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Show-Me Health Care Outing: A Newt Experience

Posted by on July 29, 2009

[This post was originally written for my employer’s blog, Show-Me Daily.]

This morning, six employees of the Show-Me Institute and one of our regular book club attendees found ourselves among 200 other guests at the futureFOCUS 2009 seminar, which featured a presentation from former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. He made some excellent points that I can only agree with on the topic of health care, including: The public option is likely ill-considered; taxes should be lowered across the board so that individuals will have more money to buy their own health care; and, the present level of bureaucracy is to blame for much of the present cost of health care. He also pointed out that the Canadian system currently does not cover a number of conditions, for which many Canadians cross the border to get treatment; if we adopt a system similar to Canada’s, where will those people go?

Gingrich made one point I did not agree with. After pointing out that the progression of technology will afford new avenues for medical care and scientific progress, he used that as an opportunity to advocate a federally funded project that would study the brain using the latest technology, similar to the Human Genome Project or the Manhattan Project.

Overall, Gingrich was an incredible speaker, and the hour just flew by. During the Q&A, one audience member indicated his disappointment at the lack of outrage at some of President Barack Obama’s proposals. He asked, “Do you have any outrage?” Gingrich waited several beats before responding, and ultimately indicated that, yes, it’s easy to get outraged, but then you’re exhausted and you may not accomplish what you want. It’s better to remain level-headed, slow down the debate, and point out anything false stated by your opponents with calm reason.

This reminded me of a blog post I read awhile back about how anger and emotionality in politics is adaptive. It made sense for our ancestors to get excited about policy decisions, because it could literally mean life and death for the tribe. As modern individuals with the benefit of self-analysis and better reason, however, it is incumbent upon us to follow Gingrich’s great advice and make every effort to withhold anger, instead letting cooler heads prevail. It makes sense that a veteran politician would have learned this lesson already, but it was still impressive to see him articulate it so clearly.

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