Thursday, March 12, 2009


Charles R. Earl, M.A., ABD,

Not tonight, I have a headache. You see, I’ve been perusing the proposed federal budget. In the US budgetary process, the President submits his proposal (wish list), the House of Representatives writes the necessary legislation, and then the Senate mucks it up…big time. So, it is with a high level of caution that I comment on the President’s proposals. As a participant in the political process (candidate, office holder, campaign consultant) for most of my adult life, I find myself becoming quite skeptical…and very cynical when analyzing the ebb and flow of certain policies.

Aside from my personal uneasiness with the geometric growth of government, and its negative impact on our day-to-day living, I absolutely abhor the governmental practice of ignoring alternative consequences and outcomes. Our fearless (just kidding) political leaders seem to believe that if they proclaim something “is” then it surely will be. Concepts like intervening variables and cognitive dissonance are alien to their planning process. So, years or decades later we discover that the proposed program isn’t working, or indeed, might be counter-productive. The response is “O.K., we need more funding,” and meanwhile, a new program is germinated and funded to address the original problem.

Geeesh! Head throbbing, stomach burning…body in shutdown mode.

Government bureaucracies are notoriously “penny-wise and pound-foolish.” They will pursue the ‘little guy’ for over/under payments, deny vital benefits to worthy claimants, but allow the most egregious violators to avoid the consequences their actions have earned. These anecdotal observations are what drive my apprehension about the President’s proposed expansion of the federal role in healthcare. The glorious notion of free care and cheap drugs spurs the overreaching federal government as its seeks to control and manage one-seventh of the nation’s GDP.

If President Obama’s proposals escape Capitol Hill relatively unscathed, what will be the unforeseen and unintended consequences that become manifest in the years ahead. Rationed care? Long, and sometimes deadly, waiting lists for procedures? Inexpensive or free pharmaceuticals but with no coherent system in place to protect against counterfeits and adulterated product? The Coming Attractions have us curious about what’s coming. Let’s hope that it isn’t Waterworld II.

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