Friday, November 15, 2013

Rube Goldberg Bus Nears the Cliff
You’re either on the bus or off the bus.
Tom Wolfe (born1931), author of  Electric Kool-Aid Acid Kit
Oprah Winfrey (born 1954), TV host, TV network owner
It’s a fine bus.  It has a famous driver, driven by a transformative vision, to give free seats to the poor and have other passengers pay for them. 
It has famous designer, Reuben Garrett Lucius “Rube” Goldberg (1993-1970), an American cartoonist and engineer who  perfected the art of designing complex machines that does simple tasks in overly complex ways, like build a bus that could carry a busload of pfree-loading assengers for free without anybody sacrificing anything for anybody else.
The bus’s massive fuel tank, once  filled to overflowing with federal funds.  But now the tank is running on empty.  How to refill it?  Should the driver lighten the bus load to get more miles per gallon, more bang for the buck?   Should he charge paying customers more?
His bus has a powerful engine, equipped with computer-aided technologies.  It even has a website.  Future riders, he says,  can easily  go to a website to find a seat, correct deficiencies,  tune up the carbonator,  clear the gas lines, even refill the gas tank.  But what to do if the website malfunctions?  What if customers can’t get on the website? What if they can't even get on the bus?
The bus rides on four big overblown wheels, built to raise the main chassis. The bus driver calls these tires the individual, employer, regulatory and political mandates.  The word “mandate” means passengers have to follow the driver’s instructions, get off the bus, or pay more to ride the bus.  
The bus has a full -load  of loyal passengers, riding for free.  Word is out, and more free riders are coming on board every day.  Some may even be able to pay for a ride with food stamps.
The bus owners and its driver are popular with the press, who are spreading word far and wide that its seats are free for those who need a ride.  
Its only problem is that all the features of the bus and the dreams of the driver are not interconnected or widely known, nor are they appreciated  by  the public at large, who have their own ideas and who are weary of supporting the vision of the driver and bearing the expense of the bus.   
Furthermore, some are being displaced from their seats and forced to abandon plans they have chosen for themselves.   They are angry.  They are threatening to fire the driver and hire a driver friendlier with their desire to be free to choose a seat.
Consequently, the bus is approaching a cliff, a chasm between its free riders and future passengers.   What can the bus driver do?    Tell his free riders things are going to be OK, that he can swerve and miss the cliff?   Change direction?  Open the doors to other passengers?   Let them in and tell them to go to the back of the bus?  Have the young give up their seats to older riders?  Tell limo owners to give up their cars and pay to ride the bus?
Tweet:  President Obama faces a tough decision, whether to ride it out with his failing entitlement program or compromise and change health law.

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