|Progressive Calendar 06.19.09||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Fri, 19 Jun 2009 14:53:46 -0700 (PDT)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 06.19.09 1. Moyers/women/peace 6.19 9pm 2. Outrage/film 6.19 3. Peace walk 6.20 9am Cambridge MN 4. GreenPartyMN 6.20 9am 5. Israeli nukes/film 6.20 10am 6. AWC/GLBT Pride 6.20 1pm 7. Northtown vigil 6.20 2pm 8. Bicking bash 6.20 6:30pm 9. Palestine/CATV 6.20 9pm 10. Carl Ginsburg - Obama's biz fix: placating the bankers, again 11. Joe Bageant - Workers' rights: no balls, no gains 12. Dave Lindorff - Worse than nothing? Obama's health care Waterloo 13. Paul Dean - Health care reform and carburetor tweaking 14. Alan Maass - Keeping real health care reform off the table 15. ed - Bumperstickers --------1 of 15-------- From: t r u t h o u t <messenger [at] truthout.org> Subject: Moyers/women/peace 6.19 9pm Bill Moyers Journal | Women Fight for Peace http://www.truthout.org/061709U Bill Moyers Journal: "Instructed by a dream and organized in prayer, Leymah Gbowee and thousands of everyday women in Liberia - both Christians and Muslims alike - confronted warlords and a corrupt president to successfully fight for peace and dignity in their war-torn nation." --------2 of 15-------- From: Lydia Howell <lydiahowell [at] visi.com> Subject: Outrage/film 6.19 June 19-25 new film OUTRAGE @ LAGOON CINEMA on Lagoon Ave. 1 block east from Hennepin, in uptown Minneapolis OUTRAGE a new film by Kirby DIck From Academy Award-nominated documentary filmmaker Kirby Dick /(Twist of Faith, This Film Is Not Yet Rated)/ comes a searing indictment of the hypocrisy of closeted politicians with appalling gay rights voting records who actively campaign against the LGBT community they covertly belong to. Boldly revealing the hidden lives of some of the United States' most powerful policymakers, /Outrage/ takes a comprehensive look at the harm they've inflicted on millions of Americans, and examines the media's complicity in keeping their secrets. With analysis from prominent members of the gay community such as Congressman Barney Frank, former NJ Governor Jim McGreevey, activist Larry Kramer, radio personality Michelangelo Signorile, and openly gay congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (Representative, Wisconsin 2nd district), the film probes deeply into the psychology of this double lifestyle, the ethics of outing closeted politicians, the double standards that the media upholds in its coverage of the sex lives of gay public figures, and much more. Official Web Site: http://www.outragethemovie.com/ --------3 of 15-------- From: Ken Reine <reine008 [at] umn.edu> Subject: Peace walk 6.20 9am Cambridge MN every Saturday 9AM to 9:35AM Peace walk in Cambridge - start at Hwy 95 and Fern Street --------4 of 15-------- From: andy [at] moozer.com Subject: GreenPartyMN 6.20 9am Greetings Minnesota Greens! Our summer membership meeting is coming up in a month, it will be held on Saturday, June 20th at Oak Land Junior High School 820 Manning Ave N Lake Elmo, MN 55042 The schedule is as follows: 9:00 Registration 9:30 Welcome Ceremony, Capital Report, Pakistan Green Report 9:45 Green Party Vision Workshop 10:45 Breakout Sessions 12:00 Potluck Lunch 1:00 Breakout Reports 2:00 Bylaws, Platform Amendments and Elections 2:30 Workshop - Nuclear Energy Proposed bylaw changes may be found at http://www.mngreens.org/proposals -Andy Exley GPMN Chair -- From: Amber Garlan <agarlan [at] hammclinic.org> At the Green Party Summer membership meeting in Lake Elmo this Saturday June 20th, we are going to have a workshop called Green Visioning. During the Green Visioning workshop we will be talking about how the Green Party can do better with the limited resources of people and money that we have. People will list different topics then we will have breakout sessions for the topics. The 2010 election is definitely a breakout topic. The state Green Party also wants to do a fall membership meeting just to focus on the 2010 election. We will either have the fall membership meeting in September or in early November after the elections, so that more people are free. --------5 of 15-------- From: William Bailey <wbailey [at] visi.com> Subject: Israeli nukes/film 6.20 10am MIDDLE EAST PEACE NOW Presents "Israel's Secret Weapon" This 50 minute film depicts the development of Israel's nuclear weapons, first exposed by Mordechai Vanunu, a worker in the Dimona plant. His revelations to the London Times in 1986 and kidnapping by the Israeli Mossad led to his 18 years in prison. This BBC documentary follows the continued development of Israel's nuclear weapons, the concealment of waste products and injured workers. Nick and Mary Eoloff, St. Paul residents, adopted Vanunu while he was in prison. The BBC reporters came to St. Paul in 2003 to produce a part of the film. SATURDAY, June 20, 2009 9:30 a.m. Refreshments, 10:00 a.m. Presentation and Discussion SOUTHDALE HENNEPIN COUNTY LIBRARY 7001 York Avenue South, Edina, MN 55435 For information call Florence Steichen, 651-696-1642 --------6 of 15-------- From: Meredith Aby <awcmere [at] gmail.com> Subject: AWC/GLBT Pride 6.20 1pm Sign and Banner Making Party: Help Us Get Ready for GLBT Pride Saturday, June 20th @ 1pm @ AWC office, 1313 5th St. SE #112C, Dinkytown, Mpls The Anti-War Committee will be marching in this year's Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Pride parade and we need help making our banner and signs. Bring yourself & creative slogans. No artistic skills required. Organized by the AWC. --------7 of 15-------- From: Vanka485 [at] aol.com Subject: Northtown vigil 6.20 2pm Peace vigil at Northtown (Old Hwy 10 & University Av), every Saturday 2-3pm --------8 of 15-------- From: Kenneth Stern <sternkenneth [at] gmail.com> Subject: Bicking bash 6.20 6:30pm Celebrate Solstice! with Dave Bicking For Minneapolis City Council, Ward 9 Green Party Endorsed Campaign Benefit at May Day Cafe 3440 Bloomington Avenue South Saturday, June 20, 2009 - 6:30 p.m. till dark $10 - more if you can Come for the Evening of the Longest Day of the Year [Delightfully