The Origin and Breakdown of the Bipartisan Mind

The term was coined by psychologist Julian Jaynes, who presented the idea in his 1976 book The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, wherein he made the case that a bicameral mentality was the normal and ubiquitous state of the human mind. The book took the country by storm when it came out. When I was a kid in the mid-seventies, and even though I was 15, I made a serious effort to read it, even write a book report on it. But that is not why I make reference to it. Each side of the brain communicates with the other, there is some specialization, and they are co-dependent.

Let’s take the example of Health Care Reform. The problems it tries to resolve are ancient, half a century or more. The Affordable Health Care Act came from meetings of nearly every interested party: Democrats and Republicans, physicians, insurance providers, drug companies, disease prevention and cure advocates, representatives for underprivileged and uninsured, labor, other business leaders. All agreed there are huge problems, and all agreed that there was no simple solution. Compromise would be the best route.

The notion of an individual mandate came from conservative economists, and was embraced by the Heritage Foundation, Orrin Hatch, Chuck Grassley, Bob Dole, and others. It was a huge ground shift later that got the Right all upset about the bill.

The Bill contains all kinds of good things – children insured to a later age, insurance portability. Great examples include cooperative exchanges to encourage competition, no lifetime benefit caps and limits on annual benefit caps, limits to exclusions for pre-existing conditions. The $3,000 prescription “donut hole” is shrinking, and there are expansions in Medicaid programs. Many, but not all of the problems with the future financial health of Medicaid and Medicare were rectified. Hospitals are required to higher standards for care and to do more to ready patients before they are discharged. So a huge net savings is generated through more preventative care, and less uncovered emergency care. It is, by and large a reduction in the national deficit as concluded by the Congressional Budget Office. To not have the bill hugely expands the deficit. It covers 32 million of the over 40 million uninsured. Undocumented immigrants remain uncovered.

The “mandate” only provides a penalty if you (1) can afford health care and don’t get it and (2) don’t want to pay a fine. Low income people have no mandate.

It seems the “mandate” is the only issue of contention, despite its bipartisan roots. The courts will decide this. The next election is a sort of national plebiscite on health care. If the next congress changes the word “penalty” to “tax,” there is no legal issue in play! Or they could re-write and gut the whole act.

Polls indicate massive ignorance about the Health Care Act. Astounding misconceptions, jingoistic slogans and falsehoods have been spread through rumors and by the for-profit inflamed right media. Is it a job-killing law? Well, it allows people in their late 60s to retire instead of holding on, waiting for social security. Larger employers have to pay a little more for coverage, not small businesses. The shift to the Right by the Crazies gaining some control over the public debate has gone from a misinformation campaign, to baseless outrage, to widespread outrage at nonexistent problems based on false premises.

The Jaynes book claimed that when the two sides of the mind did not communicate properly, one part could gain control and mess things up, even lead to psychotic breakdown including paranoia, schizophrenia, and destructive violent behavior. The treatment for this is psychoanalysis, medication, and even brain surgery. Hmmm, I wonder who will pay for that. And many of the worst go to jail, another public expense.

About Jim

I've been leading outdoor environmental education in the YMCA since the 1970s. I love teaching nature, history, current events, being a dad, fixing stuff, groups, and general thinking.
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