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The Step Pyramid

February 26, 2010

Well, faithful readers, I’m sure one of you expected me to weigh in on the health care debate before now, right?  No?  Fair enough, goodness knows there is something to be said for keeping your trap shut until, ummmm, maybe just keep it shut (Michael Steele I’m looking at you).  This adage from the best republican ever, Abraham Lincoln, seems to fit somehow dontchathink?  “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”  Yeah, Orange-man Boehner I’m looking at you too.

Yesterday was the marathon “Bipartisan” health care summit.  I caught bits of it during the day, and have been reading about it on interwebbytubes and caught the NPR round-up this AM. 

Below the cut, the official 5280point5 reenactment (no actors were harmed, promise):

Red Curtain Rises   

President Obama:       Welcome to my party everyone, I hope everyone has read my detailed 11 page proposal linking together the House and Senate bills and offering a compromise that hopefully can pass both Chambers.  I’d love to discuss substantive policy with you all today and make sure that everyone sees how there are elements of both party’s proposals in here.  Obviously there are a few more democratic ideas, after all we did kick your republican asses last November, but we’ve left off the most popular one of all, the public option, because we’re wimps, because it’s the most contentious among you pampered idiots that have government insurance Congress as far as getting the votes we need to pass the bill.

Sen. Alexander:          It’ll raise premiums!

Rep. Cantor:               Scrap it, start over, I was lying when I said a few months ago that we liked 80% of the proposals, I LIE!!!

Sen. McCain:              Promises from the campaign trail! [ed. Comment- right, like your promise to overturn DA/DT when military leaders tell you it’s about damn time?]

President Obama:       John, you lost.  Oh, and I love the No on Prop 8 ad your wife and daughter did.  Lovely.

Rep. Boehner:             Start over!!  We’ll do something in the next couple of months!!  (aside to aide: When’s my tee time?  I hope I don’t miss my tanning session….)

Sen. Reid:                   Reconciliation isn’t just for crappy tax cuts for rich people.  Your very hypocritical comments that it’s “jamming it through” anger me, yet no member of the media feels like doing anything to highlight the absurdity of it all. 

Rep. Pelosi:                Where were all your good ideas Senator No?  You suck.  You all suck.  And you’re a bunch of liars.  Facts is facts is facts. 

President Obama:       Republicans, thanks for showing your true colors.  You have no political reason to work with us, and the media will never really give you a kick in the pants for it, which they should.  I’ve got a majority and I’m going to use it.  Bit by bit isn’t going to cut it, and you know it.  Selfish bastards.

Red Curtain Lowers.  No curtain calls for this one folks. 

I have actually read the President’s proposal that bridges the difference between the Senate and House bills, and all in all it’s not too bad.  Obviously, I’d love to see a universal health care system.  I think linking health care to a job creates disincentives for allowing people to explore their true passions, and instead ties them down to a job they may hate merely because they can’t afford to lose their insurance.  This is not a politically popular position.  Which stinks because I bet once people gave it a hard look, there would be a lot more converts.  England’s NHS is not the only option—if you can afford it, and want it, you can have private insurance too—it just gives baseline coverage to everyone.  How is that bad?

None of these bills is perfect.  Goodness knows that when Rep. Kucinich votes against it for being too conservative, he’s got a point.  But nothing perfect comes out of Congress the first time.  Social security, Medicare, the Civil Rights Act, the Clean Air Act . . . all of these pieces of legislation got more comprehensive over time.  As they should.  You need a big first step to lay the foundation, then see how it works and where it needs fixing.  The President’s proposal does that. 

One historical example of this “big foundation, later additions” concept comes from the ancient Egyptians and their creation of the pyramids.  I’ve been listening to a course on the history of ancient Egypt and it’s been fascinating. 

The pyramids were begun by the pharaohs of the Third Dynasty, part of the Old Kingdom.  They began and reached their ultimate “heights” with those kings.  As you might imagine, sand graves aren’t awesome, especially when there are desert winds to contend with.  So the Egyptians began to carve tombs into rock, and then cover those tombs with a mastaba, a large rectangular shelter that was placed above the tomb.  Zoser (2686-2649 BC) was pharaoh during the creation of pyramids.  His architect Imhotep came up with the idea of placing one mastaba on top of another.  The one on top would be a little bit smaller than the base one.  Then another smaller one would be placed on top of that one, and so on, creating the first step pyramids.  Cool right? 

When the Step Pyramid of Saqqara was finished, it was the first stone building in the world.

Now, pyramids began to take shape under Sneferu (2613-2589 BC).  They had the step pyramids, and they built more of them and tried to fill in the steps to create more of a true smooth pyramid shape.  But it takes trial and error folks, the Great Pyramid of Giza didn’t just drop out of the sky.  Sneferu had to build three different pyramids before there was one that worked- the Red Pyramid of Dahshur, the third attempt.  It was his son Khufu (2589-2566 BC), also called Cheops by the Greeks, that built the Great Pyramid of Giza.

The original mastaba-based “step” pyramids remind me of the process that all good social programs have to go through.  A big foundation followed by incremental improvements over time to make it all work in the end. 

No it’s not perfect, and yes there should be a public option, but it’s a great start.  And goodness knows a start of fixing this mess of a system should make anyone with a conscience stand up and say, it’s about time.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Sarah permalink
    February 26, 2010 5:17 pm

    You’re reenactment is spot-on! That’s exactly what I remember them saying. I watched the whole thing…

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