Let’s Do Like Them

I finally watched the movie Sicko.  Though it argued quite unfairly (which of course does not make its conclusion wrong), it did make one good point at the very end.  Since I can find no script online, let me paraphrase:

If another country makes better cars, we drive them.  If another country makes better wine, we drink it.  So if other countries have found a better way to take care of each other, why shouldn’t we adopt that too? 

As we prepare to vote on Super Tuesday, let us remember that there is little new under the political sun.  Most policy issues faced by a city, state, or nation are pretty similar to issues faced by other similar regions.  Thus when considering how to solve their problems, each locale should pay close attention to other locales’ experiences.  A successful new approach will be tried first in one locale, and then copied by many other locales.  So the typical good policy will be to copy and adapt a new approach first tried somewhere else. 

Yet when politicians propose solutions to long-standing problems, they rarely describe their solutions as variations on solutions tried elsewhere.  They rarely say "that idea seems to be working well over there; let’s try it over here."  Voters would apparently feel insulted to have to follow another locale’s lead, and politicians would seem weak to suggest such following.  Alas, "not invented here" is not just for corporations.

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