Half measures 半心半意


Reader question:

Please explain "half measures" in this sentence: "He's not someone who does anything in half measures."

My comments:

He goes all the way. He doesn't stop at the half way line. He won't stop until he crosses the finish line, so to speak.

Not until he succeeds, in other words.

Still in other words, he doesn't do anything in a half-hearted way. That is, he's fully committed and will do everything in his power, sparing no effort.

Half measure, as you can see, is literally half of a full measure or unit of something, measure as in measurements. Originally, the expression "half measure" was probably coined by drinkers in a pub or bar. If someone orders a normal glass of whiskey, which should measure two-fingers tall in a graduated glass and the bartender gives him a glass that only measures one finger in height, why, that will not make the customer happy, will it?

No, not at all.

Hence, perhaps, the saying "half measures avail us nothing," us being the drunkards in the bar.

Anyways, to do something in or by half measure is to do it in a half-hearted way, without total dedication and withholding some effort, not giving your all.

Needless to say, he who does everything in half measure won't get very far in society or life because, as they say, victory is seldom won by half measures.

He who doesn't do it in half measures, on the other hand, will go far because he goes all in, giving his all and pulling no punches.

Indeed, pulling no punches, let me give you media examples to drive the full point home:

1. Steven Paul Jobs is up again.

Eleven long years after the mercurial young Apple cofounder was unceremoniously ousted by CEO John Sculley, Jobs is returning to the company he so loved clothed in glory. If Jobs's career were a quilt, it would be a patchwork of ermine and calico. The self-possesed, and some say obsessed, Jobs does nothing in half measures and so seems to reap his rewards in abject failure and stunning successes.

Today brought him the latter. "I still have very deep feelings for Apple," Jobs said in a statement tonight, "and it gives me great joy to play a role in architecting Apple's future."

Understandably so. In what seems like a never-ending roller-coaster ride, Jobs achieved international stardom and a multimillion-dollar bank account in his early 20s, fell tragically from grace when he was ostracized by the very company he cofounded, then went into Bobby Fischer-like seclusion after attempting for a decade to recreate the Apple magic with only mediocre results.

It was a crushing experience for Jobs, who cofounded the company with Steve Wozniak in 1976 to sell the Apple I computer kit for $666 from a garage in Palo Alto, California. After seeing a demonstration of Xerox Parc's SmallTalk graphical computer interface, Jobs became obsessed with creating a desktop computer that could be used by anyone.

Alternately harrying and soothing a hand-picked "pirate crew" of engineers through development, he proudly presented his child in 1984. The Macintosh wasn't just a computer; it was going to change the world.

The Mac didn't change the world, but it did change Apple. In the growing company, Jobs's manic, undisciplined approach rubbed Sculley, whom Jobs personally recruited from PepsiCo in 1983, the wrong way. In 1985, to his disbelief, Jobs was removed from his chairmanship of the board.

His disbelief soon turned to anger and the desire to prove them all wrong. Jobs founded Next Computer in 1985 and set out to create the ultimate educational computer, one that was would put the Macintosh to shame. The NextStep computer, released in 1989, was criticized as being slow and it cost more than twice as much as originally planned. By 1993, after blowing through $250 million of investors' money, Next shut down its hardware division and started quietly turning out software for engineers creating computer programs.

Jobs sank into obscurity, being called upon more often to talk about the old days at Apple than about Next. He granted progressively fewer interviews and soon refused to talk about Apple at all.

- Fall and rise of Steve Jobs, CNet.com, December 20, 1996.

2. Another Republican presidential candidate, another Obamacare repeal and "replace" plan. Sen. Marco Rubio trotted his out on Tuesday, only to be totally eclipsed by Gov. Scott Walker, who gave what was billed as a "major policy speech" but which contained just the same warmed over Republican ideas Rubio listed.
He starts grandiose:

"On my very first day as president, I will send legislation to the Congress that will once and for all repeal Obamacare entirely and replace it in a way that puts patients and their families back in charge of their health care decisions," the Wisconsin governor said in a speech at a machine parts company near Minneapolis.

Priority number one for the first day (or two? after bombing Iran?) is to kick 19 million people off of their health insurance. Take away millions of dollars in seniors' prescription drug savings. Increase the deficit by repealing the savings the law has realized. Take away all the protections (no more pre-existing conditions) and benefits (preventive care with no additional copays) of the law for everyone who has insurance—employer-sponsored or through Obamacare, Medicare, or Medicaid.

The rest of it? The same old, same old idea. He'd replace tax credits now based on income with tax credits based on age. Healthcare economist Tim Jost reviewed it and says Walker's "tax credits at the level proposed would not begin to cover the cost of decent coverage." And it wouldn't. The largest tax credit goes to people aged 50-64 and is $3,000. The average subsidy for all age groups in Obamacare in 2014 was $3,312 per person. So, no, $1,200 to someone under age 34 isn't going to be enough to pay for insurance.

He, like every other Republican, would allow insurance companies to sell across state lines. Which would probably lead insurance companies to move to states that had the laxest regulations, allowing companies to sell the crappy insurance that repealing Obamacare would lead to. State-based high risk pools for people with pre-existing conditions? Check. They don't work because they cover sick, expensive people and either are underfunded or have to charge way too much for those sick people to participate. Tort reform? Check. Contrary to Republican belief, healthcare costs aren't high because of providers' liability insurance. Health savings accounts? Check. Because everyone has enough extra money every month to save. Block-granting Medicaid? Check. Turn the program entirely over to the states so that we could have even more inequity among the states, where blue states use the money to try to help the most people and red states siphon it off in scheme to enrich Republican donors.

What Walker totally avoids is doing anything to Medicare. So there's that. Of course, what he does do is repeal the Medicare reforms that have been saving the federal government a lot of money. Larry Levitt, a health policy expert with the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, identifies this as Walker's biggest problem—it costs too much. "The tax credits would cost the federal government a substantial amount of money, but the plan would repeal all the revenue sources in the Affordable Care Act," he says.

This isn't a serious proposal. Just like all the other Republican proposals—because it is just like all the other Republican plans. A jumble of half-measures that don't add up to any kind of system, and certainly don't add up to a way to bring healthcare costs under control or provide health insurance to everyone.

- Scott Walker will take away your good health insurance, replace it with platitudes, DailyKOS.com, August 19, 2015.

3. There is a false choice being presented to voters in 2020 — a narrative that claims Democrats should aim lower and promise less if we want to beat President Donald Trump.

We disagree completely.

As progressive leaders in Congress, we know for a fact that bold and populist ideas are the only way we can win back the White House, and bring the Senate and House along with it.

The truth is our country is not nearly as divided as some would like you to believe. Nationwide, people across the political spectrum are facing the same kitchen table issues. How will they afford their health care? Will they be able to pay the mortgage? Can they keep up with the rising cost of child care?

Americans face enormous challenges because the wealthiest and corporations have been prioritized over working people, the poor and the most vulnerable. We have met with fast-food workers nationwide who can’t afford rent on their poverty wages. We have heard from constituents who can’t even afford the price of their child’s insulin and patients who go to bed wondering how they will pay for chemotherapy.

None of these families can afford half measures — they need structural change to restore power to working people. They know that there are no small solutions to their monumental problems.

This is borne out in polling again and again. Policies like "Medicare for All," the Green New Deal and a $15 minimum wage aren’t radical — in fact, they have broad support across the American public.

- Big problems require big solutions. Democrats need a bold, progressive vision to win 2020, USAToday.com, December 17, 2019.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

(作者:张欣 编辑:丹妮)

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