Congress, Health Care Reform and the Man in Black

Johnny_Cash-NixonBy Guy Mastrion

This morning I went out for a walk and had this great old Johnny cash song in my head called, “One Piece at a Time

The song relates the story of an auto worker who cant afford the car of his dreams so he sets out to take the parts home from work, In the end he has a car but its nothing like anything anyone else has ever seen. We cant call it beautiful, nor really ugly, just very, very odd.

From here my thoughts turned to healthcare reform and Congress and how so many things that come out of Congress are just like this old car. Cobbled together one piece at a time, a collection of related ideas without a real vision.

Today my stack of mail included my first solicitation from the AARP, the American Association of Retired Persons. Yes, Ive recently come of age (50) and started to consider my options going forward. Retirement now looks impossible at almost any age for me. A father of two relatively young girls, with college tuition waiting out there for me, a collapsed economy, stock valuations in the toilet, mortgage payments, car payments. Yeah, Im just like everyone else — years of hard work and savings sucked dry by greed and corruption.

Im wondering right now how the AARP is still relevant and why is it meaningful to me beyond the nice discounts.

I jump over to their website, and notice how hard they profess to be looking out for guys like me. I notice the “Divided We Fail link on the site, AARPs attempt to break the bi-partisan gridlock that seemingly hampers any real progress.

OK, so maybe AARP is still a relevant organization. Im still learning and I guess I should join but Im not convinced Im an AARP kind of guy. Im not sure joining will really do much for me. Because in the end (if we consider recent events a sort of end of something) they were unable, like so many others, to stop the feeding frenzy that brought us all down.

As a creative director and designer I got a chuckle out of the symbol, of “Divided We Fail. Its a combination of a donkey and an elephant. presents a perfect visual creation of an implausible creature, a united congress.

So now Im thinking again of that Johnny Cash song, this implausible but drivable car. Its a lot like Congress, or better yet, maybe a lot like the bills that get passed through Congress with one piece at a time added here and there. A fabrication of somewhat related ideas without an elegant and unifying design.

I imagine that Congress could learn a thing or two from Johnny Cash and his song and maybe even from But when you spend more time talking and less time listening you tend not to learn much.

I wonder how many Congressmen and women are members of AARP? Do you think they all have Facebook pages, use Flickr, and Tweet each other on matters of state? I wonder if they are using technology to help create unity or build a bigger divide? I wonder if well ever have reasonable healthcare reform that will deliver an elegant, well-conceived solution we can all afford?

I wonder if Johnny Cash was a member of AARP? Something tells me he wasnt. I know he wasnt a member of Congress. I wonder if Congress ever heard Johnnys song?

What do you make of all this?

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