Sunday, May 24, 2009

When you die in America, it will be because you are NOT RICH!

by Len Hart, The Existentialist Cowboy

Of the many ways in which a ruling elite of just one percent of the US population wages war upon the American people, the denial of health care to everyone but the very, very rich is the most evil. This is a direct result of the GOP/right wing domination of America since the rise of Ronald Reagan.

Today, just one percent of the population is in a position to deny everyone but the very, very rich a right to even basic health care. Denied this right, millions will die that might have lived productive and meaningful lives. This is not merely a matter of personal loss; it is that of the nation.

Since the GOP ascension to power began with the rise of Ronald Reagan in the early 80s, American wealth has been re-distributed upward. Gini indices evinced a dramatic shift upward even as Ronald Reagan still ruled. Those indices, published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Commerce-BEA prove that only the uppper quintile benefited from Reagan's widely touted tax cuts'.

Although this trend reversed under Clinton, the GOP wasted no time in undoing the good that had been done. Under Bush Jr, the GOP transfer of wealth to the ruling aristocracy, the ruling elite was resumed at even faster rates.

Today --just one percent or less of the US population earns more and owns more than 90 percent of the rest of us combined. As a result, 90 percent of us are priced out of the markets for better homes, cars and other consumables, but most importantly crucial essentials like health care. The effects of these policies are transparent. These effects are achieved so predictably, so methodically, so consistently that I am entirely justified in charging that it is all done deliberately.

In today's America, the chances are increasing that when you die it will be because you are NOT RICH!

That is but ONE result of the right wing/GOP THEFT of America's wealth! Question is: what are you going to do about it?

We are repeatedly told that the US is the best and most advanced nation on earth! In response: I say: BULLSHIT! That might have been true before the four horsemen of the GOP road roughshod through what had been the hope of the world!

Following are a letter from my friend and progressive crusader, Doug Drenkow and a recent column by Paul Krugman:
Progressive friends,

Thanks for this article, which -- in classic Krugman style -- lays it on the line. It was remarkable to me that in the months running up to the election the people on the Right I spoke with had one thing consistently on their mind (another example of the lockstep political messaging from the Right): They didn't speak with passion about the election -- it was apparently obvious even to them that Bush was too much of an albatross around any GOP nominee's neck -- but they did against health care reform, which they even more than I knew was going to be the big issue (It is the Number One issue in labor/management disagreements; and has been noted elsewhere, as by the president, rising health care costs are driving much of the increase in costs of entitlement programs, read Medicare and Medicaid, which are not as cataclysmic and the Right insists, in their continuing effort to dismantle those and other social programs, but which do demand addressing).

What is most remarkable to me, though, is not the lockstep messaging but the opposition to something that affects everyone, across the political spectrum: the failure of our existing health "care" system to deliver adequate care to millions, including those going bankrupt from medical expenses (Most personal bankruptcies are due to medical expenses, and in most of those cases the person going bankrupt had health insurance when he or she first got sick: Get sick, lose job, go broke -- everyone I've talked to acknowledges that as a very real, very big problem).

In a sense, we are in a political battle like the military battle we're in against Al Qaeda: Unlike in the Cold War, when our adversary was controlled, as we were, by Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD), when we're up against those opposing the repair of our health care system or we're fighting suicide bombers we're dealing with those who are basically willing to take themselves down just as long as they take us down with them.

Just as we cannot allow the Taliban and Al Qaeda to get their hands on the growing Pakistani nuclear arsenal -- I doubt they would really be dissuaded from using such powerful weapons by our threats to send them to all those virgins "awaiting them" in Paradise (Damn their blasphemous twisting of Islam's basically humane teachings) -- we cannot allow the Right, funded by the deep pockets of Big Pharma, Big Insurance, Big Etc., to continue propping up a system literally taking and otherwise destroying tens of millions of our lives (Not even Al Qaeda can do that).

As we approach Independence Day, we are reminded that America was founded in dedication to the inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; and there is no more fundamental right than the right to life (and I'm not getting into the particulars of the abortion issue now but rather the general principle vital to all of us who live and breathe) and there is no issue more important than allocating the resources we do have, as the richest nation on Earth and in history, to provide as good a care as we can to all those in need, financed as equitably as possible -- I'm sure we can come up with a system not only as good as that working in every other industrial nation, as we've heard ad nauseum, but even better, in terms of quality, accessibility, and affordability of care and, again, equity in financing (Yes, I'm talking progressive taxation, not the regressive "value added" sales-type tax as used so much in Europe to finance health care).

