|Progressive Calendar 09.07.09||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Mon, 7 Sep 2009 00:37:28 -0700 (PDT)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 09.07.09 1. End of growth/CTV 9.07 10am 2. Ellison/lobby 9.07 1pm 3. Health care 9.07 2pm 4. Woody Guthrie/PBS 9.07 9pm 5. NWN4P vigil 9.08 4:45pm 6. Iran/CTV 9.08 5pm 7. New Dignity Party 9.08 6pm 8. RNC court watch 9.08 6pm 9. Poetry man 9.08 6:30pm 10. $$$/medicine 9.08 6:30pm 11. Fresh/film 9.08 7pm 12. Amnesty Intl 9.08 7pm 13. Anya Achtenberg - Writing explorations: the essence of story 14. Peace&FreedomPty - New national challenge to Dems & Reps 15. David Sirota - Progressives pay for confusing party with movement 16. Kip Sullivan, JD - Public option catch-22'd by chicken & egg problem 17. David M Green - After Obama 18. Gary Corseri - The day capitalism died (poem) --------1 of 18-------- From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net> Subject: End of growth/CTV 9.07 10am Catch a special cablecast on Minneapolis Neighborhood Network (MTN, Channel 17): "Wes Jackson: Greening the Economy, Preparing for the End of Growth" Monday, 9/7 @ 10.00 am Thursday, 9/10 @ 5.30 pm Friday, 9/18 @ 8.30 am & Wednesday, 9/23 @ 3.30pm Co-founder of the Land Institute in Kansas and named by Rolling Stone mag as one of the top 100 people changing America, Wes Jackson keynotes the 2009 MN Chapter of the Society for Conservation Biology's annual meeting. Jackson thinks that the way the people of the world are fed can and should be more sustainable. Jackson is working to transform staples like wheat, sunflower and sorghum into perennial crops, eliminating the need for plowing and replanting, and minimizing the use of fertilizers. Farms can be transformed from industrial factories into natural ecosystems. 1hr14m. --------2 of 18-------- From: Philip Lowe <bearbudmn [at] yahoo.com> Subject: Ellison/lobby 9.07 1pm Rep. Keith Ellison has his Labor Day BBQ on Labor Day (of course), September 7th at 1:00pm on Boom Island, 723 Sibley Street in Minneapolis, MN. Email: matt [at] keithellison.org . Phone number: 612-522-4416. A good opportunity to speak up in favor of health care reform. --------3 of 18-------- From: Lydia Howell <lydiahowell [at] visi.com> Subject: Health care 9.07 2pm MN Rally for Health Care Reform Monday, September 7 2:00 PM Minnesota State Capital (Saint Paul, MN) state capital Announced by Obama, so don't go with high expectations. --------4 of 18-------- From: Lydia Howell <lydiahowell [at] visi.com> Subject: Woody Guthrie/PBS 9.07 9pm MON.SEPT. 7, 9pm/SUN.SEPT.13, 1pm AMERICAN MASTERS on TPT, channel 2 WOODY GUTHRIE, populist folk artist's life --------5 of 18-------- From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at] comcast.net> Subject: NWN4P vigil 9.08 4:45pm NWN4P vigil every Tuesday. Corner of Winnetka and 42nd Avenues in New Hope. 4:45 to 5:45 PM. All welcome; bring your own or use our signs. --------6 of 18-------- From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net> Subject: Iran/CTV 9.08 5pm Perceptive St. Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN) viewers: "Our World In Depth" cablecasts on SPNN Channel 15 on Tuesdays at 5pm, midnight and Wednesday mornings at 10am, after DemocracyNow! All households with basic cable may watch. Tues, 9/8, 5pm & midnight and Wed, 9/9, 10am Iran: What Lies in the Future? Guest: Professor William Beeman, Chair of Anthropology at the U of Minnesota Professor Beeman speaks in depth about Iran, the country perhaps most scrutinized by pundits in the US media and yet a nation whose history, politics and culture is still not well known or understood. Learn about current cultural changes happening there as well as Iran's complex political structure. (8/09) --------7 of 18-------- From: William McGaughey <2wmcg [at] earthlink.net> Subject: New Dignity Party 9.08 6pm New Dignity Party is a new political party founded in Minnesota this year. It is running candidates for three positions in the 2009 Minneapolis city election: mayor (Bill McGaughey), park board at- large commissioner (John Butler), Board of Estimate and Taxation (Jim Swartwood). A vigorous campaign is promised. The party's first public meeting will be held on Tuesday, September 8, between 6:00 and 8:00 p.m. in the large meeting room of the North Regional Library, 1315 Lowry Ave. N. in Minneapolis. It will include an open and full discussion of the party's principles. New Dignity Party offers a different package of issues than other political parties. While issues relating to the economy may be most important to the American people, there seems to be no way that an effective opposition can be developed to the plutocracy that has emerged in recent years. Discussion of economic questions has become too polarized and fixed in ideologically hardened positions. Congress, once bought, will not likely be persuaded by logic or public need. Neither do the social/cultural issues - abortion, gun control, gay marriage, etc. - offer much hope of political redemption. Part of the problem is that we have lost faith in ourselves. We need therefore to take another look at ourselves and, if dissatisfied with what we see, decide how to reframe our identity. At the present time, this may be a more urgent concern for white people