Newtown, CT – November 20, 2015
The belief in one’s moral or intellectual superiority is damaging to affecting lasting change, and we’ve seen it in full display this week – In the aftermath of the slaughter of Friday evening revelers in Paris, President Obama took the stage in Turkey to re-affirm the righteousness of his Middle East policies, and welcomed into the fold of that policy the French and other nations afflicted by terror attacks. Using the bodies of innocents to justify a policy instead of reaching out to offer a joint, common and equal exploration of alternatives is another chapter in the history of an Administration that has convinced itself that the policies it designs are pretty much better than what anyone else could do, and that any suggestion these policies don’t work is heretical. In a similar move, on Monday, this Administration released its final rule on the Comprehensive Joint Replacement program and, by and large, ignored the majority of the 300 plus comment letters that had been filed by organizations of all political stripes. Many of the suggestions in those comments, including those of MedPAC, were sensible and well worthy of true consideration, but they were ignored. The Administration’s response to the comments were riddled with statements about belief – its belief that it is right – and that therefore everyone else is wrong. At least the Administration can be applauded for the consistency of its vanity, both in domestic and foreign affairs.
What this means to you – Maybe it doesn’t mean much, but it certainly hits home for me. Watching the bodies of French, British, German, and American citizens lying in pools of blood while President Obama expresses annoyance at criticisms of his Syrian policy is incongruent at best. Reading a thousand page final rule on a simple payment program, 990 of which are simply to rebut suggested policy changes and affirm the ones originally advanced is a slap in the face of all those who are genuinely trying to make the system better. Insult is being added to injury even though it’s cloaked behind a fig leaf of collaboration. The missed opportunities to effect lasting change are piling up, each one having whittled away under the scorching heat of vanity and self-righteousness. People who want to enjoy life on Friday evenings in Paris, on weekdays in Jerusalem or Beirut, flying home from Egypt or in the schools of America aren’t concerned about who’s intellectually superior, they want everyone to collaborate to find solutions. Patients getting care for a condition or an illness aren’t interested in being the pawns in a social experiment on provider integration designed by ivory-tower dwellers and bureaucrats. Lasting solutions to problems are only forged when leaders really listen, and don’t just pretend they do; when they actively reach out to others with different ideas and use the best of all; and when they work with allies and opponents to build and implement better solutions. That’s certainly not what we’ve seen this week, and not in many prior weeks. And now, like then, the innocent pay the price. And they’ll continue to pay it until those who lead finally learn to be humble.