Monday, August 24, 2009

Jack Riepe's Perspective

A guest essay submitted by Jack Riepe to stimulate sensible and thorough debate on health care reforms proposed for the United States. Please comment at length and sharpen your pencils to add your thoughts. All points of view are welcome, and will be printed by me unedited and uncensored, as will all comments in reply. My only time limit on this experiment is the day some sort of reform is finally passed, be it ever so inadequate, and signed into law by the President.
I am Conchscooter, aka Michael Beattie, 743 Indies Road, Ramrod Key, Florida 33042. Send essays to me at mikigboat@hotmail.com and post as many comments as you like below the essays. Unless you are the pornographic asian spammer, in which case send your pictures directly to Jack riepe at Twisted Roads (http://jackriepe.blogspot.com/)
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My Perspective: The Healthcare Debate-- Let's Start Over, the Right Way...

I want President Obama to put the brakes on the current healthcare public relations disaster and come up with three substantive, but different programs, that address all public concerns, to serve as the basis of a nation referendum on healthcare.
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Proposed legislation should come from the Democrats, the Republicans, and the insurance industry, (who should be advised that they can take the lead in offering an honest reform program, or be reformed by popular consensus and legislative action).
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The process should also be open to proposed programs set forth by labor unions or other social groups, like the Salvation Army. There has to be more than one answer to this problem. The proposed bills should be limited to 25 pages, plus an executive summary. A matrix for each plan (the size of a tabloid newspaper page) would also be prepared.
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Then I want President Obama to conduct a national referendum, that will be based on a factual analysis and presentation of the pros and cons of each program, conducted by an independent auditor and the US Government Accounting Office (GAO). Prior to the referendum, there will be be three one-hour television specials, with experts explaining how each plan would work. On three consecutive days (or as many days as it would take to present each program to the general public via various media outlets), newspapers across the country would run full-page ads, detailing each program using the executive summary and the appropriate matrix. The same data would be made available online. Proposed changes to these bills would be collected via e-mail and hard copy and tabulated prior to a final draft of each. (These could run into the millions.)
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It is to be hoped that each submitted program would include the input:
• Of respected medical authorities, who would be named in each bill.
• Of an accounting firm who would certify that all data, percentages,and cited costs were correct. (This means that all three proposalswould have to use the same base numbers regarding the nation's uninsured... And that means making an effort to accurately to define"uninsured" and count them.)
• Labor unions, professional associations, social networks, clubs, andlocal political groups would be encouraged to support or endorse one program, but not to criticize the other two. For example, rather than declaring one plan to be the national socialization of America, or the Nazification of the US lifestyle, it would be in the best interests of groups supporting another plan to point out the its benefits (i.e. keeping the US Congress out of the insurance business, while promoting a single payer concept).
• The bill would then be voted on in a special national referendum. Legislation may be necessary to accommodate such a vote. If so, Congress can make that happen.
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Now I realize this rational approach to resolving this problem will take at least six months to a year of dedicated legislation drafting, hearings and public coordination; and take all the fun out of name-calling and screaming, but it has some real benefits.
1) It will get the US public actively involved in solving a national problem -- in a constructive manner. (For presentation on television, I suggest canceling "Dancing With The Bullshit Stars," or "American Idol." unless the idols are school teachers, firemen, or single moms who hold two jobs and still find a way to pay for their kid's music lessons.)
2) No one will able to say a better alternative wasn't discussed or made available.
3) Every qualified social, political or professional entity (in addition to every US citizen) will have an opportunity to contribute to the finished legislation.
4) The final decision will be left to the voting public.
5) Politicians will be forced to work together, and adhere to public outcry, or face the consequences on election day.
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Republicans (and I am a Republican) will be forced to pull their heads out of their asses, and regard the common man and woman, with an income of $45,000 or less as their actual constituency. They are going to have to become known as "progressive Republicans" or "SRRs, Socially Responsible Republicans," committed to the man (and woman) on the street first. It may be easier to train tigers to ignore bloody gazelles.
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Democrats (and I supported a lot of these assholes) are going to have to acknowledge that the Continental United States is more than Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco. There are millions of people who live in between these places who do not trust government for good reason. Alienating these people further is not good politics. Acting like they don't count is the first step in declaring a single term Presidency.
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If the President were to adopt the policy I have outlined above, it will do the following:
a) Give him more time to get this right.
b) Enable him to act upon new data regarding the acceptance of a program of this nature by the American public. Let's face it, the self-congratulatory Democrats were under the impression there would be no or limited opposition to this "40 acres and a mule" legislation. It blew up in their smarter-than-thou faces. (And their first reaction was to call the opposition organized stupidity bereft of social awareness, and nothing more than a neanderthal diversion tactic -- in an effort to discount resistance to a poorly communicated, over-complex document that is being rushed through Congress.
c) Tell the Democratic party not to mix issues with this program, and to assure (not just tell) the voters, "We're going to fix it." Of course, this means Obama will have to become the real leader of the Democratic Party. Democratic leaders have been waiting for their turn to screw the American public for so long that it may be easier to train tigers to ignore bleeding gazelles.
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So Conch, this would be my approach. I didn't mean to clutter up a great blog with this, but I rather got the impression you thought that I didn't think healthcare was important, or that I wasn't thinking about this, or that I was an idiot. It's just that I have no patience with government bullshit and no confidence in their bullshit promises. Among the things that President Obama promised were two elements of real change... They wouldn't cost any real money... They wouldn't raise taxes... They wouldn't even make a real splash at first, considering the average American is as dumb as dog shit and incapable of reading anything longer than a Twitter message. And yet, Obama couldn't drop these promises fast enough.
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The first was the promise that all legislation would be presented to the general public in plain language, 5 days before a vote would be taken. A nicer touch by a powerful leader eager to promote change would also have been to eliminate the rider system of passing legislation in the dark. But it was stupid of me to get my hopes up even for the initial offering. Can you imagine the value of the above legislative action in the promotion of a well-written bill, the acceptance of which by the American pubic was crucial to a major enhancement of the US lifestyle? You could use the healthcare bill as an example. But Co-President Pelosi and company is not really interested in smartening up the US voter.
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The second promise made by Obama was to eliminate all lobbyists and special interest representatives from his administration; and to require that all dialogues between elected officials and lobbyists be recorded and reported. This took my breath away. Only leaders like Attila, Pope Gregory, Napoleon, Washington, and Ghengis Khan make promises like that. As you can imagine, Co-President Pelosi and banking industry sexual aid Chris Dodd -- in addition to the rest of the occupants in the "Little Whorehouse on the D.C. Prairie" -- got real quiet on that one.
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It was for these two campaign promises, and because the Republican Party performed so poorly over eight years (treating rank and file Republicans, let alone the American public like they were idiots and cannon fodder), that I supported President Obama. He has performed like a true ward-heeler since getting into office.
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I routinely write to my elected officials, and my name is on hundreds of press releases that urge the feds to act responsibly (albeit on transportation issues), and with forethought, as opposed to highlyemotional responses that get headlines, but no results.
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So these are the kind of blog comments I write when I am not thinking about motorcycles, or women, or rum, or nude beaches in Key West.
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Fondest regards, Jack Riepe Twisted Roads
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"I have a good mind to join a club and beat you to death with it."--- Groucho Marx