than for racial minorities. The race problem continues to fester and will likely not improve unless the culture is substantially changed. But the question of identity is broader than this. On it may depend whether a full- functioning democracy can be restored. Actually, New Dignity Party embraces a package of three sets of concerns. As its web site, NewDignityParty.org, reveals, they are expressed: (1) We aspire to establish a new paradigm in the politics of identity. (2) We would rein in powers assumed by local governments without the consent of the governed. (3) We lament the decline of honest journalism as big media companies shape the news along certain lines. The second point refers primarily to abuse of inspections in Minneapolis. Examples of such abuse are well-documented at the website, landlordpolitics.com. The third refers primarily to the Star Tribune newspaper. It should be evident that this new party will not flinch from tackling controversial issues or challenging powerful interest groups. The meeting on September 8 should elicit a lively discussion. All interested persons are welcome to attend. --------8 of 18-------- From: Do'ii <syncopatingrhythmsabyss [at] gmail.com> Subject: RNC court watch 9.08 6pm RNC Court Watchers are in need of participants to help with organizing court information, documentation and etc. RNC Court Watchers Meetings are every Tuesday, 6 P.M. at Caffeto's. Below is announcement for our meetings. Preemptive raids, over 800 people arrested, police brutality on the streets and torture in Ramsey County Jail. Police have indiscriminately used rubber bullets, concussion grenades, tasers and chemical irritants to disperse crowds and incapacitate peaceful, nonviolent protesters. The RNC-8 and others are facing felonies and years in jail. We must fight this intimidation, harassment and abuse! Join the RNC Court Solidarity Meeting this coming Tuesday at Caffetto's to find out how you can make a difference in the lives of many innocent people. Caffetto's Coffeehouse and Gallery (612)872-0911 708 W 22nd Street, Minneapolis, MN 55405 Every Tuesday @ 6:00 P.M to 7:00 P.M participate and help organize RNC court solidarity. For more information, please contact: rnccourtwatch [at] gmail.com THE PEOPLE UNITED WILL NEVER BE DEFEATED! --------9 of 18-------- From: patty <pattypax [at] earthlink.net> Subject: Poetry man 9.08 6:30pm Tuesday, Sept. 8 is poetry night. Bring your own poems, bring your favorite poet's poems, or just come to listen to others read. Pax Salons ( http://justcomm.org/pax-salon ) are held (unless otherwise noted in advance): Tuesdays, 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Mad Hatter's Tea House, 943 W 7th, St Paul, MN Salons are free but donations encouraged for program and treats. Call 651-227-3228 or 651-227-2511 for information. --------10 of 18-------- From: Lydia Howell <lydiahowell [at] visi.com> Subject: $$$/medicine 9.08 6:30pm TUE. SEPT. 8, 6:30 pm FREE! screening of film MONEY-DRIVEN MEDICINE based on Maggie Mahar's acclaimed book, "Money-Driven Medicine: Why Health Care Costs So Much (Harper/Collins) . Merriam Park Library 1831 Marshall,Ave., St. Paul More info: (612)624-5020 "MONEY-DRIVEN MEDICINE," the powerful new documentary on the medical-industrial complex, produced by Academy Award-winner Alex Gibney ("Taxi to the Dark Side"; "Enron: The Smart Guys in the Room") and now available on DVD from California Newsreel ("UNNATURAL CAUSES"). MONEY-DRIVEN MEDICINE helps dispel the myths about what's really driving the cost and quality of American health care. PBS' Bill Moyers said, "MONEY-DRIVEN MEDICINE is one of the strongest documentaries I have seen in years and could not be more timely. The more people who see and talk about it, the more likely we are to get serious and true health care reform." --------11 of 18-------- From: Stephanie Bates <Stephanie.Bates [at] americas.org> Subject: Fresh/film 9.08 7pm FRESH Film Event Tuesday, Septembrer 8th at 7pm Holy Trinity Lutheran Church 2730 East 31st Street, Minneapolis FRESH celebrates the farmers, thinkers and business people across America who are re-inventing our food system. Forging healthier, sustainable alernatives, they offer a practical vision for the future of our food and our planet. FRESH addresses an ethos that has been sweeping the nation and is a call to action America has been waiting for. Among several main characters, FRESH features urban farmers and activist Will Allen, the recipient of MacArthur's 2008 Genius Award, sustainable farmer and entrepreneur Joel Salatain, made famous by Michael Pollan's book "The Omnivore's Dilemma:" and supermarket owner David Ball, changing our Wal-Mart dominated economy. Join us beforehand for a Minnesota Meal, a potluck of locally-grown foods at 5:30pm. Please bring a dish to share. --------12 of 18-------- From: Gabe Ormsby <gabeo [at] bitstream.net> Subject: Amnesty Intl 9.08 7pm JOIN US FOR OUR MINNEAPOLIS AMNESTY MEETUP: TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 8 - 7 P.M. Join other Amnesty members and friends for a casual, agenda-free social meetup on the second Tuesday of each month. Free flowing conversation about our shared interests. Common Roots Cafe, 2558 Lyndale Ave S., Minneapolis MN 55405. Beer, wine, coffee, and food available. If