Different Topics Merit Different Arguments

The Senate recently approved the motion to begin debate on the healthcare bill. This means that while Senators will be taking turns unanimously consenting to and then unanimously ignoring the statements of their fellow members of Congress, the rest of the country will be complaining about it.

I just wanted to take moment to point out one teeny tiny flawed argument that irritates me, like the mispronunciation of February. (Feb-roo-air-ee).

When President Obama went out on the road to pitch his plan for a national health care system, he was asked how the private insurance companies could hope to compete with a government-run insurance option. President Obama responded saying that FedEx and UPS haven’t had too much trouble running a successful business in competition with the United States Postal Service (USPS).

I think that’s a strong answer. It was quick, true and made sense.

The only bruise in that argument is that the USPS is projecting about an $8 billion budget shortfall for next year and has made drastic cuts to employee benefits and delivery options while raising fees on everything from stamps to parcels.

Now we see opponents of the healthcare plan, or the President in general, saying that the USPS is a prime example of a government run business trying to compete in the corporate world and doing so rather poorly.

Really, these are two completely different things; health insurance and the postal service. The problem isn’t that government might not be able to effectively manage the resources of the USPS and therefore would not likely be capable of overseeing a healthcare system, it’s that when Benjamin Franklin organized a postal service in this country a couple centuries ago, he didn’t have to worry about fax machines as much.

Or e-mail.

Or PDFs.

This was a guy who worked with the groundbreaking technology of the day setting type on a Gutenberg Press. Each individual character had to be placed in the correct spot. No spell check, no bold or underline.

But Dr. Franklin probably wouldn’t be too upset if he came back today and saw that we weren’t using his technology anymore. Alexander Graham Bell might be though. The guy develops an early version of the telephone allowing people to hear one another’s voice and today people are sending 140 characters of misspelled words to each other.

“Don’t you get it? I made it so you could hear voices from miles away and you would rather send tiny, meaningless chunks of badly spelled words?” Graham Bell would say.

While the postal service is suffering from the development of technology, the healthcare industry can only improve with the more advanced technology. These are two totally different animals that happen to liven in the same forest.

The point I’m making is this. We can argue about healthcare. We can argue about the United States Postal Service. We can all disagree. I only ask that we discuss one, or the other, and not both simultaneously.



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