It’s Not About That!

At some point, broader questions are inescapable.  Sorting out wheels within the wheels can lead to more confusion not less.  Sun Tzu’s advice to deflect your enemy’s attention appears to be in play at every turn.  It can feel that the more you know, the more you must know and at the same time something is hidden from view.  Symptoms become the basis for analysis, yet there is always an inherent lack of confidence; judging from symptoms can be a difficult business. 

 Perhaps the only thing that makes some degree of convoluted sense is to simply assume that whatever it is, “it’s not about that”.   

 The stimulus package and the omnibus spending bill were about economic recovery.  Hair on fire, we have a crisis, we have to do it now! Jobs, jobs, jobs!  However, unemployment is 20% worse that predictions.  White House economists admit that we need to resign ourselves to 10% unemployment.  Outside of the stock market and massive gains in productivity based on the need for business to get lean in a hurry there is no significant recovery.  The consumer is the key and yet, we declare a start to the recovery in the absence of consumer spending.  Huh?  Analysis that contends the recovery is not really a recovery is supported by deducting temporary stimulus spending, temporary jobs and government jobs from the calculus.  Massive government job creation was, as you may recall, the very first section of the stimulus bill; permanent jobs to administer a temporary spending program, a symptom perhaps?  Massive amounts of stimulus spending went to bail out states guilty of profligate spending, what about next year?  Conclusion; the stimulus could not have been about recovery, if it was, it would have been structured differently, although that Turtle Tunnel project in Florida was a cute idea.

 Corporate bail outs were about saving jobs, the financial system and the manufacturing base.  However, bailed out auto manufactures continued to send jobs oversees and there was no caveat attached to the funding requiring that set the stage for bringing displaced jobs back to the U.S.  The traditional position of capital in the bankruptcy process was turned on its head in favor of union desires and yet unions still lost jobs under bail out funding.  The precedent applied to car companies puts all capital investment in question where the government stands to assume a role.  We’re we to give in to our lesser angels we might come to the conclusion that government control of the manufacturing base, the credit vehicles that go with that base, the insurance market, banks, investment houses, student loans, compensation and up to 70% of the home loan market was a quick and easy way to potentially exert a massive degree of vertical control the economy.  Just saying!  Whatever it was, it is not about what they said it was about or the results would be different.

 Compensation controls in the bailed out banks was about accountability and paying the taxpayers back.  It’s confusing, banks that did try to pay back TARP funding we’re met with resistance at every turn.  Of late, nothing about the management at Freddy and Fannie and their compensation guidelines; nothing about the Banking Committee’s role in setting policy and their points of accountability.  The argument is well made (Investors Business Daily, Thomas Sowell and others) that Freddy, Fannie and government mandates had more to do with the housing crisis than the banking industry, per se.  So is it really about compensation and accountability or is it about control and intimidation?  The inconsistencies loom large, a symptom perhaps?

 Health care simply cannot be about health care.  If health care was about health care Congress would be focused on making the deal that would deliver the most health care to the most people on the most immediate basis possible; a deal that would deal with issues of general agreement such as pre-existing conditions, availability, permanence and portability.  In the context of a threatened public option, at deal could be made within the regulated private insurance markets.  

 The obvious and ongoing complexity of the challenges inherent in legislating a health care solution is the best of all arguments for taking advantage of existing markets to address the problem.  If health care was about health care the public option would be the logical last resort not the first priority. 

 If the “crisis” in health care was actually about providing health care you would take the quickest road to solutions, not a public option that commences in five to six years when a nearly immediate fix is available in the markets that currently exist. 

 Is health care a slippery slope?  It could be!  As an operations executive I once worked with a Controller who defined his job as “anything that has to do with money and since everything has to do with money, my job is anything and everything I say it is”.  Could the same attitude prevail with a government option?  Food, weight, medication, environmental factors, exercise, stress, child care; these and more are all potentially health care issues.  Should we evolve to a single payer system can you be sure that “by definition”, the bureaucracy does not end up saying to you “since everything effects health our job is anything and everything we say it is?”  The EPA, “by administrative definition” declared CO2 a hazardous gas and now moves to apply their full weight to the control of a naturally occurring, necessary gas.  We do have the guiding light of actual examples to look to for guidance.            

 It is not about recovery, or jobs or health care.  It is about control and a Progressive ideology that glorifies the role of government in the pursuit of a yet undefined utopian ideal. 

 What this is about is who you trust.  Do you trust the individual or do you trust the collective wisdom of a massive bureaucracy?  Do you trust the dynamic of individual freedoms driving the process or must that process, and by extension the people, be controlled and guided at every turn?

 It’s not about what they say it’s about!   The good news is that this equation has two sides because  It’s also about standing against “it”, whatever form “it” may take.