|Progressive Calendar 03.07.08||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Fri, 7 Mar 2008 01:55:43 -0800 (PST)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 03.07.08 1. Angela Davis/KFAI 3.07 11am 2. Ffunch 3.07 11:30am 3. Emergency demo 3.07 4:15pm 4. Alt 2 violence 3.07 6pm 5. Peace witness 3.07 7pm 6. Moyers/NOW/TV 3.07 9pm 7. Nobel peace 3.07-08 Moorhead MN 8. Intl women/KFAI 3.08 12midnight 24hours 9. Neighbor sust 3.08 8:30am 10. WILPF/commons 3.08 10am 11. NWN4P Mtka 3.08 11am 12. NewHope vigil 3.08 1pm 13. Northtown vigil 3.08 2pm 14. OmnivoresDilemma 3.08 5:15pm 15. Media reform/CTV 3.08 9pm 16. Vincent Navarro - The Next Failure of Health Care Reform --------1 of 16-------- From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at] visi.com> Subject: Angela Davis/KFAI 3.07 11am FRI.MAR. 7,11am KFAI Radio: ANGELA DAVIS: Challenge the Prison-Industrial Complex Last week, corporate media (finally) reported on the results of almost 30-years of a massive U.S. prison-building: now ONE IN EVERY 100 AMERICANS IS IN PRISON OR JAIL. So, while the US is around #30 in health care, we're #1 in prison populations on Earth! Tune in to hear activist-scholar ANGELA DAVIS in a KFAI-exclusive interview. Davis came to public attention in the late 1960s when she was false arrested and held for 18 months in jail, accused of terrorism for ehr role in the international campaign to free Black Panther Party chair HUEY NEWTON. Davis has written many books including: WOMEN, RACE & CLASS, are prisons obsolete? AND abolitionist democracy. Also hear Pennsylvania Death Row dissident journalist MUMIA ABU-JAMAL on rehabilitation, from one of his PRISON RADIO commentaries. On CATALYST:politics & culture, Fridays. 11am hosted by Lydia Howell on KFAI Radio90.1 fm Mpls 106.7 fm St.Paul All shows archived for 2 weeks after broadcast at http://www.kfai.org NOTE: PRISON RADIO is NOT financially supported by KFAI Radsio. Host Lydia Howell has been sending monthly pledges to them for some years. PRISON RADIO is currently in financial trouble. Please consider sending them a donation to: PRISON RADIO. P.O. Box 411074,San Francisco,CA 94141 --------2 of 16-------- From: David Shove <shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu> Subject: Ffunch 3.07 11:30am Meet the FFUNCH BUNCH! 11:30am-1pm First Friday Lunch (FFUNCH) for Greens/progressives. Informal political talk and hanging out. Day By Day Cafe 477 W 7th Av St Paul. Meet in the private room (holds 12+). Day By Day has soups, salads, sandwiches, and dangerous apple pie; is close to downtown St Paul & on major bus lines --------3 of 16-------- From: "wamm [at] mtn.org" <wamm [at] mtn.org> Subject: Emergency demo 3.07 4:15pm U.S. Weapons Used on Unarmed, Innocent Women,Children, Civilians: GAZA SOMALIA , ECUADOR, and Locally Human Needs Suffer as Welfare Rights are Threatened. EMERGENCY DEMO AND/OR CALL CONGRESS MORE THAN 100 PALESTINIANS KILLED IN 6 DAYS, INCLUDING WOMEN AND CHILDREN! The U.S. is again attacking SOMALI villages, killing women and children and claiming they are attacking Al Qaeda with have "precision, strategic, targeted" bombs. Also, U.S.-backed Colombian forces has made illegal incursions into the sovereign nation of ECUADOR! This while the most vulnerable in society suffer as WELFARE RIGHTS are cut locally. STOP THE BOMBING! Come to the emergency demo: STAND UP AGAINST U.S. WEAPONS AND DIRECT OR CLIENT-STATE WAR CRIMES! 4:15-5:30pm FRIDAY, MARCH 7 SUMMIT & SNELLING AVENUES, ST PAUL Sponsored by Palestinian Rights Coalition Call the Capitol Switchboard to reach your Senators or Congressional Representatives: (202) 224-3121 -- And on a local level, women and children, immigrants in Minnesota suffer needlessly due to cuts in their funding and being required to perform workfare (which is like "slave labor.') Welfare Rights sends this request to you today. CALL these Minnesota-state legislators TODAY to demand a hearing! This year, the Welfare Rights Committee and others have bills to undo some of the terrible cuts to programs for poor families and immigrants. Our bills also outlaw workfare and call for the first welfare grant increase in 22 years. Most important, our bills use federal welfare money for welfare families, NOT to fill in a budget hole! But we cannot get hearings on our bills in the House (and, maybe even not in the Senate) policy committee. Please call these Representatives. --Paul Thissen (DFL) 63A - Richfield. (651) 296-5375. Thissen is the chair of the Health and Human Services Policy Committee. THISSEN IS REFUSING TO GIVE THE BILLS A HEARING. --Thomas Huntley (DFL) 07A - Duluth. (651) 296-2228. Huntley is the chair of the HHS Finance division. --Margaret Anderson Kelliher (DFL) 60A - Mpls. (651) 296-0171. Speaker of the House. Leave them messages saying: --I insist that you work to grant hearings to House File 3616 and House File 3618 before the committee deadline (March 14). These are the bills that use TANF money for TANF families. (FOR THISSEN SAY: I insist you give a hearing for HF...... ) --It's not right that the House Health and Human Services Policy Committee is only hearing Pawlenty's DHS bills and not the bills to actually help poor families. --Work to schedule more hearings so all the bills can be heard! Please call Senator Marty: Senator John Marty (DFL) District 54 - Roseville. (651)296-5645. Chair of Senate Health, Housing and Family Security policy committee. Leave a message saying: --I insist that you grant hearings to Senate Files 3290 and 3242 before the committee deadline (March 14). These are the bills that use TANF money for TANF families. --We appreciate your scheduling lots of hearings, so be sure you include these bills. They are critical to forestall the Republicans' plans to steal welfare money. --- More info.and more calls you can make! --The Governor and the Republicans have been spewing welfare-mother-bashing rhetoric as they talk about "using" (we call it stealing) welfare monies to solve the state budget deficit. --Everything in these bills passed the full House and full Senate last year. Almost everything in these bills made into the final HHS bill, only to be vetoed by Governor Pawlenty. --House chair Thissen is now claiming that we were supposed to request hearings on bills BEFORE the legislature started - BEFORE it was possible to get bills written up and BEFORE we could get sponsors. This is unheard of during our 16 years at the legislature - it is even worse than the stunts the Republicans pulled on us.why? --In a time of recession, the state of Minnesota should be doing MORE to help the poor, not less. The bills: House Files 3616 & 3618, along with there Senate companions SF3290 and 3242. 