In]Famous May Day Café Pastries and Coffee Wine and Cheese Live Music Mary Metchnek - Irish and Eastern European fiddle music Massage for Donations - Andrea Sullivan will be giving chair massage versions of Relaxation and Deep Tissue massage. She is a certified Universal Tao Instructor and a Chi Nei Tsang Practitioner and has been a certified Shiatsu Therapist since 2004 Ken Stern Kingsfield 612-824-1247 [End the generally drab record of the Mpls City Council. Elect Dave Bicking! Savvy, canny, and unafraid to speak up! For change we can all believe in (finally, at last)! -ed] --------9 of 15-------- From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net> Subject: Palestine/CATV 6.20 9pm Most-awesome Minneapolis Television Network (MTN) 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., 6/20, 9pm and Tues, 6/23, 8am Palestine: A New Perspective For the first time in Minnesota television history: the Palestinian point of view straight-up for 1 hour! Ziad Amra of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and Sameh Shabaneh of the Al-Aqsa Institute, two Minnesotans with deep connections to Palestine, share their perspectives on the Palestinian-Israel conflict. Hosted by Karen Redleaf. --------10 of 15-------- Placating the Bankers, Again Obama's Bix Fix By CARL GINSBURG June 19 - 21, 2009 CounterPunch The administration's financial fix-it plan was laid out this week and it was, underwhelming, to say the least. The New York Times dubbed it, "back to business as usual.." not a phrase commonly seen in the paper of record which, by the way, essentially managed to miss the true source of the country's crisis - Underpaid America - for two generations. None of this comes as a surprise given the top priority Mr. Obama set early on to fund banks and financial institutions. Everybody else should hang in there and brace yourselves for the Great Marginalization. So, aid to banks stays in place; derivatives are to remain a critical part of the finance system; there'll be enhanced protection for accredited consumers who can still borrow money and invest. In other words, the protection of existing pools of money and investment is the goal of this government. That is fine unless, of course, you have little or none of that money. That would be the millions of Americans who helped raise America's productivity to new heights and got no rewards for the effort, for whom a pension system has fallen away and for whom there are now mounting health care and energy costs. Let's keep in mind that the average consumer debt of an American family is $10,000. Let's not kid ourselves: that's an amount that served to augment low wages (much like food stamps for the working poor) and did not fund extravagant lifestyles, a popular obfuscation in the media embrace of Obama's sociology. Low wage America slammed people and NOTHING the Obama administration has on the table now or in the pipeline will address that fundamental dynamic this year, next ... ever. Meanwhile, profits are up. Business Week reports: "Bank Reap Handsome Profits Cashing Out of Chinese Banks." Those winners include Goldman Sachs, the investment firm that received $20 billion via our government bailout of insurance giant AIG. That's called "restoring confidence". We are to continue life in one of the most economically stratified countries in the industrial world...as speculators swoop in buying up foreclosed properties, adults compete with high school kids for summer jobs, the price of gas goes back over $3 a gallon, and the stock market goes up, trumpeting "labor savings" as key to profit growth, the same labor savings that triggered the credit crunch. That simple and obvious construct - low wages triggered the crisis - seems to elude the so-called progressive pundits at MSNBC. The crisis we face is Mr. Obama's cold indifference to the fact that growing numbers of American families cannot get by this year. He seems entirely disconnected from the economic realities of working Americans. If President Obama wants to get something done he is going to have to, in the words of one financial columnist, "make some bankers mad". Fat chance. Carl Ginsburg is a tv producer and journalist based in New York. He can be reached at carlginsburg [at] gmail.com --------11 of 15-------- No Balls, No Gains Workers' Rights By JOE BAGEANT CounterPunch June 19 - 21, 2009 In looking back on growing up, I always remember 1957 and 1958 at "the two good years," They were the only years my working class redneck family ever caught a real break in their working lives, and that break came because of organized labor. After working as a farm hand, driving a hicktown taxi part time, and a dozen catch as catch can jobs, my father found himself owning a used semi-truck and hauling produce for a Teamster unionized trucking company called Blue Goose. Daddy was making more money than he'd ever made in his life, about $4,000 a year. The median national household income at the time was $5,000, mostly thanks to America's unions. After years of moving from one rented dump to another, we bought a modest home, ($8,000) and felt like we might at last be getting some traction in achieving the so-called "American Dream". Yup, Daddy was doing pretty good for a backwoods boy who'd quit school in the sixth or seventh grade -- he was never sure, which gives some idea how seriously the farmboy took his attendance at the one-room school we both attended in our lifetimes. This was the golden age of both trucking and of unions. Thirty-five percent of American labor, 17 million working folks, were union members, and it was during this period the American middle class was created. The American middle class has never been as big as advertised, but if it means the middle third income-wise, then we actually had one at the time. But whatever it means, one third of working folks, the people who busted their asses day in and day out making the nation function, were living better than they ever had. Or at least had the opportunity to do so. >From the Depression through World War II the Teamsters Union became a powerful entity, and a