Feeding the Wolves

One of the columns in yesterday’s New York Times referenced the old tale–variously attributed to Native Americans, village leaders of old or saintly religious folks– about the young woman who comes to a wise elder to ask what she should do about a recurring nightmare in which two wolves are ferociously fighting. She asks what it means, and is told that the wolves represent two sides of her own nature: the good and bad.

When she then asks which will win, the wise man tells her “The one you feed.”

This, in a nutshell, is why ¬†wise people refuse to negotiate with terrorists. Negotiation and compromise are important in many areas of life: between spouses, in legislative chambers, even at times between parents and children. But like all tools, it is important to know when–and when not–to deploy them.

The Tea Party radicals currently holding the nation hostage to their demands are terrorists. Unable to marshal the votes to defeat the Affordable Care Act , unable to defeat a President who ran on a record that prominently featured that Act, they have resorted to the sort of blackmail characteristic of terrorists: give us what we want or I’ll kill or maim the hostage.

The American economy is the hostage.

Even people who are adamantly opposed to the ACA should condemn these tactics, for the same reason that kids on a playground should refuse to give in to the bully who says “Play by my rules or I’ll take my ball and bat and go home.” It’s the same reason we don’t negotiate with rogue states that capture and hold innocent civilians hostage. Giving in to their demands encourages the behavior we deplore. It sets a dangerous precedent for the future–a future in which spoiled brat minorities who don’t get their way through legitimate means can circumvent democratic processes and actually be rewarded for the damage they cause.

Ironically, if these tactics work for Tea Party fanatics today, you can be sure they’ll be deployed by folks with very different agendas tomorrow. As a friend of mine likes to say, poison gas is a great weapon– until the wind shifts.

Giving in to these tactics feeds the wrong wolf.


  1. There is no bill, law, rule or ordinance that is letter perfect in it’s entirety; this holds true with the ACA. Rather than attempting to change/improve sections, the GOP has spent the past three years trying to prevent it, destroy it and to repeal it 40 times; that wolf is being kept well fed by the wealthy Tea Party and the gun-totin’ NRA. I for one, with my limited monthly income ($781 Social Security and $277.62 PERF) am willing to check with my bank for my SS deposit before mailing my bills on October 3rd. My adult life has been spent juggling a budget; something no Tea Party member can understand. As a THINKING American citizen I am also willing to dip into my small savings account to keep my bills paid if necessary if this country is forced by the ravening GOP to partially shut down the government only to make a point regarding their power to do so. How many of you are willing to join me? Do without a dinner out, clip store coupons, make fewer trips to save gas, explain to children why they cannot have that new iPhone or the latest computer game, turn off lights and TV’s when not in use, wear a sweater rather than turning on your heat, and the list goes on and on. Simple savings that will not inconvenience you or cause you to go hungry or cold. Show that 1-2% with all the money that WE WILL SURVIVE BECAUSE WE ARE AMERICA! Let’s starve that particular wolf.

  2. These uber right-wingers attempting to hold the nation hostage with their demands remind me of Pat Bauer’s “play by my rules or I’ll take my ball and go home” tactic. The political bully ultimately meets his demise at the hands of his cooler-headed party members. No one likes a bully.

  3. The other day I was speaking w/ someone who is 70 y/o and is on the board of a nonprofit that runs group homes for the mentally disabled. He was blaming Obamacare for all that is wrong with healthcare. I gently reminded him that Obamacare has not REALLY started and that healthcare is already in a mess. Doctors are already spending an exorbitant amount of time doing paperwork and that is not just due to gov’t insurance but the demands of private insurance. Is things going to get worse? Sure, we have millions of baby boomers, not enough folks interested in going into medicine, and even if they were interested there are not enough of us to meet the demand.

    I did not get insurance until I was 29 y/o working full time as a nurse. Prior to that I worked 40+ hours per week at all of my previous jobs and I was a full time student. I had to pay full price to see a doctor (not the negotiated price), to pay for antibiotics, and my thyroid medicine.