1) Undo the Family Cap. Families who have additional children while on MFIP, see no grant increase. This punishes babies for being born. 2) Undo $50 Housing Cut to Welfare. Families who receive MFIP and live in subsidized housing have the monthly cash grant cut by $50. When you live 60% below the poverty line, $50 is serious money. 3) Completely Stop MA Co-pays. Many are going without healthcare or medicine because of inability to come up with the $1 - $10 for the Medical Assistance co-pay. 4) Stop Attacks on Immigrants. Concretely this can be done by allowing non-citizens to get basic healthcare, this year. 5) Provide extensions to the 5-year limit. 6) Provide more income support to working MFIP families by raising the "exit level." 7) Raise the Grants. The welfare (MFIP and General Assistance) grants have not been increased since 1986 - 22 years! Meanwhile, the cost of living has risen by 89%. 8) Outlaw Workfare. Workfare forces MFIP parents to work for no pay in order to get the grant. Workfare is slave labor forced on parents just because they are poor. We say, if there is a job to be done, make it a real job with real wages and benefits! TO TRACK THE BILLS ON THE WEB, GO TO http://www.leg.state.mn.us/leg/legis.asp and type in hf3616 or hf3618 or sf3290 or sf3242 --If you like making calls, call all the DFL members of the House Health and Human Services Policy Committee. Ask them to pressure chair Thissen to hear the bills! Patti Fritz 651-296-8237 Julie Bunn 651-296-4244 Tina Liebling 651-296-0573 Diane Loeffler 651-296-4219 Erin Murphy 651-296-8799 Kim Norton 651-296-9249 Mary Ellen Otremba 651-296-3201 Maria Ruud 651-296-3964 Cy Thao 651-296-5158 Ken Tschumper 651-296-9278 Neva Walker 651-296-7152 --------4 of 16-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Alt 2 violence 3.07 6pm 3/7 (6 pm) to 3/9 (5 pm), basic level Alternatives to Violence Workshop, Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church, 511 Groveland Ave, Mpls. avperika [at] gmail.com or http://www.fnvw.blogspot.com --------5 of 16-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Peace witness 3.07 7pm Friday, 3/7, 7 pm, St Luke's Presbyterian Church holds worship service to coincide with the second annual Christian Peace Witness in Washington DC, St Luke's Presbyterian, 3121 Groveland School Rd, Wayzata. All are welcome. suzan_ireland [at] hotmail.com --------6 of 16-------- From: t r u t h o u t <messenger [at] truthout.org> Subject: Moyers/NOW/TV 3.07 9pm Bill Moyers Journal | Controversial Endorsement http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/030508U.shtml John McCain has won the GOP nomination. Can he win the hearts and minds of the Christian right? Bill Moyers Journal reports on popular conservative evangelist John Hagee and his controversial endorsement of McCain. --------7 of 16-------- From: Charles Underwood <charleyunderwood [at] hotmail.com> Subject: Nobel peace 3.07-08 Moorhead MN 3/7 and 3/8, annual Nobel Peace Prize forum with Muhammad Yunus (2006 laureate), Greg Mortenson and Jeffrey Sachs speaking, Concordia College, Moorhead. FFI: http://www.cord.edu/Academics/Events/Peaceprizeforum/index.php --------8 of 16------- From: Lydia Howell <lhowell [at] visi.com> Subject: Intl women/KFAI 3.08 12midnight 24hrs PLEASE SHARE WIDELY...(e-lists, My Space, friends) Many programs by women of color and/or with international perspective Lyia Howell, host of CATALYST on KFAI Radio, Twin Cities MN Celebrate International Women's Day with KFAI RADIO 90.3fm Minneapolis 106.7fm St. Paul LIVE STREAMING and ARCHIVED FOR 2 WEEKS AFTER BROADCAST at http://www.kfai.org Story By Pam Hill Kroyer, KFAI Volunteer Co-ordinator KFAI will celebrate International Women's Day with 24 hours of programming by and about women on Saturday, March 8th. We're calling it Super Saturday '08: Women Represent!. Program Schedule for Saturday, March 8th, 2008 (Midnight-Midnight) (Note: Regular Saturday programming will return Saturday, March 16th) 12-2am: This Little Girl's Gone Rockin - Hosted by Mick Novak Femme pop, girls with guitars, girl groups, and more...your weekly dose of all-female vocals takes a special turn to kick-off IWD. 2-6am: Ladies' Night! Hosted by Ellen, Pam and Pat An all-night party featuring music of all genres. 6-7:30am: Composing Women Hosted by Anna Keyes A program celebrating women's contributions to classical music. 7:30-9am: Women of African Descent in Music Hosted by Akhmiri Sekhr-Ra Akhmiri showcases the similarities between African women of the Diaspora and demonstrates how their music is empowering. 9-9:30am: Trickster Daughter, Trickster Mom Hosted by Linda Litrell Three storytellers and three musicians play with traditional mother-daughter archetypes. 9:30-11am: Teenagers in the Wild Hosted by Emily Torgrimson Five teenage girls, 32 days on the trail in the Canadian wilderness, 200 miles to paddle, countless laughs and bruises, and a couple lessons. 10-11am: Sonic Visions Hosted by Dixie Treichel Music and sounds by women who compose, score, orchestrate and design for film, theater and dance. 