popular one too because of such things as its pledge never to strike during the war or a national emergency. President Roosevelt even had a special designated liaison to the Teamsters. But power and money eventually drew the usual assortment of lizards, and by the mid-fifties the Teamsters Union had become one corrupt pile of shit at the top level. So rotten even the mob enjoyed a piece of the action. The membership, ordinary guys like my dad, was outraged and ashamed, but rendered powerless by the crooked union bosses in the big cities. My old man was no great follower of the news or current events, but he tried to keep up with and understand Teamster developments. Which was impossible since his reading consisted of anti-union Southern newspapers, and the television coverage of Teamster criminality, including murders, and the ongoing courtroom trials. All this left him conflicted. His Appalachian Christian upbringing defined the world in black and white, with no gray areas. Inside he felt he should not be even remotely connected with such vile things as the Teamsters were associated with. And he sometimes prayed for guidance in the matter. On the other hand, there was the pride and satisfaction in providing for his family in ways previously impossible. He'd built a reasonable working class security for those times and that place in West Virginia. Being a Teamster certainly made that possible. But for damned sure no one had handed it to him. He drove his guts out to get what he had. There were rules, and log books and all the other crap that were supposed to assure drivers got enough rest, and ensure road safety and fairness for the truckers. Rural heartland drivers saw it for the bullshit it was, but it was much better paying bullshit. For a little guy hauling produce from Podunk USA to the big cities, it still came down to heartburn, hemorrhoids, and longer hauls and longer hours than most driver's falsified log books showed. And sometimes way too much Benzedrine, or "bennies." Bennies were a type of speed commonly used by truckers back then because of the grueling hauls. As a former doper who has done bennies, I can avow they are some gritty nerve jagging shit. Their only virtue is making you wide awake and jumpy, and after you've been awake on them a couple days, which many drivers were, crazier than a shithouse rat. Nearly every truck stop sold bennies under the counter. Once while hallucinating on bennies Daddy nearly wiped out a roadside joint. He recalled "layin' on the jake brake, down shifting, and watching hundreds of the witches like in The Wizard of Oz come down out of the sky in the dark." Somehow he got 30,000 pounds back onto the road while several folks inside the diner were pissing themselves in the windowside booths. My daddy ran the eastern seaboard in a 12-wheeler -- there were no 18 wheelers yet. It had polished chrome and bold letters that read, "BLUE GOOSE LINE". Parked alongside our little asbestos sided house, I'd marvel at the magic of those bold words, the golden diamond and sturdy goose. And dream of someday "burning up Route 50" like my dad. Old U.S. Route 50 ran near the house and was the stuff of legend if your daddy happened to be a truck driver who sometimes took you with him on the shorter hauls: "OK boy, now scrunch down and look into the side mirror. I'm gonna turn the top of them side stacks red hot." And he would pop the clutch and strike sparks on the anvil of the night, downshifting toward Pinkerton, Coolville and Hanging Rock.. It never once occurred to me that his ebullience and our camaraderie might be due to a handful of bennies. Yessir, Old 50 was a mighty thing, a howling black slash through the Blue Ridge Mountain fog. A place where famed and treacherous curves made widows and truck stops and cafes bloomed in the tractor trailers' smoky wakes. A roadmap will tell you it eventually reaches Columbus and Saint Louis, places I imagined had floodlights raking the skies heralding the arrival of heroic Teamster truckers like my father. Guys who'd fought in Germany and Italy and the Solomon Islands and were still wearing their service caps these years later, but now pinned with the gold steering wheel of the Teamsters Union. Such are a working class boy's dreams. I have two parched photos from that time. One is of me and my brother and sister, ages ten, eight and six. We are standing in the front yard, three little redneck kids with bad haircuts squinting for some faint clue as to whether there was really a world out there, somewhere beyond West Virginia. The other photo is of my mother and the three of us on the porch of that house on route 50. On the day my father was slated to return from any given run we'd all stand on the porch listening for the sound of airbrakes, the deep roar as he came down off the mountain. Each time my mother would step onto the porch blotting her lipstick, Betty Grable style hair rustling in the breeze, and say, "Stand close, your daddy's home." And that was about as good as it ever got for our family. Daddy's heart later gave way from a congenital defect and he lost everything. He was so scrupulously honest about debts he could never recover financially. Unable to borrow money, uneducated and weakened for life, he set to working in car washes and garages. After his union trucking days were over, we were assigned to the margins of America, a million miles from the American Dream, joining those people never seen on television, represented by no politician and never heard from in halls of power. Now it was only a little house by the side of the road with not enough closets and ugly asbestos shingle siding. But it was ours, just like the truck and the chance to get ahead that it offered. And we had felt like we were some small part of America as it was advertised. All because of a union job during the heyday of unions in this nation. It was also a period of Teamsters Union corruption, replete with criminal moguls such as Dave Beck, George Meany and Jimmy Hoffa. Yet the history of the few top lizards on the national rock of greed is not the history of the people. If