All posts by Steve Brawner

History and health care

By Steve Brawner
© 2017 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

History repeats itself, and, as we’re seeing with health care, that includes recent history.

In 1993, newly elected President Bill Clinton put the first lady in charge of fixing health care, and the next year the Republicans took over the House and Senate and gained 10 governorships. In 2009-10, newly elected President Obama and the Democrats passed the Affordable Care Act, and then Republicans gained control of government in Arkansas and virtually everywhere else except cities and the big blue states.

Now, newly elected President Trump and Republicans in Congress are trying to pass a health care bill – without any support from Democrats, who are salivating at the prospect of that issue sinking Republicans the way it previously sank them.

Extra cash for highways?

By Steve Brawner
© 2017 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

Arkansas does not have Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains, but it does have the Ozarks and the Ouachitas. It does not have Elvis’ Graceland home, but it does have the birthplace of Johnny Cash. Unlike Tennessee, it does not have $2 billion to play with, but, like Tennessee, could it also find hundreds of millions of dollars for highways?

The question is asked after the Arkansas Highway Commission voted June 7 to pursue a ballot initiative for 2018 to raise up to $400 million a year for road construction.

That was step one of about a thousand. Forgive this run-on sentence, but the Commission and supporters such as the Arkansas Good Roads Foundation would have to decide on a specific proposal, obtain the attorney general’s approval, raise money to collect 67,887 voter signatures, raise money to defend against the inevitable last-minute legal challenge, raise money for the campaign, and then win the campaign.

How do you make a person or country change? Generally not through nagging

By Steve Brawner
© 2017 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

How do you make a person or a country change?

One option is to use overwhelming force so they have no choice but to bend to your will and eventually maybe even embrace it. It can work but is often unavailable and comes at great cost – for example, when West Germany and Japan became free market democracies after World War II under American occupation. On the other hand, if it fails, it fails big.

A second option is using less than overwhelming force – diplomacy, nagging, the silent treatment. It often results in only partial, pacifying change.

A third option is using influence and persuasion so effectively that the other chooses to change, often while in a state of crisis or transition. It’s the most effective option, but it requires patience, confidence, and the acceptance that others may adopt only some of your suggestions.

After the shooting, a question

By Steve Brawner
© 2017 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

Many are asking if politics made the shooter crazy. That’s an important question. Another is, what is it doing to the rest of us?

Here’s what we know, as of Thursday morning. A man had lived a relatively normal life, even serving as a foster parent. There had been a few acts of violence and minor run-ins with the law, including one scary episode where he allegedly punched a woman in the face, pointed a gun at a neighbor and then hit him with the stock, but there’s plenty of evidence that he was sane. In recent years he’d become increasingly political and agitated, angrily obsessing over the injustices of a system he could not change. He posted political rants in Facebook’s echo chamber and joined a page pushing to “terminate” the Republican Party. He’d once practiced shooting his rifle outside his home, prompting a neighbor to call the sheriff. He moved to the Washington, D.C., area a few months ago, lived in a van, and frequented a bar where he would sit and drink beer with a creepy smile on his face. Then, on Wednesday, he took his rifle to a congressional baseball practice, calmly asked a congressman which party was practicing, thanked him for his answer, and then started shooting.