11-Noon: Native Women in Minneapolis: Catalysts for Change Hosted by Rhiana Yazzie A discussion about the work strong Native women are doing to positively impact the Twin Cities community. Noon-1pm: Hmong Heroines Hosted by Kathy Mouachepao Recognizing the untold contributions of Hmong women through stories, interviews and music by Hmong women. 1-2pm: This Little Girl's Gone Honky-Tonk Hosted by Mick Novak An hour-long tribute to the godmothers of country and honky-tonk music. 2-3pm: Women's Songs of Protest and Social Change Hosted by Diane Wanner A her-story of U.S. women crafting and performing songs about peace, civil rights, women's issues, labor, and the environment. 3-4pm: Modern Day Slavery: Human Trafficking Hosted by Soroptimist International of Greater Minneapolis State Senator Sandy Pappas joins Soroptimist International to present a program to increase awareness of human trafficking nationally and in Minnesota. 4-5pm: My War: From Bismarck to Britain and Back Klatch Productions Three generations of family describe and discover WWII as service, loss, return and recovery. Asha BhosleAsha Bhosle 5-6pm: Bandit Queens & Bollywood Hosted by Shashi Gupta A program celebrating the diversity and accomplishments of South Asian women in the Twin Cities. 6-7pm: Jagorito Nari (Enlightened Women of Bangladesh) Hosted by Irina Hossain Interviews with women who contributed to the struggle to liberate women from the bondage of social malaises in Bangladesh. 7-8pm: Sista Soldier's Flow! Hosted by Sha Cage Revolutionary women's voices of hip hop and spoken word. 8-9pm: Girassol: Musica do Brasil - Hosted by Helena do Sol Brazilian female artists are celebrated on O dia internacional das mulheres! MC Psalm OneMC Psalm One 9-10pm: This is a Man's World? Women in Hip Hop Hosted by Sara Toetschinger Highlighting those femcess who paved the way in the male-dominated world of Hip Hop. 10-11pm: Word Warriors Hosted by Cynthia French Female spoken word artists from around the country. 11-Midnight: Ladies in the Hall Hosted by Nancy Skalkos A musical tour with the Women in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. -------9 of 16-------- From: Alliance for Sustainability <sean [at] afors.org> Subject: Neighbor sust 3.08 8:30am 2008 Neighborhood Sustainability Conference: Connecting City & Citizen efforts for Sustainable Communities Saturday March 8, 2008, 8:30am to 4:30pm, Augsburg College www.afors.org Several hundred volunteers from block clubs, neighborhoods, congregations, schools, garden and watershed groups will gather to plan spring & summer projects for energy conservation, renewable energy, tree plating, rain gardens, community gardens, walking and biking, water quality, local food, clean air and zero waste. Members from block clubs, neighborhoods, schools, faith-based organizations and other associations will be able to listen to subject experts, share outreach tips, and learn how to develop community-wide sustainability plans at more than 30 topic workshops. They will also get information on ongoing sustainability efforts and grant opportunities to fund grassroots projects in the areas of energy, water quality, waste reduction, graffiti prevention, and climate/energy citizen partnerships. Keynote Talk: "Changing the World, One Neighborhood At a Time" by Jay WallJasper Senior Fellow, at Project for Public Spaces, Executive Editor of Ode magazine, previous of the Utne Reader and author of The Great Neighborhood Book: A Do-It Yourself Guide to Placemaking. Music by Larry Long and Aimee Bryant. 4pm Reception with local wine, beer and organic food. The conference is free, but please pre-register-on line at www.afors.org or by calling 612-331-1099 x 1 or by email sean [at] afors.org The conference is presented by the Alliance for Sustainability and sponsored by several organizations, including the cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Hennepin County, and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. --------10 of 16------- From: Doris Marquit <marqu001 [at] umn.edu> Subject: WILPF/commons 3.08 10am WILPF (Women's International League for Peace & Freedom, MN Metro Branch) invites you to Coffee With discussion: Recovering the Commons Speaker: Julie Ristau (Tomales Bay Institute) will discuss commons-based solutions to environmental and social problems. Saturday, March 8, 10 am-noon Van Cleve Community Ctr., 901 15th Ave. S.E., Minneapolis Natural gifts like air and water, and social creations like science and the Internet, constitute our shared inheritance. The state has abandoned its role of maintaining a healthy balance between the commons and the market. Can we nurture and protect common assets from the ravages of exploitation, pollution, and privatization? Or must market forces dominate? Learn basic principles for managing our commons. Hear about practical ways we can leave common assets in better condition for future generations. REFRESHMENTS-FREE-EVERYONE WELCOME FFI: 651-458-7090; www.wilpfmn.org --------11 of 16-------- From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at] comcast.net> Subject: NWN4P Mtka 3.08 11am NWN4P-Minnetonka demonstration- Every Saturday, 11 AM to noon, at Hwy. 7 and 101. Park in the Target Greatland lot; meet near the fountain. We will walk along the public sidewalk. Signs available. --------12 of 16-------- From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at] comcast.net> Subject: NewHope vigil 3.08 1pm Saturday, 1-2PM - Weekly NWN4P vigil for peace in New Hope at the corner of 42nd (Co. Rd. 9) and Winnetka Ave. N. We usually park in the Walgreen's lot or near McDonald's. You may use one of our signs or bring your own. All welcome. Carole-763-546-5368. --------13 of 16-------- From: Vanka485 [at] aol.com Subject: Northtown vigil 3.08 2pm Peace vigil at Northtown (Old Hwy 10 & University