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December 13th, 2013

Political Vaporware

This came across my Facebook stream just now…

The Heritage Uncertainty Principle

Conservative health-care-policy ideas reside in an uncertain state of quasi-existence. You can describe the policies in the abstract, sometimes even in detail, but any attempt to reproduce them in physical form will cause such proposals to disappear instantly… It’s not so much an issue of “hypocrisy,” as Klein frames it, as a deeper metaphysical question of whether conservative health-care policies actually exist.

The question should be posed to better-trained philosophical minds than my own. I would posit that conservative health-care policies do not exist in any real form. Call it the “Heritage Uncertainty Principle.”

I take the name of this principle from the emblematic example, the Heritage Foundation’s health-care plan, which formed the primary intellectual basis for conservative opposition to Democratic health-care plans. In 1993, Republican minority leader Bob Dole supported a version of it to demonstrate that Republicans did not endorse the status quo, until Democrats, facing the demise of their own plan, tried to bring up Dole’s plan, at which point Dole renounced his own plan…

In my profession we have a name for this: Vaporware. How it works is, startup company ‘A’ introduces an amazingly inventive software product that instantly attracts the attention of consumers and investors. Established company ‘B’ sees a loss of marketshare ahead, so it announces its own new product…not quite ready for the market just yet…but Real Soon Now…that will be Even Better than company ‘A’s product. This announcement has the effect of making consumers hold off buying startup company ‘A’s product while they wait for the release of company ‘B’s product at which point they will decide between them. But company ‘B’s product does not actually exist, even in alpha form, let alone pre-release beta. So startup company ‘A’ is unable to sell its product and it loses money and investors go away and eventually it goes out of business. And thus, established company ‘B’ has driven a potential threat to its dominance out of business without ever having to produce something of its own.

Eventually established company ‘B’ releases a product vastly inferior to what the now bankrupt startup would have produced, and which exists not to serve a customer need, but only to further preserve company ‘B’s market share.

Understand this: Most republican ideas exist only to prevent enactment of policies that threaten the status quo. They put these proposals out there as a way to get people to stop talking about things that actually stand a chance of being enacted and actually helping improve life for most Americans. Now…you might ask yourself why they don’t just debate the democrat’s policy initiatives seriously, in good faith, honestly, from their own political perspective. If they think Big Government is so bad, if further empowering the state over the lives of Americans is such a dangerous threat to American’s liberty, why not try to convince the voters of this in an honest, straightforward way, instead of offering up deceptive tactical proposals they don’t seriously mean?  So what if their policies aren’t popular with the voters? You can’t change their minds of you don’t give them a reason to, and you think your reasons are better than the democrat’s…right?  And better for the country to have an honest debate about the role of government than a dishonest one.

You might be asking yourself this, because you still think republicans seriously believe in Small Government, and give a good goddamn about the country. But no…small government and patriotism are just more republican political vaporware.  A party that enthusiastically believes in the right of the state to regulate the private sexual conduct of consenting adults isn’t exactly interested in getting government off the backs of the people. A party that keeps coming close to bringing the nation into default on its bonds like it doesn’t give a crap about what would happen if that happened isn’t exactly interested in putting the welfare of the nation first. No. For them to have had an honest debate over healthcare would have meant them telling the voters straight up that they are the party of plutocracy and employer based healthcare is a good way of trapping workers into into dead end low paying jobs and the poor had better die and decrease the surplus population.

Think of republican healthcare proposals not as actual proposals to improve the healthcare of Americans, but as spikes scattered across the road to better healthcare for Americans. This is actually why a lot of libertarian policies get talked up a lot too by the way.  Right wingers have found a treasure trove of useful idiots in Libertarianville and it’s why you see Tea Partiers talking up a lot of libertarian ideas about small government and “free market solutions”. Take for example the counter proposal to same-sex marriage, that government get out of the business of marriage altogether. It isn’t seriously offered, it’ll never happen, it’s vaporware designed to derail talk about same-sex marriage and discrimination against gays and get the conversation bogged down in something else.

4 Responses to “Political Vaporware”

  1. transcendtape Says:

    What of those that aren’t Republicans, and actually do believe in small government?  What of those that don’t feel there’s any justification in believing that the  ACA will accomplish that which its proponents claim: a more efficient and just distribution of healthcare?  Not all Libertarians are teabaggers.  In fact, I’d argue that by definition, a Tea Party member isn’t a Libertarian.  Anyone that claims to be a Libertarian and is opposed to same-sex marriage is either suffering from extreme cognitive dissonance or lying.  The problem is that the number of people that find it fashionable to claim to be a Libertarian vastly exceeds the number that actually agree with Libertarian ideologies.

  2. Bruce Says:

    I considered myself a libertarian back in the early to late 1970s.  I did signature gathering and poll work for the Roger MacBride campaign.  About a decade later the enthusiasm I saw for the supreme court decision in Hardwick v. Bowers started me on the road to questioning not just the party, but the foundational ideas as well.  Nowadays I identify as an FDR democrat.  But yes, a lot of people laughably claim to be libertarians.  I saw it then, I see it more than ever now.

  3. Bruce Says:

    transcendtape wrote on 2013/12/23 at 4:39am:

    “I am not writing you in protest that my previous comment wasn’t approved.  I am writing you in the possibility that my previous comment may have been misunderstood by you, as it was unnecessarily short.”

    You were fine. I was busy that’s all. Life gets that way sometimes and the blog isn’t a high priority. I’ve not posted the rest of your comment out of respect for your privacy and you said it wasn’t for publication anyway. But you were fine. The reason I have comment moderation on here is because of spam bots posting fake comments just to push the search rankings of web sites higher. I get a ton of those, no kidding.

  4. Bruce Says:

    And so you know…now that I’ve approved one comment of yours anything else you post here will go live immediately without my having to moderate it, so bear that in mind.

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