The Obama Administration is about to begin its very public push for health care reform -- beginning on the sixth of June (http://my.barackobama.com/page/content/hckickoff) -- and ultimately, as always, the real power in this country lies not with big business or big government but with the public at large. That was the spirit that put our historic president in office (and I believe he will be historic not only because of his ancestry but also because of his leadership of the nation, with our backing, into much better years ahead). If we demand real reforms, then woe be unto those who oppose us. Change will, however, probably be at least somewhat incremental, if history is any guide; but change can be inevitable -- if and only if we the people demand it.Change health care for the better? Yes we can!

--Doug Drenkow
And this from Paul Krugman:
That didn't take long. Less than two weeks have passed since much of the medical-industrial complex made a big show of working with President Obama on health care reform -- and the double-crossing is already well under way. Indeed, it's now clear that even as they met with the president, pretending to be cooperative, insurers were gearing up to play the same destructive role they did the last time health reform was on the agenda.

So here's the question: Will Mr. Obama gloss over the reality of what's happening, and try to preserve the appearance of cooperation? Or will he honor his own pledge, made back during the campaign, to go on the offensive against special interests if they stand in the way of reform?

The story so far: on May 11 the White House called a news conference to announce that major players in health care, including the American Hospital Association and the lobbying group America's Health Insurance Plans, had come together to support a national effort to control health care costs.

The fact sheet on the meeting, one has to say, was classic Obama in its message of post-partisanship and, um, hope. "For too long, politics and point-scoring have prevented our country from tackling this growing crisis," it said, adding, "The American people are eager to put the old Washington ways behind them."

But just three days later the hospital association insisted that it had not, in fact, promised what the president said it had promised -- that it had made no commitment to the administration's goal of reducing the rate at which health care costs are rising by 1.5 percentage points a year. And the head of the insurance lobby said that the idea was merely to "ramp up" savings, whatever that means.

Meanwhile, the insurance industry is busily lobbying Congress to block one crucial element of health care reform, the public option -- that is, offering Americans the right to buy insurance directly from the government as well as from private insurance companies. And at least some insurers are gearing up for a major smear campaign.

On Monday, just a week after the White House photo-op, The Washington Post reported that Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina was preparing to run a series of ads attacking the public option. The planning for this ad campaign must have begun quite some time ago.

The Post has the storyboards for the ads, and they read just like the infamous Harry and Louise ads that helped kill health care reform in 1993. Troubled Americans are shown being denied their choice of doctor, or forced to wait months for appointments, by faceless government bureaucrats. It's a scary image that might make some sense if private health insurance -- which these days comes primarily via HMOs -- offered all of us free choice of doctors, with no wait for medical procedures. But my health plan isn't like that. Is yours?

"We can do a lot better than a government-run health care system," says a voice-over in one of the ads. To which the obvious response is, if that's true, why don't you? Why deny Americans the chance to reject government insurance if it's really that bad?

For none of the reform proposals currently on the table would force people into a government-run insurance plan. At most they would offer Americans the choice of buying into such a plan.

And the goal of the insurers is to deny Americans that choice.

They fear that many people would prefer a government plan to dealing with private insurance companies that, in the real world as opposed to the world of their ads, are more bureaucratic than any government agency, routinely deny clients their choice of doctor, and often refuse to pay for care.

Which brings us back to Mr. Obama.

Back during the Democratic primary campaign, Mr. Obama argued that the Clintons had failed in their 1993 attempt to reform health care because they had been insufficiently inclusive. He promised instead to gather all the stakeholders, including the insurance companies, around a "big table." And that May 11 event was, of course, intended precisely to show this big-table strategy in action.

But what if interest groups showed up at the big table, then blocked reform? Back then, Mr. Obama assured voters that he would get tough: "If those insurance companies and drug companies start trying to run ads with Harry and Louise, I'll run my own ads as president. I'll get on television and say 'Harry and Louise are lying.' "

The question now is whether he really meant it.

The medical-industrial complex has called the president's bluff. It polished its image by showing up at the big table and promising cooperation, then promptly went back to doing all it can to block real change. The insurers and the drug companies are, in effect, betting that Mr. Obama will be afraid to call them out on their duplicity.

It's up to Mr. Obama to prove them wrong.

--PAUL KRUGMAN, Blue Double Cross,

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