Doom and Gloom For The Democrats

Over the span of human history individuals and groups have found it advantageous to predict disaster. A sense of impending catastrophe motivates your followers, creates some temporary group cohesion, and calls into question the intelligence and motivations of those who are against you. If you can convince others that the world as we know it is about to end, the resulting crisis atmosphere also bestows enormous power to both manipulate and intimidate your opponents to reach your desired ends.

There are, however, two problems inherent in this approach. If the world doesn’t end in a reasonably short time, those who were willing to temporarily line up behind you are apt to quickly lose all faith because they think you a fool. Worse yet, if the disaster you predicted is not averted, those who put their trust in your skills and judgment will banish you from the tribe.

Now that we are finishing the seventh month of the Trump presidency, I believe we are seeing this dynamic play out—in a big way.

Watching the continuing vilification of Hillary Clinton since last November has been as transfixing as a train wreck. Her transformation from putative President-Elect to pariah has been both quick and merciless. Those who once touted her competence and celebrated her nomination are now often openly contemptuous of both her record and campaign. As comforting as the fervent belief in Russian chicanery is for many Democrats who are still shell-shocked by the election results and pining away for impeachment, the legacy of Hillary Clinton will always be that she somehow lost the election to a man who was widely considered unelectable—and embodies the repudiation of their party’s core beliefs. A fall from grace so swift and precipitous is almost without precedent in American politics.

In addition, President Trump’s dogged pursuit of his agendas on trade, immigration, healthcare, regulation, and the environment in the face of nearly universal opposition from the entrenched government bureaucracy and mainstream media has provided an instructive lesson regarding the limitations of crisis creation. Although this early phase of Trump’s administration has been an incredible uphill slog with a mix of both victories and defeats, the self-regarding Washington bubble is rapidly deflating. After all the supremely confident pre-election assurances that the changes Trump advocated would lead to instant and total catastrophe, the Democratic Party doomsayers seem stupefied. The facts that the sun still rises, jobs are being both created and reclaimed, and the lives of those outside of Washington-area zip codes are, by and large, either unaffected or improved since the Inauguration continues to erode their tattered credibility—and leaves them scrambling for a new message.

Consequently, Democrats face an existential question: If your leader has failed you and the predicted disaster has not occurred and validated your predictions, where do you go from here? This is clearly the problem that is roiling the Democratic Party at the moment—and causing a lot of doom and gloom among the Party’s faithful. Even worse, Bernie Sanders’ true believers and the stubborn remnants of the business-friendly Clinton wing are engaged in a self-destructive battle that does little to advance a coherent and compelling message—which is why no one seems to be able to understand where the Democratic Party now stands. Wistful efforts to anoint blank slate candidates such as Senator Kamala Harris are only further evidence of the ideological confusion that must be somehow crafted into a winning platform for 2018 and beyond. Winning Democratic leadership must come from the trenches—not a high-priced fundraiser in the Hamptons.

Waiting for a miracle—a pile of Russian gold in Donald Trump’s garage or a birth certificate proving that he was born in Moscow (wouldn’t that be ironic?)—is not going to save the Democratic Party. Nor is it a good idea for leadership to continually denounce all the remaining Democratic apostates who are still pro-choice, work somewhere other than a tech company, government agency, or non-profit organization, and (gasp!) sometimes meekly suggest that personal responsibility is more helpful than government handouts.

To fashion a winning coalition the Democratic Party needs new leaders who will rebuild trust that transcends party lines, offer solutions that are affordable, empower individuals rather than government or interest groups, and include rather than divide. Whether this is possible in the short term is questionable given the internecine divisions that now exist within the Party, but one can only hope that it will somehow be possible—someday soon.

Advertisements

America’s “Affordability” Problem

If one were to make a list of the three spending categories that bedevil the average person’s budget, the list would read as follows: healthcare, housing, and education.

Now make a list of the spending categories where federal and state policies have most actively attempted to improve affordability, and three race right to the top: healthcare, housing, and education.

Quite a coincidence, isn’t it?

