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The ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus placed the idea of change at the center of his worldview, arguing according to Plato, that “you could not step twice into the same river,” because different waters flow, while the person remains the same.
The question resurfaces in view of the Special Legislative Session that began at noon today. But is it rather the person who changes?
Perhaps it is better said that constant flow is the enduring nature of rivers, which remain the same despite the fluctuations.
Is Gov. Bill Richardson the same person who warned that he would call a special session, after the regular session ended Feb. 4, to attend to the unfinished business of universal health care in New Mexico?
At that time, he was still a contender for the Democratic nomination for President. Who knew how far he would go, especially considering that he had the best resume of all the candidates of either party?
He had good reason to establish his commitment to reforming health care, not only in the state, but also for the country as a whole.
It is immaterial that he did not yet have a beard.
But did he become a different person after he withdrew from the race, understandably withdrawn from the public as well, licking his wounds.
His health care plan wasn’t flying very well in the first place, which is why the special session was going to be called. But by the time it was called, it might be said the governor wasn’t flying quite as well either.
His imminent departure to higher government office, probably in a cabinet post, seems even more likely now.
So, this evidently changing person called a special session with the universal health care provision slightly diluted by two other agenda items, a CARE package of $211 million to put some of the anticipated tax surplus back into family budgets and a $200 million road funding package.
Frankly, the $211 million split a million-or-so ways would not have taken all that much of the sting out of the high price of gas and the highest monthly boost in the national inflation rate in 17 years.
And health care?
“We are ready to move forward with health care reform and cover more New Mexicans,” the governor said in his announcement.
Whoa! Only more New Mexicans?
But all that was before the latest change, when a new estimate cut the anticipated surplus from $392 million on July 9, to $225 million on August 12.
And the latest configuration leaves all of $58 million to cover what was once called universal health care and has whittled the rebate down to $120 million.
We probably don’t need all hands on deck right now to address health care by covering a few more New Mexicans, which is plainly and sadly no longer universal health care.
There were other options, but the governor has not entertained them.
So why can’t the road pork and rebate gravy get dished out during mealtime at the regular legislative session, especially since the surplus estimates have already changed and are bound to change again by next January, when we’re sure to have that much more timely information about how much surplus there actually is.
Meanwhile, the session appears to have gone down the river before anybody stepped into it.
So little is known about Heraclitus, mostly fragments and hearsay, that we are virtually free to think of him as we wish and stack his handful of words up forward or backward.
The same can’t be said for the governor who plunged ahead with an old plan, despite all the changes, including his.