It’s like a car­bu­re­tor

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - VOICES -

Do you re­mem­ber when cars had car­bu­re­tors? Back in the day, I de­cided to re­build the car­bu­re­tor on our Dat­sun 510. I bought a kit, laid out muf­fin tins to sort the tiny parts, and dove in.

I dis­cov­ered it was “com­pli­cated.” It looked as though the en­gi­neers had started with a sim­ple de­sign— air cham­ber, jets and but­ter­fly valve. Then they added ex­tra cham­bers and jets and valves and springs and sen­sors and vac­uum hoses to en­hance the choke, boost ac­cel­er­a­tion, re­tard de­cel­er­a­tion, pre­vent stalling, re­duce emis­sions, com­pen­sate for tem­per­a­ture, and so on. Each suc­ces­sive ad­don served a pur­pose.

But I could not shake the thought that they might have built a leaner and meaner ma­chine by start­ing from scratch.

If they had asked what should be the net re­sult, I am sure they could have come up with a sim­pler and bet­ter de­sign.

Our var­i­ous health-care bills re­mind me of my car­bu­re­tor. Drop a cov­er­age, pro­vide a tax break, phase out Med­i­caid, add a sub­sidy, limit ben­e­fits, sup­ple­ment pre­mi­ums, strip the man­date, pe­nal­ize lapses. Each tweak en­lists the sup­port of one group or an­other.

But I can­not shake the thought that we have cob­bled to­gether a heap of pro­vi­sions that lose track of the main pur­pose. Sup­pose we ask: What can we do to pro­vide health for our na­tion? I bet if we pur­sued that ques­tion, we could come up with one slick car­bu­re­tor. BILL RICE Bella Vista

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