Thursday, February 25, 2010

Nature's Rules

The Crane Technique

Most people remember Mr. Miyagi for his famous "wax on, wax off" training method, but the Karate master gave Daniel-san lots of sage wisdom about all facets of life in The Karate Kid, including one gem that has particular relevance to yesterday's Health Care Summit. You see Daniel was always in a rush to learn, and even though he had barely grasped the basics of how to throw a punch, Daniel immediately asked to be taught the advanced Crane technique when he saw Mr. Miyagi performing it on the beach. In response, Mr. Miyagi chuckled and admonished him, "First learn stand, then learn fly. Nature rule Daniel-san, not mine."

Like Daniel, President Obama and the Democrats are perpetually in a rush to do everything, and they always want to do the biggest thing they can. Yesterday at the Health Care Summit, the President once again reiterated his resistance to smaller and more incremental steps towards health care reform by saying, "baby steps don't get you to the place where people need to go."

What the President does not realize is that government is barely capable of standing up straight without falling on its face, nevermind taking baby steps, particularly now that it is drunk on spending. When it does manage to get moving, it does so with all the grace of a tranquilized elephant, stumbling around stepping on people and crashing into things. Thus, trying to do anything at any speed greater than baby steps is most likely going to result in pain and suffering for everyone along the way to the destination, provided one can even get there.

Unlike the President, most Americans understand life from Miyagi's point of view. They recognize that big sweeping reform rarely works out well because the more that changes, the more difficult it is to control those changes. More importantly, it can become impossible to account for and adjust to the unexpected consequences of those changes. This is a simple fact of existence.

It is, as Miyagi says, nature's rule, not ours, and it cannot be simply wished away because we have an emotional reaction to sad stories of people who have had health care nightmares. The President can spend another seven hours telling health care horror stories, but that will not change the fact that we cannot simply sprout wings and fly off into the sunset. Trying to move with leaps and bounds when one can barely stand up straight is only going to result in a splitting headache and a bloody nose as face unexpectedly meets pavement.

Further, the President does not seem to grasp that while we stand there holding a bag of ice to our head, those people whom we so desire to help are still left out in the cold, and, if the injury is a broken leg instead of a mild concussion, we will be completely incapable of helping anyone. Indeed, this has been demonstrated extremely well by the last six months of complete gridlock in Congress as it fights over the health care issue to the detriment of every other challenge facing the nation.

How much more progress could have been made in the last six months if Democrats had focused on targeted, simple reforms upon which everyone could agree? Removal of restrictions against buying insurance across state lines. Health savings accounts. Tax cuts and breaks. All things that almost everyone could support if they're truly willing to put aside partisan divides. All things that could have immediate and positive effects.

Instead of taking small, careful steps like these to assist people, the President is content to continue flapping his arms in a futile attempt to fly, only to repeatedly fall on his face. One can only wonder how many more of these painful face-plants President Obama will have to endure before he realizes that while baby steps may not be as fast or as grandiose as a superhero-style flying rescue, they will at least be progress in the right direction and come with far fewer injuries...