the weather cooperates, we'll be outside on the deck. Look for an Amnesty logo or ask for Gabe. For a map, directions, and more info on Common Roots Cafe, visit their web site: http://www.commonrootscafe.com/ --------13 of 18-------- From: Anya Achtenberg <aachtenberg [at] gmail.com> Finding the Real Story: an exploration of the essential elements of story for both fiction and nonfiction writers Join us for 10 sessions of intensive exploration of the essential elements of writing story, and for work on shaping these elements to embody the deeper truths and powerful emotions which move us into writing. We will work to explore the mystery of human behavior in story form, and develop ways to deepen characterization. We will work to discover plot - rather than be constricted by it. We will tap into the power of the visions and voices of our narrators and characters, and the mix of truth and fiction that creates a world both imagined and deeply real. We will explore narrative summary, active scene and dialogue, the workings of subtext; the power of your story's context, the technique of simultaneity; dialogue; the music of prose; the story's metaphor; revision. Begin new stories and discover ways to complete old ones in an atmosphere both supportive and challenging, with in-class and at-home writing explorations, and feedback aimed at helping each participant understand the scope of their own work. 10 Wednesdays, beginning early fall, 7:00-9:30 pm. Fee: $300. Lake Street and 39th Avenue South, Minneapolis, above the Blue Moon Cafe. For registration and more information, contact Anya at aachtenberg [at] gmail.com or 651.214.9248. See her website at www.anyaachtenberg.com "Anya is a master teacher. Her grasp of world writers and of craft allows her to liberate this knowledge, so that we can learn to wield the pen with power." -Demetria Martinez, novelist, poet, memoirist, journalist --------14 of 18-------- Peace and Freedom Party: "New National Challenge to Democrats and Republicans" September 6th, 2009 Posted at peaceandfreedom.org: Announcing its intention to challenge the Democrats and Republicans in 2010, a national organizing effort to build a new electoral party of the left has announced its interim leadership and basic unity statement. Debra Reiger of Sacramento, who also serves as North State Organizer of the Peace and Freedom Party, is the Interim Chair of the National Organizing Continuations Committee (NOCC). The committee was empowered to coordinate the multi-state effort at the National Organizing Conference held on August 1 in San Francisco. The Interim Secretary is Georgia Williams of Fresno, who also serves as Secretary of the Peace and Freedom Party State Central Committee. "We oppose rule by the wealthy and their corporations" says Reiger. "Their bloody wars, their exploitation of workers, their oppression of working people and dissidents at home and abroad continue no matter which big-money party holds office. We are working to build a national slate of candidates for Senate, House of Representatives, and other offices in the 2010 elections - and that's just a start." Williams comments that "Some people claim the Democrats are socialists. This is ridiculous. It becomes clearer every day that the Democrats are capitalists who serve the corporations and their wealthy owners. The NOCC serves as an umbrella organization for people and organizations who think the working people of our country should own the goods and services they produce and run the economy." Welcoming the participation of existing organizations, the NOCC unity statement describes the coalition as "multi-tendency" and "non-sectarian." "We are building the umbrella organization that will enable a broad range of left activists to run for office," explains Reiger. For further information, contact: Debra Reiger by email or by phone at (916) 698-8131 Unity Statement, as adopted August 9, 2009 by the National Organizing Continuations Committee (NOCC) We agree that the Republican and Democratic parties through which the United States ruling class and its corporations exercise political power do not and cannot represent the working people of our country. The interests of working class people require that these parties be challenged from the left by an independent party based in the working class. It is our intention to form a multi-state multi-tendency non-sectarian electoral organization committed to democracy, socialism, feminism, environmentalism and racial equality. We oppose discrimination based on sexual and gender orientation, immigration status, and all other barriers used to divide us. We oppose all U.S. wars, occupations and interventions. We seek broader ballot access for left candidates and campaigns.. We support and actively help fight for a democratic and militant union movement. Our immediate goal is to qualify for the ballot a broad national slate of candidates for the Senate and the House of Representatives, as well as other offices, in the 2010 elections. We expect this work to further the goal of bringing a left alternative to the voters nationwide, to represent the struggles of working people and all the exploited and oppressed for improved conditions and for real power over their own lives and the future of our country. We see