    If you are sick and don’t have insurance ‘we’ have to treat you. Because you are being seen at full price which can be almost 3 times higher than the negotiated rate, it is not hard for your bill to quickly rack up to thousands of dollars…money you don’t have to pay for it. Who pays for this bill? We all do…all of us do with insurance and to be honest the insurance companies are not struggling and neither are the drug companies. Most of the MD’s I work for were still driving 10 year old cars, making around $100,000 per year and putting in at least 70 hours per week. The current healthcare system needs an overhaul….I am just furious and frustrated w/ the tantruming children in Congress.

  4. For profit healthcare is un-American.
    What the tea party folks in congress don’t seem to understand is that the whole world is watching us and they cannot believe we would deny health care to humans. Any and all humans. It’s morally wrong. Affordable health care is available and we need to start implementing it RIGHT AWAY.

  5. So right, Ms. Kennedy. It’s not really about Obamacare, is it? It’s about bullies in the Congress and the minority of the citizens in this country who support them, and are, themselves, bullies.

    I think it’s time we all got real about it. Thank you.

  6. What’s really ironic in all this mess, from what I understand, is that the ACA goes into effect tomorrow whether the government is shut down or not. So it’s lose-lose for the Tea Party fanatics.

  7. You are SO right. Put another way, you can’t feed a tiger a steak and then expect him to become a vegetarian.

    Here’s a tongue-in-cheek solution to the ‘defund Obamacare’ strategy:

    Boehner Advises Americans to Delay Getting Cancer for a Year

    (click here for the whole article: http://www.newyorker.com)

    In a special Sunday radio address, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) delivered a health tip to the American people, advising them to delay getting cancer for a year.

  8. Our Healthcare System is quite simply a nightmare. You would think we are trying to invent the wheel for the first time, with no other models to go by. Other Health Care models exist, in Western Europe, Canada, and Japan among others. We could have studied and investigated these other models, to determine the best options, taking cost and delivery of Heath Care into consideration. We could have adopted the Japanese system or selected the best of each.

    The Public Option was never allowed to see the light of day in Congress, and to Obama’s own shame his weakness to Corporatism prevented him proposing a public option.

    You might have thought corporate America would have jumped at the chance for a Public Option, to relieve themselves of having to administer and fund a healthcare benefit for their employees.

  9. All forms of insurance need restructuring and better regulation but; health care insurance is the only one that comes with a life-or-death consequence. Why should the family plan through Anthem – Blue Cross/Blue Shield carry a $9,000 yearly deductible? This is just one example of abuse of power. The John Grisham movie, “The Rainmaker” brought out the fact that employees are trained to deny coverage for many bogus reasons, sending more paperwork, accusations of lack of signature or documents not received in the time-frame. This is NOT the workings of Grisham’s imagination. I knew someone who was hired at Blue Cross/Blue Shield several years ago; she was very proud of this employement opportunity till that section of training began…it is fact, not fiction. Why should the local CEO of WellPoint who governs this company and others receive an annual salary of $13.5 million after 900+ employees where let go due to no money to pay them? What human being on this earth does anything worth that annual salary? The insured who are not actually paying for any coverage but for papers with language that cannot be understood, pay that salary. All of this has gone on for years; probably since long before Barack Obama was old enough to know what politics meant. He did understand his mother died due to lack of health care coverage. These loopholes are also in Medicaid and harm those most in need.

    In December 2008, my son Mark in Florida was rear-ended on the highway resulting in 7 fractured vertebra and permanent disability. It took months to qualify for Medicaid; their doctors diagnosed him with terminal cancer as well as the fractured spine. It took 15 months for his Disabiity to begin (thanks to the vehicle insurance attorney); he began receiving $1,495 monthly on a Monday – on Friday he received his Medicaid concellation because his “income” was too high. I wrote to Michelle Obama who forwarded my letter to his district Medicaid/Medicare office in Georgia who sent me a letter and forms for Mark to take to his local Medicaid office to apply for Medically Needy assistance. He qualified IF he spent $1, 210 monthly for his medical care; at that time he would qualify for a small percentage of assistance with his medical bills. This would leave him with $205 monthly to live on; less than I had been sending him from my limited Social Security check and PERF checks. Those most in need receive less – if they receive anything. The ACA needs some adjustments, not total cancellation and all states should be required to accept federal funds to expand Medicaid assistance, not refusal by governers who do not agree with some of the coverage due to their so-called religious beliefs.

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