When I was a community college student, the president of my school invited me to a talk conducted by former Senate majority leader Bill Frist. The presentation was on the importance of free market reforms to solve the government’s fiscal issues.
After his talk was over, I was invited to a small meet and greet with the senator. As I walked into the room, I saw the senator was speaking to a group of his supporters. I approached the senator and said, “I understand the importance of free market solutions to particular healthcare outcomes, but I’m a little bit confused. When you passed Medicare part D you prevented Medicare from negotiating medication prices with large pharmaceutical companies, which decreases competition and prevents the government from getting the best deal on prescription costs. How is that a free market solution?”
The senator stopped me and said, “You’re wrong. When you decrease competition, prices actually go down…”
Perplexed, I didn’t know how to respond. His position goes against the fundamentals of economics. Do I argue with the senator? Or just take the shot to my ego?
I decided to tuck tail and back down.
Investments and actions speak louder than words
After the conversation, I went home to do some research. Lo and behold a majority of the senator’s wealth came from the healthcare industry, he received donations from pharmaceutical companies, and after he had left the Senate he became a partner at a healthcare investment firm. I didn’t begrudge the senator for his position; it made logical sense for his needs because he had skin in the game. It just didn’t align with the needs of the country. I assumed I understood where he was coming from, which is suicide.
Stop being lazy, do your research
Looking back, the senator taught me a valuable lesson: research the actions and investments of a person, and you will know their actual position. If I would have done my research via a wikipedia or a LinkedIn stalking session, I wouldn’t have asked a pointless question. There was nothing to be gained by trying to debate with someone who’s interests prevent them from seeing the other side of the argument.
From that point on, I decided to research the background of whom I’m meeting with and try to determine what is driving their needs. If i can find commonality or an opening for compromise, I proceed. If not, I don’t waste my time.
P.S – As Homer Simpson once said, “Thou shalt not take moochers into thy hut.” If you like what you read, please share this post and subscribe to my newsletter!