Opinion Panels and Tribalism

One of the things you hear and is becoming conventional wisdom is the idea we just need to listen to each other, and that tribalism is how we verify our ideas. To me they are both bull shit. First better listening and polite dialogue, I think, is really a good idea if we had people with open minds and a definition of what a fact is. I was watching Oprah on 60 Minutes last night try to get people to understand each others concerns. And they were talking their feelings. One woman was expressing her fear of what the Republicans might do to Obamacare and its promise to protect those with pre-existing conditions (annihilate it), and clearly a Republican who says we can agree at least on Obamacare needs to be fixed. So what is the problem?

Well it has to do with facts. Feelings are nice, but they can sadly badly mislead you. The woman above has a right to be scared because the Republican Plan while it keeps existing conditions in theory, allows the states to wave coverage and says nothing about limiting cost, so sure they cover existing conditions at only $100K. Now the guy was wanting what we all want, lower costs and better care. Okay, me too. So how do you get that? Well, you got to know the facts, not opinions or feelings, but facts.  Fact, all other nations have universal care, most do not use the market place, and when they do it is highly regulated, and their costs are half our’s with better outcomes.  So why can’t we get there and why if they can afford it, can’t we?

So the obvious answer is to look at all those other systems, take what works, be inventive, and change Obamacare accordingly.  So why don’t we do that?  Because many Americans feel Obamacare must be repealed forgetting the nightmare of serious illness the previous system was.  And when you examine the things we need to do to get cost under control, and provide affordable care to everyone, these are the things that mostly move the system away from marketplace which is heresy to the Party in charge.  But, I don’t care what you feel, I only care about facts and neither should you.  You don’t want to do what it takes because you feel the market place provides the best solutions.  If I give you a 100 places where market place has failed us, well, those facts don’t matter.

And the reason for that is tribalism.  The Red tribe hates government (except their Medicare and Social Security) so government solutions cannot be considered.  The tribe reinforces the belief in our feelings.  The tribe even develops think tanks to cull facts to prove their case.  But culling does not give us truth, just facts to support our feelings (See Cheney on WMD).  So when you mix tribes in the opinion discussions, you certainly expose each side to the other sides “facts”, but most of them have it wrong to begin with.  Now we are back to the issue of what is true.  Who moderates the facts?

Now, I don’t think this is hard.  Climate change exists because the preponderance of science verifies it.  Because you can cull some minor disputes and say it is in question is nonsense.  But in tribal thinking that is where we are.  I am an engineer and I believe in the scientific method.  I love the quote, “Science does not give a shit what you think” (I have a tee-shirt to prove it).  The point is that science and its use of data allows us to arrive at the best version of truth we can no matter how we feel about that truth.  Politics and ideology simply try to skew the data to trick us into following one path or another that meets the parties emotional needs.

We need to get back to finding solutions based upon science and data, and if those solutions don’t work, we modify our approach.  Here again is where the Republicans went off the deep end with ideology.  We all agree Obamacare could be better (especially if the present administration wasn’t trying to sabotage it).  So what are the fixes?  Well one side says we just need to destroy it without any ideas about that. That is ideology at work.  Their tribe has been chanting Obamacare sucks and it has become the conventional wisdom until they figure what they are losing when it goes away. Feelings and tribal beliefs out of control.

Now here is an example.  If you accept finally the truth and consequences of global warming, then the question is what is the best way to control carbon rmiddiond into the environment.  We can have a legitimate argument about whether cap and trade or a carbon tax would be the best way to do that.  But now we are arguing about means, not ignoring the problem.  And data can inform us.  If we select one and it is not as effective or has other deleterious effects, we can change.  That is impossible today. The Red tribe can’t even admit to the problem.

Now the Red Tribe has sold government is bad (big government), taxes are too high, regulations kill innovation, and the market place unregulated is the best way to solve problems. Let’s not forget state’s rights*.  Now I can find instances where all of this is true.  I can also find instances where the opposite is true.  But what the Red Tribe has done is then build a false strawman.  If they believe the above, Democrats, the Blue tribe, must believe the opposite.

And nothing could be further from the truth.  The Blue tribe is much more science and data driven.  When big government works (Medicare anyone? How about FEMA? How about Obamacare?) they are all for it.  If it issues regulations that stymie growth and turn out to be counter productive, they are against it.  Taxes are a mixed bag and sometimes we have to poney up for the things we need. Most of our issues today are ideology driven from the Red side, whether it is tax reform, spending, immigrants, Iran nuke deal, climate change,

The blue tribe has its blind spots, but science, fact, and data are more likely to hold sway.  That’s why the preponderance of scientists are Democrats.  The Red tribe has shown their inability to see gray.  So I want to end this tribal/opinion way of thinking.  Accepting tribal thinking is counter to the ideals of democracy.  Opinion panels without a moderation of facts, are a waste of time.  Ind of like our current approach to our newsmedia.  It is bullshit.  It is destroying America.  Try to remember that the Red tribe’s icon, Ronald Reagan, warned us in 1961 that Medicare will bring a socialist dictatorship.  How many lives has it saved and allowed those of us over 65 to actually afford healthcare, yet the Red tribe is still trying to kill it.  It works and they want to kill it, not improve it, kill it.  It is ideology run amok. I rest my case.

*Right now they are selling state control of healthcare.  Didn’t that work out so well for voting rights, segregation, pollution control, to name just a few giant failures?  Remember the Constitution and where it came from?  It came from the states running amok.  So make no mistake, the Red tribe is trying to hand off the costs to the states so they are out of the game and then the states can be blammed for the cutbacks.  I don’t mind giving local control to better decide how to deal with local conditions, but with lots and lots of strings to ensure affordable healthcare to all.  Right now that is exactly what you are not getting.


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