November 6, 2009

If you could go back in time to the beginning of 2002, before the White House started its PR campaign for WMD's and the invasion of Iraq you'd find that our overwhelming national priorities at that time started and ended with capturing Osama bin Laden and halting the spread of global terrorism, primarily with al Qaeda.

The American people, in a blind panic, accepted the theory that doing "something" was both immediate and necessary - even more so than taking the time to think through how to solve our most important problems at the time. Thus began our multi-century commitment to Iraq, to the detriment of the capacity to actually disable al Queda or capture bin Laden.

Was Iraq actually a pressing issue at the time? Yes. Did it deserve attention? Yes.

Was it anything that was worthy of expending almost all of our global political capital for? In hindsight (always 20/20), certainly not. It was just the most convenient way for the guys in the White House to finish an unfinished Iraq War 1.

Fast forward to 2009 and we're still committing troops to Afghanistan, trying to correct the errors of the past. Except now we're under different global conditions and under attack from the global economy in addition to global terrorism. Though terrorism is still a major pressing issue, right now the most important thing on people's minds is the economy.

The American government, starting with George W Bush and continuing through Obama has decided rightly or wrongly that the best way to try to stem this problem is to throw tremendous amounts of money at carefully and not so carefully calibrated targets. The effectiveness of these tactics can only be theorized, as to date there hasn't been a great depression style collapse of the economy. However, with national unemployment measurements exceeding 10% as of this week and millions of other Americans chronically underemployed, we find ourselves struggling as communities, as states and as nations with trying to find the best way to set ourselves back on track.

And in this context, here we are again in 2009 with our most important issue to deal with as the economy. And what has been the major political solution to helping the economy?

A massive reorganization of the entire healthcare system.

Now, I will in no way attempt to justify the massive cluster!@#k that is our healthcare system. In addition to recently being denied individual healthcare insurance because I was taking high blood pressure medication, my disabled mother was denied any more than two weeks of in-house nursing care by her insurance (Medicare based, by the way) after a medical issue that left her bedridden for the last 6 months. So I understand the comedy of errors that is our healthcare system.

This system as its currently designed and executed is solely concerned with providing services at the expense of patients themselves. There is absolutely no connection between what any doctor may or may not charge in fees and what I see from my insurance company. The tax code penalizes individuals and small business owners while benefiting large corporations and organizations, and I could just go on forever..

But frankly, I fail to see the connection between our global economic concerns and this solution. Will it help some people that may face large healthcare bills? I'm sure. But the other thing that it does is that it will expend so much political capital and increase the size of our economic liabilities so much that it will wipe out the capacity for any major legislation concerning the actual economy for a long time.

This solution is not an answer to fix our most important problems. Again, it is the most convenient way for the guys in the White House to finish their own unfinished war. Except in this case its the healthcare reform circa 1993 instead of Desert Storm circa 1991.

I'm hoping that 6 years from now, we're not in the same position we are today - spending resources to fix our healthcare solution and still trying to find enough will to tackle our most important problems.

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