a few pricks and gangsters have occasionally seized power over the dignity of labor, countless more calculating, bloodless and malevolent pricks -- the capitalist elites -- have always held most of the cards Which is why in 1886 railroad and financial baron Jay Gould could sneer, "I can always hire one half of the working class to kill the other half." And why a speaker at the U.S. Business Conference Board in 1974 could arrogantly declare, "One man, one vote has undermined the power of business in all capitalist countries since World War II." And why that same year Business Week magazine said, "It will be a hard pill for many Americans to swallow -- the idea of doing with less so that big business can have more. Nothing in modern economic history compares with the selling job that must now be done to make people accept this new reality." The new reality is here, and has been since 1973, the last year American workers made a wage gain in real dollars. Hell, it's been here so long we accept it as part of America's cultural furniture. Only about 12% of American workers are unionized and even with a supposedly union friendly Democratic Congress, unions are still fighting to exist (although government employees are unionized at 36%, because the Empire allows some leeway for its commissars). In fact, things are worse than ever. Employers can now force employees to attend anti-union presentations during the workday, at captive audience meetings in which union supporters are forbidden to speak under threat of insubordination. Back in 1978 when I was working to organize the local newspaper, the management was not even allowed to speak to the workers on the matter until after the union vote results were in. Then there's President Obama, the guy soft headed liberals think is going to turn this dreadful scenario around. He talks a good game about unions, when he is forced to. But Obama is working on the things that will "create a legacy," such as health care (which is simply a new way to pay the insurance industry's blackmail) or the economy (by appointing the same damned people who fucked it up to fix it), and immigration reform, a nicely nebulous term that can mean whatever either side of the issue wants it to mean. Obama's not going to publicly ignore the unions. But he's not going to sink much political capital into this corporatized nation's most radio-active issue either. For him, union legislation is just a distraction from the "legacy building" of a very charming, savvy, and ambitious politician. That is the assessment of Glenn Spencer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, one of the most anti-union institutions in America. (Many thanks to Washington writer Ken Silverstein for publishing Spencer's astute observations). Things are changing though. Union membership climbed 12 percent last year. Twelve percent of twelve percent ain't shit, but at least it's forward motion. At that rate it will only take us 21 years to get back to the 1956 level of union membership. We can expect no miracles, top union leaders are still among the Empire's elites. And they are still technically accountable to whatever membership will still have jobs when the 2012 elections roll around. The least they could do is make it harder for Obama to lick off those millions of hard earned union support dollars from the top of the campaign contribution ice cream cone as he did in '08. But who can be sure? Because the new union elites and their minions are lawyers and marketing professionals. They've never come down off the mountain with both stacks red hot, or gathered on the porch of a crappy but new roadside bungalow, proud because they owned it, and stood up straight because, "Boys, your daddy is coming home." I'm not going into the current brouhaha about the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) or the "card check" bullshit here. Because what it's gonna take to restore dignity to laboring America, ain't gonna be more legislative wrangling. What it takes won't be pretty, maybe not even legal in this new police state, and sure as hell won't be "within the system." Because the system is the problem. So it will be up us, just like it always has been - the writer, the Nicaraguan janitor, the forty year old family man forced to bag groceries at Walmart, the pizza delivery guy, the welder and the certified nurse, the long haul trucker and the short order cook. And they will snicker at us from their gilded roosts on Wall Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. Some people are bound to get hurt in the necessary fight. In fact, people need to be willing to get hurt in the fight. That's the way we once gained worker rights, and that's the way we will get them back. The only way to get rid of the robbers' roost is to burn the fucker down. Anyone got a match? Joe Bageant is author of the book, Deer Hunting With Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War. (Random House Crown), about working class America. He is also a contributor to Red State Rebels: Tales of Grassroots Resistance from the Heartland (AK Press). A complete archive of his on-line work, along with the thoughts of many working Americans on the subject of class may be found on ColdType and Joe Bageant.s website, joebageant.com. --------12 of 15-------- Worse Than Nothing? Obama's Health Care Waterloo By DAVE LINDORFF CounterPunch June 19 - 21, 2009 The Obama administration and the Congressional Democrats are finally hitting the inevitable wall that was bound to confront them because of the president's congenital inability to be a bold leader, and because of the party's toxic decades-old decision to betray its working class New Deal base in favor of wholesale corporate whoredom. The wall is health care reform, which both Barack Obama and the Democratic Party had hoped would be the ticket for them to ride to victory in the 2010 Congressional elections and the 2012 presidential election. But you cannot achieve the twin goals of reducing health care costs and providing access to health care to 50 million uninsured people, while leaving the profit centers