Think About It: The high price of uncertainty

Different people have speculated that President Trump may be “gas-lighting” us. I had a vague recall of a movie called “Gaslight” in which a woman’s husband was planting things in their home and then removing them so she and others would think she was going insane.

I looked up the 1944 movie in Wikipedia and learned it was even worse than I remembered. Poor Ingrid Bergman fell in love and married the man, played by Charles Boyer, who murdered her aunt. He planted ideas as well as things to convince her she was insane. His nefarious plan was to find her aunt’s valuable jewels.

In retrospect, it seems like a circuitous route to satisfy his greed.

Still, the unwieldy plot gave birth to the term “gas-lighting” or making someone crazy through a calculated plan. I can understand why some may think the President is enjoying a run at “gas-lighting” because we are exposed to contradictions, secrecy and hypocrisy in what seems like daily tweet storms.

Commentators and other elected officials are constantly heard trying to rationalize the President’s comments and behaviors. Many see it as a strategy to distract the public and the press from investigations; some see it as an impulse control problem and others just think he craves the attention.

I just think it’s wrong and harmful to our nation.

Broken commitments

I am concerned about the outcome — a deterioration of confidence in our nation, its constitution and its institutions. When we the people begin to believe that our own government is no longer reliable, we have stepped on a path to an unknown which is frightening.

The President of the United States is indeed a powerful person. He can only be restrained by the two other branches of government: Congress and the Supreme Court. Congress is especially positioned to exercise control over abuse or miscreant power but have shown little interest in doing so except for the vote to maintain the sanctions on Russia.

Meanwhile, the word of the United States is becoming worthless to other nations and to the people and businesses of the United States. The Paris Agreement on climate change was signed by 195 countries in 2015. The intent is to combine and define further global efforts to decrease carbon emissions in areas countries can control; meaning emissions that are human generated.

In my view, it isn’t so much as saying human behavior is the only cause of global warming, rather, we do have some things within our control and can act to reduce global warming.

Our President withdrew the United States from the agreement, making us one of two countries not participating; the other being Syria. He claimed that the USA should have a better deal even though our country accounts for one-fifth of global carbon emissions.

The other debated purpose of the President choosing to break a USA commitment to 194 nations was to benefit businesses. This version is borne out by the EPA’s actions to decrease costs to businesses by reducing regulations on businesses related to controlling carbon emissions and other pollutants.

Another international act of breaking the word of the USA is our President’s stated intention to withdraw from the Iran agreement that required Iran to cease developing nuclear weapons. So far, there is no evidence that Iran has not kept up their part of the bargain. Five other nations, one being Russia, signed onto the agreement.

So far, there is no sign the other countries will go back on their word.

Despite his claim to be a great negotiator, our President doesn’t seem to want to negotiate if Iran and North Korea are any indication. Once again, people are trying to figure it out – are his threats, bombast and silly name-calling a strategy? We don’t know.

These examples of Presidential action and/or threats followed a NATO summit in which the President failed to confirm the United States’ commitment to defend its NATO allies. Apparently, the words of reassurance came out of his mouth later.

But, which version are countries to believe? Which version are we to believe?

The evidence of undependability is mounting.

National uncertainty

Mixed messages and failed promises are creating uncertainty domestically as well. To the discredit of both, the President and Republican leaders of Congress are withholding the necessary dollars to support the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare and ACA) even though, they failed to repeal it. ACA is still the health care plan promised to the people through legislative action.

Plan funding was reduced which resulted in no public information going to the public regarding signing up and a significantly shorter time to sign up. The intention couldn’t be more obvious.

Our President also signals health insurance providers that he may or may not pay subsidies at the same level. Most businesses will not risk that kind of uncertainty and will build in a cushion through increased rates. Note, our own State has approved a 24 percent hike in insurance premiums in part due to uncertainty. (The largest part of the increase is due to the cost of drugs, something else the President and Congress can’t seem to address.)

The uncertainty of the future of the healthcare market brought on by political manipulation impacts people who need healthcare and those that provide healthcare.

Do American people deserve that kind of anxiety?

Tax reform or the lack of is another example. The newest version is being hawked as a tax cut for the middle class or a “middle class miracle;” yet, so far, the data shows otherwise.

Who and what are we to believe?

This isn’t “gas-lighting,” it’s lying, distorting, covering up, and damning accusations that result in uncertainty, fear of the future and declining faith in the words or word of our President, Congress and our nation.

We’re not a movie; we’re real. I don’t think the motive is to make us crazy; although, it may be to steal the jewels while we are distracted. Whatever the motive; eroding our confidence as a nation is a high price to pay.

Bertha D. Cooper is retired from a 40-plus year career as a health care administrator focusing on the delivery system as a whole. She still does occasional consulting. She is a featured columnist at the Sequim Gazette. Reach her at

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