Healthy debate

Two headlines from the Drudge Report illustrate the use of carrot and stick.  The first link describes what happens when you do get with the program, the second describes the outcome when you don’t.

  1. Firms with Obama ties profit from health push
  2. Insurers Fear Probe By House Dems Is Reprisal for Opposing Part of Obama’s Plan

Well it’s politics, right?  Politics is about making deals and that means positive and negative payoffs. But the really amazing thing is how health care has turned into a kind of vortex into which the energies of the opposing sides are being sucked. The story on reprisals really illustrates to what extent politicians will go in order to “reform” health care debate or keep it from being “reformed”. Who knew they cared so much?

In a move some fear is a reprisal for opposing President Obama’s health care plan, Democrats sent 52 letters to health insurers requesting financial records for a House committee’s investigation. Reps. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., and Bart Stupak, D-Mich., sent a letter warning health insurers that the House Energy and Commerce Committee is “examining executive compensation and other business practices of the health industry.”

Why is the “health care” issue so important?  One possibility is because it has become the locus of a meeting engagement by two opposed forces whose differences have been building.  On the May 31, 1916 two huge dreadnought fleets who had long been seeking each other blundered around off Jutland ineffectually trying to come to grips. In fact, their scouting screens were just out sight of each other. Had luck been otherwise, both forces would have missed each other completely. Then fate took a hand. A single neutral steamship split the distance between the two opposing cruiser screens. The British Grand Fleet sent two vessels to investigate. So did the German High Seas Fleet. They ran into each other and pulled the rest of their fleets after them. The insignificant Danish steamer NJ Fjord had started the Battle of Jutland.


On the afternoon of 31 May the British battlecruisers, under Beatty, were on a course that at 4.30 PM would take them 20 miles ahead of the German Battlefleet and 40 miles astern of their battlecruisers. Fortunately, for Beatty, the Danish steamer N.J.Fjord was steaming between the cruiser screens of both battlecruiser fleets. At 2.00 PM the Elbing sighted her and sent B109 and B110 to investigate. Galatea and Phaeton also went to investigate. At 3.20 PM Galatea signalled “Enemy in sight” and eight minutes later the British light cruisers opened fire.

The health care debate is important in itself. But like the NJ Fjord, perhaps its main significance is that it is pulling the opposing sides into a vortex around which their fates will swirl.

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