by, 04-29-2009 at 11:08 AM (2142 Views)
Big lies aren't new. About seventy years ago, Hitler created several, and FDR created several others. The USSR was based on big lies, and NATO was based, in part, on another set of big lies. Fortunately, the U.S.A had a few leaders in the sixty years who were fundamentally honest. Eisenhower told us to beware the military industrial complex, and he was ignored. He was one of the very few fundamentally honest ones, but we have had some leaders who were partly honest but greatly misled, Johnson for one. Jimmy Carter for another, but he was not much of a leader.
Then there is the kind of leader that is fundamentally honest but has been misled and takes the misleading as fundamentally true. Gerry Ford and Ronald Reagan were such people. Going into the details of each individual is not helpful, the important things are the lies, how they are created, how to detect them, and how to eliminate them. Redefining the terms that refer to the matter is the first step. The next step is to act on the redefined matter, as if it were important. The debate over "gay marriage" is illustrative.
The fundamental issue behind the matter of gay marriage is not marriage, nor is it sexual preference or orientation; the basic issue is whether all people should have the same rights. A wide variety of government programs are available only to married people, which clearly shows discrimination against people who are not married. The easiest and fairest way to eliminate this disparity would be grant all rights and privileges that married people have to people who are not married, or to eliminate all privileges that married people have. In either case, everyone would be treated equally. Instead of attempting to eliminate the inequality, some people decided that they wanted those privileges, regardless of the fact that they were discriminatory. The whole matter of governments being involved in registering interpersonal relationships is relatively new. A few hundred years ago people would have a local religious person give their unions a blessing, or they might just live together without the benefit of clergy and call themselves married. Either a religious or common law marriage was considered to be valid. The registration of marriages happened at different times in different places, but it was always a way to restrict the rights of people to do as they wished, and it was an attempt to hold men accountable for any children that they sired. But that was a few hundred years ago. Now the registration of marriages bring with them a variety of privileges that may be worth a significant amount of money to some people, and people who would not get married for reproductive purposes want to get married for financial reasons. The resulting change in marriage laws continues to move along, and it probably will continue until a substantial part of the world has enacted such regulations. I wonder when single heterosexual people will sue for elimination of the financial advantages.
That is a minor issue and watching it progress is almost humorous. The issue where redefinition has taken place that is a major issue and may become a much larger issue is "healthcare".
I don't like or use the term "healthcare", because that implies health, and that is something that is personal and only affected by individual activities, treatments, etc., so generalizing health to the population at large is impossible. That extension has changed the discussion about access to medical care, medical costs, and so on from a matter of personal well-being to a matter of the health of a population. Medical care is and should be dependent on medical problems, but the politicians, ideologues, and popular media have changed it into something that it is not and cannot be, a national problem; and now another President is trying to make a personal matter a matter of concern for the country at large. From experience we know that when the Feds get involved in something, quality will deteriorate and costs will skyrocket. At present there is a minor problem with the cost of medical care rising faster than the CPI, and that is a problem for some people. There is also a mismatch between he supply and demand for medical services and facilities; the medical people like to live in nice places, while people who are sickly tend to live in other places. There has also been encouragement for people to seek medical care for problems that can't be helped significantly by medical care.
As the discussion is being played out in the press and by the politicians, the quality and availability of medical services are not the main issues; centralized payment and oversight of the medical system are the principal matters. Availability and payment may be major issues to particular individuals, but it is not important to the society as a whole.
This is not to suggest that medical services should not be available to everyone, but the drive for "healthcare reform" will lead to higher medical costs, at least for a period of time until the government takes complete control over the medical establishment. At present, about a quarter of all medical costs are for administering insurance, and there is no reason for that to decrease with additional government regulations on the practice of medicine. It would be reasonable to expect to see the expenses of most medical practices to increase as additional reporting and record-keeping requirements are introduced by government regulators. The costs to insurance companies that would be increased by government regulations would also increase the net costs to most people.
At present, employment based medical insurance is a transfer of money from healthy people to people with major and chronic medial problems. For a healthy person the cost of insurance exceeds by a large amount the cost of medical care. People in the insurance industry would say that allows the insurance companies to build up reserves for the eventual illnesses of healthy people, which would be reasonable, if it worked that way, but the insurance companies simply convert those premiums into profits. For most individuals it would make more sense to put some money away for eventual major medical problems. That would pay off for many people, but for others their estates would simply be larger.
Instead of learning the facts about medical costs and insurance in the the popular press, we hear about a crisis, and we hear about ideas to create a huge centralized bureaucracy to handle the medical insurance situation. Some people even put forth the idea that the government bureaucracy should be the actual insurer. None of those ideas would help to correct any of the problems in the medical business (and there are some problems), and those ideas would create worse problems, if they were put into action.
These are only two matters where an issue has been defined into a major problem. There are many other issues that would be improved greatly, if the issue were discussed fully and openly, rather than in the way that the press has defined the matter. Other such recent matters include the invasion of Iraq, global warming, and even the present economic recession and its causes and potential cures.