Trying hard to understand reform


I’m searching for an old friend.
Coastal Point

This was the kind of friend that was always there for me. The kind that would come through in the clutch no matter what, and would never ask for anything in return. Oh, we had a few bumpy rides from time to time, but it was never specifically anything he did wrong as much as it was things I neglected to do at all.

My friend was Cliff’s Notes. And we spent quite a bit of time together. Actually, I recently discovered that he now goes by the name of CliffsNotes, and has quite an extensive library of information available online. But when we hung out, he was just a little yellow book that capsulized every book I was assigned to read when I was in middle school.

Now, as I found out, Cliff’s Notes were meant to be read in conjunction with the actual book. I tried the shortcut route a few times by neglecting to read the assigned material and trying to slip by with just the information from my trusted yellow book, but that never really flew. See, it briefs the story of the book, but doesn’t quite contain enough information to help you pass a test.

Regardless, I could use his help now.

As I watched President Barrack Obama sign major health care reform into law the other day, all I could do was slowly shake my head. It wasn’t out of anger over the bill being passed or satisfaction from seeing the reform come to life. No, no, no.

I just didn’t know what the heck it meant.

I’ve been monitoring this issue for a while now, like many of you. Agree with it or not, this is one of those reforms that will be discussed for generations — like social security, Medicare and others that came before it. I wanted to be very informed. But that’s the rub, isn’t it?

My usual source for television news is MSNBC. They play it right down the middle most times, and I figured I could get informed, non-biased information from them. After a few hours of watching the anchors, analysts and “experts” discuss what exactly would happen if the reform was passed, I figured I had a pretty good idea what it all meant. Looking for confirmation, I switched to CNN for a while to get their takes.

Not at all like what I heard on MSNBC.

A bit more confused, I switched the channel to FOX News, knowing I’d find differing opinions and translations of the reform. Oh, I was right. There was rage. There was fury. And the information was vastly different from the other two networks.

Disgusted by all the differing information, I took my search to the Internet to peruse some newspapers’ online sites (and, as we all know, you can always believe what you read in the newspaper). More differing opinions. More differing “facts.” More anger building up inside.

Why can’t anybody just give us the straight dirt on this? I’m sure that at some point I came across an article or broadcast report that gave me the full story, filled with accuracy and absent of personal opinion. But how do I know where or when I read it?

Again I find myself bemoaning the days of old-school journalism, where reporters laid out all the facts on the table like an information buffet and let people make their own decisions. Why have these people been replaced at every turn by “personalities” or those “with strong opinions?”

I read an article a few years ago that said a survey of American college students revealed that their most popular source of receiving the news was from Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show.”

Really?

That makes me sad. It pains me to believe that we have reached a point in our society where we rely on other people’s opinions to form our own.

Now, I just have to get my hands on this enormous document, sit down and digest all the legalese, and make an informed personal opinion on the subject.

Maybe I’ll check to see if there’s a Cliff’s Notes version.