Photo by Jakub
Kriz on Unsplash
79 How this is done
Richard Ogilvie put
his full strength behind the state’s first income tax that proved
vital to the state’s financial recovery. After he lost the next
election, he wistfully commented that he probably couldn’t be
elected to the office of dog catcher. His many progressive
accomplishments included establishing the Illinois EPA which
served as an example for the national EPA.
After Governor Jim Edgar’s second term, it was
described as Netsch II because he implemented some campaign
promises of his election opponent Dawn Clark Netsch (who had incidentally proposed increasing the sales tax). There is a
political adage that second term presidents are more effective
because they don’t face another election. In the first term one
does what is popular for reelection, and in the second term one
does what is necessary.
In the Edgar-Netsch contest, I do not
know the minds of the two candidates. They may have been
second-guessing each other while looking at the same set of
problems. The governor might have planned long before exactly
what he would do in the second term, without a push from the
other side. What matters is the achievement of the goals
regardless of the personalities.
Continuity of government policy is
necessary. Analysts wring their hands over the cases where one
party votes something in and the next party to hold office votes
it out and then fails likewise. Many politicians take credit for
a first-term success that built on many years of preparation by
the predecessor. Credit is due less to the individual than to the
flow of history in a long-term progress.
Whims of demagogues cause mischief
without causing progress. The steadying force in society is the
collective will of the electorate. When that is based on
education, the people will prosper despite changes of
officials. President Eisenhower used federal troops to enforce
school integration with or without the invitation of state
governors. Ultimately the will of the people has aligned with the
moral imperative on this issue. If the public refuses to learn,
A new move-in to my neighborhood
explained that he had come to take an executive position with a
local company. He had been hired from outside, and the person he
directly supervised was the man whose life goal was to have that
executive position. Can you appreciate the extreme pressure this
put on both parties? Is enthusiastic collaboration the first duty
they owe the company? Both need to observe the principle we have
been sharing in this blog: get your self out of the way.
Blending self and other (article
71, social organism) is putting the company goals ahead of personality
and private goals.
Decades ago, I attended programs
featuring physicians in favor of single-payer healthcare. They
taught the public that all industrial countries except ours had
figured out universal healthcare. Funding systems varied, but the
distinct pattern was that they achieved comparable or better
health statistics at about half the cost (real wealth based on
hours of work). Employer-based healthcare costs were adding $600
to $800 to the price of every car built, putting the US at a
distinct trade disadvantage compared to the countries that
separated healthcare from employment. The key was to have
universal input (healthy people pay with gratefulness they don’t
need care) in order to have universal coverage. The principle
looks like a moral imperative.
The healthcare story weighs on me because
for two election cycles opponents have told the public that we
cannot afford Bernie Sanders’s approach sometimes called Medicare
for all. The complaint contradicts the background facts to which
I have been exposed. Who doesn’t want a bigger paycheck because
healthcare by taxation (no profit component) is cheaper
than healthcare by companies (employers and for-profit
suppliers)? I am one of the big losers (of elections and of
benefits), and the rest of the article applies to me most of
“Pop” ran a vigorous pie-in-the-sky
campaign addressing the most popular issues in the election.
“Owl” stuck to the wiser development program and told the truth
about how much the efforts would cost. The public did not
understand the economy of scale and other cost benefits of united
effort and chose the flashy tax cuts Pop offered.
After the election Owl came before the
Healthcare Commission and pointed out the absence and necessity
of early childhood nutrition programs. The new budget completely
overlooked that aspect of public health. Owl brought together a
group of medical, financial, and administrative experts who
drafted specific recommendations for meeting the identifiable
need. Owl compiled their work into a set of proposals.
What is Owl’s next step: the voters, the
legislature, government bureaucrats? No, Owl went directly to
Pop—not to confront him, but to help him. He explained the
developmental problems that would impact educational and economic
conditions for a long time. He demonstrated the possibility of
action. Then he pronounced his greatest wisdom when he said,
“Pop, let me help you. Here is the program that will work. I can
persuade the legislature to back it. It will make you
This story puts flesh on the outline of
recent articles. Owl promoted the public good instead of his own
advancement. Pop was not likely to turn down public accolades.
Therefore, it was wise of Owl to steer the credit to Pop. Owl
pursued results, not personality, using peaceful tactics most
likely to succeed. He was saying privately “I can make you look
good” instead of shouting publicly “ignoramus.” He obtained the
outcome that mattered.
“Owl” in the story means “wisdom.”
Competent people can afford to be generous. There is small joy in
fame and greater joy in success, even of someone else.
Personality, individual worthiness, isn’t
the only discussion here. I left out telling you the key to Owl’s
program. Did you notice that he went outside government? With a
strapped public budget, Owl approached the expertise and the
funds where they existed (article
56). There are times when the wealthy consider themselves
more competent that the government. This was one of those times.
The competent people (plural) chose to be generous. Owl did not
stop with a single donor. His team of experts was a collection of
forces. They were benefactors, not oligarchs.
I hope I am making my readers a little
bit jealous of the high regard I have for Owl, my hypothetical
idol. I constructed him to represent what I admire in America. We
should credit the people here (and anywhere in the world) who
embody Owl. Life is too short to spend screaming “ignoramus.” I
beg the public to take on the role of Owl: let us find, respect,
and make use of the true experts in meeting human needs. This
process is possible, and it will bring us to peace through our
Being For Others Blog copyright © 2020 Kent Busse
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