this electoral initiative as being directly linked to organizing struggles in the workplaces, schools, and communities. --------15 of 18-------- Progressives Pay the Price for Confusing a Party With a Movement By David Sirota September 4, 2009 www.opednews.com/articles/ Progressives-Pay-the-Price-by-David-Sirota-090904-385.html The difference between parties and movements is simple: Parties are loyal to their own power regardless of policy agenda; movements are loyal to their own policy agenda regardless of which party champions it. This is one of the few enduring political axioms, and it explains why the organizations purporting to lead an American progressive "movement" have yet to build a real movement, much less a successful one. Though the 2006 and 2008 elections were billed as progressive movement successes, the story behind them highlights a longer-term failure. During those contests, most leaders of Washington's major labor, environmental, anti-war and anti-poverty groups spent millions of dollars on a party endeavor - specifically, on electing a Democratic president and Democratic Congress. In the process, many groups subverted their own movement agendas in the name of electoral unity. The effort involved a sleight of hand. These groups begged their grass- roots members - janitors, soccer moms, veterans and other "regular folks" - to cough up small-dollar contributions in return for the promise of movement pressure on both parties' politicians. Simultaneously, these groups went to dot-com and Wall Street millionaires asking them to chip in big checks in exchange for advocacy that did not offend those fat cats' Democratic politician friends (or those millionaires' economic privilege). This wasn't totally dishonest. Many groups sincerely believed that Democratic Party promotion was key to progressive movement causes. And anyway, during the Bush era, many of those causes automatically helped Democrats by indicting Republicans. But after the 2008 election, the strategy's bankruptcy is undeniable. As we now see, union dues underwrote Democratic leaders who today obstruct serious labor law reform and ignore past promises to fix NAFTA. Green groups' resources helped elect a government that pretends sham "cap and trade" bills represent environmental progress. Health care groups promising to push a single-payer system got a president not only dropping his own single-payer promises, but also backing off a "public option" to compete with private insurance. And anti-war funding delivered a Congress that refuses to stop financing the Iraq mess, and an administration preparing to escalate the Afghanistan conflict. Of course, frustrated progressives might be able to forgive the groups that promised different results, had these postelection failures prompted course corrections. For example, had the left's pre-eminent groups responded to Democrats' health care capitulations by immediately announcing campaigns against these Democrats, progressives could feel confident that these groups were back to prioritizing a movement agenda. Likewise, had the big anti-war organizations reacted to Obama's Afghanistan escalation plans with promises of electoral retribution, we would know those organizations were steadfastly loyal to their anti-war brand. But that hasn't happened. Despite the president's health care retreat, most major progressive groups continue to cheer him on, afraid to lose their White House access and, thus, their Beltway status. Meanwhile, The New York Times reports that Moveon.org has "yet to take a clear position on Afghanistan" while VoteVets' leader all but genuflected to Obama, saying, "People [read: professional political operatives] do not want to take on the administration." In this vacuum, movement building has been left to underfunded (but stunningly successful) projects like Firedoglake.com, Democracy for America, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and local organizations. And that's the lesson: True grass-roots movements that deliver concrete legislative results are not steered by marble-columned institutions, wealthy benefactors or celebrity politicians - and they are rarely ever run from Washington. They are almost always far-flung efforts by those organized around real-world results - those who don't care about party conventions, congressional cocktail parties or White House soirees they were never invited to in the first place. Only when enough progressives realize that truism will any movement - and any change - finally commence. --------16 of 18-------- The "chicken and egg" problem: Can the "public option" succeed where Prudential failed? By Kip Sullivan, JD PNHP In a previous paper I described the transformation of the "public option" from an enormous program that would insure 130 million people to a tiny program in the Democrats' health "reform" legislation that will insure somewhere between zero and 10 million people. I predicted that the "options" in the Democrats' bills would be unable to succeed in all or most markets in the country. I characterized the main barrier facing the Democrats' shrunken "options" as a "chicken and egg" problem: A person or group trying to create a new insurance company can't tell prospective customers what the premium will be until they have determined