If It Ain’t Broke…

Reform is a word that has long been the bitter pill of society and politics.  It has three forms: verb, noun and adjective and how it is used makes a bit of difference.  In its verb form, it means to “make changes in something (typically a social, political, or economic institution or practice) in order to improve it.”  The very concept is based on the need to change something, which is predicated upon the idea that something is substandard or needs to be improved.  There are two camps in the change debate: those who think that everything can be and should be constantly improved and those who subscribe to the maxim “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  Given these competing notions, the real question seems to be how one decides what needs to be reformed, what would constitute improvement and more importantly how should the improvements be implemented.
In the health care debate, people from across the political spectrum uniformly acknowledged that the system was far from perfect and that improvement was necessary.  The debate ignited over what the reformed system would look like.  Unfortunately for most Americans, the democrats put forth a plan that was impractical and based on the incorrect assumption that health care is a right afforded by the constitution.  They refused to enter into discussions of any plan that did not provide coverage for every person regardless of ability to pay.  This is indicative of the real problem with reform.  The democrats had a different idea of reform than the republicans.
In the immigration debate, again the democrats and republicans are looking at the issue for different perspectives.  Both parties acknowledge that the current system is ineffective and inefficient and needs to be overhauled.  The difference is that democrats seem to think that anyone who wishes to live in our great nation should be able to do so with no barriers or borders while republicans want to maintain border security.
In the great Cohen brothers’ film “O Brother Where Art Thou?” Charles Durning is running for reelection and bemoaning the success of his opponent’s reform platform.  One of his campaign managers suggests that he “get some of that reform too.”  The media loves reform.  Society screams for reform, particularly when the incumbent administration is unpopular.  But as we learned with Obama’s “Hope and Change” reform platform in ’08, reform only works when there is a logical and well-considered plan for what needs to be changed and how it should be changed.  Without specific steps in an organized plan, reform may only serve to make matters worse, or possibly bring things to a grinding halt as we have seen in this administration.
These are not novel ideas.  They are an integral part of project management, one of the most besought careers today.  Problem analysis is supposed to lead to a project roadmap that leads to specific outcomes that can be measured.  The plan is supposed to be considered, tested and approved before implementation.  Unfortunately, nothing that has come out of the current administration or the senate has passed these simple steps.  When the house tries to slow things down in order to test the plans and consider them, they are accused of stone-walling and being obstructionists.
Why the rush?  Obama wants his legacy.  He wants to go down in the history books not only as the first black president, but also as the one who made universal health care and immigration reform realities and the democrat-controlled senate is lock-step behind him.  What we should see in government is open public discourse of the issues before they are enacted.  Whatever plans the house or senate develop should be published for public review before voting.  We cannot tolerate “we have to pass this bill in order to see what’s in it” rhetoric.
When we change things without due and proper consideration, we risk creating a whole slew of new problems that could be worse that the problem they were expected to fix.  Imagine dealing with the problem of icy bridges and overpasses.  The ice is slippery and creates a lack of traction for cars that drive over.  The fix?  Put down something that creates traction.  Gravel.  Gravel would be good.  But suppose that no one considered what size gravel to use.  Or how much.  Now there is the new problem of oversized gravel being flung by the tires and breaking windshields.
Change for the sake of change is not a good thing and should be avoided like the plague.  While I am solidly in the “if it ain’t broke” camp, I do admit that health care and immigration are two broken systems.  But I advocate for a slower more thoughtful consideration of both problems before rushing to implement “fixes” that can cause more harm than good as we are seeing with the healthcare law.

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1 Comment

Filed under Media, Politics, Society

One response to “If It Ain’t Broke…

  1. You made some logical assessments here about change and reform. I agree Obama rushed into this with no thought about the negatives. His intent is to leave a legacy, not a solution to a problem. It’s absurd that one man could think that he could effectively overhaul one country’s entire healthcare system.

    If the intent was to supply affordable healthcare to those who were denied or simply could not afford it, why didn’t they establish a state or federally run health care insurance pool, – like the ones each state has for auto insurance? People who are happy with what they have could keep theirs and the rest who are left out are given a solution.

    Your post reminded me of a neighbor I once had. He was constantly tinkering with his car, whether it was broke or not. He did so much tinkering with it that he eventually screwed the whole engine up and had to scrap it at the junkyard.

    Hope and change is a good thing, but sometimes it tinkers with things that need no fixing.

    Good post.

    Like

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