Thursday, July 22, 2010

2300 or 800

In President Obama's comments yesterday after signing the Financial Reform Bill, he said, "in this 800 page bill...". That was interesting. Every description of the bill to date has been of a bill of around 2300 pages. What a relief, it's only 800 pages, now that simplifies things.

Whether it's political leaders, corporate executives, or the President, it's a fact that these folks spend an inordinate amount of time on optics, as in how things appear, and as opposed to actually spending time on policy, as in how it affects reality. Obama's casual reference is indicative of this. The 2300 pages must have been bugging him, or his staff, so the thought was something like "let's get the 800 out there and show how our detractors are universally exaggerating". Is the 800 the Executive Summary and the other 1500 pages supporting facts, an index, or some such necessary but ancillary information. In the greater scheme of things it's trivial, but to Obama yesterday it was obviously important.

Whether it's the February jobs bill, the health care bill, the existing tax code, the disclosures about the Homeland Security bureacratic morass, or this financial reform bill, COMPLEXITY is the overriding theme. Since real understanding of the majority of this is not remotely accessible to the understanding of the public, myself included, in our democratic society, it requires either an act of faith or an embrace of alienation to come to terms with our governing system today.

Without strong leadership and a belief in the integrity of the legislative process, "just trust us" could be a losing proposition that is easily exploited.


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