November 08, 2010

The biggest loser?

Pyrrhus of Epirus, one of many who lost by winning.

One of the things like makes life and history different from sports and games is that in the former, you can't tell right away exactly who the winners and losers are. Sometimes an apparent victor is a long term loser and vice versa.

A classic example of losing while winning is that of a Greek king named Pyrrhus who fought the Romans nearly 300 years BC. He won, but at a terrible price. As Plutarch put it,

The armies separated; and, it is said, Pyrrhus replied to one that gave him joy of his victory that one more such victory would utterly undo him. For he had lost a great part of the forces he brought with him, and almost all his particular friends and principal commanders; there were no others there to make recruits, and he found the confederates in Italy backward. On the other hand, as from a fountain continually flowing out of the city, the Roman camp was quickly and plentifully filled up with fresh men, not at all abating in courage for the loss they sustained, but even from their very anger gaining new force and resolution to go on with the war.

On the other hand, one could make a good case for saying the South won the American Civil War. Yes, the cause of an independent Confederacy was lost, but after a few years of Reconstruction, old elites were able to re-establish themselves and institute a system of racial segregation and exploitation that lasted for nearly a century.

It might be too soon to say who the real winners of the 2010 election cycle were. Yes, one party lost a majority and another party gained one in the House, but it might be that the real victory of the last two years was ending the worst of a catastrophic recession, making some financial reforms, and, as this item argues, passing a historic comprehensive health care reform bill. The author argues that "The bill was more important than the election."

Time will tell. First, the new law will have to survive Republican attempts to choke off its funding.

WHILE WE'RE AT IT, here's another take on the health care struggles ahead.

JOBS VS DEFICITS. This is likely to be one of the other major policy fights over the next few years.

TAKING IT TO THE STATES. New Republican majorities in many states plan major cuts to jobs and services.

UPPER BIG BRANCH UPDATE. Two federal grand juries are investigating Massey's mine disaster. Also, Massey stock prices went up Friday amidst rumors of a buy out.

TO END ON A POSITIVE NOTE, congratulations to Edison Pena, the rescued Chilean miner who completed the New York marathon yesterday!


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