Archive for the ‘Government’ Category
One of the things that’s struck me as interesting with all these town hall meetings where people get *extremely* upset about the “socialization of healthcare” are the people that are complaining.
It’s a known fact that America has one of the unhealthiest populations in the world, with a population that is 33% overweight and 34% obese (yes, nearly 70% of the population is overweight), and that this is the one of the many causes of why healthcare is so expensive in this country. Therefore, assuming everyone paid the same taxes for national healthcare, you would think that unhealthy people would be glad to let the healthy take on the burden of paying for healthcare that they don’t really use, while the unhealthy would pay less than they pay now. Yet the states complaining the most about national healthcare are the ones that have the least healthy citizens.
I guess they could argue on principle that they do not believe in national healthcare, which I could at least understand from an objective point of view, but they definitely have no right to present the argument that it will cost them more money.
However, the real problem I have with the entire situation is that no one is presenting facts anymore. Rachel Maddow sums it up great with this piece:
Why can’t people just *talk* anymore? I would love to see a spirited debate on the topic with people from both sides that have actually done their homework. But I have yet to actually *see* that. Perhaps if the people with different perspectives presented their points in a logical and rational way, I would be more apt to side with them.
In fact, there has only been one article that I’ve seen so far that’s done that. John Mackey, the CEO of Whole Foods, wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times last week that decried Obama’s healthcare plan as socialism that will bankrupt the country. While I don’t necessarily agree with his conclusion, I think several of the reforms that he outlines would be great things to enact, as it will reduce healthcare costs for everyone, regardless of whether the individual or the government is fitting the bill.
Really, when it comes down to it, reducing the cost of healthcare for the average American is a common goal that both parties can agree on. Now they just have to agree on how to actually *do* that.
I just read an article about Apple spending $720,000 on lobbying the US government for patent reform and technology education. While I completely agree with the causes Apple is lobbying for, I really dislike the fact that the only way to get anything done in our government is with large sums of money. Isn’t the government supposed to serve the people and not the money?
I understand that it obviously isn’t possible to hear every single voice in the country, as there are only 100 members of the Senate and 435 members of the House of Representatives that collectively represent the interests of 300 million people. However, we have the technology that could make it possible for this to happen.
Think about this: Google serves up answers for 91 million queries per day. Imagine some sort of human-powered oracle that answered any question you had in any language in less than a second. Just thinking about a human-powered version of that boggles the mind, yet Google does it effortlessly every single day for the world. This is the kind of solution we need to embrace for telling our governments what we want and helping to make political decisions.
We already have the right to vote on politicians and select propositions, but lobbying is how those propositions make it to the ballot. Why do only the people with money get to decide what appears on those ballots? It’s like we have this false sense of participation in our government because we get to vote on things, yet we didn’t get a say in what issues were worth voting on.
I understand that the United States is a republic and not a direct democracy, and that is why these things are the way they are. It even makes sense that it is a republic because when the country was founded in the 18th century it was completely absurd to think that everyone’s voice could be a part of the process. But now that we have the means to aggregate the collective opinions of the populace, should that system perhaps change?
Note that I’m not advocating ochlocracy or anything where the people just make all the decisions and self-govern. I think James Madison had it right in Federalist Paper No. 10 when he said that government should protect its citizens from factions and that a direct democracy would value the opinions of the majority and sacrifice individual liberties. What I’m proposing is just a solution that can aggregate the thoughts and opinions of the populace and make those opinions known to the politicians so that they can make more informed decisions. What I want is to see headlines like “720,000 people support patent reform” as opposed to “$720,000 supports patent reform.” Something like the Facebook Causes application but on a more global and accessible level.