Take Two of These and Call Me in the Morning [if you’re still alive, that is]

“Well, the good news is that we’ve stopped the bleeding. It took a couple dozen bandages – which we need to replace them every now and then – but if you look at him you’d never even know there was a problem. The pain? Well yes, we’ve managed to deal with that as well. We’ve given him painkillers, so I don’t think he’s feeling anything at all. Are you not satisfied with his treatment? We’ve got the greatest minds in the world working on this. Hundreds of men and women from all over. And the key is that we’re working together. Believe me when I say that he’ll be able to keep going like this. What if he wakes up? Well, I suppose we’ll just have to get stronger painkillers. I’ll leave these with you while I go hit the links. Have him take two of them if he wakes up. Is there anything more we can do? Well, possibly. But that’s a lot of work, and we’ve got a lot on our plates.”


There’s an old axiom that if the government were a business, it would have gone out of business long ago. I think that’s still true, but the healthcare debate has started to make me think that there’s a more apt analogy to be made. What if the government – and our political “leaders” particularly – were doctors instead of businessmen?


I think the situation would be not much different from the one described above. The only real difference being that in the real world, this patient would have died long ago.


There are deep and serious structural problems in our economy and in our society. These are a result of years of building the progressive utopia; of building a country in which we, as a society, can collectively pat ourselves on the back knowing that we’re able to take care of the “less fortunate” among us. But it’s also the result of Republicans who spent years seeking bipartisanship with those who fundamentally disagree, hoping that they could take charge of the utopia and show a better way to manage it.


If, God forbid, I were to ever get cancer I would not want it treated with a few pills and the assurances of my doctors. I would want it eliminated, eradicated, removed from my body and not given the slightest chance to ever return. But yet, the former is what our politics has become.


Just consider some of the failures we’ve had to suffer through the years.


The Community Reinvestment Act required banks to lend to people who normally wouldn’t be able to buy a house. Real estate boomed, and to disguise the inherent problems, we created a labyrinthine system whereby ownership of the assets were bundled and passed from hand to hand. When this inevitably failed, as Congress was warned it would, we gave untold sums of money to the banks. When this failed to right the economy, we passed a stimulus to “save or create” jobs. We also spent money to keep people in their homes, buried under mortgages that they still couldn’t afford and didn’t care to pay.


Social Security and Medicare were created as a means of “taking care of” those who became too old to care for themselves. Yet our leaders have continued to turn a blind eye to the fact that with medical progress men and women in our country have been living longer and therefore been spending more time on these programs. So we’ve filled the trusts with I.O.U.s to be paid by future generations who will likely get no benefit from these programs. Any effort to fix these flaws has been met with derision, ad hominem attacks, strawmen and the promise to deal with it later. Later is now, and yet the solutions are few and far between. But the pills have been administered, along with more promises to fix it in the future.


The public school system was created to ensure that everyone could get a good, quality education. It wasn’t long before this was co-opted into a public employee’s dream, completely insulated from the standards and practices by which any reasonable business runs. And yet, every election cycle, we’re told stories of the failures of education, how we’re slipping behind the rest of the world. And always, the solution seems to be that more money or technology will solve our problems.


Now there’s Health Care Reform, which promises to be less “reform” and “more of the same.” There will be no cure to the disease which has led to high costs. There will simply be more restrictions on business and individuals, more money thrown at the problem, more assurances that when it goes wrong – which it will – that it will be fixed at a later date.


These are but a few examples. There are plenty more. But one thing is always clear. Our political solutions amount to nothing more than slapping a band-aid on a bullet wound and loudly proclaiming “success!”


If our politicians were doctors, the one patient they’re given the task of treating would have died long ago. Who is this patient, you ask? Why, it’s none other than this guy: