Thursday, August 20, 2009

OK, that wasn't my finest hour, or four hours as it turned out.

Upon reflection I remembered that I had the evening shift today, so I could make that "public forum" Sen. Casey was holding in Lock Haven. I took the shortest route from Bellefonte to Lock Haven, only to find out the bridge on Rt. 150 between Mill Hall and Lock Haven was closed. That took a heck of a lot of searching around to find an alternate route - I'm not that familiar with Clinton County. I eventually found my way to the hall - a small-to-mid-size auditorium on the campus of Lock Haven University.

I got there about 8 AM, with the doors to open at 8:45, in expectation of a line. Instead, I found a small gaggle of aging and potbellied AFSCME members in t-shirts with armfuls of posters: "In America, Health Care Should be A Right" or something like that. A few actual people showed up, but there was never more than a hundred or so throughout the event, including staffers, press, activists, union members, and uniformed security. Pretty much a bust, but that's the kind of turnout you get when your advance notice is an email twenty-some hours before the event, and a small notice in the local paper. Who the heck reads the Lock Haven Express outside of southern Clinton County?

The senator wasn't there when it was time to start, so they hemmed and hawed and eventually put on his advance man & the "panel" of hard-luck storytellers who were supposed to soften us up & get us all weepy and open-pocketed. Did I ever mention how much I hate emotional blackmail? Even if it comes in the package of a somewhat young, attractive woman with a husband with Lou Gehrig's Disease. Hard cases make for bad law, and that goes double for health care law. Nerts to that.

It turned out that the senator had foolishly flown from Scranton to Lock Haven, only to find out that fog had socked in the field at Lock Haven. They wasted time and fuel circling, and eventually landed in Williamsport & drove to the event from there. They would have made better time if they had just driven from Scranton. Fools.

I hadn't realized how tall Casey is. He's thinner and taller than I'd expected. He's apparently on the Senate Health Committee, and is miserably proud of his bill. It's possible it's a radically different bill than the 1200-page House version which has been making the rounds, the binder he brandished didn't look nearly big enough to hold the House version. From what the man said over an hour of allegedly random questions from the audience, it's blindingly obvious that he doesn't take the CBO seriously, and has little to no understanding of economics, supply and demand, or basic cause and effect. He's not pushing single-payer like Specter is, but I think he's owned the current version of the bill more than Specter. Casey is unpersuadable, because he's invested in his pixy-dust fantasies of free health care, and apparently has a case of cognitive dissonance when it comes to the contradiction between cutting costs & expanding coverage.

I was a lot more quiet than I was last time with Specter, because the questions submitted before the senator arrived & the format suggested that there was at least a chance of my question coming up. Also, the room wasn't simpatico to my sentiments, and context is important, I guess. I did say some things, and caught a couple glares from the guy a couple rows ahead of me. Eventually, things had gotten too late for me to justify blowing off work, and I was starting to get mentally out the door.

That's when the senator started bragging about how wonderful Geisinger Health System was, how it was such a model of efficiency and effective cost-cutting, and how his bill had taken a bunch of lessons from Geisinger & was going to force those lessons on the rest of the industry. I got madder the longer I thought about that. If this private concern had done so well in fashioning solutions under the current system - why the hell shouldn't we just let Geisinger & their private imitators proceed? Why shouldn't we let the profit incentive give those innovators the success their innovations offer - lower costs, better service, popularity in the market? Senator Casey doesn't seem to conceive of a large-scale success which isn't predicated upon extensive intervention by the government.

Then some idiot started waxing poetic about the wonders of Canadian socialized medicine & how his wife's experience in a Montreal emergency room refuted all claims of rationing - this in response to a guy who said he had family in Canada & was worried about importing that model somewhere down the line. And the crowd of aging leftist sheep loudly approved the old fool's meaningless anecdote with a round of enthusiastic applause.

That was it.
I stormed out.
And not quietly, I sadly confess.

I'm ashamed of my behavior. Not that Casey doesn't deserve disrespect - he's a callow, ignorant empty suit who is where he is solely by family connection. But I should have just left, without loudly telling him to enjoy his echo chamber. It was... unproductive.

BTW, this analysis of the House version of the bill is a significant part of why I'm pissed about the prospect of passage today.

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