Av.), every Saturday 2:00 -- 3:00 PM. --------14 of 16-------- From: Minke Sundseth <minkesundseth [at] gmail.com> Subject: Omnivore'sDilemma 3.08 5:15pm Perspectives On the Omnivore's Dilemma Panel Discussion & Community Potluck Saturday, March 8, 2008 Rhys Williams, Moderator - Rhys is a retired organic farmer. Panelists: Linda Halley from Gardens of Eagan, a renowned organic farm in Farmington, Minnesota that supplies Twin Cities co-ops with exceptional seasonal produce. Herman Hendrickson from Whole Farm Co-op, a 30-member farmer's cooperative in Central Minnesota that distributes directly to drop sites, primarily at churches, in several major Minnesota cities. Ken Meter from Slow Food Minnesota, a group of Minnesotans that are dedicated to elevating the quality of our food and taking time to enjoy it. A 45-minute panel discussion, followed by time for questions and answers, will explore ways to create a more sustainable foodshed. Panelists will comment on Michael Pollan's book, "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and speak from their own experiences. A potluck meal will follow. Please bring a main dish, salad, or dessert as well as an ingredient list. Doors open at 5:15 for light refreshments and music 6pm Panel and Q&A; Potluck meal to follow Faith Mennonite Church (www.faithmennonite.org) 2720 E 22nd St., Minneapolis, in the Seward Neighborhood For more information call Minke at 612-721-6098 --------15 of 16-------- From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net> Subject: Media reform/CTV 3.08 9pm Truth-seeking Minneapolis Television Network (MTN 17) viewers: "Our World In Depth" cablecasts on MTN Channel 17 on Saturdays at 9pm and Tuesdays at 8am, after DemocracyNow!. Households with basic cable may watch. Sat, 3/8, 9pm and Tues, 3/11, 8am Robert McChesney: "Communication Revolution or Counter-revolution? The Media Reform Movement and the Future of Democracy" Freepress.net co-founder Robert McChesney's keynote speech at the November '07 TC Media Alliance's annual public forum in Mpls. Plus a set from a David Rovics concert in Mpls. (a repeat) --------16 of 16-------- A CounterPunch Special Report Yes, We Can! Can We? The Next Failure of Health Care Reform By VINCENT NAVARRO CounterPunch March 6, 2008 A major problem - if not the major problem - for many people living in the U.S. is the difficulty of accessing and paying for medical care when they are sick. For this reason, candidates in the presidential primaries of 2008 - the Democrats more often than the Republicans - have been recounting stories about the health-related tragedies they have encountered in meetings with ordinary people around the country (an exercise conducted in the U.S. every four years, at presidential election time). These stories tell of the enormous difficulties and suffering faced by many people in their attempts to get the medical care they need. I have been around long enough - I was senior health advisor to Jesse Jackson in the Democratic primaries of 1984 and 1988 - to know how frequently Democratic candidates, over the years, have referred to such cases. The only things that change are the names and faces in these human tragedies. Otherwise, the stories, year after year, are almost the same. In the Democratic Party primaries of 1988, for example, candidate Michael Dukakis talked about a young single mother who had two jobs and still could not afford medical insurance for herself and her children. In 1992, Bill Clinton did the same, changing the story only slightly. This time it was the case of a woman with diabetes who could not get health insurance because of her chronic condition. And now, in the 2008 primaries, Hillary Rodham Clinton (whom I worked with on the White House Health Care Reform Task Force in 1993) describes a similar case. This time it is a single woman, with two daughters, who cannot pay her medical bills because her congenital heart defect makes it impossible for her to get medical insurance coverage. And Barack Obama describes similar cases, with the eloquence that characterizes all of his speeches. He frequently refers to his own mother, who had cancer and had to worry not only about her illness but about paying her medical bills. All these cases are tragic and are representative of a situation faced by millions of people in the U.S. every year. But, I am afraid that unless the winning Democratic candidate, once elected president (and I hope he or she will be), develops a more comprehensive health care proposal than any of those put forward in the primaries so far, we will see the same situation continue. Democratic candidates in the 2012 primaries, and in the 2016 primaries, will still be referring to single mothers with chronic health conditions who cannot pay their medical bills. The proposals put forward by Obama and Clinton underestimate the gravity of the problem in the U.S. medical care sector. The situation is bad and is getting worse: the number of people who are uninsured and underinsured has been growing since 1978. Let's start with the uninsured, those people who do not have any form of health benefits coverage. There were 21 million uninsured people in the U.S. in 1972. By 2006, that number had more than doubled to 47 million. And this increase has been independent of economic cycles. The number of uninsured grew by 3.4 million from 2004 to 2006, even as a resurgent economy raised incomes and lowered poverty rates. Meanwhile, during those years, the Democratic Party establishment distanced itself from any commitment to resolving these problems. Even though the 1976, 1980, 1984, 1988, and 1992 Democratic Party platforms included calls for health care benefits coverage for everyone (what is usually referred to as "universal health care"), that call was usually made without much conviction. In the primaries of 1988, when I was involved in preparing