Intellectual Cowardice

Maybe George W. Bush got something right. When he would conduct his town hall meetings, his staff would screen people to ensure that they were true-believer Republicans. Some were even required to sign loyalty oaths. Town halls were designed to be a way for politicians to have a one-to-one honest discourse with their elected leaders. It helps prevent them from getting too insulated from what is going on with their everyday constituents. Bush simply created a video sound-bite opportunity and made a mockery of a great democratic tradition. It was cowardly, but it was effective.

During the congressional recess, many of the Congressmen will be holding town hall meetings to get feedback from their constituents, especially on health insurance. The ideal would be to hear from people who support and oppose the government adding to their existing Medicare role so the elected can truly represent the electorate. Instead, there are plans to disrupt town halls. Not converse, not protest outside congressional offices – which is perfectly democratic – but to disrupt an important democratic process.

It’s clear that the current system of healthcare provision and insurance isn’t effective. According to a 2000 World Health Organization study, the United States ranked 37th[1], behind Costa Rica, in health systems while ranking second in expenditures as a percentage of GDP. We have an unholy mix of socialized medicine with Medicare and private health insurance that is unaffordable for 47 million Americans. The uninsured drive the rates much higher for the insured. In 1985, I got the bill for the birth of my first son – all paid for by my employer-provided insurance. The ride down the hall in the wheelchair cost $350. Its nuts.

It’s also true that there is a real concern about the long-term costs of a Federal entitlement program on health care as our population ages. We, the electorate, need to voice those concerns to our congressmen. We need to hear how they think it will be funded. We need to ask about alternatives, like the health care cooperative being discussed by Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats. What little I have heard sounds like it might have potential. This is democracy in action.

I fear that this debate won’t happen because the media will find the disruption story more interesting than the health policy discussion. If this debate doesn’t happen, I am concerned that we will either be stuck with the status quo – which isn’t working – or we will get policies that were rammed through Congress by the Democrats that we don’t want to pay for. Either would be unacceptable solutions that are a direct result of intellectual cowardice by conservatives.

[1] http://www.photius.com/rankings/healthranks.html

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3 Responses to “Intellectual Cowardice”

  1. Thor Says:

    All but the second to last paragraph are rehashed liberal talking points that don’t support your argument which I assume is the title of your blog. The second to last has good substance and should be expanded upon.

    I’m Thirsty

    • Gary Murphy Says:

      “Rehashed liberal talking points”? That’s just a way to be dismissive. Even if they are talking points, they still may be valid and worthy of debate. You should know I don’t regurgitate what I am told. This blog is about what I think.

      The point is, disruption is not debate. The intellectually honest approach would be to quantify the numbers and if there’s no way to pay for it, take a stand against reform on that basis. The intellectually honest approach is to state that health care is fine as it is and will handle the demographic shift as baby boomers age. If the status quo isn’t fine, produce a reasonable alternative to the current plan. (Perhaps the health insurance co-op).

      It’s good debating strategy to control the debate, but it is cowardice to try and control the crowd. I know there are smart, articulate conservatives that have something to offer to this debate. Why are they hiding?

  2. Thor Says:

    Your right I am being dismissive as your comments are equally valid if I switch the word republican with democrat. Every point you are making about cowardice is applicable to the lefts tactics for controlling the debate. If your point is that you don’t see that stuff reported then you have to ask yourself why or expand the number of media outlets you peruse. The problem is that now some in the right (and left) has stepped up to what I agree is very non-productive (and out of character). The left is feigning outrage, disgust and resorting to labeling any opposition, no matter how inappropriate is patently absurd when that is their MO…period.

    I agree, the intellectually honest approach to the ‘Healthcare problem” is to plainly show in no uncertain terms what those problems are after serious due diligence and then make a proposal to fix them that has been thoroughly developed, discussed and reviewed, rpior to approval. If the exercise has occurred, please, point me to the reports so that I can read them myself without political & media filters to understand the root cause of the issue, and make an informed judgment about the yet to be proposed solution.

    Are you going to tell me that you are fine with the methodology of addressing the issue which has been a race to get something out the door before the recess? I doubt it. But all you’re focusing on is the reaction to developing legislation that will result in a paradigm shift in our economy that touches the most basic part of ourselves.

    And yes, if you didn’t read the WHO report on healthcare, you’d think that our system is worse then a second world county.

    I’m Thirsty

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