“We the People” Can Read
Clearly I’m not a frequent blogger, being that my last post was erm… December of last year? Wow. Worse than I thought.
Today I’m breaking the lengthy hiatus.
I’ve largely avoided getting into a heated debate over health care reform, and I’m not here to engage in one now. But something has come to my attention that I just have to share.
Several personalities have appeared on TV recently toting gigantic, apparently heavy copies of this health reform bill and slamming them down on a desk with a big thud, giving the impression that it’s some ridiculously huge volume that would take a rocket scientist a year to read.
It certainly looked foreboding and intimidating to me… until I decided to Google it, download the thing and take a look at it with my own eyes. Here’s what I found:
H.R. 3200 is not that hard to read, is not nearly as lengthy as you might think, it’s not written in obscure legalese beyond the average person’s comprehension, and it’s freely available online.
It’s double spaced in large print with wide margins in order to give ample room for legislators to mark it up. If it was reformatted for normal reading, it would probably be a mid-sized book of about 300 pages or so.
I’m no rocket scientist. Not even close. I’m an average person, of average intelligence who only completed one year of college. But I downloaded this bill and am reading and understanding it with no problem. If I can, then anyone can.
When we don’t read things for ourselves, the potential then exists for us to hear and believe and adopt other peoples’ opinions about an issue. While I can’t prove it, I suspect that many people (on both sides) who are publicly sharing passionate opinions on this topic have not actually read H.R. 3200. Heck, even some legislators admit they haven’t read it.
My point is that anything we hear from a third party has two inherent problems:
1) It may not be the truth.
2) We’re all human, and everyone tends to carry a personal bias, no matter what the topic.
I figure the only way to avoid those problems is to just read the thing myself and make up my own mind. I invite you to do the same.
Here’s a related thought. I’ve spent a lot of time over the years watching a wide variety of network news programs and here’s my observation: All news networks are biased; some to the left, some to the right. And it’s not really a problem so long as we realize that. News anchors and reporters are human and have opinions just like everybody else. So I’ve decided to watch our lawmakers in session for myself on C-SPAN. In doing so, I’m hearing what they say every day in its original context, while cutting out the middle man (or woman) who may be reporting that same action out of context, through the filter of a biased opinion.
I think we Americans are some of the luckiest people on earth. We can go online, download any bill introduced by our lawmakers and read the entire thing. We can tune in to C-SPAN and watch first-hand what our elected officials are actually doing and saying on our behalf.
Why should we not do so?