of the current system - doctors, hospitals and the health insurance industryin - charge and in a position to continue to reap profits. Watching President Obama address the American Medical Association was a cringe-inducing experience as he assured the assembled doctors he was not going to expand Medicare payments "broadly" to cover all patients, or end the current "piece-work reimbursement" system that has so enriched physicians, or as he told them that savings would "not come off your backs". It was particularly cringe-inducing when he told the AMA that he knew that making money was not why its members were in the profession, saying, "That is not why you became doctors. That is not why you put in all those hours in the Anatomy Suite or the O.R. That is not what brings you back to a patient's bedside to check in or makes you call a loved one to say it'll be fine. You did not enter this profession to be bean-counters and paper-pushers. You entered this profession to be healers - and that's what our health care system should let you be". Oh please. I know there are plenty of wonderful doctors who are dedicated to their patients and to patient care. But I also know plenty of doctors who have told me how half their classmates in medical school were mainly in it for the money, and that study halls and cafeterias of American med schools echo with the conversations about what can be made working in particular specialties. Not to mention the corrupt and insidious profit-sharing arrangements doctors enter into with labs, CAT-Scan and MRI test centers, pharmaceutical companies and other businesses, to earn profits by sending patients for unnecessary tests and treatments. One can only imagine what he would be saying to insurance industry executives about his "reform" plans. Because Obama and Congressional Democrats are unwilling to cut themselves off from the lucrative campaign-funding bonanza that is the health care industry, they cannot address seriously either the cost or the access crisis that plagues health care in the US, and that makes health care in this country cost 20 percent of GDPtwice - what it costs in any other modern nation on a per capita or GDP basis, and that still leaves one in six Americans without ready access to even routine health care. The answer to this crisis is obvious: a single-payer "socialized" system, in which you still have private doctors, and private or publicly run hospitals, but where the government sets the payment rates for treatment, and provides all compensation to health care providers. If Democrats in Congress were serious about health care reform, they would immediately order the Congressional Budget Office to conduct a cost study of instituting such a programa - study that would include an estimate of the savings to individuals and employers if health care costs were lifted entirely off their backs (because obviously it would require considerable new government revenue to fund a single-payer program, but that's only half the equationthe - other half, the savings, is simply ignored by critics and doomsayers on the right and in the health care industry). Instead, Obama and the Democratic Congress are studiously avoiding even allowing any mention of the single-payer option. (A New York Times report today on the various health care plans working their way through Congress, and coming out of the White House, completely blacked out any mention of a single-payer bill in the House authored by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which the House leadership has prevented from even getting a token hearing.) Obama's unwillingness to lead on this issue will doom his health care plan. There is obviously no way Congress is going to shake off its corrupt leech-like attachment to corporate sponsors and their cash-spreading lobbyists, but had the new president wanted to make a historic mark and cruise to victory in 2012, he could have, like President Lyndon Johnson before him in his campaign for Medicare in 1965, put himself solidly behind a single-payer plan and made the case that it could cut America's collective health bill in half while opening the door to every American. Instead, he's likely to end up with worse than nothing - that is with even more uninsured Americans come 2012, and with health care costs moving up as a share of GDP - and could well find himself out of a job. The policy that his handlers, like White House Chief-of-Staff Rahm Emanuel, had conceived of as Obama's ticket to re-election, health care reform, could well prove instead to be his Waterloo. That is if his adoption of a policy of expanded war in Afghanistan - another example of a failure to lead - doesn't prove to be this president's bigger policy disaster. Dave Lindorff is a Philadelphia-based journalist and columnist. His latest book is "The Case for Impeachment" (St. Martin.s Press, 2006 and now available in paperback). He can be reached at dlindorff [at] mindspring.com --------13 of 15-------- A for-profit system assumes that we can somehow make people rich as a result of caring for the sick, but what we really do is make people sick by caring for the rich. Health Care Reform And Carburetor Tweaking by Paul Dean June 19th, 2009 Dissicent Voice What we call a "health care system" in America is by my standard a strange and almost incomprehensibly corrupt and twisted thing. The continued existence of such a cruel and dysfunctional system requires that a great deal of mind-fogging fairy dust be continually thrown in our faces by the health care industry and the politicians they own. At all costs, they must inoculate us against the possibility that a spontaneous outbreak of common sense might infect the populace. Rest assured that the strategists for the drug and insurance companies understand what they are up against. They understand that to keep in place a fundamentally irrational system, they have to maintain an eternal vigilance to prevent dangerous principles like logic, reason and fairness from entering into the healthcare equation. The "industry" must make for-profit medicine seem normal, acceptable, and our