Saturday, December 19, 2009

Thoughts on Incremental Change

There are many arguing that an insufficient “health care reform” bill is adequate for now because it will serve as a basis for incremental change to a better and more beneficial health care plan as time goes on. That certainly has worked in the past, as is evidenced by Social Security and Medicare, but I’m uneasy with it for a couple of reasons.

For one thing, incrementalism can produce some pretty untidy results. Even with the two examples being used here, while they are valuable and highly popular programs, there are some problems that could well have been avoided. The Social Security Trust Fund income can, for example, be diverted for use in general revenue spending and used to conceal the true amount of the federal deficit. That’s by no means a fatal flaw, but it is causing problems in maintaining the program, and it makes it easier for opponents of the program to attack it.

Labor laws have been incrementally changed to the point of emasculation.

And, why are we so sure that the vested interests which prevented features from being included in the reform to begin with will allow them to be passed as incremental change in the future? If you think that corporate influence over our legislature is going to magically diminish with time, you might need to examine your grip on reality.

Incremental changes to Social Security and Medicare were passed in the days of Liberalism, and those days are in the past. The kind of incremental changes that have been occurring lately have been the kinds of changes that have been happening in labor laws and financial regulation; changes which favor corporate interests. To think that such an environment of change will be magically reversed because Keith Olbermann and Ed Shultz are screaming on cable news channels is not very realistic.

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