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Jul 26, 2009

A Few Words About Policy

President Obama recently held a prime-time press conference to present his desire to reform healthcare in the U.S. He suggested passing the bill in Congress, and asked for questions. He talked for about an hour and answered about 12 questions.

There has been a flurry of activity discussing what he said, whether there was any new detail, and criticizing some of his examples and facts. This told us very little about what is proposed in this sweeping grant of power to the government.

The press and the country are entirely wrong about what press conferences are good for.

Policy On Paper

Obama should have already released a detailed "white paper" describing his summary and justification for his health care proposals. (And such a paper for his other policy recommendations.) We need proposed results, methods, justifications, comparative studies, past successes, funding sources, the works.

Laws are not written as a random collection of thoughts, although they often look that way. They start with policies and reasons on paper. Legislator's staffs follow those policies when creating the details in these 1000 page bills. The white papers must exist, but they are not being presented to the public.

We should examine, verify, and criticize the policy documents, and then compare these to the details in the bills. Starting with the bills is like trying to approve a new building by looking only at the blueprints, without the purpose, graphics, and site requirements.

This is the United States Government, of, for, and by the People. The public cannot participate in a government that runs on policies that are hidden. The press and public should be able to review these undelivered documents. The government should be proud to display its carefully researched and supported policies. We deserve this as a free people.

The absence of these policy papers is appalling. Instead of open and proud policy, we have closed, imperial government. Sadly, we are controlled by a tyranny if our government sees no reason to explain and justify its actions. Are they ashamed or afraid of what they propose?

Be Informed

A press conference is supposed to question the President on his knowledge of the policy already presented in detailed, written form. The press conference is for the President to announce and defend the policy. It is to reassure the public that he knows about what he is proposing.

Instead, we have a few questions and vague speeches about what we would all like in a perfect world, and about the power and money that Obama wants ahead of time to work on it.

It is a magician's trick, to treat press conferences as if they could communicate the needed information, for either support or criticism.

We must ask our government for the important things. Among them is always a clear explanation of what the law will be, and why. If we ask and are not answered, then the responsible politicians must be voted out.

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