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January 23, 2019

8/23/2009
Damned Lies and Page Counts
I haven't been watching much TV lately. My weekly intake of television programming consists of Comedy Central's Daily Show, The Colbert Report, a few shows on HBO, and an occasional boxing match. That's about it.

Books have become my primary source of entertainment, especially while I await the new wave of fall television programming and new seasons of IU football and basketball.

Television news? Nope. Rarely watch it anymore. I will admit to some channel surfing, but it's unusual to find a television news report that's engrossing enough to compel me to sit and watch for more than five minutes. My craving for news is satisfied through the written word, mostly words from Web sites.

Television coverage of the so-called health care debate is abysmal. The majority of news reports are merely tapes of town hall demonstrators broadcast on a seemingly endless loop. You've seen the tapes, angry mobs yelling at members of congress.

Protesters complain about the size of the health care bill: "I have a problem with a 1,000-page bill!", they scream. "Have you even read the health care bill!?", they shout.

You won't see any town hall protesters shouting at Indiana's 5th District Congressman Dan Burton. Mainly because Burton spends his August recess on the golf course. As a matter of fact, Burton just finished playing in a celebrity golf tournament in Sun Valley, Idaho. Do you suppose he received some valuable health care reform feedback from corporate sponsors and sports celebrities while he was there?

By the way, the House version of the health care bill is not 1,000 pages long as the protesters claim. It's 1,018 pages long, to be exact. However, that's not especially long for a major piece of legislation. The stimulus bill was 1,100 pages, the climate bill was 1,200 pages, and President Bush's budget bill was a whopping 1,482 pages.

Bills are getting bigger because of partisanship. The minority party actively attempts to block legislation by adding amendments to a bill. Also, new legislation often requires previous laws to be updated and that always results in additional pages.

Incidentally, each page of the health care bill has very large type, so there's only about 120 words per page. That means the entire bill, including all definitions, titles and sub-titles contains approximately 125,000 words. That's fewer words than the spy novel I read last week ("The Tourist" by Olen Steinhauer, a fast-paced tale of contemporary espionage which I heartily recommend to those who enjoy the genre).

Anyway, I learned these miscellaneous facts about the health care reform legislation because unlike Congressman Dan Burton and the outraged town hall protesters, I read the House version of the bill online.

And guess what? The bill is not a bit scary. Don't believe me? See for yourself here!



Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, August 23, 2009
Article comment by: Scott

Logic!! Run away!!



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