only reasonable option. They must also make the kinds of publicly funded healthcare systems operated by most every other nation on the planet seem weird, subversive and dangerous. Much of the vacuous banter about "healthcare reform" that appears in the press and in speeches by our politicians seems designed to be both boring and to make healthcare issues appear very complex. Health insurance, in concept, is really not a devastatingly difficult thing to understand. Here's how it works: The insured pool their resources so that when any of them get sick the pool pays for their care. The pool must also pay the system's administrative costs. This is the comprehensive list of essential elements. It only seems so simple because it is. Most of the complications involved in "reforming" our present system can be traced back to its fundamental design defect. We place a huge burden on our health care system by demanding that "profit" be extracted from its operation. It is this design characteristic that twists, perverts and distorts the very notion of health care in America. It seems obvious that the first goal of a "health care provider" should be to give the best possible care to those that are "provided" for. Just as obviously, we can see that in our for-profit health care system, delivery of actual care is a side effect. Is there really any question that a "healthcare" system that allows insurance companies to deny coverage to people on the grounds that they may actually need medical care is one that has been hideously deformed, diverted and subverted? It might be more accurately described as a "profit delivery" system. But to the dismay of those that are committed to spreading fairy dust, every healthcare system creates a product that can be examined. According to the World Health Organization, our nation ranks 37th in the world in quality of care, placing just below Costa Rica and Dominica. Our system now leaves about 50 million people without access to even basic medical care. But we are number one, and by a large margin, in cost of medical services, executive compensation, and percentage of healthcare dollars spent on administrative overhead. Without a generous quantity of fairy dust, a phony debate in the corporate media, the complicity of a bought-off Congress, and a new President whose words support reform but whose timid, incremental approach will likely only diminish the possibility of systemic change, the inexcusably lame performance of our health care system would be recognized for what it is: intolerable. Imagine your car came in 37th in the race, after you dropped more money than anyone thought possible on the most expensive model that was available. If you really wanted to win, wouldn't it be best to pay attention to the fact that all 36 of the much faster cars that beat you in the race use an engine design that is completely different from yours? What if you discovered that the other cars, in addition to being faster, used only about half the fuel your car burned? Would you then go home and tinker with your carburetor in the hopes that a little tweaking would somehow overcome the poor performance that results from the basic design of your machine? Or would you consider it obvious that your only chance to compete successfully would be to replace your obsolete and incredibly expensive racecar with one that has been designed to deliver a higher level of performance? When it comes to healthcare, President Obama seems to support the carburetor-tweaking approach. According to an article by Bill Moyers, Obama was asked at a town hall meeting a couple of weeks ago about the possibility of switching to a single-payer national health care system. He said that single-payer might "make sense" but only if we were "starting from scratch" to build a new health care system. Obama says our current for-profit healthcare system is "too large a percentage of our economy" to consider changing. To the fifty million Americans without any health insurance at all, and to the millions more that are struggling under the crushing financial burden of our current system, I am sure it appears that health care is too large a percentage of our economy to consider not changing. It is only so very large because it has gorged itself on our misery until it has become insupportable. If you discovered that leeches were attached to your flesh, would you decline to remove them on the grounds that they had already consumed such a large a percentage of your blood that it would not be wise to disturb them now? Granted, if I were designing a brand new health care system "from the ground up," I would not create one in which the primary mandate was to establish and maintain a parasitic executive class whose main function was to generously award itself the largest share possible from funds that would otherwise be available to care for sick people. But regardless of whether we are in the process of creating, operating, maintaining, or "reforming" our health care system, what does not make sense is to retain the one design element that contains within it a terminal conflict of interest that no tinkering can ever resolve. A for-profit system assumes that we can somehow make people rich as a result of caring for the sick, but what we really do is make people sick by caring for the rich. One thing is clear: despite spending tens of millions of dollars worth of their ill-gotten profits to buy off our politicians and deform public opinion on the issues, Americans are not buying the traditional array of industry excuses any more. Even absent any substantial support for the idea in Washington or in the corporate mass media, about two-thirds of our citizens want to switch to a single-payer system now. What is there really to argue or debate? Healthcare industry executives, some of the best paid people on the planet, seem less than eager to appear before the public in front of a banner that reads, "We're number thirty seven - and that's good enough!" So they and their politicians and media outlets spread fairy dust. Virtually all of the current "reform" plans being tossed about