For some reason, this ticked me off. The bank wasn’t open (I wonder how much TARP money they got), so I pounded on the door. An employee came out and I had a simple message: Shovel your damn sidewalk.
He mumbled something about how the property management company was in charge of sidewalk shoveling, and about how he didn’t have a shovel, an excuse I found to be completely unconvincing. I didn’t belabor the point. I didn’t want to get into a long conversation with a bank employee about why the snow wasn’t shoveled, so I moved on.
The rest of the block, by the way, was completely shoveled by other small businesses (and another bank), so this wasn’t a systemic problem, and in fact, I have been working on my own theory about snow shoveling and its implications for healthcare reform.
That fact is that most businesses take care of their sidewalks. They know it is better for their customers and for their employees. And most people take care of their own sidewalks back at home. It is when you get into public spaces that the system tends to collapse (especially in the District of Columbia).
The reason we have government is to take care of those places either businesses or individuals can’t or won’t take care of. The problem with the District of Columbia is that they usually don’t do the job they are supposed to do.
Now, the mayor could call for a tax hike to pay people to do the job the government is supposed to do, but if he did, it would be political suicide. It would be suicide because taxpayers in the District already pay a lot in taxes, and they simply don’t trust the government to use their tax dollars wisely.
Same thing when it comes to healthcare. Business takes care of the vast majority of healthcare in this country. They do so, ultimately, because it helps their customers. A healthy and relatively happy workforce makes better products for the consumption of the general public.
Where business doesn’t take care of healthcare, individuals take care of themselves. Yes, it can be expensive, but there are plenty of families that can take care of their own healthcare needs.
Undoubtedly, there are families that can’t take care of themselves, and that is where government has to step in. But the problem for the Obama administration is that the American people simply don’t trust the government to efficiently deliver healthcare to those in need. They think they already pay too much in taxes, that the government will waste their hard-earned tax dollars, and worse, any scheme that the Democrats come up with will endanger their own healthcare.
Yes, we need to strengthen the safety net, and yes, we need to make sure that the market is fair, and yes, we need to make sure that all businesses are good corporate citizens, but most Americans don’t trust the government to use their taxpayer dollars wisely.
The president thinks he can continue to snow the voters under with rhetoric, but what he really needs to do is learn from the District of Columbia’s experience with the last couple of blizzards. First, they want to see government that works before they agree to more government.