Monday, August 10, 2015
Of Ceilings, Floors, and Hooks
The Clintons couldn't get healthcare reform done, but I don't blame that on the complexity or pre-compromising of their plan. The conservatives and their insurance company allies had too many votes and they were adept at getting their message out (How many of us are old enough to remember the notorious 'Harry & Louise' ads? - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dt31nhleeCg). The ACA is also awfully complex, as any plan will be if it is going to pre-compromise with insurance companies and centrist legislators. The main difference was that Obama was able to exploit the small window of time when he had enough votes to force it through.
I attended a Bernie Sanders rally at the U of Washington this past weekend, and he has a much simpler proposal for education than Hillary's: free college tuition for everyone, funded by more taxes on the wealthiest citizens. How many of us think that this is a workable solution in today's Congress?
Those of us in the ed biz know that our problems are complex and tough to solve, even though there are plenty of lawmakers prepared to provide us with easy solutions. I haven't examined the Clinton plan in detail yet, but I'm not prepared to dismiss it because it is too complex or unwieldy, and certainly not because of any parallels drawn with the Clinton healthcare reform plan.
The graphic design business teaches the "Big Hand Trick." If you have a really good idea for a design and you know that the client will request stupid changes for the sake of asserting power regardless of the quality of the design, you apply the Big Hand Trick. You choose one part of the design and deliberately make it ridiculous. For example, a human figure with one hand drawn far too large. When the client sees the work, she can immediately assert her intellect and power by saying "fix the big hand." This reduces the pressure to mutilate the rest of the design to make her assertion, since she proved her importance and sagacity. (I've used a variation of the trick in my career, and it's worked more than once. "The Big Hand Trick" is applicable to many fields.)
I wonder if it'd work with major bills. "This plan contains Provision X, which must not stand!" Okay, we'll kill Provision X, which we knew was stupid. "And now I will allow it to pass, for our principled objections have prevented disaster!" Thanks, yo. This would probably only work within a party, though.