Am I a geek or a nerd?

Freedom Dies A Little Bit Today (??!!)
March 23, 2010, 12:07 pm
Filed under: Geek | Tags: ,

That’s a quote from a Tennessee Representative in response to the passage of health care legislation in the House. Really? Freedom died a little? Melodramatic much?

AtotheB and I have been working on a unit for the Civics course about Congress and Public Policy. I won’t bore you with the long list of content expectations we are trying to meet (96 in one semester) or how poorly they are edited (public opinion and public agenda are used over and over, but policy agenda isn’t—they are different…), suffice it to say we are trying to teach some legislative process and some public policy at the same time. Like most topics in the social sciences, there is the simple version of events and the complex version of events. How a bill becomes a law is a spectacular example of this. We’ve done our best to include both, introducing the students to the basic process through a legislative simulation and including a case study of FMLA to show the longer, more complicated version. Who knew when we started this that Health Care would be an even better example of the longer more complicated version? Anyway, my point is that I’ve spent the better part of three months (minus 100 hours spent on TAH grant writing) hashing out this unit, reading Conflict and Compromise by Ron Elving, thinking about how best to explain this system, the reasons for it, the pitfalls and strengths.

That’s why I take such offense at the statement above. Freedom didn’t die Sunday night. If anything, our system functioned pretty much the way it was designed to. Forget the party politics and rhetoric or the incredible amount of misinformation many people seem to have, the legislative process functions. Republicans will claim it’s a bad bill in an effort to attract a segment of voters, but the reality is that this bill includes ideas from both parties, ideas from the public (really, the public wants to keep their kids on their insurance, forget the phrase ‘pre-existing condition’ and not worry about being denied coverage—I don’t care what they say about the bill, they want they want those things) and ideas from industry. Freedom allows us to disagree—something we’ve done with gusto. Freedom allows us to vote—many will, if only to express their views on this issue. Freedom allows us to speak our minds—even to say something others might find bothersome.

For those happy with the turn of events in health care, continue to explain why this is good. Explain why more health insurance is good for individuals, good for hospitals and good for insurance companies. For those who are unhappy, please don’t decry our system, our reps and our nation. Rather, explain what is wrong with the bill. Explain why medicare/aid needs a real repair, how hospitals and medical facilities are understaffed already, how caps on profits can stifle competition and innovation.

But don’t any one of you try to tell me that freedom died because a controversial piece of legislation was passed by our elected representatives after years of discussion through a process created by our founding fathers. I’m not buying it.


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