The other day down at the News and Observer John Dresher wrote about the most enticing opening to an article I’ve seen in awhile. He wrote:
“For their first date, Pat and Tiffany walk to a neighborhood diner for dinner. Pat orders Raisin Bran. Tiffany, perhaps already giving up on Pat, orders tea.
They proceed to argue about who’s crazier. Not who’s more daring, quirky or eccentric. They argue about who’s more mentally ill.
Pat, just released from a mental institution, is obsessed with his estranged wife and prone to blurting every thought. Tiffany, recently widowed, has been on an insatiable sexual binge that has resulted in her firing from her office job.
In the debate about who’s more mentally ill, a good case could be made for either.
Pat (Bradley Cooper) and Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) are the lead characters in “Silver Linings Playbook,” which this week was nominated for an Academy Award for best picture. “
That was clever enough to tempt even a dullard like me to keep on reading a story about mental health care in North Carolina – which turns out to be a kind of horror movie of its own.
About a decade ago, after he got elected Governor, Mike Easley put a new troupe of mandarins in charge of the state’s mental health care, and the new whizzes decided to close (or cut back) the state’s three big mental hospitals and start caring for mentally ill people in their own communities – which sounded fine. No one disagreed.
But what happened next is living proof it’s dangerous to put government in charge of anything.
The mandarins – under Governor Easley and then Governor Perdue – cut the hospitals but didn’t create the community care – instead they bungled and fumbled and wasted $400 million.
Which led to pure bedlam – just like in the old asylum named Bedlam in Victorian England.
Community care floundered, mental hospitals cut back, and mentally ill patients were left adrift on the streets, handcuffed to beds in emergency rooms, and locked in jails (under two ‘progressive’ Governors).
The whole thing is living proof of a simple fact: If you put enough politicians and bureaucrats to work on a problem there’s sure to be a train wreck at someone else’s expense.