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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Solving Intractable Problems in a Polarized Society

Snapshot of Our Present Political Landscape

At this time in our history, America is considered a






Tea Party in the House

Sarah Palin, Ron Paul, and Michele Bachmann’s Tea Party commands much power and attention, especially after 2010, when Republicans gained 68 seats and control of the House and added six Senate seats. Prognosticators believe Republicans are likely to win control of the Senate in 2012, and possibly regain the White House.

Our love of having the first black president in history has been overshadowed by our dissatisfaction with his job performance.

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Canaries in the Coal Mine

Our canaries, independents, continue to be center-right on most issues, and very unhappy with government spending and the Democrat and Obama’s handling of the economy. While Obama’s job approval rating is now 47% approve, 49% disapprove, an astonishing 51% of independents strongly disapprove of Obama’s handling of the economy.

Democrat Glimmer of Hope

On the other hand, Democrats have found a glimmer of hope. Senator Paul Ryan’s "Roadmap" Medicare plan is unpopular with Americans, and the Republicans have signed on to it.

Senator Paul Ryan
Republican Representative Jane Corwin’s support of the Ryan plan led in part to her 2011 special election loss for the New York 26th congressional district House seat, long-held by Republicans. The loss was stunning in that Corwin was leading comfortably weeks before the election, until Democrat challenger, and now new congresswoman, Kathy Hochul, started to hammer Corwin for her support of the Medicare part of the Ryan Plan.

Democrats feel they’ve found a winning issue. Some of them are daring to dream of re-gaining the House, and perhaps retaining the Senate.

Third Rail

The fact is, Medicare, like Social Security, is a third rail for politicians. It’s hot and deadly. Independents, Democrats, and even Republicans like their Medicare, and don’t want anyone messin’ around with it.


Medicare illustrates my central thesis of this post. Medicare was created in 1965 by The Great Society’s Lyndon Johnson. Eighty percent of Medicare is a government run program, and the rest is handled in various ways privately. Of course, it is highly regulated.

Personally, as a conservative, I don’t mind this percentage of government and private control for a healthcare program, as it seems to work reasonably well. Except, of course, that as we all age, the program will go bankrupt.

So, it must be reformed.

How to Reform Medicare

My conservative reforms would include means testing, raising the age requirements, and so on. Liberal “reforms” would include raising taxes on “the rich” and business to pay for increasing costs.

In my opinion, my solution would help the economy. The liberal reforms would further impoverish the country.

But, all this doesn’t matter. Nobody wants my kind of reforms, and the hard right will not accept the liberal reforms.

Obstacles to Medicare Reform

Liberals Hate the Rich, and Business

If liberals could just accept raising taxes a bit on “the rich” and let business off the hook, I could have more sympathy for their Medicare plans. But, they won’t. They hate the rich and business, and will never rest until America is a country with equal wages for all.

Every person would take their hard-won daily fifty cents and buy a loaf of government bread and a stick of butter, then go to their glorious healthcare shack to wait in line for their cancer cure by their top-notch medical team, Larry, Curly, and Moe, and salute the next leader like any good communist Cuban.

The Three Stooges: Larry, Nurse, Curly, Moe
Even Castro has admitted that his socialism did not work for his people, but our leftists still worship him as the ideal, another tyrant who uses guns to seize property from the “evil rich” and business.

The Hard-Right Hates Big Government, and Loves Survival-of-the-Fittest

My problem with the right is the opposite. According to their present world view, anything that smacks of being a government program is automatically an evil thing.

I’ve got news for them. Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are all big government programs. As well as the Department of Defense, SBIR programs, research grants, you name it. All these have worked relatively well. Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security have served us as a nation, but will now have problems due to the coming population bulge of the elderly. So, again, they must be reformed.

The radical hardcore right will take me up on this challenge, and say “You’re darn right. But don’t reform them. Get rid of them.


We don’t need ‘em.” (As Scrooge said, “Are there no workhouses?") Let’s just abolish these big government entitlements, and go to a pure survival of the fittest.

That’s why I can never be a Libertarian, and don’t endorse Libertarians Ron Paul, Rand Paul, or even Larry Elder (an otherwise wonderful and wise man), anymore than I can approve of socialists Dennis Kucinich or Bernie Sanders.

In a Nutshell

The far left wants to steal every gulden from the “rich," and from “evil business,” reducing us all to grubs and turnip roots; and the far right actually does want to toss Grandma out into the street, and off a cliff. These are not exaggerations.

Eighty percent of Americans like their Medicare, the way it is. Regardless of which party, regardless of any hard-coriness.

It has worked. Part big government, and part private enterprise, it crosses the hard-core lines.

Can it be fixed?

Only if folks give up their irrationalities.

Have a wonderful day!

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