Friday, October 5, 2012


Mitt Romney tried hard and shamelessly to (excuse the expression) resurrect the “death panel” straw man of the healthcare debate.  During Wednesday’s debate he listed things he objects to in the Affordable Care Act.  Third among them, he said, “it puts in place an unelected board that's going to tell people ultimately what kind of treatments they can have. I don't like that idea”.  “Unelected” board, as if that is anything unusual in governance, public or private.  Leaders are elected by the people or, for corporations, by shareholders and boards.  There are very few elected officials in this or any other country and they personally manage — almost nothing.  It is the unelected, those appointed by a leader or her/his appointees who have the run of things and, by necessity, hold sway over our lives.

Policeman can make life or death decisions.  They do so as unelected officials as do our fighting forces and the myriad of public servants who work for government.  Can any one say with a straight face that key insurance coverage decisions (public and private) aren’t made every day by unelected officials?  Who do you think turns down that elective (and sometimes not so elective) surgery or procedure?  Who determines pre-existing conditions?  Unelected officials of course.

So any illusion to death panels — and we all can read Romney’s "unelected" euphemism — is noting more than misinformation.  Any invoking of unelected officials, as if that were anything new or not totally necessary, is disingenuous to say the least.  To some degree, this playing with words, this misleading sloganeering has become endemic in our political campaigns, and to some degree always has been.  It reflects our worse side not merely because it is wrong but because it is so inaccurate, superficial, and simplistic.  We complain, and rightly so, that the American electorate is generally uninformed.  Some people characterize it as ignorant, but I think that’s hyperbolic.  Uninformed is quite bad enough.  Sadly, it is our elected officials or those seeking election who are prime culprits in assigning blame for this state of things.  Yes Mr. Romney, largely elected officials are ultimately at fault.

Part of leading a large enterprise responsibly is to inform, and yes to educate, those who follow whether citizens or co-workers.  We like to call that transparency and it is exactly the opposite of what we hear on the campaign trail.  There opaqueness and spin carry the day and do so to all of our detriment.  Talking about the unelected, those who in fact do the heavy lifting in our society, as if they are somehow engaged in an abuse of power is, beyond all else, demeaning if not insulting.  In fact, if you want to know who the 99% are, look no further.  They and we are just doing our jobs and trying to do them well.  The gold spoon guys may have a hard time understanding that, but we shouldn’t — and we shouldn't let ourselves be so misled.

I call them Transcenders.  To brand them nonbelievers is to assume religion and its particular belief system the human default.  Worse it suggests that those who have left religion behind lack beliefs.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  For more read my book.

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