August 11, 2009
Congress is back in their states and districts and they are finally hearing from "we the people." Why is everyone so surprised that the people are speaking so loudly? I think it's because there are three basic facts that the President didn't think the people remembered.
First and foremost the people remember that this country's powerful economic machine was not built because of our government. It grew because of a constitution that freed the common man to be a great entrepreneur. While it seems that the answer to every question these days is more government, it was not the answer that built America into the greatest economy on earth, and the people remember.
Second, the Government is not good at running things, whether it is a war or a business. One of the best things our government has ever done was to fund a strong military and then have the good sense not to run it. The government found good men and women to run the military, gave them goals and let them accomplish the goals. The times that our military has been less than successful were times when the government began to run it. President Johnson choosing the targets to be hit in Vietnam comes to mind. The government is not good at running a business. At the state level, we have DMVs as an example; at the Federal level we had welfare. The latest examples are the Federal Government's inability to estimate the demand for cash for clunkers and the correct impact on the economy of billions of dollars of stimulus funds. When the government predicts the cash for clunkers funds will last for four months and they last one week you can begin to understand how unlikely it is that the government can predict the outcome of something as complicated as healthcare, which represents 1/6 of our economy. When we have such recent examples of the inefficiency of government it makes it very easy for the people to remember.
Third, someone's political urgency shouldn't trump the necessity to do it right and to do it at the right time. Is the time right to reform healthcare when our economy is in its worst shape since the great depression? Should political expediency overshadow common economic sense? Should a President's quest for a great political victory keep us from solving healthcare in a proven business-like manner? When anyone in business confronts a huge problem they break it down into smaller manageable pieces and take it step by step. Why does the President think the best way to accomplish healthcare reform is to do it in one huge unmanageable and irreversible step? There are smarter people than me who have proposed numerous smaller steps that could lay the foundation of a solution. Tort reform, for instance, that would reduce the cost of defensive medicine; insurance reform that would offer co-ops and portability; and a much larger focus on a search for cures, just to name a few. It is very easy for the people to remember that good politics most often doesn't make good business.
We all should continue to speak up and speak out. Tell the President and congress that in spite of all the rhetoric, in spite of the "mandate for change," we the people do remember.