Mac McPhail Contributing columnist
October 20, 2013
“I’ll check with Dale and see what he thinks about it.” That was the case for me many times over the years before the death of my friend, Dale Denning, last year. A situation would come up, especially a financial one, and I would check with Dale to see what he thought about it. I wasn’t the only one. Several people have told me since his death that if they were unsure about a financial, business, or just an everyday situation, they often would “run it by Dale” and get his opinion.
Dale was one of those people who could look at a problem and come up with a way to handle it you never thought of. Usually it would be simple and uncomplicated. It would be one of those “why didn’t I think of that” solutions. Dale had years of experience and study as a CPA. But he also soaked up information from other areas and was inquisitive about the world around him. All that mixed with a lot of Sampson County common sense and you had someone to turn to for advice when you needed it.
I suppose you can say Dale had wisdom. I recently heard wisdom defined as “knowing the best possible way to get the best possible result.” It’s the common sense combination of knowledge and experience. We’ve all known people who have a vast amount of knowledge, but not much experience. We’ve all known people who have been around a long time, but haven’t bothered to learn much. And we seldom turn to either for advice.
I was reminded of that definition of wisdom by the actions of our politicians in Washington during the recent government shutdown. If wisdom is knowing the best possible way to get the best possible result, then what do you call doing the worst possible way to get the worst possible result? Whatever it is, what has took place in Washington the past couple of weeks is it. While the Democrats have nothing to be proud of during the fiasco of the shutdown, the Washington Republican lawmakers have even less.
The conservative Republican plan to defund the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, is understandable. Even a few conservative Democrats, including our congressman, Mike McIntyre, went along with the effort. The plan to at least delay the implementation of the individual mandate for a year, as was done by the Obama administration for businesses, would have been a wise compromise. This is evident already, as shown by the lack of individuals signing up and the difficulty they are having even if they do choose to apply. But all attempts to defund or delay were defeated or threatened with veto by President Obama. This was despite the threat of a government shutdown if an agreement wasn’t reached on a continuing resolution to keep the federal government operating.
It was wise to try to attempt to defund, or at least delay, Obamacare. The law, in the long run, will not be good for healthcare in America, or the American economy. But when it became obvious that President Obama and his Democratic backers would not give an inch on Obamacare, even if there was a government shutdown, it was time to go ahead and vote for the continuing resolution to keep the government running. Even though you failed in the attempt, the public will know where every politician stands. This can be important in future elections, once the impact of the law becomes more apparent to voters. While certainly not achieving the desired goal, this would have been the best possible way and would have achieved the best possible result for those in Congress who oppose the Affordable Care Act. In other words, it would have been the wise thing to do.
But how many times have you heard the word, “wise,” used in reference to Washington politicians? So Senator Ted Cruz and the Tea Party Republicans continued the fight, which led to the government shutdown, which angered most of the voting public, and grabbing the headlines. Overshadowed by the shutdown drama, the signup for the Obamacare individual mandate started, and has become the mess that was predicted by many. But the polls have shown that the approval of Obamacare has actually gone up the past couple of weeks, primarily as a negative reaction to the shutdown, not for the law itself. So the actions of those who say they are so opposed to the law are, in reality, aiding its implementation. Gee, thanks, Senator Cruz and friends.
In the meantime, rather than handling our country’s budget and debt problem in a responsible manner, Congress and the President are going to kick the can down the road once again for a few more months. Then the drama will start all over again. That is not wise. But this should be no surprise since you are talking about Washington politicians.