the Democratic platform, Dukakis (the winner of the primaries) resisted including universal health care in the party platform. He was afraid of being perceived as "too radical." He had to accept it, however, because Jesse Jackson agreed to support Dukakis (Jackson had 40% of the Democratic delegates at the Atlanta convention) only if the platform included this call for universal care. Then, in 1992, Bill Clinton (who borrowed extensively from Jackson's 1988 proposals) put the call for universal health care at the center of his program. But, once president, his closeness to Wall Street and his intellectual dependence on Robert Rubin of Wall Street (who became his Secretary of the Treasury) made him leery of antagonizing the insurance industry. It was President Clinton's unwillingness to confront the insurance companies that led to his failure to honor his commitment to work toward a universal health care program (see my article "Why HillaryCare Failed," Counterpunch, November 12, 2007). The type of reform President Clinton called for was a health insurancebased model called "managed care," in which insurance companies remain at the center of health care. An alternative approach could have been to establish a publicly funded health care program (which was favored by the majority of the population) that would cover everyone, providing medical care as an entitlement for all citizens and residents. This could have been achieved, such as by expanding the federal Medicare program to cover everyone. To do so, however, would have required neutralizing the enormous power of the insurance companies with a massive mobilization of the population against them and in favor of a comprehensive and universal health care program. But President Clinton's loyalty to Wall Street prevailed. His administration's top priorities were reduction of the federal deficit (at the cost of reduced public social expenditures) and approval of NAFTA (without amending President George H. W. Bush's proposal, which Clinton had inherited, and refusing to address the concerns of the labor and environmental movements). These actions antagonized and demoralized the grassroots of the Democratic Party. Clinton lost any power to mobilize people for the establishment of a universal health care program. This frustration of the grassroots, and especially the working class, also led to the huge abstention by the Democratic Party base in the 1994 congressional elections and the consequent loss of the Democratic majority in the House, the Senate, and many state legislatures. At the root of this disenchantment with the Clinton administration was its unwillingness to confront the insurance companies and Wall Street. Could that happen again? The health care mess (Nixon dixit) Before addressing this question, let's look at the problems people face in the U.S. But first, I should stress that the country has sufficient resources to provide comprehensive, high-quality medical care to everyone who needs it. The U.S. spends 16% of its GNP on medical care, almost double the percentage spent by Canada and most countries of the European Union (E.U.) on providing universal, comprehensive health care coverage to their populations. We in the U.S. spend $2.1 trillion on medical care, making the medical care sector one of the largest economies in the world (if the medical care sector were a country, rather than a massive sector within a country). And it has been estimated that this spending will reach 20% of GNP in a few years (7 years according to some, 12 years according to others). Lack of money is not the root of the medical care problem in the U.S. We spend far, far more than any other developed country, and far more than what we would need to provide comprehensive health care coverage for everyone. The frequently heard argument that the U.S. cannot afford universal, comprehensive care has no credibility. It is a poor rationale for keeping the situation as it is. Despite the huge amount of money spent on medical care, the situation of the U.S. medical care sector is a disgrace. Even Richard Nixon, in an unguarded moment, defined it as a mess. And as noted above, it has gotten much worse since Nixon was president: in 2006, 47 million Americans did not have any form of health benefits coverage, and 108 million had insufficient coverage. And people die because of this. Estimates of the number of preventable deaths vary, from 18,000 per year (estimated by the conservative Institute of Medicine) to a more realistic level of more than 100,000 (calculated by Professor David Himmelstein of Harvard University). The number depends on how one defines "preventable deaths." But even the conservative figure of 18,000 deaths per year is six times the number of people killed in the World Trade Center on 9/11. That event outraged people (as it should), but the deaths resulting from lack of health care seem to go unnoticed; these deaths are not reported on the front pages, or even on the back pages, of the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, or any other U.S. newspaper. These deaths are so much a part of our reality that they are not news. How can this be tolerated in a country that claims to be a civilized nation? The Democratic candidates' proposals The proposals put forward by the current Democratic candidates for president, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, will improve the situation. They will diminish somewhat the number of those not covered by health insurance and will reduce the level of undercoverage. But the major problems will remain unresolved, including the problems the candidates have referred to during their campaigns. People will still experience incomplete coverage, and many millions will continue to be uninsured and underinsured. Not even the mandatory health insurance called for by Hillary Clinton will resolve these