Monday, July 19, 2010

The Result of Half Measures

There is a big problem with the concept of “this is not as good as it could have been, but it’s better than nothing” that was used to justify the stimulus legislation which we got last year, the “health care reform” legislation which we got earlier this year, and the financial reform which we got this month. Ian Welsh sums it up, excerpted a bit,

What matters is whether policy works. It does not matter if what Obama did was more left wing than anything that’s been done in a while, what matters is if it was left wing enough (big enough stimulus, smart enough health care plan) to improve people’s lives enough that they noticed. It wasn’t, and that’s all that matters.

Therein lies the real problem. The real reason we can’t have a second stimulus is that no one can really point to the first one and say that it changed anything. Democrats are frantically trying to do that, but they are having little, if any, success. Unemployment is still the biggest problem facing the people who make up the electorate, and nothing the Democrats have done has made the slightest visible dent in that problem.

Democrats spent a full year in a nasty fight over “health care reform” and not only were they not addressing unemployment while doing that, but the fight wound up giving in to corporate interests on several high-profile items that could have saved the working man and woman money on health care, like reimportation of drugs, cancelling anti-trust exemptions, and negotiation of drug costs by Medicare.

Democrats are wondering why “Obama is not getting credit for the legislative triumphs” that he has achieved since taking office, and the answer is that those “legislative triumphs,” for all of their supposed progressiveness, have not tangibly changed people’s lives.

Worse than that, because they were half measures that have not had measureable effect, they have provided ammunition for those who deny the principles which those measures reflect; those who claim that stimulus does not work and those who claim that government participation in health care is ineffective.

These “legislative triumphs” certainly haven’t effectively changed our war status; simply moved it from one Middle East country to another. We still have the same SecDef and the same general in charge. The only things visibly improved are the stock market and corporate profits; not exactly bellweathers for the average voter.

Ian adds, “Sometimes half doesn’t work. Half-assed rarely does.”

I am reminded of a phrase from a reading in a certain support group; a reading that is suggesting commitment to the course of action,

“Half measures availed us nothing. We stood at a turning point…”

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