Pat Paulsen was a hoot. The comedian, who appeared on "The Smothers Brothers" TV show starting back in the late 1960s, was also a perennial presidential candidate, getting loud laughs by being just a tad more evasive, ludicrous and shallow than the real thing. Pat also had a pat answer to any imagined criticism, even if it was on the order of his having burned down Washington.
"Picky, picky, picky," he would say.
Did he maybe start something? I look around today, see bone-crunching putdowns of progressive nonsense and then note progressive responses on the order of a shoulder shrug, a grin, the shaking of a head, the equivalent of "picky, picky, picky." That's the case, for instance, as some look at how the initial rollout of the Affordable Care Act seems to have signed up 7.1 million people despite earlier problems with malfunctioning computer systems and a seeming lack of consumer interest. Some well-known commentators say all is now proven OK. Obamacare works.
Excuse me, but this is just one of the early steps along with a stumble in a march of a thousand tortuous miles. We don't even know those signing up are the young, healthy, previously uninsured people who were targeted, but there is much we do know. We do know, for instance, that President Obama has delayed the employer mandate that might strip jobs from the workplace so that it will come after instead of before the 2014 midterm elections. That may mean near-term political disaster is somewhat less likely, but certainly not that human disaster is ruled out.
We know that Obamacare, while doing some truly good things that could have been done more simply, could portend a doctor shortage. We know that new regulations are causing mass confusion in hospitals. We know that a new tax in the act has already cost 33,000 jobs in the medical device industry. We know a couple of million people may leave the workforce because of the law, thereby reducing wealth production in the nation. We know people had to give up plans they liked for those they did not like. We know many are being hit with higher premiums and that literally tens of millions will remain uninsured under the program.
I see the progressive yawns out there, and I guess I will induce more as I move on to the president's latest populist palaver meant to affect those aforementioned 2014 elections. The president is still talking about the desperate need for a new minimum wage that would likely get at least a half million people laid off. He doesn't mention the picky, picky, picky half million. He talks as if such a law would do more good than harm, when it won't, and now is talking as if women are being unfairly treated because men on average make more money than they do.
It is true that men are better compensated on average, but it is also true that this has been well-researched and the main reasons are that many employed women choose to work fewer hours than men or take jobs that pay less but are more convenient or rewarding to them than those that pay more. We've got laws requiring equal pay for equal work and women can now sue if the facts support their case, and a couple of new executive orders from the president about fairness from federal contractors are meaningless.
They are just new ways to further divide us, stir up anger and distrust of the marketplace and paint perfectly fine people as malicious and unfair and thereby win elections. After all, that's what the utterly phony "Republican war on women" did, making it sound as if birth control was out of reach of large numbers of women if Obamacare did not act through mandates and premium-increasing insurance rules. None of it was even close to true.
Haven't we had enough of that?
Or am I being picky, picky, picky?
(Jay Ambrose is an op-ed columnist for McClatchy-Tribune.)