The Ignorant Armies

There are two conflicting views of how the PPACA wil play out. One of the views, which you will hear from the White House, from the New York Times and most other major media outlets, and from, probably, most Democrats is that it will all work out. The problems with the portal,, will be worked out. The missteps will be corrected and become fewer and fewer over time. The PPACA will prove to be an enormous improvement over the healthcare insurance situation that prevailed before it, Americans will be very happy with it, and it will become an indispensable part of the political and social fabric. Criticism is just crazy talk.

Today I stumbled across what I think is a very succinct expression of the opposite view at a blog called “And Still I Persist…”. Here’s the meat of it:

I believe that over the next several weeks, the ‘cold equations’ of Obamacare as it actually exists and is currently implemented – as opposed to the magic thinking version on the Left — are going to lead to more and more unavoidable disasters — train wrecks, in the metaphor that Jim Geraghty has been using since before went live. Vastly more Americans will have both their bank accounts and their personal health damaged than those that will benefit under Obamacare.

This did not need to happen. There have been multiple points all the way back to 2009 when a different course could have been pursued, one founded in reality-based reasoning about math, software, and social change. Instead, we are witnessing the mother of all train wrecks.

but I recommend you read the whole thing.

I don’t honestly know which of those views (or something in between) will actually happen. As I’ve been saying for some time we’ll know in due course.

9 comments… add one
  • steve

    The guy left the Dem party and joined the GOP in 2008 out of disgust. IOW, he left to go vote for Palin and McCain. Some guy who thinks GOP policy in the 2000s is the bees knees is not to be taken seriously.

    As to his particulars, I dont think anyone would disagree the website was awful. He writes books on why IT fails. People have been writing those books for years. Meh. I dont expect any software to work well at first. He also advocates for an incremental approach to health care reform. One can make a good case that incremental will not work. Too many pieces depend upon other pieces. I think it telling that no state has really tried to take that approach, and that most of the individual pieces advocated in these approaches have failed in the past.


  • ...

    Some guy who thinks GOP policy in the 2000s is the bees knees is not to be taken seriously.

    Coming from a guy that thinks that Obama has been a good President and that ObamaCare ios a great leap forward, that comment is fucking priceless.

  • steve

    … You could at least represent my views accurately. I have clearly stated the ACA is a mediocre reform. It just happens to be the only reform we were going to see, and it is a step to better reform, if we so choose.


  • PD Shaw

    I like the blogger’s penchant for titles, but “the single largest and most catastrophic government policy failure in US history” is no small claim. I’ll stand somewhere in the middle btw/ the denialists and the Chicken Littles.

    In “The Meat Garden” by Craig Padawer, an army platoon leader is undermined by new technology:

    THEY HUMPED IT OVER metal hills and down through tortured valleys of scrap and smoking slag. For two days, Pilorus had been bitching about how he was swelling inside his suit. His tongue grew so thick that the grunts couldn’t understand what he was saying anymore–but it didn’t matter: they’d been hearing it for days. By late afternoon he was having trouble breathing, lagging badly behind the column so that Wally had to keep falling back to push him along. That night, in their trench, while he tried to eat a can of peaches, something broke inside his throat. And then the thing happened to his hands. It was awful and beautiful and later Wally would feel guilty at the way he’d just sat there, watching in fascination as Pilorus went through those hard changes. The hardest changes Wally had ever seen, until the Consolidation came along and rewrote the rules.

    Toward the end, his head burst in a blizzard of seeds that hung in the lamplight and drifted slowly to the ground like a tiny division of poison paratroopers. Only then did Wally reach for his mask and scuttle out of the trench.

    I’ve soured on the platoon leader and am tired of hearing his self-interested speechifying, but I’m fascinated by the creative process of destruction and finding out what comes next, and feel guilty at the same time.

  • Zachriel

    steve: As to his particulars, I dont think anyone would disagree the website was awful.

    It’s an interesting analogy, comparing law to computer software, but the analogy just doesn’t work. Laws typically include provisions that are meant to be interpreted by social institutions, giving them much greater flexibility in implementation than software.

    This seems to be the author’s overall view on the healthcare law:

    He is right that incremental change is preferred, but the nature of U.S. politics means it can be difficult to sustain reform over longer periods of time if it requires consistent course adjustments by Congress. Obamacare is a large step, but not a complete restructuring, leaving insurance and provision of care in private hands, and enacting its various provisions over time.

  • jan

    The repeated efforts by the Obama Administration and its defenders to characterize the unfolding multi-faceted disaster that Obamacare is as a few “glitches” or ‘bumps” truly leaves one wondering: are they really that stupid, or do they simply think or hope we are? In the midst of their happy-talk about “surging” enrollment, they can’t, or won’t, identify how many of the “applications” have actually been completed, paid for, and recognized by the target insurance company as active, legally binding health coverage policies

    “Honesty” attracts people. Dishonesty repels them. That’s what is happening with not only the IT roll-out of Obamacare, but also the almost daily discoveries of misleading information, lies, obfuscation that all encompass the very core of the PPACA. However, considering the mismanagement signature of this administration — one beleaguered by an undertow of passive-aggressive behaviors — how can one expect anything different! Their appearances of cooperation are corrupted by how they do business with their opponents — unilateral decisions, foot-dragging in congressional hearings, blacked-out documents, and more recently the activation of the nuclear option to scuttle annoying objections to their judicial nominees. It’s one of those scenarios of, “If the shoe were on the other foot, how the dems would howl.”

    However, for every action there is a reaction, and it has been noted that millennials are especially off-putted by the conduct of the Obama Administration. The exalted promises of more transparency, less political polarization, warding off lobbyists or the participation of in-house cronyism — it’s been nothing but fool’s gold. Blame is then conveniently dusted off onto a Congressional body having only a fraction of leverage, as compared to the combined power of the WH with the democratically controlled Senate. Nonetheless, no matter how they want to deflect their inadequacies and mistakes onto others, I believe people are finally acknowledging whose hands are on America’s rudder, and they don’t like where they are being taken.

  • The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that you’ve got it made.

  • PD Shaw

    Zachriel, I agree that there are limitations to comparing legislation to computer programming, but I think it would be nice if lawmakers thought a little bit in terms of programming or logic, perhaps doodling a simple Venn diagram or decision tree once in a while.

  • I think it would be nice if lawmakers thought a little bit full stop.

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