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Health care debate needs less heat, more light

Friday, August 14, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 11:12 a.m. CDT, Thursday, September 3, 2009

Dear Reader,

Ever have one of those moments when you see something and say, "Oh!" followed by "Oh No!"?

My hometown of Hillsboro made the news this week.

That’s not an every day occurrence; when I was growing up, the sign at the city limits read “population 850.” (OK, it might have said 862. I’m struggling against memory here.)

So it was neat to see Jefferson County’s seat in all capital letters at the beginning of the Associated Press story.

If only I had stopped there.

That’s because the town earned its place among the growing list of datelines where ugliness has occurred.

This time it was Sen. Claire McCaskill’s turn.

Her town hall meeting on Tuesday was "loud from the start," according to a report by The Associated Press. "The audience at times cut her off mid-speech, booing her answers and cheering speakers in the crowd."

Take a look for yourself:

Here’s the problem: There’s too much heat in this issue, and not enough light.

Will Rogers once said, “Everybody’s ignorant, only in different subjects.” Well, health care – the current system and the proposals to change it – is one I feel utterly unintelligent about.

Perhaps I’m in a party of one, but I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m not alone. In fact, I’m willing to bet that I’m even solidly in the majority.

If so, where’s the coverage for people like me?

I’m not screaming, for or against. And why are there two sides when there are five proposals in Congress right now? Six, actually, if you include the “keep things as they are” option.

Your news sources should provide you with information to have informed conversations. I suppose I would be OK with the shouting matches if they weren’t so misleading – if they skewered with hard fact rather than the rhetoric of fear.

We, the people, deserve more from our journalism. We also have a responsibility to arm ourselves with the best available information.

The Missourian newsroom will be working to find better ways to cover this story. I and the other editors welcome your suggestions, as always.

 


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Comments

Charles Dudley Jr August 15, 2009 | 4:50 a.m.

The Repubs do not want light brought into this issue. Plain and simple that is why there are those at these meetings shouting down the speakers.

(Report Comment)
Jason Costa August 15, 2009 | 9:35 a.m.

I agree completely on your comment. I wish people would settle down and discuss this topic, not yell I'm right and you're wrong. Sadly, cable news networks have become purely entertainment, lacking any quality information or conversation. I would applaud any effort to bring strong, independent coverage of the current crisis in health care and the options floating about Congress including the positives and negatives of each consideration.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro August 15, 2009 | 11:23 a.m.

Watch Bill Moyers' interview with David Frum, take a gander at HC3200, scrap the Obama bill, go back to the drawing board, put together a panel of "smart thinkers" from different segments of the public sector, private sector and voluntary sector and work up a plan we can ALL believe in.
http://www.pbs.org/moyers/journal/081420...

(Report Comment)
Joy Mayer August 15, 2009 | 12:50 p.m.

Here's a piece I found enlightening this weekend:

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/...

(Report Comment)
Allan Sharrock August 15, 2009 | 6:39 p.m.

Just to play a little devils advocate does anyone have any proof that Republicans are behind the town hall "mobs?" Also why is it suddenly not OK to yell and disrupt speakers when peace protesters have done it for years, especially in the last eight? Just a little food for thought.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr August 15, 2009 | 6:46 p.m.

Allan Sharrock most of the TV news agencies are saying as such about the Repubs at these town hall meetings. I have seen this said on Fox,CNN,ABC and MSNBC news affiliates.

The point is Allan that if people want the real story or to hear the speaker's view then why are they shouting from the very beginning when these speakers are trying to talk reasonably with the town hall crowds?

That Politico link about and Fact Check are decent sites to get info out of.

(Report Comment)
Allan Sharrock August 15, 2009 | 7:43 p.m.

I agree that Fact Check and Politico does have good info. I think the reason people are shouting is that we have seen time and again our government mess things up. IE Social Security and soon Medicare will be broke. The Postal Service is ran by the government and it is losing money. The federal government is too political and too big to run something this complicated. People are scared about their health care and for a long time a lot of people who would never speak at a political function (much less protest) have had enough of the feds. I also think it is important to distinguish between people who are Republican/Conservative and the Republican Organization. The various conservative political groups IE Heritage Foundation, RNC, etc. are not encouraging people to be uncivil. There has not been a single memo or email sent out that I have seen or has been reported on about said groups encouraging people to uncivil. If there was a memo it would have leaked by now. Nothing sent over the internet is secret anymore.

(Report Comment)
Tim Dance August 16, 2009 | 12:46 a.m.

Chuck,

You're going to get the same canned Libertarian answers they have been blabbering for 15 years. So what if the post office is losing money, so are many private entities.

People are scared because of the misinformation. Death Panels, rationing, etc. A man in SC even got up and said "Get your government hands off my medicare" Ignorance and fear is the Republican M.O.

Yes Allan, there's proof, just look for ir, it is out there.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr August 16, 2009 | 4:58 a.m.

Oh I know Tim Dance about the canned response I am quite used to it by now.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz August 16, 2009 | 10:11 a.m.

Hey Tim, if the proof is out there, why don't you post it up? Get all Fox Mulder on it for us.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz August 16, 2009 | 10:20 a.m.

And Tim, in the private market, those businesses bleeding money will fail or change their business model and thrive. The Post Office doesn't have the same impetus for change since Congress will give them more money, but only after hearings that let our legislators look like they care about waste and deficits.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr August 16, 2009 | 12:50 p.m.

One problem with the post office John is that they pay those employees over $13.00 plus full bennies an hour to stuff envelopes into mail boxes right there at their main offices when alot of people would do the same job for say $8.00 an hour.

What next are we going to import more illegals who will do those postal jobs for less instead of putting our own to work?

(Report Comment)

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