Monday, February 8, 2010

Hopey-changey... Try...

Sarah Palin continues to make hay. Which they don't do much of in Alaska, I realize.

Even as some other GOP women pulled out of speaking slots at the Tea Party Convention, Palin said she would keep her commitment to deliver the $105,000 keynote speech saying, "It's important to keep faith with those who put a little of their faith in you."

I guess that's why she could resign the office of Governor of the State of Alaska in favor of being self-appointed Governor of the State of Book Tour. And Fox journalist. She has more of us to keep faith with than the "largest, most diverse state" (her words) of Alaska. She has the presidency to run for, which is what I'm convinced she is doing. She's already got the book thing behind her.

So, OK. Let's take her and her words seriously. At the Tea Party Convention, she asked, "How's that hopey-changey stuff workin' out for ya?" There must have been uproarious applause.

So, I'm wondering what her solutions would be in contrast? No hope and no change? Ya think?

Here in Oregon we've had a disastrous tax structure that has needed to change for as long as we have lived here. Political gridlock and ideological trench warfare have kept that from happening. Schools have been cutting budgets for 30 years. We just had two ballot measures to raise some taxes. They passed, but they were no solutions because they pit one Oregonian against another. Victors cheered, "We won." They are naive.

The new measures will not take effect without effect. There will almost certainly be consequences unforeseen. They may not be in our liong-term interest. Two folks who followed the trends in the lead-up to the vote had this to say:

Cautious consumers and a weak housing market will slow the economic recovery and curb the growth of state revenues. Federal stimulus dollars will be replaced with spending freezes. Big losses in the stock market will translate into higher costs for the public pension system. Put this all together, and the 2011-13 budget will prove a heavy lift. And if we don't get health care inflation under control, the rest of the deacde looks just as bleak.

Health care inflation...

Next time you sit down to coffee with someone, just lay those three words out and see what happens. Nothing else, just those three words: health care inflation.

Maybe if we could start talking about health care inflation instead of all of the explosive terms below:

socialized medicine
government-run health care
big government
welfare state
nanny state
death panels . . .

. . . maybe we could actually find more of ourselves, this "one nation under God, indivisible," actually on the same page. Or at least in the same book or the same library.

I occasionally swap comments with Elizabeth Hovde who writes commentary for The Oregonian newspaper. She describes herself as a right-of-center person. She's not an employee but an independent contractor. So she buys her own health insurance. She shared last week that she had just been slapped with another annual premium increase: 20 percent. To make ends meet, she'll have to shop for, as she put it, even thinner coverage and higher deductibles. This buys her a year of paying more for less than she had last year.

I don't want uncontrolled health care inflation, the most insidious job-killing tax I know, to kill any more jobs or further cripple this country. And by the way, tort reform and greatly reducing medical malpractice awards would only change the picture of total health care costs in our country by about .005 of what we spend, 1/2 percent. I also don't want rampant health care inflation to simply be papered over by subsidizing it, by playing fiscal shell games that obscure it. We can't simply default on this.

So, OK, Ms. Palin--and anyone else out there who would lead us--whatcha gonna do about health care inflation that really gets the job done? You don't get off by just presenting yourself as "Not Mr. Hopey-Changey".

Meanwhile, my fellow Americans, do we ourselves know enough about the true costs, the true implications and the true choices? Do we have enough solid information to justify the strength of our opinions?

Or are we just living in hopey-changey land ourselves, convinced that if another political party had all the votes happy days would be here again and everything would be just the same? Only different...

Oh, and I wonder this. Does the Palin family now buy health insurance on the open market? If so, what does it cost them? How's health care inflation workin' out for ya?

If you have an answer, write back.

Meanwhile, instead of thinking about all the Molotov cocktail words that divide us and have brought us to a standstill, maybe we could all try thinking and talking about health care inflation.

Like the artist who wrote the word on the Steel Bridge, we could


We could,


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