how much they will pay providers; but the person or group can't know how much it will pay providers until it knows how many people it will insure. In this comment I elaborate on this chicken-egg barrier by presenting an illustration of the barrier at work - the departure of the Prudential Insurance Company from the Minnesota managed care health insurance market in 1994. Although Prudential was (and still is) a huge Fortune 500 company, it was unable to survive Minnesota's highly concentrated group health insurance market and was forced to withdraw. If a company as large and as experienced as Prudential could not crack the Minnesota market, why should we hold out any hope for the little "options" proposed by the Democrats? A recap of the transformation of the "public option" Jacob Hacker laid out his vision of what is now called "the public option" in papers published in 2001 and 2007. Hacker spelled out five criteria he believed the "option" had to meet: (1) It had to be pre-populated with tens of millions of people; (2) Only "option" enrollees could get subsidies (people who chose to buy insurance from insurance companies could not get subsidies); (3) The "option" and its subsidies had to be available to all non-elderly Americans (not just the uninsured and employees of small employers); (4) The "option" had to be given authority to use Medicare's provider reimbursement rates (which are typically 20 percent below the rates paid by insurance companies); and (5) The insurance industry had to offer the same minimum level of benefits the "option" had to offer. Although I question some of the assumptions Hacker made in these papers, including his assumption that the "option" will inevitably enjoy Medicare's low overhead costs, I have little doubt that an "option" which met Hacker's five criteria would stand an excellent chance of surviving its start-up phase in most markets in the U.S. (I am ignoring here the question of whether an "option" as strong as Hacker's original has a better chance of being enacted than a single-payer system does. Events of the last few months should disabuse the entire world of that myth.) But when the Democrats drafted legislation early in 2009 that included provisions creating an "option," they abandoned the first four of Hacker's criteria and kept only the last one (the one requiring insurance companies and the "option" to cover the same benefits). Proponents of the "option," including Hacker, did not raise a fuss about this. Not surprisingly, the "option" provisions of the bills introduced in July - one by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee and the other by the chairs of the three House committees with jurisdiction over health care reform - were basically unchanged from those in the draft versions. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the HELP Committee's "option" will insure approximately zero people and the "option" in the House bill (HR 3200) will insure roughly 10 million people. The advent of managed care augmented the chicken-egg problem Prior to the advent of what came to be called "managed care," an entrepreneur or group seeking to start a new insurance company only needed to focus on amassing a large number of customers as opposed to providers (clinics and hospitals). But with the advent of managed care in the 1980s, groups seeking to start a brand new insurance company also had to amass a supply (or "network") of clinics and hospitals as well. Some insurers amassed this critical supply of providers by buying them out (or merging with them), but most did so by signing contracts with them. This new provider-network requirement for market entry arose because the spread of managed care tactics meant that survival and success would go to the insurance company with the greatest ability to exert influence over providers. Insurance companies throughout the country sought to increase their influence over providers by limiting patient choice of provider so that they could steer their enrollees to fewer providers. Developing this power to steer more patients to some providers and away from others gave an insurance company two substantial advantages over an insurance company that did not do that. First, it gave the insurer the ability to force the providers they dealt with to give them discounts off their usual charges. Second, it enhanced the power of the insurer to force providers to play by the insurer's "managed care" rules (for example, rules requiring providers to get permission from the insurer before hospitalizing a patient). But creating a network of providers that is large enough to satisfy a widely dispersed customer base but still exclusive enough to give the insurer leverage over the in-network providers is a time-consuming and expensive process. This requirement gives an enormous advantage to the home team - the insurers that have been doing business for a long time in a given market - and, conversely, creates an enormous barrier to entrepreneurs seeking to create new insurance companies. When the U.S. Department of Justice investigated a proposed merger between Aetna and Prudential in 1999, it concluded that "effective new entry for an HMO or HMO/POS [point-of-service] plan [that is, an insurance company that limits patient choice of provider] in