problems. Her plan proposes that, just as a car driver in the U.S. must have car insurance, so a citizen or resident will have to have health insurance. The problem with this mandate is not only - as Obama has pointed out - the matter of enforcement (note that according to some estimates, up to 20% of car owners drive without car insurance), but the assumption behind the policy. The assumption is that most people who are not insured are "free-riders," people who could afford to buy insurance but choose not to, and choose to let someone else pay for their care when they get sick. But the vast majority of people who are uninsured are people who cannot afford to pay for it. It's as simple as that. Massachusetts passed a mandate of this sort (under Governor Mitt Romney), but 198,000 people still remain uninsured. The subsidies and tax incentives proposed to help the uninsured pay for health insurance premiums under plans of this type are insufficient. Another proposed mandate (put forward by Clinton more strongly than by Obama) is that all employers must provide insurance coverage to their employees - a policy proposed by President Nixon back in the 1970s. But with this proposal, unless you force employers to provide comprehensive coverage at an affordable cost to everyone, the problem will still not be resolved. An even greater problem with the employer mandate, however, is that it continues to tie health benefits to employment, which is a perverse system and a nasty one. The reason employers, in 1948, pushed to make health care benefits dependent on employment (in the nefarious Taft-Hartley Act) was that this was a way of controlling workers. The Taft-Hartley Act forced the labor force to get health care benefits through collective bargaining agreements that are highly decentralized and are negotiated at the place of employment. In the U.S., workers who lose their jobs lose not only wages, but also health benefits coverage for themselves and their family. And if these workers want to keep their insurance, they have to pay prohibitive premiums. So, a worker will think twice before striking. This is one reason why the U.S. has fewer working days lost to strikes than other developed countries. Until recently, employers have been the major force - besides the insurance companies - for keeping the current system of funding and managing health care. This system, then, is based on an alliance between employers and the insurance industry. It is this alliance that is responsible for the biggest problem of health care benefits: undercoverage. Most people believe that because they have health insurance, they will never face the problem of being unable to pay their medical bills. They eventually find out the truth - that their insurance is dramatically insufficient. Even for families with the best health benefits coverage available, the benefits are much less comprehensive than those provided as entitlements in Canada and in most E.U. countries. And paying medical bills in the U.S. is a serious difficulty for many people. In fact, inability to pay medical bills is the primary cause of family bankruptcy, and most of these families have insurance. Furthermore, 20% of families spend more than 10% of their disposable income on insurance and medical bills (the percentage is even higher for those with individual insurance: 53%). In 2006, one of every four Americans lived in families that had problems in paying medical bills. And most of them had health insurance. The inhumanity of this situation is made evident by the fact that nearly 40% of people in the U.S. who are dying because of terminal illness are worrying about paying for care - how their families are going to pay the medical bills, now and after they die. No other developed country comes close to these levels of insensitivity and inhumanity. Meanwhile, the federal government parades around the world as the great defender of human rights, ignoring the fact that among the developed democratic nations, the U.S. is the most deficient in human rights. The basic right of access to health care in time of need does not exist in the U.S. The United Nations Human Rights Declaration includes this right in a prominent position, but this is a declaration that the U.S. Congress has never signed. It should come as no surprise that the world's people do not believe the U.S. government is a great defender of human rights abroad, since it does not guarantee even basic rights at home. And here again, things are getting worse. The percentage of uninsured and underinsured has been increasing. The proportion of people with employer-based health benefits coverage declined from 67.8% among the non-elderly in 2000 to 63% in 2006 - even though the economy was booming during those years. In the same period, the number of adults without coverage increased by 8.7 million, and from 2004 to 2006 the number of children without coverage increased by 1 million. Why does this situation persist in the U.S.? For any society, medicine is a mirror of the power relations in that society. And nowhere is the lack of human rights more evident than in the house of medicine. In the U.S., insensitivity toward human needs goes hand-in-hand with enormous profits made from that suffering. The root of the problem, as noted earlier, is not lack of money but the channels through which that money is managed and spent. The problem is the privatization of the funding of medicine that allows profits to boom. The insurance and pharmaceutical industries enjoy the highest rates of profit in the U.S. Just last year, insurance industry profits reached $12 billion, and pharmaceutical industry profits $49 billion, the highest in the U.S. and in the world. According to Fortune Magazine, health-related industries are among the most profitable industries in the country. A lot of money is being made from people's