Watching Republicans trying to pass a health care bill reminded me of the popular fantasy Robert Heinlein1 incorporated into his famous sci-fi novel Glory Road. In it Oscar’s true love Star the Empress of Twenty Galaxies had a choice to make whenever a new law was proposed. Either approve the danged thing (rarely the first pick) or execute the man dumb enough to offer it up. There was no middle way.
A practice which has a certain logic because a new law, despite the advertising, almost never works out in favor of those whose labor or taxes support the government.
That much like the ancient Egyptians carved the length of the Son God’s golden arm into the Cubit2 Stone and decreed all the empire’s measurements must derive from it, our career politicians measure all legislation against a rule which states that anyone already receiving a government check must continue to receive it. Forever.
Which is why the government keeps reinsuring and reinsuring and paying for and paying for the destroyed luxury beach front properties built on hurricane-bait sandbars a mile offshore. It’s why when we know that subsidizing single mothers leads to horrendous social pathologies we will ignore their behavior and continue to send them checks. Then more checks
And of course it was exactly with this standard of guaranteed entitlements that Paul Ryan began with, he said, to “repeal” Obamacare. That is by insisting that the twenty million people having health care premiums paid by Obamacare, are untouchable. There is a program to give poor people medical coverage called Medicaid but that’s neither here nor there. There’s an underground economy in this country which in toto may be greater than the entire economy of Japan and a huge chunk of these people invisibly draw some or all of their income from that source but that’s neither here nor there. And the appalling truth that while twenty million may have gained coverage a far greater number of working people lost it by having their deductible jump to $5, 000 or $10,000 or more, money they don’t have, is neither here nor there either.
Even the fact that few of these twenty million recipients voted Republican in the last election doesn’t matter.
Because almost every politician believes that they could paint giant Duke-of-Hazzards style Confederate flags on the top of their government limousines and expose themselves to the next group of Iowa high school girls touring the Capitol Rotunda and still stand a better chance of surviving politically than they would if they took someone’s check away. Anyone’s check. Because do it, vote to take school lunch money away from parents who make over $250,000 a year they’ll be accused of starving kids. Vote to defund Planned Parenthood they’ll be accused of denying vulnerable women vital medical services. Vote to defund the going nowhere in their sustainable energy research government supported algae farms and you’ll be accused of being in the pay or big oil so on.
Better not to try. Besides it’s not like they’re giving their own money away.
And so in Washington’s Looney-Tune world once someone gets a government check they’re locked in. Even those millionaires building their beachfront homes in hurricane alley. Indeed they stand about as much chance of being defunded as Congress itself.
But here’s the sad part, a tragedy really. Donald J. Trump is not a politician – its why we elected him. He didn’t have get behind Paul Ryan’s insane plan to tweak Obamacare just enough that he and the Republican Party would wind up owning that disaster. President Trump could have just stuck with his campaign trail arguments and advocated a free market in health care and so maybe in that way, kill the beast outright. He could even elected to do nothing and let Obamacare implode.
But he didn’t.
Despite the fact that the worst which could happen was that at the end of four years he’d be living back in his gold encrusted four story penthouse in the sky.
- The best-selling author of The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress the famous Conservative/Libertarian cult novel about the revolt of the Moon against the Earth’s oppressive rule. As well as many other titles.
- Yes, this is the source of the Biblical measurement and at something like a yard probably the origin of Imperial Measurements and so (more or less) the system used by the only nation able put a man on the Moon. A point you should make when your ten year old son or daughter comes home all in a tizzy about the new and much more modern and logical Metric System their teacher is pushing.