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Oct 23 2013

So many conflicting emotions on the ACA website

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Twenty-four billion up in flames as Cruz plays the fiddle

 

There’s something distinctly wingnutty about the party that just lit $ 24 billion on fire in a useless shutdown whining about a few hundred million spent on the Obamacare website. But for the rest of us, by which I mean me, it’s more complex. For starters, computers suck, networks suck, and that’s not a judgement on those of you who make them, it’s a factual observation of what earnings-obsessed CEOs and cash strapped project managers shovel out the door to inflict on us, the using public, every fucking day of the week.

Some of my feelings are personal, some of them institutional. On the personal side, last winter I applied for a customer service and technical writing job at what, in hindsight, was almost certainly a company that landed a navigator contract. Now, I’m insurance licensed, I built a $50 million book of stocks and bonds and insurance products on the phone, I’m tech savvy and earn a living walking customers through all kinds of confusing tech issues, from cable network to retail PC level on the phone and by web. In short, getting me for 12 bucks an hour would be a wet-dream for such a company, they would clone me if they could. But the twenty-something year-old apathetic idjit who interviewed me for that low paying job had no idea what was in front of them, instead they decided they didn’t like me from the moment they walked into the interview room. In part probably in part because of my age and in part because one of the writing samples I submitted was ‘too political’.

I happened to research this person beforehand and found, on their various social media pages, evidence they are an active raging Teaparty maniac. But yeah, I’m too political. So it’s fine to hire someone as a manager who appears to be openly helping the radical group trying sabotage the ACA. But if someone has a history of trying to get it work and can communicate a solution or request help from 100,000 readers at the click of a mouse, that person is too political. If that’s representative, no wonder they’re having issues.

On institutions, I work in tech support for a multi-billion dollar software company that regularly puts products and patches out that crash and burn like the Hindenburg. Products and patches that don’t just crash, they lock up PCs left and right, the consequences of which come crashing down on the shoulders of my colleagues and I earning barely over inflation adjusted minimum wage. That isn’t limited to my firm, PCs and networks suck. They hang up loading simple webpages all the time, they crash, they get infected, they sell us out to hackers and scammers. There are so many plug-ins and apps on my PC, all requiring updates all the time, that I can’t keep up with them anymore even though it’s technically my job. I might be updating a Flash plug-in like it says or it could be termninal computer cancer. It’s not even clear to me what many of them do any longer, I just know to tell customers to check for an optional net-frame update, or flip a secondary log in, or open some obscure hidden folder and delete it, etc.

I’m enjoying watching highly paid political morons scramble to either fix their own shit or criticize someone else’s, as if it were the first time they discovered our Interoobz are rife with devices and software that start out confusing and unreliable and only get worse from there. In Ed Brayton parlance, I’m shocked — shocked I tell ya! — to find out a new complex website cobble together by private contractors might not have been adequately tested before going live and enlisting a bunch of involuntary unpaid beta testers to clean up the contractor’s mess. That’s been SOP since the Internet began and it’s not gotten any better at all.

Lastly, instances of political hypocrisy and 180 degree flip-flops make this deal a goldmine for bloggers. Just a few minutes ago while I was typing this, some Teaparty clown on cable news was moaning about the several hundred million dollars the website cost. No mention of the $24 billion said clown’s teatard caucus proudly lit on fire this month. Or talk of how hero Ted Cruz stole the spotlight away from the website for weeks and trashed his party i the process so much that, if the midterms were held today, the House would be up for grabs.

In fact if it were me, I’d take advantage and press for a deal right now. I don’t care if open enrollment is extended or if the mandate is delayed a few months. That was all a sop to the insurance lobby, to reduce adverse selection. But I could care less about either one. Extending enrollment and delaying the $95 fine to the middle of 2014 would be great with me. I’d happily trade both those away in return for something I want. Sure, the Teaparty would stamp their feet and bitch about giving up something in return, but the GOP establishment would haggle and it would stir up another wave of Republican fratricide.

But on Obamacare itself, I’m not the least bit worried. I have yet to meet anyone who is upset that the website crashed at first, outside of the usual concern trolls. And despite an impressive campaign of disinformation and demonization, the law has grown more popular through all this and will probably continue to do so. By 2016 the winning GOP nominee for President and number of congress critters might find it political necessary stump with the promise that they will protect and strengthen the ACA. Which by then will no longer be called Obamacare, at least by the GOP. Like Medicare, it will be too popular to allow one party to have ownership.

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