HEALTHCARE IS A LAND OF CONTRASTS

Posted in Rants on March 8th, 2017 by Ed

In teaching one gets used to the fact that no matter how many different ways it is strategized around or how many reminders are given, students are going to do their written work at the last minute. Divide the assignment into sections, give pep talks, urge them to get started before it is Too Late…none of it will matter in the end. Most students will be writing the paper the night before it is due. And very few of them are naturally smart and gifted enough to slap something together on a 5 AM Monster Energy and Ritalin bender that is actually good. They think they can, of course. But here's the thing: they can't.

I've used the analogy a number of times that Trump's unscripted statements sound exactly like an oral presentation given by a college student who forgot that he had to do an oral presentation in class today. The bravado, the confidence in his own bullshitting skills, the superficial knowledge (often consisting of facts that are not actually Facts), the generic and empty language, and the failure to hide disdain for the idea that you people dare judge someone as great as him are well recognized by anyone who has taught before.

Over time, though, two things are becoming clearer. One, this problem is not limited to Trump. The Republican Party that once touted itself as the "Party of Ideas" is officially at a point where it has no ideas whatsoever. Not bad ideas, which is a different issue, but no ideas. They are now designed solely for obstruction and have no ability to govern now that the dominant ethos has gone from "Let's govern this way instead of that way" to "lol governing sux." Should we be surprised that a group of people who claim that the free market can solve any problem in a complex society struggle to come up with concrete proposals for governing? No. But that doesn't make it any less shocking that after seven full years of trying to repeal the ACA, House Republicans had to slap together a half-assed proposal the night before the due date because they had nothing prepared. Not "We had a plan ready but some parts are works in progress" unprepared. Literally unprepared. They had nothing. And regardless of the amount of time – seven years might as well have been seven days or seventy years – that is what they would have had: nothing. They no longer bother with the pedantic and time consuming tasks of coming up with "ideas" or "solutions." This is a party designed to obstruct and nothing more. Hell, some of them were heartbroken Trump won, having become a machine well designed to prevent a Hillary Clinton from doing anything. Working with a president? That, they haven't a clue how to do.

The other thing I realize with time is that the same student who slaps a paper together at the last second is unlikely to produce a paper much better by starting the assignment earlier. The person who cares so little about what he or she writes that the assignment is left until hours before the deadline is not the kind who will devote greater attention to it just because more time is available. In other words, if you're gonna half-ass the paper at the last minute you will probably half-ass it whenever you do it. The problem isn't the time you have available; the underlying problem is that you half-ass things.

This applies to the Republican analogy as well. No matter how much time they do or don't spend trying to create policy, they're such a one trick pony now (Cut taxes + magic = Everything's Super) that they wouldn't have produced a markedly better ACA alternative had Paul Ryan spent seven straight years working on it. The means is the end for Republicans; they propose cutting taxes for the wealthy as a means to solve any and all problems because – ta da! – all they really care about doing is cutting taxes for the wealthy. Does it "work"? Who cares. As long as it gets done on a regular basis it doesn't have to work. Their job is already done.

Democrats lose elections because they propose things that voters don't like or that strike people as unnecessarily convoluted. Republicans avoid that problem by being for nothing and against almost everything. You have to hand it to them, it's a brilliant system. The flaws become apparent when the GOP, like a dog that finally catches a car, ends up with control of all of our political institutions.