Friday, February 04, 2011

Tolbert Piece Shows How Legislators are Repeatedly Duped

"Trust Me Legislators, I'm An Expert!"

Jason Tolbert has a piece up which is a perfect example of how "experts" with an ax to grind use scare scare tactics to buffalo legislators out of voting for bills that they would otherwise be inclined to vote for. In this case it was a SB113 by Cecil Bledsoe that would have made sure Arkansas taxpayers would not be footing the bill for abortions under the new health care fiasco, unless the life of the mother were in danger.

The conveniently handy "expert" from the industry reported to the committee that he had a "survey" from the industry which indicated that the sky would fall if this bill passed. Well, maybe not that bad, but that there would be negative consequences unforeseen by the bill's backers. The scare tactic worked.

Later Tolbert finds out that this "survey" was of ONE COMPANY! Now if it was Arkansas Blue Cross then that might mean something, as they are the 800 pound gorilla in the business. But the one firm was Qual Choice. Not only do they represent somewhere around just 10% of the market (7.3% in 2001), but they are heavily weighted toward public-sector employees rather than being representative of the whole market.

For more details of how it worked in this instance, please see the Tolbert article. My contribution is to point out that this was not a one-time occurrence. This happens on a regular basis in our legislature. Any reformers that you elect will not just have to fight against the left-leaning legislators, they will have to fight against an "expert" system that greatly outnumbers them and has shown a willingness to use ill-founded disaster scenarios to scare legislators out of voting for common-sense legislation that their constituents would want and that they themselves would otherwise be inclined to vote for.

This system is dominated by special interests and those who favor big government and centralized control. The bureaucrats who run the departments all want more power, control, and money. Some of them will say just about anything to the legislators to keep them from voting for good ideas that put their department out. Tolbert reports on one little example, but the problem is pervasive and ongoing.

Right now, the "experts" know that the legislators are only part timers who are term-limited. They know that for the most part, they can buffalo them. On the few occasions they catch on, there are no consequences. That has to change if the system is to change. The only thing that is going to fix it is economics- make the costs of misleading the legislature so high that there is a disincentive to do it.

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