August 2nd, 2009

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#64 – Dick Bernard: the Health Care Reform Posts: a summation

Sunday, August 2nd, 2009

This is post #8 of 13.  Other Posts on this topic: July 24, 26, 27, 29, 30, 31, August 1,5,6,7,10,15.

A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”  Mark Twain (attributed)

Friday we took our 10-year old grandson to the local county fair.  It was his birthday, and he enjoyed the afternoon. (The Pig Race was the highlight: three heats, ten piglets.  That’s what Fair’s are famous for!  More in a moment on that.)

Walking the grounds, I saw our local state Senator standing by the DFL (Democrat) booth.  We know her, and stopped to say “hello”.  I asked her if there were many questions about health care reform.  She said it was amazing how much misinformation was out there, just from people who had stopped by and asked about this and that.

Her revelation was no new insight for me: just in my own little corner of the internet world, it is incredible – almost scary – to see the wild stuff that flows into my ‘in-box’, including from senders who know me.  (The stuff from people who don’t know me is far wilder.)  The lie machine is stuck on fast forward.  And people are believing the lies.  It seems that people know there is a serious problem, but are much like a person standing on a railroad track, watching a train barreling down on them, but paralyzed into non-action.  Not a good result…for the person.

Even in his hey-day, the late 19th century, Mark Twain was right: lies travel much faster than the fastest pig in that pig race at the Fair, while the truth is back in the barn, still “putting on its shoes”.  That’s why misinformation is so preferred a message, and so effective, at least in the short term.   But unlike the pig race, the lies are no laughing matter…including for the people who believe and often spread them, without knowing the difference.  Lies always have consequences.  The truth outs, but often not till the damage has been done.

When I  began thinking about this series of Health Care Reform posts a few weeks ago, I had no idea about what it would look like.  I did want to summarize how I saw the debate was developing , and I wanted to tell my personal story from 1963-65 – the time when my experience with the American health care system began.  The remaining six simply evolved on their own, ending with this post, the 8th.  (There may be more, but more likely from others.)

I’ve thought about this topic a great deal, largely because of my own history.

I’d like to leave behind a few very brief summary thoughts.

1)  The American Middle Class (the vast majority of us) is the real victim of the lack of deep reform of health care, and knows it.  Paradoxically, it is this same Middle Class which is being relied on to kill the very reform it needs, and the Middle Class comes through.  Sowing Fear, loathing, and manipulation of public opinion, especially by advertising, works wonders. 

2) An effective strategy to manipulate the public is to toss out fragments of the huge issue (i.e. will “illegals” be covered?).  This way the person can be against something, and help kill everything.  It is a good strategy, but offensive.

3)  Excessive profits (greed) is a very big problem. It is small consolation that in the end this greed will probably ruin even the profiteers.  Paradoxically, big business, which says it reveres competition, is not so adoring when the competitor (VA, Medicare, etc.) is more efficient (cheaper), and thus can compete.  Public efficiency doesn’t generate private profit.  Profits are the be all and end all.  In this case, competition is bad, killed or controlled.

4)  We Americans are victims of our own mythology of American superiority and invulnerability.  We still live in a fantasy world.  We should know better. Fantasy worlds have a tendency to collapse without warning. 

5)  Most troubling of all to me is that the now-minority opposition to reform demands negotiations, but then effectively refuses to negotiate or accept compromise.  It’s “my way or the highway” – a sense that the only right way is their way, alternatives be damned.   

At the County Fair which began this column, our grandson also lost a few shekels at a carny stand, the softball toss, and got a few midway rides.  Later at the pig race, all the ten piglets who made the round (one named BoarHog Obama – good laugh) each won the prize of an Oreo cookie – they’re no dummies.  Neither are the carny’s who can count on the rube’s. 

In the Health Care Reform debate, the Truth is, about now, getting up to the starting gate.  Will the common people who defend the status quo, and run the risk of being its  victims take any time to listen?  Will they demand change that is in their best interest?

Learn the issues and their real implications, and carry the truth.