When I entered college in 1976, the following were true:

• Annual cost of healthcare per person: approximately $690
• Median home value: approximately $44,000
• Average annual cost of a four-year private college:          approximately $10,700
• Average annual cost of a four-year public college: approximately $1,200
• Average annual salary: approximately $9225

It was, therefore, quite possible—if one was careful with money—for the average person to obtain healthcare, find somewhere to live, and obtain an education at a public college or university. Purchasing housing and funding an education did, of course, require some borrowing and some hard choices about where and how to spend, but a comfortable life with reasonable aspirations was available for individuals who were willing to work hard and make sacrifices in pursuit of their goals.

Nothing was easy, nothing was guaranteed, and nothing was free; however, everything was possible for those with initiative and perseverance. Obviously, this is no longer the case. Although local conditions and circumstances vary somewhat, the aspirations of average American are being crushed by the onerous costs of healthcare, housing, and higher education—the expenses associated with these essentials having far surpassed both the CPI and personal incomes. What happened between 1976 and today, and what role did government play in advancing—or impeding—our dreams?

The short answer is that government “helped” you—but not in the manner you expected. Instead of improving affordability by allowing transparency and market-based efficiencies in these three critical areas of the economy, heavy-handed and clumsy government interventions have completely obliterated honest and open markets driven by basic value and sensible pricing. Healthcare, housing, and education are now almost wholly controlled by rules and regulations that are written and interpreted by unelected bureaucrats at the behest of elected officials who are beholden to their campaign contributors. Given how disconnected from economic reality our healthcare, housing, and education markets have become over the past few decades of government interference, any attempt to allow them to operate independent of supervision and—more importantly—the overt and hidden price supports now baked into the system will surely lead to startling price deflation across these three sectors that will rattle the very foundations of our economy, financial systems, and society.

*   *   *

The explosive growth of the cost of healthcare is obviously affected by the simple fact that the average American is older than 40 years ago—therefore, requiring more healthcare. However, it is also a fact that Americans pay far more for exactly the same procedures, medications, and services than any other developed nation in the world; an aging population does not, therefore, tell the whole story. We should instead look at the manner in which governmental policies have disastrously skewed the health insurance market by promoting fee-for-service reimbursement (which perpetuates endless medical “churn” to drive up provider incomes), poor internal controls to identify fraud, and virtually non-existent efforts to control costs—producing an almost perfect mechanism for driving up healthcare costs for everyone.

Moreover, the politicization of healthcare through government interventions—Obamacare being the most recent and visible example—causes what should be a free market to be captured by special interests and lobbyists whose sole concern is making certain that the gravy train keeps rolling so that profits can endlessly rise. This fatally flawed public marketplace, of course, affects the private healthcare sector in turn because all the rules and regulations written by state and federal legislators affect both—and focus almost exclusively on expanding access with almost no concern for costs.

As a result, whether it comes out of our own pockets or is “free” healthcare paid through taxes and government borrowing, every aspect of American healthcare costs more and more—yet our health outcomes compared to the rest of the world lag further and further behind because the system is driven by a quest for profits rather than outcomes. A system that benefits itself by paying for a heart transplant instead of a health club membership is not serving the public’s interest, and the glacial movement towards reimbursement models that incentivize patient outcomes and pay a flat annual amount per patient rather than allowing every separate service to be endlessly billed through a fee-for-service model are wonderful, but their growth is held in check by the political capture of the healthcare market by powerful corporations and interest groups that buy the legislative process with their campaign contributions.

Not surprisingly, decades of “reforms” have seemed to do little to help the actual patient—but they always line the pockets of the pharmaceutical industry, big hospital conglomerates, specialty care providers, and durable medical equipment manufacturers. Today healthcare costs absorb 18% of our nation’s entire Gross Domestic Product and cost over $10,000 per person, which is twice the average for other developed countries.

*   *   *

The catastrophe of government efforts to improve housing “affordability” would require an entire bookshelf to detail, but we can easily see the broad outlines of the problems that have been created in three areas.

Public housing—the signature effort of government to help provide homes for the poor—has obviously contributed to urban blight, crime, and a host of social pathologies while trapping generations of Americans in conditions that are little better than prisons. This all has, of course, been facilitated by a political process that rewards insiders and campaign contributors with lucrative contracts, politicians who are happy to cut ribbons yet are be nowhere to found when roofs leak and furnaces malfunction due to shoddy construction and maintenance, and the sheer magnitude of government incompetence—quite a toxic brew.

