope that as the actual health care bill remains law over the months and years, many people will begin to see that nothing much has really happened, and certainly nothing to burn the woods down about. This so-call reform left private interprise in charge, after all. I expect the health insurance companies are hard at work figuring out how to operate the new system for fun and profit. That's what insurance companies do, generally, and what actuarial research is all about: making illness and death profitable against all odds. Everyone ought to keep in mind that, when you're seriously sick, you are in the hands other other people. Somewhere in the background there's going to be a faceless beaurocrat or ten. Some of those people are going to be mostly practicing office politics in the service of their continued employment, rather than giving a flip about you, the patient. It won't matter much whether they're employed by the US government or Blue Cross or the hospital you're in, or your own private doctor even. Being sick is losing control. Even your mother or your wife can push you around when you're on your back and it hurts to move, or you can't breathe right, or you've got the runs. This is how life is. Childbirth ain't no fun either.

The fact is, even the guys in Reservoir Dogs left a tip. Think about it.

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