Saturday, January 9, 2010

Let Me Tell You a Joke

This health care debate has been going on for months now.  It started during the campaign, carried on throughout all of 2009, and now we're about to witness the endgame here in early 2010.  Unless we see some sort of miracle very soon, Americans are about to suffer one of the largest and most intrusive assaults on their liberty that has ever befallen this country.  Polls show that as the debate has raged on, public opinion toward big government health reform has gotten more and more negative.  And yet the Democrats relentlessly press forward, oblivious to the mood of the country.  Comedian Bill Maher shocked us when he said that Americans are stupid, and they just need to be dragged to this (health care).   The powerful elites seem to have exactly the same opinion of us.  The most recent polls show that Americans are opposed to this health care reform plan by margins as large as 34% in favor to 57% against.  The Democrats act like they don't get it.  They don't understand why they haven't been able to convince the American people that they've assembled the experts, and they know what we need.  With all of the expertise available to the Congress, why don't the American people see that the government can take over one sixth of the economy and do a better job of providing health care than the people can do for themselves?

I'm reminded of a story.  There is an old joke about a big company that decides to make a new kind of dry dog food. They spend millions on research and development.  They hire world famous veterinarians and pet nutritionists to develop the formula so they can claim that it is the healthiest dog food on the market.  The marketing department spends millions more on dog owner focus groups to figure out the most appealing shape, size and color of the nuggets, and the most attractive packaging alternatives.  It invests even more millions in advertising.  Full page glossy color ads in Time, People, and Field and Stream.  Sixty second Super Bowl spots.  Celebrity endorsements from Oprah, Paris Hilton, and the Queen of England.  Despite all this, the dog food doesn't sell. At first, the company CEO is a bit befuddled, but before long he realizes that his investment of millions of dollars in this dog food is about to go swirling down the plughole.  He gets really pissed off.  He calls a meeting of all the top executives.  He starts shouting at the R&D people.  He demands to know what kind of idiots the marketing folks have working for them, and he flat out fires the guy in charge of advertising.   "How can this happen to us after all we've invested in this project?" he demands to know.  "Why aren't they buying the dog food?"  At first no one answers.  All the suits around the table are just sitting quietly, heads down, trying to avoid eye contact.  Finally, from the back of the room, one of the junior execs from the PR Department, a young man in charge of customer satisfaction sheepishly replies, "Sir, I'm new here.  I don't have as much experience with these things as all of you do, but has anyone considered the possibility that maybe the dogs just don't like it."

This is more than just a good joke.  It is a parable.  Maybe President Obama and the Democrats in Congress should spend less time passing legislation and more time telling jokes.