by our politicians, including the much-touted "public option," leave in place a network of for-profit private insurance companies to administer the system. This arrangement fails completely to address our systemic defect. For-profit healthcare is the problem. It cannot possibly be the solution. This is why I will not be joining with the liberal groups that are frantically calling for us to support "Obama's public option" against the forces of darkness. I don't believe that this is where the battle should be fought. In my cosmology, it seems clear that the forces of darkness have already wormed their way into Obama's plans and processes, rendering any and all detailed discussion of them a waste of time. Democrats control the White House and both branches of Congress, and could count on the overwhelming support of a large majority of citizens on the single-payer issue. Yet they refuse to even put real reform "on the table". Instead, they choose to put all of their effort into a battle over incredibly complex sets of half-measures that are designed to placate the insurance and drug industries by leaving them in firm control of our system. Even then, they seem to be preparing us for the idea that they may somehow actually lose this little skirmish to the big bad evil Republican obstructionists. This approach is absurd and should be considered unacceptable. It will leave us with no option other than to continue tiptoeing around the elephant that has taken up permanent residence in our living room. The solution to our perpetual health care dilemma is actually far simpler than all of that. What we need and should demand is fundamental systemic reform. In this situation, the only reform worthy of its name will be of the kind that unequivocally removes the profit motive from our health care system, and covers everyone under a federally administered single-payer plan. Paul Dean is a composer and bassist with the band Blusion, whose music is described as "a remarkably unmarketable blend of jazz, funk, hip-hop, blues, salsa, rock, vocal and instrumental music." Blusion exists "to serve as a warning to all those who would perhaps otherwise be tempted to attempt something new and different. We starve so that others may live." [You have to like that. -ed] Paul can be reached at: paul [at] blusion.com. Read other articles by Paul, or visit Paul's website. --------14 of 15-------- Keeping Real Health Care Reform Off the Table by Alan Maass June 19th, 2009 Dissident Voice The health care industry is determined to strangle any proposal in Washington for real reform - and the Democrats are acting as accomplices. Barack Obama's administration and party leaders in Congress have given up without a fight on a single-payer system that could actually solve the health care crisis - and they're allowing the measures they do claim to support to be gutted of anything that might make a difference. Support for a radical overhaul of the health care system, with a leading role for government-run programs, has never been greater. But with health care legislation expected to take shape over the coming weeks, it seems like Democrats are giving away the store before it even opens - in the name of bipartisanship and political "realism". This is already a pattern with Barack Obama's White House - promises of "change we can believe in" raise expectations, but the administration concedes to business and conservative political interests on all the important questions, and we're left with policies that differ little, if at all, with the status quo. History shows there's only one way to break that pattern - a struggle from below that forces the politicians to cave to our side. Obama promised that all sides would be represented in the debate over health care policy, but one proposal was excluded from the start - single-payer, which would eliminate for-profit private insurance companies and cover all Americans under a government system. While the administration rolled out the red carpet for industry representatives, advocates of single-payer had to kick up a fuss just to be invited to the White House summit on health care in March. Obama even concedes that single-payer would be the way to go "if I were starting a system from scratch" - but that it would be economically and politically untenable now. Instead, Obama's proposal revolves around a so-called "public option" - the creation of a government-run plan that would be a competitor with private ones, giving people a choice if they didn't like their other options and "keeping the private insurers honest," in Obama's words. The problem is a public option would still leave private insurance intact, and enjoying unhindered profits from the market for employer-based health insurance, which covers the majority of Americans. Since 78 percent of people who had to file for bankruptcy in 2007 because of overwhelming health care costs started out with insurance when they got sick, it's clear that the health care crisis isn't just about insuring the uninsured. Nevertheless, Obama's "public option" will seem appealing to many people as at least a step in the right direction - and maybe even progress toward the goal of a nationalized system, since a government-run option that provides quality care without the inflated costs and lack of accountability of private insurers would certainly appeal to a lot of people. But this is exactly why big business is working so hard to make sure any public option would be crippled from the start by restrictions and limitations - and therefore unable to succeed as an effective alternative. Moderate Democrats and a few Republicans are floating elaborate schemes and formulas to constrain the public option - for example, splitting up control of a public plan among third-party regional administrators or, worse, all 50 states. Other proposals would require the public option to operate exactly as private insurers do - or put off its creation for years, and then only if it were "triggered" by the private system failing to meet certain (easily manipulated) criteria. These proposals would guarantee that a