The Occasional Perspective - 1/11/22

Opinions and Reflections 

The Missed Opportunities from Misdirection, Misinformation and Missing Polity – Much has been said, conveyed, shouted, and yelled in the last couple of years here in the United States due in part to our growing frustration with the state of the pandemic but – more ominously – due to the frustration emanating from our social discourse. Major issues are facing our nation that extends far beyond conflicts with the Soviet Union, China, and any other World-Power-Wannabe. While the geopolitical climate is important, it too frequently has distracted our focus as a nation on other equally important societal as well as national priorities.

For starters, it is safe to claim (or, at least I will claim it) that Climate Change is an existential crisis but it rarely makes the front page or a mention on the news unless it causes death and dismemberment from some storm. Despite its importance, Immigration Reform has been pushed out of the dialogue almost entirely and will likely not reappear until another 100,000 people find themselves living in tents at the borders. But, that topic mostly likely die out again (and again) when the tents are taken down. Voting Rights is a major issue that will – in effect – determine how the polity will work in the coming years. An option is on the table in the U.S. Congress. Is it receiving the attention it deserves? Health Care Reform – my favorite topic now for nearly half a century – only is mentioned on a quadrennial basis when political elections are heating up. The issue touches the lives of almost every person residing in the USA. The cost of health care services, the profits in certain sectors (e.g. pharmaceutical, devices, etc.), and the fragility of the system as a result of the pandemic are legitimate public concerns. And, the list goes on…

Yet, these important societal concerns along with others that I’m sure you can put on the table are not getting the attention they deserve! Why? It seems that our lack of effective discourse is because of the “missing polity”. We do not seem to have – at the moment – “an identifiable political entity or group of people who hold a collective identity” and who are organized through “institutionalized social relations” to “mobilize resources”[1]. I have felt for decades that the resolution to society’s problems does not reside at the extremes but “in the middle”. And, coming to a resolution in the middle requires dialogue, discussion, debate, give-and-take, and meeting the needs of the greater good which is sometimes met left-of-center and at other times right-of-center.

We elect our leaders for purposes of leadership. Yet, it seems that far too many of them are focused on power. Do we want to see the unwinding of one of the greatest nations in history; in fact, the greatest example of a true democracy? I shared with my Associate Editor the other day that we have lived through the “Golden Years” of American democracy. Then, I turned on the morning television with Smerconish who was discussing the possibility of a new American civil war! Ironically, the Republicans believed that it was possible by a margin of 53% versus the Democrats with a margin of 47%. Those numbers are close…too close.  I – for one – would like to see those Golden Years extended.

One of my very best friends from college and beyond came to visit me recently. We are at opposite political extremes from one another. Yet, we talked, we debated, we laughed (a lot) and we walked away from one another with a warm embrace. Effective “polity” requires that type of working relationship. The source of our disagreements was “misinformation” and arguing over whose information was more accurate, and then – demonstrating it!! But, as rational people, we were able to traverse through the bramble bushes of misinformation to get at the truth. By engaging in that form of dialogue, discussion, and debate; we were allowed the opportunity to at least come to a mutual understanding even though we continued to disagree on certain points. Such a result is the effective foundation for a polity designed for solving problems.

So now, this missive comes full circle. While I’m deeply concerned about climate change, immigration reform, and voting rights – I’ll take on health care, mostly because it’s something I know a bit more about. We have a slow-moving crash beginning to occur with our societal obligations in health care. The aging demographic of the American population will crush the economic capacity of the USA in the coming two decades if we do not address our model of care! And, I learned a long time ago to “…follow the money.” We need to start with where the money trail takes us if we are going to effective at transforming our care delivery models.

Forcing payments into “15-minute” increments for “doing things” to people is not an effective care delivery strategy. The entire approach needs to be re-evaluated along the lines of a value focus and it cannot happen in small increments. A wholesale move toward a societal-wide approach to value-oriented care delivery is essential. By moving in that direction with Medicare and Medicaid, other insurance systems will no doubt quickly follow. That has been the lesson of the last 50 years. This is the type of problem that absolutely requires dialogue, discussion, and debate from all points of view. And, I predict – the answer will be found in the middle. If we miss this opportunity at this important time in history, we will be remembered as the generation that brought down “the shining light on the hill” called America. The solution to our Missing Polity starts with managing Misinformation that begets Misdirection so that we don’t create Missed Opportunities.

And, finally, there are The Distractions Derived from the Discussions on the Metaverse – but, I leave that for another day. It is another one of those issues; however, that will require meeting in the middle – if we want to have a societal approach for managing the new, new world we live in… 

[1] SOURCE: Elements of the definition provided by Wikipedia:,a%20capacity%20to%20mobilize%20resources.

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