In addition, government lending programs have for decades encouraged the more affluent to flee their poor neighbors by creating swathes of new housing stock that lock out the unfortunate and actively discourage any attempt to create mixed-income neighborhoods. The result of decades of these programs and incentives has been the creation of suburban and urban mono-cultural monstrosities that allow developers to turn a nice profit yet contribute to cruel segregation driven by income levels that serve to only more thoroughly isolate the most vulnerable families based on their credit scores. The endless sprawl that results also drives the building of expensive and expansive infrastructure to support this insanity—legacy costs we pay for through escalating property and state taxes that many can ill afford on top of their mortgages.

Finally, the ruthless suppression of mortgage rates to improve “affordability” has encouraged ruinous speculation through “house flipping” that has enriched a few but further ratcheted up prices and inflated a series of housing bubbles that have resulted in real estate crashes that always seem to lead to taxpayer bailouts of lenders stuck with a fistful of non-performing mortgages. Government policies that turn basic shelter into a crazed casino of greed serve some well but cause widespread damage to the social fabric of our nation. Today the median price of a home in the United States has hit $345,000—which places an unconscionable strain on families struggling just to get by.

*   *   *

Education is, sadly, perhaps the most pungent example of the harm government efforts to “help” can cause. Briefly, the federal government decided decades ago that the best way to help students to afford education was to facilitate their transformation into debt slaves. Between the mid-1970’s and today, the aggregate subsidized loan limit for the Stafford Student Loan program jumped from $10,000 to $65,000, thus allowing colleges and universities to dramatically and unconcernedly raise tuition, room, and board prices because students could, after all, simply borrow more to cover the increased costs.

However, just in case students want to go all in on that Art History degree and graduate school, students can now blithely sign away their futures with additional unsubsidized loans up to a total of roughly $138,000 in borrowing. In addition, let’s not forget those lovely Parent PLUS loans that help college and universities to destroy the golden years of mom and dad by allowing them to accrue their own crippling debts to help pay for the salaries of an army of Assistant Deans and the whirlpool tubs in the new Student Center. It seems little wonder that college enrollments are dropping nationwide. All this “affordable” education is destroying the financial futures of generations of Americans by impoverishing both the young and the old—a disaster that has led to a terrifying total of over $1.4 trillion of student loan debt.

*  *  *

In short, decades of government efforts to make healthcare, housing, and education more affordable have been a costly and damaging constellation of failures that have enriched a few and emptied the pockets of everybody else. Given the inherent unsustainably of these markets absent increasingly intrusive and expensive government programs, one can easily foresee a point in the future when they can no longer be propped up.

There is an old saying: Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked. As government debt and voter frustration grow, the chances that we will be forced to reckon with long-hidden price realities in healthcare, housing, and education looms ever larger. This will be an unpleasant and unwelcome wake up call for many who were led to believe in values that were artificially created and expensively maintained, but it is likely to soon become an unavoidable reality.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Change Is Terrifying

“And it ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new.”
The Prince (1517)

Niccolo Machiavelli, an Italian courtier and diplomat renowned for his devotion to absolute practicality in affairs of state, wrote his masterwork, The Prince, 500 years ago, yet his words still carry weight—and impart wisdom. His insight into the perils inherent in forcing changes upon governmental systems that are inclined by their very nature to worship the status quo has long served as a warning to those who try to move too far and too fast.

Our most recent Presidential election seems to me to have been one that Machiavelli would have easily recognized. On the one side we had a candidate who was a product of the system and whose entire campaign was built around her repeated pledges to change as little as possible—promises that it was hoped would propel her to the Oval Office by reassuring those in power. On the other side we had a brash outsider who respected no precedent, position, or prerogative—and who delighted in openly attacking the presumptions of the presumptuous.

In an outcome that flabbergasted and appalled those who thought they had a firm grip on the election, the outsider triumphed in a manner that both angered and humiliated those who thought their continued control was assured. Were Machiavelli alive today, he probably would not be surprised by the feverish fury of our nation’s elites. Rarely in recent American political discourse have we heard condemnations more vitriolic hurled at a President after only just over a month in office.

