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 ( -- 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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Anonymous said...

"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? -LH


And, timely...I think single payer is still off the table, and I don't think they will be debating it anytime soon. I am not an expert by any means, but one thing is certain if the insurance companies are loving what this current group pushes, then it can not be good for the everyday working man, and any of lesser means. I had read that the insurance industry is still nervous about some aspects of the Obama plan...we shall see.

Was it not HR Haldeman that showed Nixon the way to the original HMO system that has become the scourge of American health care for the working man? It seems all things wicked go back to GOPPERS, it appears it may be true of this also. Fifteen years ago I had an opportunity to converse with our original family physician who had recently retired, he was old school and also believed in some homeopathic any rate he advised me to stay away from doctors and out of hospitals best as possible. I remember he predicted the rise of mersa type disease way back in the 60's ...he almost never prescribed antibiotics, unless absolutely necessary...he, as most physicians of his time were not pill crazy as they are today...they would all be drummed out of the profession by the AMA these days.

Great writing usual, and thanks for your insights and keeping after the greed mongers and their minions...theses people have no shame.


Len Hart said...

benmerc sez...

Was it not HR Haldeman that showed Nixon the way to the original HMO system that has become the scourge of American health care for the working man?It seems that there is NO END to the EVIL FUCKIN SHIT that has stemmed from the likes of Nixon, Reagan, Bush and Bush!!!!!!!

It just never seems to fuckin' end!


Anonymous said...

Too many people! Stop breeding! I remember when you could go fishing, hunting. Food was grown locally. I spent my youth running through the woods. Swimming in creeks, hiking trails.Farms,dairies,orchards,church picnics.No freeways,drugs,smog,no one had insurance! What happened? Many things, but one was a huge increase in population.

Len Hart said...

Anonymous said...

What happened? Many things, but one was a huge increase in population.It was the TRANSFER OF WEALTH to the upper one percent. Check the Bureau of Labor Stats. It's all there in black and white. The US was MOST EGALITARIAN during and immediately following WWII...and remained acceptably egalitarian until RONALD REAGAN decided to ENRICH THE ELITES at the expense of everyone else. THAT'S what happened!

John Doheny said...

"We can do a lot better than a government-run health care system," says a voice-over in one of the ads."

Wow. That's a great opening for a little "put up or shut up" pushback, and we'd be fools to let it pass. Because if they really can come up with a plan that tops what I enjoyed during the 30 years I lived in Canada (no copays, no deductables, no denials of coverage in any form, $54 a month and I never, ever saw a bill of any kind) then I'd sign on in a heartbeat. Cause for me, this isn't about ideology. It's about moving from a healthcare system that I was quite satified with and could afford (Canada's) to a bureaucratic and financial nightmare where I pay $367.94 a month to spend my precious time arguing with United Healthcare about whether they're obligated to pay for anything.

If that was the choice the American people were presented with, the results would be a foregone conclusion wouldn't they? There is no amibiguity about this; all the stats say single payer is cheaper and delivers better outcomes. The Insurance Lobby's task is, basically, to sell Stupid. Pay more for less.

Amazingly, they've been doing a damn good job of it so far.

SadButTrue said...

I have friends who are only alive today due to Canada's much maligned (and usually maligned through gross misrepresentation) health care system. Sure, you may have to wait for some procedures, but nothing is ever neglected that may be life threatening.

Let's replace the unfair comparisons with some that are more of the apple-to-apples variety. In the US the patient has probably already waited some time before even seeing a doctor because he or she is afraid they can't afford the deductible. Then they wait some more while an HMO bean-counter decides whether their condition warrants coverage.

Me, I'd rather put my fate in the hands of a government bureaucrat than a corporate one any day. At least the former's actions aren't driven solely by the profit motive.

Len Hart said...

SadbuTrue sez...

I have friends who are only alive today due to Canada's much maligned (and usually maligned through gross misrepresentation) health care system. Good point! Many of these problems would be SOLVABLE if and ONLY if the gross, obscene inequalities in income and wealth were RESPONSIBLY addressed by RESPONSIBLE government.

Certainly --one of the effects of inequality is that the ELITE bids ups the price of everything desirable simply because they can.

This principle applies not only to Malibu beach property or Houston's River Oaks, it applies to health care as well.

