Stanley Feld M.D.,FACP,MACE
President Obama, you won the election because you are articulate, confident, logical and inspirational. You projected a vision for the country that included fairness and opportunity for all. You promised to return to America’s ethical and moral base. The country was tired of congressional bickering, gridlock, threats to constitutional freedoms, gamesmanship, and unproven or hidden corruption. Americans were tired of corporate privilege and abuse.
In early 2008 America was told the economy was doing great. America was winning the war in Iraq. America was winning the war on terrorism. There was no inflation in the U.S. Housing prices were rising. No of these declarations made any sense to the average American.
All an average American had to do was wake up in the morning and experience rising prices, housing foreclosures, and a bombs exploding in Iraq to know there was something wrong with these declarations.
In January 2009 the government told us we had been in a recession since October 2007. Is the individual’s testing of reality better than the government’s. The government has all those fancy, incomprehensible indices. Indices that happen to be derivatives of derivatives such as gross national product, housing starts and the consumer price index
America has a generalized mistrust of government and its agencies,politicians, banks, corporations and other commercial entities. The United States has had an ethical and moral deficiency leading to our economic collapse.
To me, the A.I.G. bonuses simply highlight this deficiency. Congress’s action to remedy A.I.G. bonuses highlights congressional impotence and showboating. It underlines its inability to act to cure our ethical and moral problems. Its actions also highlights congress’s inability to problem solve for the peoples benefit. It problems solves for its own benefit and desire to increase power over our lives.
America elected you, President Obama, in the hope that you would restore us to our ethical and moral center. Please do it quickly. Please abandon outmoded systems that you are preparing to reregulate. It will only hinder Americans ability to be innovative and it will surpress worthy incentives. Please let us develop and promote fresh new ideas that will put us on a stronger footing for economic growth in the future.
“President Obama missed a huge teaching opportunity with A.I.G. Those bonuses were an outrage. The public’s anger was justified. But rather than fanning those flames and letting Congress run riot, the president should have said: “I’ll handle this.”
He should have gone on national TV and had the fireside chat with the country that is long overdue. That’s a talk where he lays out exactly how deep the crisis we are in is, exactly how much sacrifice we’re all going to have to make to get out of it, and then calls on those A.I.G. brokers — and everyone else who, in our rush to heal our banking system, may have gotten bonuses they did not deserve — and tells them that their president is asking them to return their bonuses “for the sake of the country.”
I bet they would be compelled by public sentiment to return their bonuses for the sake of the nation. It would be better for them and the country to return their bonuses voluntarily than return them through unconstitutional taxation. This tax moves America further from its ethical and moral base. President Obama ,you should inspire, not coerce ethical and moral behavior.
President Obama, I am sure you know inspiring conduct has a greater impact that trying to enforce conduct. The government bureaucracy is usually poor at enforcing regulations. There are usually loopholes in new regulations. Rich vested interests have a way of wiggling through these loopholes at citizens’ expense. You were elected because of your populist notions and the promise to return America to our ethical and moral base. You have expressed the notion that you cannot legislate ethics and morality. You must inspire Americans to do what they should do and not force them to do it. Regulations and increased taxation have a way of precipitating unintended negative consequences.
“There is nothing more powerful than inspirational leadership that unleashes principled behavior for a great cause,” said Dov Seidman, the C.E.O. of LRN, which helps companies build ethical cultures, and the author of the book “How.”
Dov Seidman’s principles hold true in healthcare. Loopholes in healthcare regulations have permitted stakeholders to adjust. Further regulations to close loopholes resulted. These adjustments to regulations have permitted the healthcare insurance industry to capture the greatest share of the money at the expense of the primary stakeholders (consumers).
Your healthcare team is doing nothing other than expanding failed programs (Medicare and Medicaid). Congress has given you the money to repair the healthcare system by the force of your personality and oratory. Your team is in the process of handing the appropriation over to the healthcare insurance companies. Think about it. Why do you think the healthcare insurance industry is in favor of universal care extension of Medicare and Medicaid ? Look at the profit they are generating in Massachusetts.
It is time to be inspirational and innovative. You promised if something did not work you would try something else. You have the money for healthcare, put it in the hands of the consumer with rules and regulations that protect consumers. I believe you and the country will be pleased with the results.
America needs inspiration and innovation, not false hope from failed systems in order to repair the healthcare system.