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The Health Care Summit and its Minutes

February 25, 2010

Perhaps many people today watched the much-promoted Health Care Summit with President Obama and select members from the House and Senate and yearned for a twinkling of good old-fashioned bipartisanship – you know, the kind your gramma and grampa remember, remember? I, however, went into the meeting (i.e. watched the streaming video) with a different kind of watchful eye.

Put aside all of the big-time, specific, and important issues and concepts surrounding health care reform: public options, health care exchanges, mandates, tort reform, taxes, fines, imprisonment, constitutionality, pre-existing conditions, evil doctors lifting $20’s from your wallet while they maneuver a camera through your colon, the unscrupulous health insurers and their wicked 3% profit margins, general asininity, ad nauseum/ malarky.  Yups, I put that all aside and made a deal with myself.  The deal?

Firstly, it was widely publicized in the days leading up to today’s meeting that the conference would start at 10:00 am EST and last for 6 hours. I’m pretty good at math, so I could instantly recognize that this “summit” should end at 4 pm EST.  I poo-pooed all of the pundit’s babble of what would be discussed and if any agreements could be reached.  I simply thought, “If this group can manage to keep to the time-schedule they defined for this event (give or take 20 minutes), I would try to temper my feelings of incredulity at virtually every forward-looking statement, assumption, or prediction this gang of thieves purports.”  That simple.

The meeting today was an experiment; an internet-streamed microcosm of our nation’s leaders in an environment where everything was completely and utterly under their control: from how many chairs they had at the table, to the number of people who would be afforded an opportunity to speak, to the amount of time each speaker would be allowed.  All that they had to do was sit in a room and talk for 6 hours. Guess what? They couldn’t do it.

The President’s final closing word was uttered at 5:21 pm EST, or 81 minutes past their prescribed ending time.  Everything was completely under their control in that room and they still spent 22.5% more time than they thought they would.  Again, all they had to do was sit in a room and talk.

Is this petty?  Sure.  Is this analysis – oh, how do they say it in Great Britain? – a bit full of whimsy, waggish, and jocular?  I don’t deny it.  But could it also be slightly illustrative?  For sure.

On a not unrelated note … ever hear about the Federal Erroneous Retirement Coverage Corrections Act (FERCCA)?  This was an act of Congress to remedy the situations where federal employees were mistakenly placed in the wrong retirement system.  Not a big deal for the mistakenly placed yet still working employees.  I shouldn’t say that;  it was probably a great concern for those it impacted.  But, it’s not like it was life or death.

  1. Probitee permalink
    February 26, 2010 3:48 pm

    Do you think they got the idea for this kind of meeting format from Tiger Woods? Now there's a real role model!
    PS I am always amazed by your mathematical statistics.

  2. Biggest Fan permalink
    February 26, 2010 9:51 pm

    I don’t even know what to say. I can’t imagine them running even more of our lives 😦


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