public option is a failure. The only way for a public plan to bring down costs and premiums - and thereby out-compete private insurers - is if it used its leverage as a national program to bargain with drug companies and health care providers for lower costs. Of course, the insurance industry would rather not have a public option at all. It's mounting a multimillion-dollar p.r. campaign to smear a public plan as "unfair" - as if the standard by which fairness should be judged is insurance company profit rates rather than the quality of health care for actual people. But if the health care bosses do have to tolerate a "public option" in some form, they want it to be as hamstrung as they can make it. Remember, the health care industry isn't just thinking about profits drying up if a "public option" succeeds. If private insurers can keep the government from encroaching on their market, there are huge sums of money to be made off health care reform. Legislation will be designed to get health coverage for the uninsured, in one way or another. If the plan subsidizes the uninsured going into private plans, that's upwards of 50 million new customers to extract money from over the coming years. This ought to be the perfect moment for supporters of genuine health care reform to make their case. For one thing, the right wing is still working off the same old discredited talking points - the myths that a government-run system would be inefficient, too expensive and prone to bureaucracy. Anyone who's had to battle an HMO to get approval for an operation or see a specialist or any of a million other pieces of privatized red tape will doubt these claims immediately. But even on their terms, the lies about government health care programs are easily exposed. For example, between 1997 and 2006, health spending per person (for similar benefits) grew by 4.6 percent per year under the Medicare system, and by 7.3 percent annually under private health insurance. Medicare enrollees rank their health coverage more favorably than those in private insurance plans. And as far as bureaucracy is concerned, average administrative costs in the Medicare system are around 2 or 3 percent - compared to more than 25 percent for private insurers. "If Democrats enact a public-option health-insurance program," Republican strategist Karl Rove warned darkly from his new perch on the Wall Street Journal editorial page, "America is on the way to becoming a European-style welfare state". The question that will come immediately to mind for millions of Americans is: What the hell is wrong with that? This is an important point. The reason a single-payer system is considered "politically unrealistic" isn't because Americans won't support it. A January New York Times/CBS opinion poll, for example, found that 59 percent of people are in favor of government-provided national health insurance. Even the less favorable surveys show a 50-50 split. And half the popular opposition that does exist to single-payer would disappear overnight if a political leader of the stature of Barack Obama spoke openly and honestly about what's wrong with the for-profit system - and why a government-run system would be better. No, the reason single-payer is dismissed as a "pipe dream" is that Corporate America wants it that way - and it has the power over Republicans, Democrats and the media establishment to make sure that this has become the conventional wisdom. But the real pipe dream is the idea that some form of a public option - inevitably compromised and constrained by members of Congress counting votes, and by an administration that doesn't want to alienate business interests - will solve health care crisis. It won't - and under the proposals floating around Congress right now, it will make things worse. So the question that needs to be asked of those who promote Obama's public option proposal as a "realistic" alternative to single-payer is: Why should we be for something we don't want? Shouldn't we instead speak up for what we do want? That's not to say that a single-payer victory is around the corner. Health care is big business - worth $2.4 trillion a year in the U.S. economy and about 18 percent of gross domestic product. The wealthy corporations that profit from the system won't be giving that up without a fight. But by the same token, our side won't win any reforms worth having by accepting the limitations of what's "realistic" - because that means accepting what the industry is willing to give up. We also won't win anything without a struggle. In the absence of pressure from below, the politicians are certain to concede to the pressure of corporate interests from above. Right now, a small but important core of activists - health care workers chief among them - are continuing the fight for single-payer. This core needs the support of the labor movement and other organizations of working people to grow stronger. There aren't any short cuts. The struggle for single-payer has to start where it finds itself, develop new ways to connect with the widespread sentiment for fundamental change - and keep building a voice that will be heard in the current debate, and in the years to come. Alan Maass writes for Socialist Worker where this article first appeared. Read other articles by Alan, or visit Alan's website. --------15 of 15-------- ----------------------------- Single payer or the streets ----------------------------- ----------------------------- The mother of all wars is the class war ----------------------------- ----------------------------- Time's up So much for Obama So much for the Dems Now what? ----------------------------- ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- - David Shove shove001 [at] tc.umn.edu rhymes with clove Progressive Calendar over 2225 subscribers as of 12.19.02 please send all messages in plain text no attachments vote third party for president for congress now and forever Socialism YES Capitalism NO To GO DIRECTLY to an item, eg --------8 of x-------- do a find on --8
- (no other messages in thread)
Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.