Local view: Obamacare will be worth the wait for website fixMy new, high-tech outboard motor was hyped by the manufacturer as faster, lighter, quieter, more fuel efficient, less polluting, and requiring less maintenance than my old, beat-up boat motor.
By: David McGrath, Duluth News Tribune
My new, high-tech outboard motor was hyped by the manufacturer as faster, lighter, quieter, more fuel efficient, less polluting, and requiring less maintenance than my old, beat-up boat motor.
With great anticipation I turned the key to start it humming. Once clear of the boat launch, I pushed down the throttle, and the 90hp Evinrude E-TEC sprang to life with a low, powerful rumble. I felt the wind on my face as the bow of the boat began to rise. But then it suddenly flopped back down into the waves with what sounded like a wheeze. The motor was still running, but no matter what I tried — squeezing the fuel bulb, tinkering with controls, shutting it down and restarting — I couldn’t get it past idle speed. I finally gave up and puttered back to the dock.
The mechanic said it was an engine computer problem that would require his replacing the entire computer control.
I feared I had made a big mistake in purchasing a revolutionary new product, and I asked the mechanic if I shouldn’t trade it in for a more conventional engine.
“I’ve seen a lot of these flawed computer modules,” he said. “Once you get past the electronics problem, you’ll love the engine itself.”
The same seems to be true with the new health-care law, for which technical problems are impeding citizens from signing up. Critics, especially President Obama’s Republican opponents, cite the computer bugs as cause for the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, to be repealed.
But their objections to ACA are more partisan than practical. For we are all familiar with the advice printed on the warranty for many new gadgets: Do not return item to the store. That’s because the company believes in the essential integrity of the product and will, therefore, replace aberrant “lemons” or fix bugs that impede use.
Sarasota, Fla., attorney Grissim Walker recently experienced a similar sequence of experiences with the new health-care plan. According to the Sarasota Herald Tribune, Walker initially found the ACA website a giant headache, and it took him more than 10 hours to finally register. But when he did, he got the plan he wanted for $435 per month, a savings of $165 per month over what he would have paid without ACA.
Who among us has not dawdled for hours on the computer, shopping for a good airfare or the perfect gift?
The relevant point here is the hypocrisy of partisan critics who forced a government shutdown (Sen. Ted Cruz) or called for impeachment (Rep. Michele Bachmann) over Obamacare. The Affordable Care Act’s messed-up software is in no way comparable to the dangerous or malicious or even criminal screw-ups by Cruz’s and Bachmann’s own party. And their flubs require mentioning not to give tit for tat but to make sure the noise they are making does not lead to scrapping an idea that’s ultimately good for the country.
The shoddy software for ACA is a mild setback when you remember the defective tools shipped to our soldiers in Iraq, like those flimsy Humvees that couldn’t stop a single IED. An ACA website with insufficient capacity cannot compare to a war launched with an insufficient number of troops, as also happened in Iraq. And the president’s incorrect predictions for ACA’s implementation are minor errors next to the false statement of President George W. Bush’s administration about weapons of mass destruction.
In other words, the ACA foul-up is an electronic glitch and not at all like those tragically wrong decisions that killed thousands of innocents.
In fact, Obamacare is an historic, hopeful initiative to help all Americans. It fixes a system in which 44 million Americans had no health insurance; or of even those who did, many would find it necessary to hold a charitable fundraiser if someone in the family got seriously ill.
It took a week before I could retrieve my boat and motor from the repair facility. And I’m relieved to report that the mechanic was right: Three years later, the engine is still running like the proverbial Swiss watch.
David McGrath of Hayward is an emeritus English professor at the College of DuPage in Illinois and is the author of “The Territory.” Contact him at profmcgrath2004@ yahoo.com.