“Good morning, class. I have a light reading assignment for you. First read War and Peace, all 1,296 pages of it, and then tackle the 832 pages of Anna Karenina, both by Leo Tolstoy. Pay particular attention to the supporting characters, and the differences between the Tsarist society of the Napoleonic wars of War and Peace and the later time period of Anna Karenina. Tests and essays determining how well you have learned the books will comprise a large part of your grade.
“Oh, and the test may happen any day now, so I suggest you best get cracking.”
Do you think you could successfully navigate through the required 2,000+ pages of Russian prose with complete understanding? Do you think you would have the time to finish the reading and fully grasp the subtleties of Tsarist society of 19th century Russia in the short time allotted? Do you think the professor is a complete idiot to pile this load of work on you in such a small time? Doesn’t he know that you have other classes and activities you are responsible for?
But this is exactly what the Senate is doing. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act before the Senate clocks in at 2,074 pages, making it slightly shorter than the 2,128 pages in the Tolstoy reading assignment. To make it even, feel free to skip the last part of Anna Karenina after the title character dies, and Tolstoy rambles on about his Mary Sue.
Do you think any Senator has actually read this monstrosity of a bill? And do you think any Senator fully understands what is in the bill? And worse still, do you think any Senator has an understanding of the unintended consequences that will arise by the passing of this bill? Or do you think this is just a naked power-grab by Washington D.C.?
A power-grab? Surely not! It’s not like government has already grabbed the reigns of power over the economy already. Oh, wait, it has already begun.
William Boyes, an economics professor at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, estimates that the government now owns or controls businesses that generate about one-third of U.S. economic activity.
And adding the medical industry’s 17-18% of the U.S. economy under the thumb of the government will raise the level of the government’s control close to, if not past, the 50% mark. But don’t you dare call President Obama a socialist!
Obama took months to pick out a dog for the family, and he has yet to pick a church to attend, but the mind-boggling complexity of the health industry, the planned reforms, and their unintended consequences don’t need careful scrutiny. Nope, it’s already passed the House, and the Senate is rushing toward a vote with the grace and understanding of the long-range ramifications as a college kid homing in on the frat house beer keg. And when I say rushing, I mean it. The Senate may have a procedural vote on the bill today, when normally Saturdays are reserved for pressing the flesh of their home-state constituents. But not when it’s time to ram home a double novel sized health care bill.
I have to wonder if the people of 19th century Russia who were complaining so loudly about the corruption and abuses of power under the Tsars would have been so anxious to support their overthrow if they had foreseen the corruption and abuses of power under the later communists? It’s the unforeseen consequences that will always get you when you rush into a massive change. Do you think the people cheering the fall of the Tsars and the rise of the communists in 1917 were also cheering for political repression, economic depression, and the murder of 20 million people under Stalin? I don’t believe so. I think they were just caught up in the moment as they called for change. People forget that change can also be for the worse.
Anna Karenina starts with the best line of the whole novel: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Once government has successfully taken over our health care industry, every unhappy family will be unhappy in the same way — the unhappiness that comes from reduced freedoms and government oppression. And reduced freedoms and government oppression is exactly what you get when the Senate rushes to pass a 2,074 page long bill that they haven’t even read.
“What’s in the bill? Who cares?!? Change!”