I started with an inaugural post promising an idea (not mine, but proven to work) to un-transform America.
I will give it as promised, soon.
The reason i am not here doing it is because there are some things to clear up first.
We must approach whatever plan (whether the one I offer is used to line a birdcage or not is immaterial) with a right mindset. I am going to discuss that in this article.
Also, I will quickly outline how I will present the plan. I hope that this will satisfy at least some questions.
As I said originally, I usually lurk about, reading and learning. And while I don’t agree with everything here (maybe 2% disagreement), I have respect for the whole crowd here. I have seen they are intelligent and critical and that’s good. I wouldn’t want to be associated in this war with any other kind of people. So, as I address such people, I expect that certain questions will arise and I will do my best to anticipate them and field the ones I didn’t anticipate.
At any time, please let me know what you think.
Enough prologue. Here goes.
Today, I will outline a lesson from the Founders as a philosophical and practical approach to entitlement reform (read:repeal and replace).
(Note: this is obviously a long post. I have worded it as clearly as I can, so it should be an easy read. (I like easy reads.) But for those pressed for time, or who want the gist, just scroll down to the row of asteriks. )
This whole issue is an emotional one. When it is discussed, passions run high, and that can be good. Passion fuels action, if it is properly channeled. However, if it is not harnessed, but rather allowed to run unbridled, it can be extremely destructive, clouding thinking. And thinking is what will win the day for us.
The Founders were products of their time. The eighteenth century was a restrained time, in many ways. ‘Art is the window to the soul of a people’. Many music and art historians have noted that eighteenth century art was restrained in response to the lavish, emotional music and art of the seventeenth century. In connection with politics, those who study the issue of religion and America’s Founding say that the Founders who were Christian practiced a restrained Christianity. (that’s why their many references to religion/Christianity were so subtle; not to hide it, but that was the order of the day.) Again, products of their time.
And we see this emotional restraint when we read their writings, preceding and during the Revolution. When I say emotional restraint, I don’t mean absence of emotion. Their passions ran high; it fueled them to stand up for liberty against the mightiest, perhaps most brutal empire (w/respect to war and punishment of ‘sedition’ and ‘treason’) in the world. But their writings always betrayed clarity of thought, consistency and directed intentions. Restraint of emotion here means not letting emotion run wild and using it to your advantage.
Read Washington’s wartime letters. Or Jefferson’s polemics. Fascinate yourself with Franklin’s intrigues at the French court, where he had to negotiate a situation rich with British spies. In all cases, these men were guided by reason, and their passion for the cause was manifested in action and not emotional outbursts.
That’s what I meant about taking the energy spent on hand-wringing and bemoaning the current situation and putting it to good use to get what we want.
I have noticed that the Founders and their quotes have gotten popular lately. And they are the best model for political activists and those who would shape government, period.
Never before in history, and never again since, has such a group of decent, educated men, TRULY educated men, gotten together and produced a document even approaching the US Constitution in its elegance and substance.
(This is why I am ardently opposed to a Constitutional Convention. The number of people I know, either personally or by their repute/writings, that I would trust to make essential modifications to the Constitution, I could count on my one hand, and I wouldn’t need all my fingers on that hand.)
So they are an awesome model for what we want to accomplish. (Need more convincing? Just ponder a while what they accomplished. Res ipsa loquitur.)
So those who quote them and read them are on the right path.
But we must follow not only their words, but their deeds and how they carried out those deeds.
They had a can-do attitude. WE must have have a can-do attitude.
They didn’t whine. WE musn’t whine.
They allowed reason to guide their actions. WE must do the same.
They were intellectually consistent. WE must be the same.
Finally, in their design of government, they thought systematically. WE absolutely must do this.
The first three are clear. The fourth I will discuss in another post (if anyone is left reading by that time).
The fifth is what I want to discuss right now.
Systems impose order on chaotic systems. (at least some order)
When you study a system, you studying the parts of a whole. Any machine needs all of its components in order to function properly. If you were merely to concern yourself with the brakes of your car, to the exclusion of everything else, your car would quickly break down.
A system imposes (at least a degree) of order on an otherwise chaotic system. And the whole entitlement argument on our side is chaotic.
When you design a system, you have to consider what you want to achieve, and all the parts you need to get what you want to achieve.
This is what we need to do. Think systematically.
We get too caught up in individual issues to do this. The 24-hour news cycle, which often obsesses over one issue ad nauseam has conditioned many to think this way.
We have to step back and consider the whole.
So with regard to entitlement reform…
We are focused on getting rid of entitlements. And the argument that invariably crops up, from people on our side, is that getting rid of entitlements is impossible, blah, blah, blah.
What you have is an argument within an argument.
All of us agree that entitlements are killing the country.
So, we’re all on the same side of that argument, whether entitlements are good for the country.
