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Want People to Change? Then Create an Enemy

Whenever you want change to happen, it helps to create an enemy.  Good or bad, it’s a technique that often makes a dramatic difference in rallying people to your cause.  You see it everyday in advertising in wars like Coke versus Pepsi or Mac versus PC.  It’s also used very effectively in corporate change movements and political campaigns.  You’re seeing it now as President Obama attempts to change America’s health care system.  Over and over the president and members of his team refer to our medical system as “broken.”  They’re framing the discussion in terms of a health care system they characterize as a problem in need of fixing. 

But in reality, while there are many things wrong with America’s health care, it’s still the best in the world.  For all their crowing about other systems, the world’s leaders still come to America when they need treatment for a serious medical problem.  We develop more new medicines that all European countries combined.  Our technology is unparalleled.  It doesn’t cover enough people, it costs a lot, and it can be very frustrating, but “broken” it is not.  In fact, so far, the government alternative still won’t cover everyone and we’ll end up paying far more than we think. 

This isn’t meant to be a rant on competing health care proposals, or a political statement.  But it’s a perfect illustration of my point.  Just remember on any issue, what is positioned to be the enemy, isn’t always the truth.  Good or bad, it’s often just a tool to motivate people toward change. 

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8 Comments

  1. Actually, according to the government’s own numbers, not everyone will be covered.  That may be the elephant in the room.  When it comes to something as complex as health care, there is no simple answer.

  2. I respect all opinions here, but in reality the enemy in the health care debate is “resistance to change”.  Change means discomfort in the midst of adjustment to a much needed transformation. By no means is our health care system working, if  the “Majority” of Americans, which just so happens to be made up of “Minorities” are suffering from the major gaps in the health care system. The problem lies in the fact that the people that are resisting the change, may have never experienced lack of health care. Many people that resist change, have no capacity for empathy in the subject at hand. This is probably due to the fact that they never had to choose between getting medical attention or buying groceries for their families. If we were to survey the “majoritiy” of American’s, I think a different picture about our health care would be painted and then the enemy may be defeated.  We certainly won’t find all the answers in this blog, but at least we are raising some of the questions…peace to all.

  3. Hey Phil – there are issues here that are not always understood.  The U.S health care system is the best in the world for those who are overwelmingly white and have money.  Quality of care is directly tied to care access.  Racial disparities in the system point in a different direction.

    “According to the Children’s Defense Fund, for example, black children in the United States are five times more likely to die from asthma than their white peers. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than half of all uninsured Americans are racial minorities.

    A study by the Mount Sinai School of Medicine recently found that black women are more likely to have low birth weight babies, a condition linked to infant mortality.

    A study by the Commonwealth Fund discovered that half of all black Americans suffer from a chronic illness or disability, the highest rate among all racial groups. Meanwhile, the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health found that blacks have a 30 percent higher death rate than whites.” (Clayola Brown – Randolf Institute)

    Health care in America is broken and there is an enemy we rarely see – racism.  Since most churches in the country are 10 times more segregated than the neighborhoods in which they reside (“People of the Dream” Michael Emerson) the enemy remains very diffciult to see.  That’s the change we so desparately need.

  4. Amen Rick,

    That’s an enemy that people don’t want to touch and they dance around it. Especially the Church.

    Either, one group don’t want to feel like they are always complaining or the other group doesn’t feel qualigfied to talk about it. So evryone acts like it does not exist.

    Be it the health care or any other subject, it boils down to money. As you said the quality of care is tied to the care access. That quality care access is the people that have the most money or social economic status.

  5. Rick, I agree with you’re point, but “fixing” health care on Obama’s terms will only bring the privileged down, not the disadvantaged up.  Yes everyone may be covered, but there’s no way quality will be as great as it is today.  We’ll wont be treated as health care is rationed.

  6. Probably a poor example to illustrate a good point. As an Australian, your health system appears to be a complete shambles. Your costs are spiralling out of control. Of course if I was a millionaire I could get the best care in the world in the USA, but thats not the true test of a health system, particularly for a first world country. I suspect the real “enemy” is our fixation on “cures” rather than “prevention”.

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