Lowering Expectations

This morning, after reading Jason Calacanis’ email, “Ten Things I love (Q1 2009)” I was thinking about the death of the landline. I don’t have one in my house – I have a cell phone and Skype. Jason was talking about streaming video and predicting the same thing was happening with cable TV.  This got me thinking about reliability.  We used to have a certain expectation about the phone service – it worked, period.  Not that it worked most of the time, but that  it worked all the time.  When you picked the phone up you heard dial tone – something that in one or two more generations will be about as familar as the concept of a party line.

That service was rock-solid reliable, but given the other options available today it’s relatively expensive and offers limited functionality.  Now everyone has a cell phone (a survey in the UK found the average age kids are getting cell phones now is Eight) and practically every home has internet access.  So we’re phasing out the landline, and we’re accepting that the new technology is a good replacement, even if it’s not as reliable.  I might have to go outside when my cell phone rings and my Skype connection might get choppy or drop out, especially if I forget that my torrent client is running on another machine (seeding linux distros) but at least I don’t have one of those old school phone lines!

It’s a strange thing that happened – somewhere along the lines  someone asked us to accept the new technology and lower our expectations, and we agreed.  Now I’m starting to see this lowering of expectations as a theme.

Tom Daschle wants Americans to lower our expectations about the medical system in this country.  Basically, if you get old, just deal with it and die.  No doubt this won’t apply to Daschle or his family.

[The stimulus bill] calls it the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research (190-192). The goal, Daschle’s book explained, is to slow the development and use of new medications and technologies because they are driving up costs. He praises Europeans for being more willing to accept “hopeless diagnoses” and “forgo experimental treatments,” and he chastises Americans for expecting too much from the health-care system.

Daschle says health-care reform “will not be pain free.” Seniors should be more accepting of the conditions that come with age instead of treating them. That means the elderly will bear the brunt.

When Obama signed that bill in to law MSNBC reported,

The stimulus package was a huge victory for Obama less than one month into his presidency. But he struck a sober tone and lowered expectations for an immediate turnaround in the severe recession that is well into its second year.    “None of this will be easy,” he said. “The road to recovery will not be straight. We will make progress, and there may be some slippage along the way.”

I’m not sure when this whole lowering expectations trend started, but I sure hope it comes to an end soon.  This is not what I understood to be the American way.  Never settle.

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