suffering. This scandalous situation is easy to document. For example, lanzoprasol, a gastric secretionreducing medicine widely used in the U.S., costs $329 in Baltimore, U.S.A.; the same medicine (same number of doses) costs $9 in Barcelona, Spain! And the current Bush administration signed legislation for a program that, in theory, covers drug costs for elderly people, but in practice this is an enormous rip-off. It forbids the government to negotiate with the drug industry on the cost of drugs - that is, the price of their products. What this means is that the federal government pays the prices dictated by pharmaceutical companies. Now, one might well ask, Why does this continue? Why hasn't our government done something about it? Is it that the government could not provide comprehensive health benefits coverage? It certainly could. All E.U. governments do so. All provide publicly funded, comprehensive health care coverage to their entire population. And on this side of the Atlantic, Canada (which once had a system identical to ours, health insurers included) also provides this entitlement to all its citizens. In Canada in the 1960s, a social democratic government in Saskatchewan did a very logical thing. My good friend, Dr. Samuel Wolfe, who was then Chief Health Officer of Saskatchewan, proposed to the province's social democratic government that rather than paying premiums to insurance companies, people would pay earmarked taxes to a public trust fund, controlled by their representatives. This trust fund would negotiate with doctors and hospitals for the payments they would receive for the care they provided. This saved a lot of money by bypassing the insurance companies. The Saskatchewan Health Plan provided comprehensive care to everyone in the province at a much lower cost than before. Soon, the other provinces adopted similar plans, establishing Canada's nationwide health plan that now covers everyone. The overhead for the public system in Canada is only 4%, compared with 30% in the U.S. insurance industry - 30% that goes to marketing, administration (a lot of paper shuffling goes on in U.S. health care), and the salaries of extremely well-paid executives and insurance lobbyists. One of the best-paid individuals in this country is William McGuire, CEO of an insurance company - United. He makes $37 million a year, plus $1.7 billion in stock options. And all of this money comes from premiums paid by people, many of whom have insufficient coverage. The insurance companies have enormous power, both in Washington and in most state legislatures. In Maryland, for example, a former governor arranged for candidates for Insurance Commissioner to be interviewed by the insurance associations before he made his final selection. But, insurance industry influence is strongest in Washington. In the U.S., money is the milk of politics. The electoral process is also privatized. And the insurance companies pay a lot of money to candidates. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the insurance industry has contributed $525,188 to Hillary Clinton, $414,863 to Barack Obama, and $274,724 to John McCain. As a consequence, not one of the candidates is asking for a publicly funded system. The major players in medical care in the U.S. - insurance companies, drug companies, professional associations, etc. (the list is long) - have given a lot of money to the candidates. The splendid document called the U.S. Constitution, which begins "We the people " should have a footnote "and the insurance companies, the drug companies, " The U.S. Congress is indeed the best Congress money can buy (for a further discussion of how money corrupts the electoral system, see my article "How to Read the U.S. Primaries: Guide for Europeans," Counterpunch, February 13, 2008). The privatization of the electoral process (with most of the money that pays for campaigns coming from economic, financial, and professional interests, and from 30% of the nation's highest-income earners) corrupts the democratic process. I am not implying that politicians are corrupt (although some are). I am willing to admit that most are honorable persons. But the need to constantly raise funds for their campaigns (election and re-election) corrupts the democratic system. And the unwillingness of most members of Congress to change this situation makes them accomplices in that corruption. Such practices are illegal in most democratic countries. And people know all about this. In surveys, 68% of people believe the U.S. Congress does not represent their interests, but the interests of the financial and economic groups that fund political campaigns. But the establishments, including the political, media, and academic establishments, want everyone to believe that the reason we don't have a universal health program is that people don't want it. They would like people to believe that Congress legislates what people actually want. Meanwhile, the long list of public policies that people want but do not get from their government is growing: 65% of people want a publicly funded health care system similar to that in Canada, a system that in academic language is called single-payer. In a single-payer system, the government, rather than the insurance companies, negotiates with providers - doctors, hospitals, nurses, etc. - for the provision of medical care. We already have a system of this type in Medicare (with an administrative overhead of only 4%, compared with the 30% in the insurance system). By eliminating the huge administrative expenses, we could provide comprehensive health care coverage for everyone without spending an extra penny. The possibilities for major change Obama and Clinton are ready to admit that single-payer may be better than any other alternatives. Obama spoke out in favor of it at one time: "So the challenge is, how do we get federal government