But within this agreement, the argument about repeal vs. impossibility crops up.
I would propose this is because those who argue repeal don’t approach or present the matter systematically.
Let’s look at the situation abstractly for a moment:
There is a need, real or supposed. There are possible solutions to this need. Some solutions are better than others. One solution is tried, it doesn’t work. So we try another.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is the abstraction of the entitlement argument.
Let’s address this one by one.
1. There is a need, real or supposed.
I throw ‘supposed’ in there, because the philosophy ‘never let a good crisis go to waste’ cynically takes advantage of a momentary problem, blows it out of proportion and manipulates fear to construct a need that really isn’t.
But there are also real needs. And there is a need for health care reform. A decent civilization values life. And we should do all we can to preserve it. That’s why I’m against Obamacare. It margnalizes life.
But we have to study the nature of the need. This means we must define the need and we must discover its causes.
In the case of healthcare problems, the need is to provide affordable health care to anyone that requires it.
The problem is that healthcare costs are going up.
But why? This is where the cause of the need arises.
I will merely list these, since they are well known to most here, and details can be easily found elsewhere for those new to the topic:
a. Gov’t involvement in healthcare a la medicare/medicaide.
b. Gov’t regulation ad nauseam of drugs, treatments, etc.
c. Gov’t refusal to deal with tort reform.
d. Gov’t telling doctors what they can and can’t do with respect to treating and charging patients.
Notice a theme? GOVERNMENT. That’s the problem, as is so often the case in our country. (Something the Founders definitely understood.)
On the one side are the patients and the doctors. On the other side are the government and the lawyers. If the system is to thrive, someone has to cut back. It ain’t gonna be us, I don’t care what Obama/Reid/Pelosi think. There are enough true believers like me that I believe we will change the system. I’m looking to join a few more good men (and ladies).
But I digress.
So we have stated the need intuitively. A definition can wait for a discussion of the technical aspects of doing this. Right now, i want to discuss the system.
We have also surveyed the causes of the need. Government, so the main cause (singular).
Few on our side put it this way. Especially in the so-called political class. The one who does will win. The whole country is sick of the political class, which they identify with government (cf. Schlitz article from recent) and corrupt big business. (not to imply that all big business is corrupt; if you doubt that some big business is corrupt, consider the complicity of many pharmaceutical and insurance cos. with Obamacare.)
2. Possible Solutions to the Need
Obamacare. More government. Intrusion. Bureaucracy. Lower quality/availability of care.
Small government, private-market solutions. Less government. No intrusion. No bureaucracy. Higher quality/availability of care. Lower costs. Tax credits for doctors and other professionals who provide care to the poor/needy.
3. Some Solutions are Better than Others
This is obvious, I think.
4. One solution is tried, Doesn’t Work
This is what the Obamatrons and Obamabots argue all the time, identifying ‘solution’ with free market.
This is a lie.
The problems started with Medicare/medicaid type entitlement.
My dad (in his 50’s not that old) was telling me that when he was young, doctors still made house calls. My mom was telling me how affordable doctor visits and treatments were.
Now, with government actually controlling health care(51% by some estimates), the opposite is true. Docs don’t do house calls and visits and treatments are through the roof. Add to this no tort reform and we’re in a world of pain.
The correct statement is that we’ve tried big government/trial lawyer bonanzas and they don’t work. Again, how many people do you hear in the political class (public eye) saying this consistently? This should be a mantra. But it’s not.
5. So we try another…
So, say the Obamatrons/Obamabots, we need to try socialist medicine.
This follows from 4.
So, we should say, AGAIN AND AGAIN, we need to try free market reforms.
Before we go on…
Think about it. Look how successful the Republicans and more importantly, the New Media (of which this site is an integral part) have been in decrying the proposed solution of Obamacare. If they made the two statements in #4 and #5 mantras and pushed them into the public psyche, imagine how much stronger the opposition to this would be. I mean that opposition is as high to this as it is in spite of the fact that many people believe the socialist versions of #4 and #5 above.
Now, how does all this apply to the whole repeal thing?
Well, let’s go back to the argument.
So, one group (smaller, I’m afraid) says we can and should repeal. One group (larger, I believe) says we can’t and that’s it.
What happens is each party is only looking at one side of things.
The repeal folks don’t present their side systematically. They only talk about how bad the other side’s ‘solution’ is. The repeal folks often don’t even acknowledge there is a need. But neither do the anti-repeal folks. This hurts the larger argument. Many of those in average America, who are not ideologues, support some health reform because they know there is a need. And when we’re trying to get them to support our side against Obamacare, it doesn’t help if we don’t acknowledge the need. These people who know there is a need, think, “well there is a need, and we have to do something.’ And when we don’t acknowledge the need, this doesn’t help our cause. Even those who acknowledge it don’t articulate that clearly enough.
