If You Have a Bad Law, Enforce It

Many careers ago, I received some excellent advice from a mentor: if you have a bad law, enforce it.

His advice would have served the Republicans far better that what they actually heard though, to be fair, the mentor would have been telling the Republicans how better to serve the country not how to snarfle up campaign contributions.

Here are the tools that would have served the opponents of the Affordable Care Act the best.

If the legislative process begins by exempting three of the largest sources of expense –hospitals, group health insurers and pharmaceutical companies — from harm, chances are cost-cutting will be elusive. Unfortunately for those who favor the laudable idea that Americans don’t like the idea of their fellow citizens dying in the street, that was the price that had to be paid for the signature win and the resulting “naming opportunity.”

The rollout of healthcare.gov has…. ahhhh….. not gone well. It was a huge project on a tight deadline with countless contractors in need of coordination and political overseers who, in computer speak, don’t know a 1 from a 0. Perhaps not a stock you should buy.

Like most IT projects, trial and error will fix this one. Those who try and fail might not like the experience but their frustrations will tell the IT guys where the problems are. The website will eventually work though the economics might not.

Our healthcare system is a problem in part because it is so good. Everyone wants the best there is and that gets expensive. No villains in that story.

The villains only begin to appear when the goal of “getting the political win” overwhelms “not dying in the street.”

A worthy objective would have been better served had it been crafted by professionals rather than PR people. Opponents might have helped this objective along by using  tools readily at hand.

2 Responses to “If You Have a Bad Law, Enforce It”

Sellers, October 22, 2013 at 6:31 pm said:

Almost like Yogi’s: “when you come to a fork in the road, take it! ”
Brazilians alway talk about “leis que pega,” and “leis que nao pega.” Those laws that “don’t catch on” die from neglect or because they are simply ignored by the populace. Seems like a concept we could put to good use here as well, if it weren’t for those damned (unconstitutional) fines.


Haven Pell, October 23, 2013 at 7:44 am said:

Now there is an interesting idea. Since the NSA knows everything, it knows which laws are being ignored. When a law becomes sufficiently ignored, it could just disappear. Poof. Vaporize. Drones may be used as necessary. Sellers, this is a massive breakthrough. I can’t wait to tell Philip Howard. You are a genius.


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