Former governor and emergency room physician John Kitzhaber held a live Facebook conversation on health care reform last week. Wanting to be Governor again, he billed it as a way to collaborate with Oregonians to “create policies that work for Oregon.”
Unfortunately, the “collaboration” lasted only 30 minutes. People posted questions on his Facebook Wall, and he answered some of them in real time. But all too soon he made this announcement:
“That was an amazingly fast 30 minutes. I appreciate your participation and Oregon can only benefit from this kind of involvement.”
Thirty minutes of involvement, and then the doctor had to leave. Several people complained about the short session, but the doctor was gone. A campaign staffer assured everyone that they had captured all the questions and that there would be other such conversations in the future on other topics.
So it seems that politics rations health care speech online, just as politics rations health care itself in real life. In Canada, for example, where the government pays the bills and health care is “free,” they ration by queue. Need a quadruple bypass operation there and you wait an average of five weeks. Here, from the onset of symptoms to his quadruple bypass operation, former President Clinton waited not five weeks, but just five days.
Thank you, Dr. Kitzhaber, for showing us that politics can ration speech as well as health care.
Steve Buckstein is founder and senior policy analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research center.