Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Health Care and Social Tipping Points

This post is a little off-topic from my normal music-related blogging.

The United States woke up today with an arguably better health care system than the one we went to bed with. While MSM publications are trumpeting this as a "historic" event, I believe they do so for the wrong reasons.

From my perspective, the dimension here that's historic is not the success of the Obama Administration, but the failure of the opposition network (K Street) that had been fully captured by corporate interests.

With the most notable exception of the universal/'single payer' provisions that were removed from earlier drafts, practically everything else in the bill survived despite the lobbying activities on behalf of corporate interests. The single most profitable portion of the insurance business (the expulsion of unprofitable members from the system) is one of the first things the HCR bill sought to remedy. There are a dozen other bullet points, and almost every one of them was on the K-street hit list.

To me, this demonstrates a significant shift in the proverbial winds of political influence, but I'm not sure if this is for better or worse. If the K-street network failed to deliver on its promises to its (corporate) constituents, those interests are going to look to other networks to deliver their goods. This means a new marketplace of influence peddling will open up to fill that need. Will it be better or worse for us than the system that's currently crumbling? I don't know.

But I can tell you it represents a tipping point. Follow me....

The HCR is not just about hospitals, doctors, lawyers or insurers - in fact, those are almost minor players in the larger scheme. From my perspective, the HCR is more like a snowball tossed from the top of a mountain: it's the initial inertia, so to speak. What follows will be fundamental (hopefully) realigning of some national policies, i.e., the Farm Bill. HCR is also connected to the nation's food supply (Farm Bill, FDA), our civic infrastructure (roads & highways & motor vehicles vs. walkable communities), our environmental policies (EPA vs. industry), etc. In short, *everything's* gonna change.

My prediction: the "end game" is not domination of "the conversation" or even policy points: it's going to be about taking credit for the avalanche already in motion.

I know this is a loose conglomeration of thoughts and ideas, probably not the most responsibly presented. Thoughts and reactions welcome in the comments.

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