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{Published March 24, 2010, in the Colorado Springs Gazette}

Why, oh why are we so desperate to live in historic times?

It’s actually not that tough a question.

If you can convince yourself that your life is unfolding during some momentous, world-altering event, your life becomes more meaningful without your actually having to do anything.

Who wouldn’t want to be alive during profound, world-altering events?

Unfortunately, unscrupulous people can play upon our desire to live in historic times. We need look no farther than the spin on the “historic” health care legislation passed this week.

Check out the headlines on the day the bill was (barely) passed. Read the “leads,” the first sentence or two.

Scan the photo ops, read the press releases, see if you notice a common theme. Plenty of Democrats may think the idea of living in the End Times and witnessing the Rapture to be totally ridiculous, but they fall victim to the same impulses as they describe the passage of [[ObamaCare]] as a truly “historic” moment.

I believe they are wrong.

Shouldn’t something truly historic, something we all want to be a part of, be something a huge majority of the people support? Something that unites us as a nation?

How can a bill that passed by a whopping seven votes in the House qualify as historic? How can a law that sixteen states are already challenging (including, I am proud to say, Colorado) qualify as something that represents the will of the people?

This law is simply yet another step in a long march of folly, our mistaken belief that by voting for people who pass laws, health care will get better. When those laws create problems, that’s no problem, we just vote for different people to pass different laws.

Over a century ago, the Flexner Report led to “historic” legislation that artificially limited the supply of physicians. We passed “historic” wage and price controls during the 1940’s, which led to “historic” coupling of health insurance to employment. Ever since the 1950s, state legislators have assured their place in history by telling health insurance companies exactly what policies must be like to enjoy the privilege of doing business in their state. In the name of promoting competition, they made competition illegal.

In the ’60s, Medicare was one of the “historic” achievements of Lyndon Johnson, further increasing the amount of bureaucracy, cost inflation, and third-party payments in medical care. The Medicare payroll tax, by the way, is now double what the bill’s sponsors said would be needed. Medicare cost $3 billion in 1965. It now costs $425 billion. But hey, at least it was historic.

Moving up to the recent past, let’s not forget President Bush’s “historic” prescription Medicare drug benefit. Cost us a few hundred billion more, but at least it got him a second term.

But c’mon, none of that really matters now, right? This time, hallelujah, Congress has truly done it.

All the problems caused by the epic, historic political achievements over the past century have been solved by this week’s epic, historic political achievement.

By making health care more expensive for the young, by making Americans buy health insurance, by having the federal government further regulate insurance companies, and of course by taxing the indoor tanning industry, we’ve finally done what no generation before us could do: Quality health care for all Americans that will save us money. Right? Not a chance.

There is still hope for a world where health care gets better and cheaper, but first this monster has to be slain.

Fortunately, many of the changes will be phased in, which means that things could be different after an election or two.

State initiatives to opt out of ObamaCare may succeed. At the very least, such an odious provision is ripe for a constitutional challenge.

In the long run, though, we have a long way to go. Let’s start by doing a better job at separating truly epic events from the pedestrian drama of human fallibility.

When it comes to health care and politics, the only thing truly historical is how little we learn from history.