Progressive Calendar 06.19.09
From: David Shove (
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]>
Subject: Moyers/women/peace 6.19 9pm

Bill Moyers Journal | Women Fight for Peace

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]>
Subject: Outrage/film 6.19

June 19-25
new film OUTRAGE
@ LAGOON CINEMA on Lagoon Ave. 1 block east from Hennepin, in uptown

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:

--------3 of 15--------

From: Ken Reine <reine008 [at]>
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]
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
-Andy Exley GPMN Chair

From: Amber Garlan <agarlan [at]>

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]>
Subject: Israeli nukes/film 6.20 10am

"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
7001 York Avenue South, Edina, MN 55435
For information call Florence Steichen, 651-696-1642

--------6 of 15--------

From: Meredith Aby <awcmere [at]>
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]
Subject: Northtown vigil 6.20 2pm

Peace vigil at Northtown (Old Hwy 10 & University Av), every Saturday

--------8 of 15--------

From: Kenneth Stern <sternkenneth [at]>
Subject: Bicking bash 6.20 6:30pm

Celebrate Solstice!
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

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]>
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

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
June 19 - 21, 2009

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 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]

--------11 of 15--------

No Balls, No Gains
Workers' Rights
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,

--------12 of 15--------

Worse Than Nothing?
Obama's Health Care Waterloo
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]

--------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

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

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

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

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

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

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]
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

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

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]
   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

  • (no other messages in thread)

Results generated by Tiger Technologies Web hosting using MHonArc.