My friend and fellow political junkie Breanne Hammett posted the following observation on Facebook earlier this week:
Political Syllogism: 1. Something must be done 2. This is something 3. Therefore, this must be done
I take it Breanne is referring to the newly passed health care bill, and I found this use of a syllogism (a major premise followed by a minor premise and a conclusion) to be brilliant. It illustrates the utter stupidity of some of the arguments we’ve heard over the last year in favor of this health care legislation. In this case, both the major premise and the conclusion are faulty, and the substance of the minor premise is undefined.
As George Will has pointed out, the notion that “something must be done” wasn’t necessarily the view of the American people. It certainly wasn’t the top item in their list of national priorities. At the beginning of 2009, 85% of the American people had health insurance, and of these people who did, 95% were happy with it. Where was the compelling reason to make this an issue worth spending a year wrangling over (not to mention the two-plus trillion dollars it will really cost, the financing shell-game notwithstanding), especially at a time when jobs were being lost by the thousands, the economy tanking, and the national debt skyrocketing?
What the government passed was “something” alright, but what exactly? I suppose throwing gasoline on a fire qualifies as doing “something”, but it hardly seems like an appropriate thing to do if the idea is to put out the flames. So what does this bill do? In some respects, it’s a bit hard to say. We’re only beginning to hear about the details of some of the provisions. I suspect most of the lawmakers who voted for the bill are hearing about some of those details for the first time as well: After all, who has time to read these things anyway?
But Congress “had” to do this. They had to act; they had no choice. The President said inaction was not an option. Health care reform “must be done”. Whatever problems there might be with this bill, however flawed it might be, passing it was better than doing nothing.
16,000 new IRS employees, no cost containment or tort reform, the inevitable government control of available services (rationing), the increasing of business taxes that are already killing job creation, the increasing of capital gains taxes that will further impede investment, the individual mandate of insurance coverage, etc., etc., and we’re supposed to believe that this was the “something” that would be better than doing nothing?
Breanne’s syllogism shows us that, unfortunately, the “something” really meant “nearly anything”. No matter how foolhardy it might be.