July 30, 2008
It Can't Get Any Worse?By David Bueche
Idling behind a Lexus this morning I saw the latest bit of agitprop from the Obama campaign -- a "Got Hope?" bumper sticker. The first question that popped into my mind was, "How bad can it be if you're driving an ES 350?"
It seems that the racially polarized, economically dysfunctional country our Obama supporter is so keen to change has treated him pretty well. Maybe he's in it for the other guys. You know - the 95% who keep making their mortgage payments on time, the record breaking numbers of college graduates, the millions of Americans who consume Ipods, flat screen TVs or hundreds of other accoutrements of a society so wealthy it has no historical parallel.
I hate to burst the dystopian bubble the Leftists have persistently inflated during the nightmare known as The Bush Administration, but people have never had better food, medicine and housing than they do at this very moment. A typical home in America today has central heat and air, the cheapest car is a paragon of safety and efficiency compared with its ancestors, and people are routinely treated for, and survive, conditions which were fatal less than half a century ago.
Yes I'm aware that there's a mortgage crisis -- if by crisis you mean a lot of people buying houses way beyond their means while a sub-set of financially myopic lenders goaded them on. But looked at another way, for those of us who didn't drink the Kool-Aid and purchase radically overpriced real estate so we could use the equity to finance trips to Vegas, what's so horrible about falling home prices? For many, when speaking of housing, couldn't we reasonably substitute the word "consequences" for "crisis"?
Yes I'm aware there's an insurance coverage crisis -- not medical access, (which is available to anyone who presents themselves in a emergency room), or quality, (which no one really debates is still the benchmark for the world) But I do find it puzzling that the majority of the people you see in public emergency rooms can somehow afford cell phones and top of the line running shoes.
As a matter of fact, the U.S. Census bureau estimates that 20% of the uninsured can actually afford insurance, and another 25% are eligible for government coverage, bringing the estimated total of 47 million uninsured down to 26 million. An issue to be worked on, most definitely. But a county that current does, or can, provide access to the best health care in the world for 91% of its population, (including a large percentage of non-citizens who significantly skew the statistics), is, by definition, not a country with a health care crisis.
As to the issue of food, do you know what the food crisis looked like in the early twentieth century? It looked like a lot of very thin, hungry people. No talk of banning trans-fats I can assure you. As Greg Easterbrook points out in "The Progress Paradox", if you traveled back in time and spoke to your not so distant relatives about the crisis of obesity in poor people, they would be completely confused because in their day being poor meant going hungry. If there is any crisis surrounding food in the United States it is the result of incredible prosperity and abundance; all in all, not a bad problem to have.
When you look at these "big picture" issues you can generally divide society into two opposing worldviews; the romantic and the tragic.
The romantic looks at the United States, compares it to perfection, finds it wanting, and demands that we start over from scratch. Arguments for moderation and caution are dismissed as greed or indifference. "Obviously anyone who can accept the wretched state of healthcare in this country is an idiot or a monster".
Romantics are generally the ones you see with the communist-inspired art advocating one word solutions like Hope or Change. It doesn't get much more transparent, (or vacuous), than that.
The tragic perspective takes exactly the opposite approach. Instead of saying, "What a mess, how can I make this better?", the response is something like, "Thank God this works so well, lets be careful not to screw it up!"
And when you think about it, there's a hell of a lot we can all be thankful for.
Thank God I was born here and not in North Korea. Thank God I've never seen a tank come rolling into my town. Thank God there's so much to eat, and so many jobs, such access to information, and on and on.
There are many things, even in our "crisis" areas that work very well in the United States of America. This is not pre-ordained.
It's perfectly possible for self-righteous, naïve idealists to destroy an excellent system in the process of "improving" it. Anyone who doubts me should take some time and read up on the imposition of socialism to British healthcare. How about Stalin and collective farming, Mao's Great Leap Forward, and Pol Pot? Don't even get me started on the Schwarzenegger Administration...
Even though liberals like to see themselves as the thinking man's alternative, anyone with moderate intelligence and the willingness to do even minimal research will inevitable conclude that there is much, much, more right than wrong about present-day America. The glass is, most assuredly, well more than halfway full.
Next time you feel hopeless and swept up in an emotional desire for change remember the ultimate conceit in the words - "It can't get any worse".
Trust me: it can.
David Bueche blogs regularly at Compassionate Warmonger.