However, given the startling changes President Trump is attempting to impose upon a national political establishment long contented with protracted and circular discourse followed by incremental tweaks to the comfortable status quo, the day after the election must have felt like waking up in the hospital after being run over by a truck. The hushed deference to which they had been long accustomed was suddenly gone—and will probably never return.

If one is to judge from the daily dose of invective hurled at President Trump and his administration, the shock is still too much to bear for the many who fully expected a Democratic landslide. Whether one is talking about foreign policy, financial regulation, international trade, healthcare, taxes, freedom of expression, immigration, natural resource management, the powers of the courts and Congress, job creation, national defense strategies, housing, the balance between federal and state authority, terrorism, transportation policy, property rights, or a host of other issues, it is now abundantly clear that nothing—absolutely nothing—is safe from the attentions of this mouthy upstart who seems determined to gore every sacred cow in a cozy company town in order to fulfill his campaign promises. Those who have grown comfortable with their unassailable sinecures are reeling from a bracing dose of rude reality delivered by someone whom they had long ago dismissed as a harmless populist buffoon.

Not surprisingly, the long knives of the political establishment are out for all to see, and the mainstream media is, sad to say, often acting as the house organ for those who don’t want too many hard questions being asked. Speaking as someone who has spent much of my life speaking in support of the critical role that the free press plays in a democracy, the thoroughgoing intellectual dishonesty of so many of the major news outlets—pretending to be mere reporters while acting as vociferous political advocates—has been a bit hard to stomach. However, it is probably not a problem that journalistic biases are now so obviously displayed because it has compelled Americans to openly question what is being reported, which is plainly scaring the bejeezus out of editors and news directors in media centers such as New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C. who have historically enjoyed more credulous and compliant audiences.

The upside to all of this political upheaval is that there seems a real possibility that sweeping and fundamental changes—whatever form they might ultimately take—can now be expected. Those who are frantically trying to cram the genie of voter anger back into the bottle and carry on as we have for decades—more public debt, more inequality, more government regulation, and more jobs being shipped abroad—are certainly doomed to fail.

Although some might desperately wish it were otherwise, we are clearly going to have a national debate about the scope and cost of government, the balance between individual freedoms and collective obligations, and the pressing need for more individual initiative and personal responsibility in virtually every facet of our daily lives. These will be a difficult and confusing conversations for many who have grown oddly comfortable with being coddled and herded, but the outsized role of government in our lives will certainly shrivel in the years immediately ahead due to crushing budget problems and voter demands.

Whether one loves Trump or hates him, we are already experiencing fundamental changes in our nation—at a pace that has clearly set many heads to spinning. Depending upon your point of view, these new directions will either renew or destroy our country—there seem to be few middle-of-the-road opinions out there these days. Perhaps Machiavelli’s wisdom can explain at least some portion of this phenomenon: Change, as he observed, produces many enemies and few friends. This plain fact certainly is responsible for some portion of the extraordinary and destructive divisions afflicting our nation today.

However, given that democracy is a process that requires at least as much listening as speaking, I hope we can cease our shouting and begin a thoughtful dialogue resulting in policies that respect our many differences. Whatever the path we ultimately pursue might be, I can guarantee that not everyone will agree with it, but hopefully our fierce American individualism will allow enough space for the reasonable cooperation necessary to maintain national unity. Our only other option is unthinkable, and I am certain that I am not the only one who worries that rage and frustration are taking many down a road we must not travel.

Replacing Obamacare: A Path Forward

It seems that we are on a fast track for the replacement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly called Obamacare. There is clearly a need for an overarching approach to the health insurance marketplace that will ensure both affordability and access—which Obamacare simply failed to deliver. Skyrocketing premiums, a lack of participating providers, and diminishing plan choice are clear indications that a new solution is needed.

There are a number of ideas floating around for an ACA replacement—and a fair amount of opposition from Democrats to shelving President Obama’s signature domestic program—but failure to provide the American public with a program that does the job and is financially viable would be a catastrophe.

Obviously, any replacement is going to have to pass the most important test, public approval and acceptance, but I have five suggestions for President Trump, the Senate, and Congress that I believe will both please our citizens—and perhaps make the task a little easier to accomplish.

