My old friend Sam Steiger, former Congressman and mayor of Prescott, noted a phenomenon he called "Steiger's Law" that stated institutions with a mission normally abandoned the mission and spent their time taking care of the institution.
His example was The March of Dimes, which accomplished its original goal of beating polio and instead of going home changed the mission to "birth defects," a task they will obviously never complete, and thereby preserved the institution.
I have a corollary. Institutions also abandon the needs of their members in favor of their hierarchy in direct proportion to how inherently democratic they are, and most aren't. Many have "student government" elections choosing officers to perform relatively meaningless tasks. Others don't even do that. That's why so many of them act like modern labor unions and shaft their members to take care of other portions of the political coalitions from which they derive their power and status. Nowhere has that become more obvious than during the present debate over reforming health care.
Too many people believe that those "sitting at the table" on this and other matters actually represent those they claim, from business groups to labor unions. A lazy and biased media fails to call them. Some have dues-paying members, many of whom are unaware or even opposed to what their "representatives" support. Others have no real membership and are totally self-appointed.
In the first category, two stunning examples are the AMA and the AARP. Space prohibits discussion of the AMA's membership sell-out, but AARP's failure to alert its membership about the underlying cost controls on seniors being pushed by both the President and the Democrats in Congress is reprehensible.
While talk radio and many conservatives have pointed to the dramatic effect this would have on senior health care, the best reporting comes from the hard left. Sam Smith is a DC resident who has published The Progressive Review — "Washington's Most Unofficial Source" — for over 40 years. He's an advocate of single payer. I'm not, but that doesn't preclude my admiring his eloquent take on what is on that disreputable table along with its motivation.
"One of the reasons the Democratic health care plan is so controversial is because the party and its president want to use corporate economic principles to decide how health care should be distributed. … The Democrats are, admittedly, latecomers to the terminally sick principles of longevity economics. After all, they had to overcome all those centuries of theologians and philosophers not to mention their own liberal forebears, who taught us to value life without putting a dollar amount on it. … But that was before the bipartisan fiscal disaster with which we are now faced. And so on one recent week, the Democrats in the Senate rejected three Republican attempts to bar the rationing of care under the new health bill.
"The Democrats claim they won't be rationing anyone, but the minute budgets take precedence, rationing is only a short distance away. … I know I'm sharing political ground with the conservatives on this one. But it's not my fault that Obama and the more powerful Democrats are acting like a bunch of money grubbing CFO's while some Republicans are playing a role normally associated with progressives, which is to say that you don't discriminate against people because they are too something … in this case too old or too sick to pass a cost effectiveness test."
Those wanting the entire article or wishing to read a maddeningly wonderful and genuine political curmudgeon should checkout the July 29th issue of Undernews at http://www.prorev.com">www.prorev.com. Suggested reading for all of you still paying dues to the AARP.
Hear Emil Franzi and Tom Danehy Saturdays 1-4 p.m. on KVOI 1030AM.