Further, even when they acknowledge the need, the repeal folks rarely mention what they would offer in place of Obamacare. Again, Obamacare is a ‘solution’ to a real need. If we were to remove it without offering a replacement, then yeah, people would get angry. (again, because there is a need for these folks. The rest of the country wants to help.) But if we offer a real, immediate solution, then it is much easier to turn wrath of entitlement babies. What those solutions are we can talk about another time, soon.
This inarticulation of replacement solutions to entitlements is one reason that anti-repeal people get their skivvies in a wad. And they have a point. That’s why the repeal folks have to make it clear that a better alternative awaits beyond repeal. Indeed, the word ‘repeal’ might be substituted by ‘replace’. I don’t know. Anyway,…
So , we need to acknowledge and articulate the nature of the need. Soundbite style. Unfortunately, that’s what works for most people. (Understandable, most people cannot or will not spend that much time learning the subtleties of policy.)
Then, we need to make it clear that the current solution is not working (entitlement X), and why. Again, soundbite style.
Some solutions are better than other. Fed Ex works better than USPS.
The, we need to offer our solution, and why it is better. Soundbite style.
So we try another….
When the Obamabots/Obamatrons start screaming about taking away entitlements, calmly and consistently (down to the words used-= you decide best how to word it in your endeavours) repeat the mantras; ‘the failed policies of big government have only gotten us in debt. people are not getting back what they paid into the system. You have squandered the public’s money and their trust. As long as you will continue down this path, what you say means nothing to us. The American people see through all this and they want change.”
Again and again and again and again…. and when they can’t take it anymore, AGAIN. Soundbite style, baby.
In my response to someone, I mentioned a poll from 1994 which said the average American was more likely to believe that UFOs are real than that they would get the money they put into Social Security. I will put the link up to the article soon. Think about that. And THIS is the ‘third rail’?!!!!! I know someone reading this is thinking about the disastrous attempt by Bush to privatize it. But he and the Republicans didn’t do good P.R. and they certainly didn’t respond properly to their ‘honorable’ Democrat ‘friends’. What is a proper response? Read on. Do you believe you will see the money you put in SS? Wouldn’t you rather have that money to do whatever you wanted with it? Do you think Medicare will be there when you’re old? I believe most Americans think the way we do on these issues. Appeal to their pride “the dems don’t want to cut this failed entitlement because they think you are too stupid to take care of yourself. Heck, they even said as much at X, Y, Z. Looking at the failed record of government in this country, I know you’re smarter than they are and that you know best for your own life what to do. And I want to see that power restored to you. These incompetents want to keep that power, even though they have proven to be utter FAILURES.” (this is the response the republicans should have given their ‘honorable’ Dem ‘friends’.)
I will, beginning in the next post, hopefully, get into some of the technical details of how to begin implementing our will in the public sphere. I really felt impelled to lay out some of the thought processes and philosophical perspectives which I believe underlied the Founders’ approach and how we can apply them to our time.
I know I’ve run way long here. I’m sorry. But here’s the quick recap:
The problem with the conservative approach to entitlement reform is it isn’t systematic. It is a hodge-podge of platitudes, half-hearted policies and a lot of patronizing. It is chaotic.
A system imposes order on a chaotic system.
A systematic approach to this:
a. acknowledges the need and isolates its cause
b. presents possible solutions
c. articulates that some solutions are better and why
d. talks about what’s been tried and why it doesn’t work
e. offers a better alternative and articulates why. In the face of opposition, stick to your guns.
f. we try it. (the specifics of how to implement this will be addressed SOON.)
One more thing.
The outlay of the plan will be simple and general.
But, as I said at the outset, there is an intelligent and critical audience reading this and I will not just offer vague generalities. I will back up what I propose with hard data. (I am even in the process right now of finding out about commissioning a poll to get good, current info on questions important to us, which are not being asked even by the good guys.)
This process of laying out the data will take more time. I ask you who continue to read to bear with me. This project is deadly serious to me. I work very full time and go to school, working on two challenging degrees. It takes time to crystallize and articulate my offering here.
I also want those of you who do not feel convinced to think of one more thing.
I mentioned elsewhere, in VRWC I, that I am considered a pessimist by most who know me. That is the truth.
However, I have always regarded myself as a realist.
AS a realist who has taken the 18th century Founders’ model (see above) for my own, I have to mind the data and follow the logic. (Experience has proven this works, both in my own life and throughout history.) And that’s why I am as optimistic as I am about this. And I will share that data and logic with you, and you will decide whether it makes sense to you or you think it’s a buch of hooey. I ask those of you who doubt the hope of the situation to read a few things I will be putting up here, consider it a bit, and see if you don’t see the same thing I do. And please by all means let me know.
Again, thank you all for your time. I really believe we can do this.
Let your reason be the master of your passions. And let your reason guide you to wonderful things.