1.  Dump the ACA insurance exchanges. 

It would seem obvious to anyone that laying a complex and expensive layer of government bureaucracy atop the bureaucracy of the private insurance marketplace is an incredibly bad idea—unless, of course, you happen to be a government employee. Although the taxpayer-funded exchanges and the associated payments to community groups to hire “navigators” to help people figure out the exchanges has been a wonderful jobs program for many, it might be easier to let companies that offer health insurance simply explain their own plans to their customers. Sometimes it’s best to let the private sector do their jobs and have government step aside.

2.  Get rid of the employer mandate.  

If you set out to design a system that would encourage employers to actively suppress the number of work hours they offer to their employees, you could hardly create a more effective program than Obamacare. Its brilliant designers thought that defining full-time employees—for whom businesses would then be required to provide health insurance—as those working a mere 30 hours per week would compel more businesses to offer coverage. Instead businesses—surprise!—simply reduced the hours they offered to employees in order to avoid the mandate. It’s time to go back to the standard forty hour workweek and allow businesses to decide for themselves if they want to offer health insurance as an employee benefit.

3.  Continue premium supports—for now.  

Direct 2016 costs associated with Obamacare were estimated to be roughly $110 billion—not a cheap program. Plan costs and the deductibles and co-pays borne by participants will continue to grow because the cost of healthcare in America is high—and getting higher. The signal failure of Obamacare is that it did not drill down into reducing the costs of healthcare—which are still scandalously and frighteningly inflated compared with the very same procedures, medicines, equipment, and services elsewhere in the world. There is a reason, for examples, that those mail-order Canadian pharmacies do so much business with Americans.

Therefore, any solution is going to need to continue some sort of premium support in the near-term while we put other policies in place to drive down healthcare costs until they are at least in the vicinity of what is paid by countries that are our economic peers and partners.

Unfortunately, any subsidy linked to household income inevitably translates into a disincentive to work. Moreover, is it at all smart or fair to financially penalize those Americans who work more and earn more by forcing them to bear the full cost of their healthcare plans if they would otherwise qualify for a subsidy that would reduce their out-of-pocket expense? That, to quote The Bard, is the question—particularly for many small business owners.

With this in mind, it seems sensible (although it will not be politically popular in some quarters) to simply provide every citizen who is unable to obtain health insurance from another source with exactly the same level of premium support for themselves and their dependents. This approach will anger a lot of people who will rail against millionaires who receive the same premium support as a dishwasher, but I suspect the small cohort who are extremely well off—yet for some reason have no health insurance options other than an improved version of the ACA—will be relatively few in number. Besides, the much higher local, state, and federal taxes paid by the affluent certainly provide a balancing factor that likely easily exceeds the premium subsidies they might receive.

However, in the long run, reining in galloping price increases—and outright price gouging—must be a high priority if we are going to improve the affordability of care for all Americans and eventually be able to discontinue premium supports. This will be a Washington war to end all wars because the healthcare industry has tremendous economic and political power, but these battles simply need to be fought.

4.  Continue to prohibit premium surcharges for pre-existing conditions, but also aggressively push Wellness programs to get patients to care for themselves.

There is an old saying that death and taxes are inevitable—we should add chronic illness or injury to this list. Sadly, the majority of us will eventually have something go wrong with our bodies or minds that will never improve. Therefore, we must continue the ACA prohibition against charging Americans who have pre-existing conditions higher insurance premiums—or excluding us from coverage altogether—because the ongoing need for the affordable care of chronic health problems simply cannot be ignored.

Unfortunately, as the past few years have shown, this policy also makes it impossible for insurers to forecast or manage claims when setting premiums for customers, which has led many insurers to flee the program because of escalating losses. Provisions to reimburse insurers for unexpectedly high losses were perhaps inadequate—or even actively resisted by political opponents of Obamacare—but we now know the dollars and cents simply did not add up. Nonetheless, we cannot return to the days when private insurers cherry-picked healthier customers and dumped those who truly needed coverage on the curb to fend for themselves. Access to affordable healthcare is something that all Americans have a right to expect, and providing this must be a priority when making any changes to the ACA.

However, one mechanism for reducing chronic health problems that needs to be more fully exploited is to increase our public and private investments in Wellness programs. Encouraging healthful behaviors and habits—reducing weight, increasing physical activity, improving core strength and balance, removing avoidable risks in our homes, and a host of others—could be the single most important investment we can make to transform American healthcare from a system that drains our pockets by treating disease and injury to one that enhances our lives by promoting good health. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that tobacco-related illness and disease alone results in annual medical costs of roughly $170 billion—which is both incredible and very, very sad. We must do better.