to take care of this business? I happen to be a proponent of a single payer health care program. I see no reason why the United States of America, the wealthiest country in the history of the world, spending 14% of its Gross National Product on health care cannot provide basic health insurance to everybody. And that's what Jim is talking about when he says everybody in, nobody out." "A single payer health care plan, a universal health care plan. And that's what I'd like to see. And as all of you know, we may not get there immediately. Because first we have to take back the White House, we have to take back the Senate, we have to take back the House." (Barack Obama in 2003 before the Illinois AFL-CIO) But, something happened on the way to Washington. The train derailed. Now Obama claims that his declaration was taken out of context. And Hillary Clinton, in 1993, told me that while single-payer might be the most logical model, it was politically infeasible. I hope both candidates will reconsider. At this time, neither candidate's proposal will resolve the health care crisis we are facing. And in 2012, candidates will still be talking about single mothers who cannot pay for medical care for themselves or their children. The candidates of 2008 should be asking for government mandates rather than individual mandates. It is not people who should be mandated to get insurance. It is the government that should be mandated to provide insurance for everyone as an entitlement. The need to mobilize Obama has been able to capitalize on the anti-establishment mood in the country. And he has inspired many. While I believe that large numbers of people - the grassroots of the Democratic Party who support him - do want change and are firmly anti-establishment, I am concerned that they are putting too much faith in one individual. Without diminishing what candidate Obama has achieved, the fact is that he has already shown himself to be adaptable to the political context. He was once against the war in Iraq. But, in Congress, his votes on Iraq have been indistinguishable from those of Hillary Clinton. And in health care, his rather disappointing proposal will not resolve the problems. I am very worried that once in power, he will not have the courage to confront the extremely powerful lobbies primarily responsible for the lack of health care coverage and the undercoverage of the American people. It happened with Bill Clinton's administration and it may happen again. Contrary to what Obama and others have said, the main problem with Hillary Clinton's Task Force in 1993 was not its secrecy (although secrecy was indeed a problem) but a conceptual framework based on an insurance model - managed care - that was pushed on the political, media, and academic establishments by the insurance companies. The ideologues of managed care were clearly in charge of the Task Force. It could happen again. To prevent this, there is a need to mobilize. History is not made by extraordinary figures but by ordinary people who can move mountains when they believe in a cause and get organized. It has happened all over the world, and it has happened in the U.S. We saw it in the establishment of the New Deal, Social Security, unemployment insurance, job creation, minimum wage, and subsidized housing, among other programs. These were not just the outcome of President Roosevelt's position, but the result of huge social agitation and mobilization. As usually happens in historical moments of societal change, government leaders were not so much leading as trying to catch up with what millions of people were demanding. Similarly, the Great Society Programs - Medicare, Medicaid, Environmental Protection Agency, NIOSH, OSHA, and many other examples of progressive legislation - were the outcome of massive mobilizations. Candidate John Kennedy's proposals for change were rather moderate, and his domestic policies, once he was elected, were also disappointing. But the mobilization triggered by his election was followed by many more, such as Appalachian coal miners' strikes against their working conditions, the splendid civil rights movement led by Martin Luther King, and the antVietnam War movement led by student groups. They all established a political climate in which progressive legislation could occur. History, indeed, does not repeat itself. But it offers us pointers on where to go. And it should be obvious that change will not occur unless there is a huge mobilization to complete the unfinished agenda of civil rights: a full development of social rights, with the human right to access to health care at the center. To achieve that right, we need reforms more substantial than those put forth by either Democratic candidate. The splendid slogan first used by the great trade union leader Cesar Chavez, founder of the United Farm Workers of America, was Yes, We Can! This should guide the call for establishing the right to health care. But, for that to happen, the current holders of the slogan must heighten their expectations and become more ambitious in their proposals. This is what the electorate expects from them in their promises of change Dr. Vicente Navarro is Professor of Health Policy, Public Policy, and Policy Studies at the Johns Hopkins University. He has written extensively on economics, health, and social policy, and has been advisor to many governments and international agencies. His books have been translated into many languages. He was the founder and president of the International Association of Health Policy, and for almost forty years has been Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Health Services. He is also a founding member of Physicians for a National Health Program. The views expressed in this article are his own, but are shared by millions across the United States
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