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You cannot be committed to change and the status quo simultaneously

The A.M.A is opposing the creation of a government-sponsored insurance plan for the general public in comments submitted to Senate Finance Committee, and I started to whack at some of it, but I immediately hit an obstacle.

While committed to the goal of affordable health insurance for all, the association had said in a general statement of principles that health services should be “provided through private markets, as they are currently.”

You cannot be committed to change AND the status quo simultaneously. That’s obvious to me. So I wrote that…and got stuck. My heurisic subroutines lit up in recognition of a problem, which is that people do not apply this rule when they consider public policy suggestions and decisions.

You cannot be committed to change AND the status quo simultaneously.

As I considered what to write next, I realized that giving the point the proper emphasis would derail the point of the post that I was constructing. This is not something limited to the one issue. In fact, that’s the last time I’ll mention the A.M.A. or a government-sponsored insurance plan in this post. It’s a point of global importance.

You cannot be committed to change AND the status quo simultaneously.

You can be committed to other people changing…which is a commitment to your status quo. This is very much like the Epimenides Paradox.

The Epimenides paradox is a problem in logic. It is named after the Cretan philosopher Epimenides of Knossos (alive circa 600 BC), who stated ?????? ??? ??????? (Kretes aei pseystai), "Cretans, always liars". There is no single statement of the problem; a typical variation is given in the book Gödel, Escher, Bach, by Douglas R. Hofstadter:

Epimenides was a Cretan who made one immortal statement: "All Cretans are liars."

It is commonly supposed that self-referential paradox arises when one considers whether Epimenides spoke the truth. However, if Epimenides knew of one Cretan (other than himself) who is not a liar, his statement is a lie (because he asserts all) even though it correctly describes the speaker as a liar.

All such paradoxes are resolvable by assuming the speaker is wrong. And if the speaker is wrong in a prepared statement, it is a premeditated error…or, in good Saxon, a lie. I suppose I could let them off the hook by assuming they are the victims of miseducation. That does not feel, to me, like the right thing to do.

We need to be able to recognize lies, even if it is too impolitic to directly identify them. We need to know them as lies. This is important enough that I let framing it overtake the point of what I intended to bitch about.

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