5. Don’t play politics!

My last bit of advice for those seeking to reform or replace Obamacare is exceedingly simple: Write a “clean” bill. The enormously complex task of writing a healthcare reform bill that provides a relatively seamless transition from Obamacare to a new system (“Trumpcare”?) will be infinitely more difficult if lawmakers decide to load up the legislation with riders only tangentially related—or perhaps not related at all—to the matter at hand in order to please certain constituencies or fulfill other campaign pledges.

Partisan gridlock and infighting is quite likely to be the order of the day as Democrats push back in the wake of Clinton’s stunning loss in November, but to needlessly create more headaches and conflicts—and in so doing fail to improve upon a system that is overly expensive and tremendously unwieldy—would be a huge mistake that will only further erode our already stunning lack of faith in our national government.

Now is the time to do some hard work in order to improve the delivery of healthcare to all Americans. Failure, as the saying goes, is not an option.

Please Calm Down, People

 

It might be best for disappointed Democrats to dial down their distress. The daily street protests, Twitter flames, and Facebook meltdowns seem more than a little out of proportion to the facts of the matter: Your candidate lost and expected gains in Congress did not materialize. This is not the beginnings of an American Reich; it is what happens in a democracy when the votes are counted.

However, President-Elect Trump’s startling lack of specificity regarding his policy solutions to many of the problems facing our nation is causing understandable and reasonable anxiety, so it is worth taking a closer look at what we “know” so far regarding some of his plans for our country.

Those who worry about the ramifications of a crackdown on illegal immigrants—and who somehow manage to simultaneously forget that Barack Obama claims to have deported more people than any President in history—are quite correct that this will be difficult and unsettling. Most law enforcement actions are. Nonetheless, the alternative is to continue a de facto open border policy that serves the interests of the few at the expense of the many. Given that Trump wants to focus the initial enforcement efforts on those who have both entered the U.S. illegally and committed crimes while they are here, I’m unclear why anyone would find this policy so objectionable that they would take to the streets or gnash their teeth.

By the same token, it might be worth remembering that Trump is not proposing that we should all die painful deaths due to a lack of healthcare. He has already indicated that he is open to retaining some parts of Obamacare while ditching others in an effort to bring some fiscal rationality to a program that is imploding as premiums skyrocket and insurers flee. Indicating a willingness to roll up your sleeves and try to fix a program that is so fundamentally flawed that it is near to financial collapse only a handful of years after its initial passage is not a sign of heartlessness—it is a healthy engagement with dollars and cents reality.

Finally, now that the total non-military Federal workforce has risen to a record 1.4 million people during a time of unprecedented growth in annual budget deficits and total debt, it seems not at all unreasonable to evaluate who can be cut—and to let everyone know this is coming so that they will not be caught unaware. To do otherwise would be foolish. It will certainly be the case that some agencies will actually grow because there is a great need for the services they provide—while others will reduced or be eliminated. This analysis this would be an example of wise stewardship of limited resources that will allow us to push back against the tide of red ink that has engulfed Washington for many years. It will provoke howls of dismay from those who are comfortable with the unsustainable status quo, but I doubt it will lead to the Zombie Apocalypse. It may, in fact, make more Federal jobs more secure over the long haul by putting the nation’s financial affairs back in order.

Rather than immediately condemn and denigrate any and all policy proposals that are introduced in the months ahead, it might be better for all sides to cooperatively engage and be a part of the long-term solutions. New ideas about the roles and functions of national government might do our country and its citizens a world of good, and thoughtful and open-minded discussion of every point of view might be just what we so desperately need in order to clean up the many messes we now face. The time for self-righteous snark, name calling, and conspiratorial thinking is now gone. We need to calmly and clearly think about what we can do together to build a strong and vital America where everyone feels their voices are heard and their needs are being met.

I cannot—nor can anyone—foresee what the next four years will bring. I can, however, guarantee that nothing will be improved by those who insist upon stamping their feet until their non-negotiable demands are met.

Change is what is needed. Change is what we are getting. Give it a chance, people.