That Dog Won’t Hunt!

I knew a guy once whose bird dog wouldn’t hunt.  Well, he would kind of hunt, but always cowed down and rarely more than a few yards from the feet of his master.  The man would yell and yell at the dog to go out farther and find some birds, but no matter what he did, the dog stayed close and cowered.

As time went on, the man grew more and more frustrated and yelled louder and longer at the poor creature.  One day, a hunting companion asked him, “What’s wrong with that dog?”

“He won’t hunt!  Look how he stays right under my heels.  That ain’t where the birds are!”

The companion then asked, “How did you train him?”

“Well, at first, he would run way out wide–to far for me to get a shot.  I couldn’t stand for that, so I would punish him every time he got out too far.  Peppered him with shot a couple of times.  That worked for a while, but then it seemed like he just came in closer and closer.  Now look at him.”

“Mmmmmmm,” muttered his companion.  “Tell you what.  Can I have him for a while?”

“Sure.  He’s no good to me.  You can keep him.”

The man took the dog and went hunting with him every day.  No matter what the dog did, the man said nothing.  At first, it was business as usual–the dog stayed underfoot.  Gradually, the dog sensed that he had some freedom, so he took full advantage, running well out in front of his new master.  Even when he went out too far, he received no punishment.  If he busted a covey, the man acted as if nothing had happened.

After a time, the dog started doing what hunting dogs do naturally–pointing birds.  He had also grown to love his new master and the freedom he enjoyed under his ownership.  He was anxious to bring downed birds back and lay them gently in his master’s hand.  When he made mistakes, he corrected them himself, in harmony with all the magnificent natural intelligence that millenia of evolution had given him.

You see, bird dogs know what to do.  They only need a very few rules to obey.  Don’t chase cattle, don’t bite–that’s about it.  Believe it or not, left to its own devices, a dog will pretty much give you what you want.

I hear a lot of talk this week about how we need to “do something” because health care is “broken.”  Oh, it’s broken all right.  It’s broken in the same way that dog was broken.  Our problems stem not from lack of regulation, but from too much of it.  No matter how much we yell at the current system, it will never find birds as long as government piles on rule after rule after rule.

The solution is to free up the enormous intelligence of health care providers and insurers.  Some won’t like it.  They know that competing honestly is tough.  They would rather rig the game than get to work on real solutions to health care.  Politicians won’t like it because the insurance lobby won’t help re-elect them anymore.  The health care bill being considered by Congress and described as imperative by our President is a tremendous victory–for the politicians and parasites.

Friends, we are about to pepper our dog with shot one too many times.  In a fit of frustration that we brought upon ourselves, we are about to look down the barrel of our 12 gauge and blow that dog’s head off.

Let’s see how well he hunts then.

About Terry Noel

I am an Associate Professor of Management and Quantitative Methods at Illinois State University. My specialty is entrepreneurship.
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