When the family doctor actually made house calls, you can bet that it was a time of relative income/wealth equality. The RICH FAT CATS had not yet bid up the price of HEALTH SUCH THAT only the rich could afford to live out a full and productive life.

Anonymous said...

What pisses me off, Len, is that Democrats like Max Baucus and Nancy Pelosi refuse to even allow discussion of single payer, universal coverage in Congress when the Dems have enough votes to ram it down the Rethuglicans' throats, if we really wanted it bad enough.

Fuck the health insurance companies! They are just expensive, unnecessary middlemen.

Anonymous said...

"We can do a lot better than a government-run health care system," says a voice-over in one of the ads."

Well...I sure do not hear any complaints from our congress persons, high brass and all the rest of the upper echelon of government complain about the 'poorly managed' health care plans we tax payers front for them and theirs, ad infinitum. My yes, we proletariat certainly don't want any of THAT...(I am certain that if Dante Alighieri were around today he would scribe in an extra 'ring' for these sons of bitches...)

"It just never seems to fuckin' end!


I agree Len, problem is the only people ready for that are libertarians & reactionaries...that is, all the wrong people for (mostly) all the wrong reasons. So, recession/depression or whatever, things are just not thin enough yet for everyday 'normal' Americans to feel real pressure. Patience is beyond virtue at this stage of the game, Obama has some time, but not much, nor very much room to move. I realized when he went in, it was as a calculated centrist politician, and he said so, and many others portrayed him as such.

The only IDIOTS that call Obama a "socialist" etc. etal....are ultra right-wing multimillionaire cretins like O'Riley, Hannity, Limbaugh and the rest...and I suspect they are just knowingly playing word games to keep their 'base' lit up and their bank accounts FAT.

American politics are in a sad state, it is hard to know where this is all going, I always seem to say that, but that is where I am at. I will suggest individual and community sustainability planning and practices, we all need to do that anyhow, and in every way possible. Support your local small farmers, especially organic and sustainable practicing ones.Not only do we need to support and help develop the small farming sector, we also need to support local small business best we can...these are steps to true grass root control.

There is a measurable accountability in efforts as these within the system, and I believe some sections of the government are finely beginning to understand some of this. You can see involvement with some state and local groups for sure, now lets see how they work with it all, will it be nurtured or exploited?


damien said...

Bizarre, isn't it? The US has no problem importing Japanese cars but won't import the French, Canadian or Aussie health systems. How would Americans react if they were told they would only be permitted to buy US gas guzzlers? I expect they would be up in arms. Pity they have such a poor sense of popular revolt. The French take to the streets at the drop of a hat to keep a public medical system yet Californians can only rouse themselves to support Proposition 13 (have I got that right?) -- the one banning the state from sensible property taxes -- with the result that California is now broke because their taxes rely on wage and salary earners who simply can't pay anymore. It's all sad. Every young Yank should get a tax paid holiday in Europe paid for by closing down most of their prisons. Consider it as a form of a cultural immunization against isolationist thinking, a way of beefing up social defenses against the ravages of anti-democratic forces. That "sea to shining sea" thing can be a bit of a handicap at times. American exceptionalism is killing you guys.

Anonymous said...

"American exceptionalism is killing you guys." -damien

Hey damien, good to hear your voice of reason again. I agree with your statement on the whole, but the problem is American exceptionalism, and it's mythology (IMHO) is one of the main propaganda tools that have been incorporated in this country from day one. Your astute knowledge of western culture and history is certainly well aware that It is one of the building blocks and motivational gimmicks used by the new world expansionist movements of yore (Manifest Destiny etc. et al). Of course let us not forget where much of this effort and attitude originated, the power broker nation-states of the old world.

Old habits are hard to do away with...especially when there WAS so much wealth and power once associated with the ideology ( I do agree with you- Europe has done a much better job negotiating their future, and their global interaction and impacts in many ways).

Nevertheless, many thinking Americans continue to bring the ideas, insights and hopefully the facts forward in efforts to progress in what we have left of this 'democracy' republic...There are still many sure footed hearts and minds left in this nation, now is the moment they must come forward and be assimilated.

It is well beyond the time for the human species to assimilate it's best collective parts and evolve forward, in a general sense of awareness...the 'hippies' were right on with that assumption so many years ago (Not to mention many of that era had some really good ideas that were very much ignored by the main stream culture) but I see some recognition on the horizon.


paul said...

Just one more boot pushing american's head underwater