Monday, March 22, 2010

Health Care Bill as High Water Mark for Sentiment

Rarely do they "ring a bell at the top" - but I think we may have just that in the form of the Health Care Bill that has just been passed.

Democrats hail landmark US healthcare bill
from the BBC
Democrats have hailed the approval of legislation extending healthcare to an additional 32 million Americans as a historic advance in social justice.

The speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi said it was comparable to the establishment of Medicare and Social Security.

The bill was passed in the House on Sunday evening by just seven votes...

...The president said that after nearly 100 years of debate and frustration, Americans finally had the assurance of universal health cover.

"We pushed back on the undue influence of special interests," he said in a statement. "We didn't give in to mistrust or to cynicism or to fear. Instead, we proved that we are still a people capable of doing big things..."

Big laws like this need mass positive sentiment to pass, in my interpretation of socionomic theory. The rebound from March of 2009 has been a nice exercise in mass societal self-delusion, as the U.S. populace has pretended to believe that TARP, TALF and the other machinations by the Treasury and Fed were not exercises in the looting of the country by the wealthy elites, but sound policy designed to stabilize the U.S. economy and establish a foundation for future growth.

This exercise in self-delusion has enabled Congress, in the face of the kind of uncertainties you expect in a corrective wave, to pass a Health Care Bill. Proponents say it is a small victory for health care justice. Pay special attention to the words emphasized in the quote above - that is straight out of the Positive Mood User's Guide. The fact that it rings hollow with a sizeable portion of the population shows that we are in a corrective phase and that we are trying to revive a mood and a sense of being that began dying a decade ago.

Opponents say it is the final march of socialsim masquerading as a boondoggle. Check out any quote from the Republican opposition for quotes straight out of the Negative Mood User's Guide.

Red vs. Blue philosophical yammerings aside, I say it is the last gasp of the optimism of 20th century Big Iron thinking - where big programs run by efficient bureaucracies spread the benefits of wealth to all levels of society. How each side chooses to filter their perception of the mass mood and project that onto events is not my concern. What is my concern is trying to use the filter of socionomics to see a bit more clearly at what this legislation means as a symbol of mass mood. I have a fairly firm idea of what it means in practice.

I think the U.S. saved comprehensive government-run/influenced health care as the last expression of the positive mood that drove the relatively benign versions of socialism that overtook Europe in the aftermath of the negative mood that gave us World War II. The governing elites grew up and had their educations shaped by the ideas and influences of the Activist State (either supporting or opposing) and in an era bereft of creative thinking in positions of power, it makes sense this type of enormously complex, top-down control type of bill would be the final philosophical battleground - with the positive mood crowd thinking the "justice" part of spreading health care around trumps the "injustice" of saddling an overly complex system of taxation and governance with what may the final great bill passed before what we'll wind up calling the Great Collapse.

The rally will soon be over. Prepared yourself. The hostility you see expressed in the arguments over health care and the polarizing nature of President Obama - and his opponents - is only getting started.


David said...

You nailed it, Michael. I had not seen this in the correct light until reading your post.

The riptides being generated by this massive corrective rally are truly a thing to behold. It's as though a game of "tug of war" is straining and static, but throngs of people are lining up to pull on one end or the other of the rope. The energy awaiting release seems like a geologic fault under fantastic stress.

Greg B said...

Somebody asked me the other day "What happens if they don't pass healthcare this time?"

And the first that came to my mind was "It depends on how this corrective wave plays out - if it turns down soon then there will not be another chance to pass the healthcare bill, but if the wave continues to meander upward or plateau then congress will have another chance at it"

But I didn't say it because it's almost impossible to explain this concept from scratch to someone.

I think you nailed it Mike, we are seeing one of the last acts of a decades long dramatic play. I'm not looking forward to the tragic conclusion to the tale.

Fortunately it's the story that never ends...

Anonymous said...


David said...

Boy, do I identify with Greg B on both points; 1) trying to explain a socionomic analytical view to someone not already immersed in it is like trying to explain "being wet" to a fish. 2) carrying his analogy, we're seeing a crescendo into the end of a 75+ year Act within a play whose curtain never falls. I think it's subjective whether the play is a tragedy or a comedy, so my view is "tragi-comedy."

Flagg707 said...

Tragicomedy indeed. It will be fascinating to watch it play out - especially in the upcoming elections.

I would think that if this rally somehow held on through the year, bouncing on a plateau, it might be big political football for both sides. If we crash, like I expect, then the arguments will still be there - we "must" provide for the vast numbers of unemployed vs. we can't afford anything - only now amplified by what will certainly be a ravenous tax authority, out to keep funds flowing at any cost and a devastated private sector.

We shall see.

David said...

I think you are spot on. This antebellum condition makes for all sorts of political and social vortices.

I remain convinced that the symptom to watch is FedGov borrowing authority and success. Since taxes have relatively little relation to federal spending, it is protection of the credit line that matters most to perpetuation of power in the district of criminals.

If we do top in the Primary 2 in the next month or two then I'd expect the rallying cry of "protect the AAA credit rating!" to surge ahead of all others. Watching that trump this last "guns & butter for all" spasm should be great theater for those of us with popcorn.