Houston or Dallas typically takes two to three years and costs approximately $50 million". Because insurance markets have become more concentrated in the decade since the DOJ published this report, the time and money required to break into today's markets is even greater than that required a decade ago. Insurance companies which failed to grasp this new rule of the managed care era - that success will depend not only upon the size of your customer base but also your ability to limit patient choice of provider - lost market share and many went out of business. The decision by Prudential Insurance Company to leave the highly concentrated Minnesota health insurance market in 1994 illustrates this trend. Prudential's departure from Minnesota's group market As of 1994, Minnesota's four largest health insurance companies insured 80 percent of all Minnesotans who had health insurance of any sort. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota enrolled 1.33 million people, Medica enrolled 900,000, HealthPartners enrolled 650,000, and PreferredOne enrolled 450,000. Two of these insurers - Medica and HealthParters - were so powerful in the Twin Cities area they could extract discounts from Twin Cities hospitals that were approximately equal to Medicare's (at that time, a discount of about one-third). They extracted these discounts not because they were as big as Medicare was (nationally Medicare insured 40 times more people than Medica did in 1994 and about 55 times as many as HealthPartners), but because they were big in the Twin Cities insurance market and, unlike Medicare, they made a point of limiting patient choice of provider. This meant they could exercise enormous leverage over the providers they did choose to deal with. Even though Prudential was and still is a huge company nationally (it is a Fortune 500 company and is among the nation's largest health insurance companies) and had been selling health insurance for decades, it did not react fast enough to the gradual spread of managed care tactics in Minnesota during the 1970s and 1980s. (Minnesota, along with California, led the nation down the managed care path.) By 1994 Prudential decided it couldn't compete in the Minnesota market. Prudential made its decision known on July 8, 1994. As the following excerpt from a Minneapolis Star Tribune article published the next day indicates, Prudential had established a toehold - it was well on its way to creating both a customer base and a provider network - but the toehold wasn't enough. "Prudential Insurance Co. said Friday that it will discontinue its Twin Cities managed care health plan due to intense competitive pressures. Eighty metro-area jobs will be eliminated... While Prudential... is now in 42 cities, only the Twin Cities market posed a particular problem and will be shut down... "Prudential Plus of Minnesota operates mainly in the Twin Cities and deals with 800 primary care physicians and 1,500 specialists. Nationwide, the managed care plan has 5 million members. Regardless, Prudential did not grow large enough or fast enough in the Twin Cities market to maintain a substantial lead, analysts said. The firm was easily overshadowed by heavyweights such as HealthPartners and Medica... And these bruisers and others like them are merging or forming alliances that kept welterweights like Prudential Plus on the ropes. Gary Schultz, executive director of Prudential Plus of Minnesota, said, "Recent mergers, acquisitions and strategic alliances involving health care plans and providers... have combined to make it increasingly difficult to compete in this market place.. "Prudential only has 30,000 (members) in the Prudential Plus plan," [Prudential marketing director Pat] McLaughlin said. "They are not the big player they needed to be and as a result may not have been able to negotiate the best deals with providers" (Dee DePass, "Prudential to discontinue managed care health plan," Star Tribune, July 9, 1994, 1D).[end quote] An article in BNET reported an identical explanation for Prudential's demise in Minnesota: "A Prudential spokesperson said the clout of its bigger competitors had made it difficult to recruit a critical mass of new employers and enrollees". Lessons for "option" advocates This story illustrates three facts "option" advocates must address. First, it clearly illustrates the "chicken and egg" problem facing the "option" program, or to be more precise, facing the corporations that will be hired by the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to create the "option" program. (Both the HELP bill and HR 3200 authorize the Secretary to contract with corporations that the HELP bill calls "contracting administrators" for the purpose of creating the "options" throughout the U.S.) The contracting administrators are going to have to build up provider networks and a customer base from scratch, simultaneously, and market by market, even though they will suffer the disadvantage of entering the insurance business long after the insurance companies they are competing with began introducing themselves to customers and cobbling together their own provider networks. Second, this story should put the entire country on notice that the "option" may never be able to deliver on the promise, made over and over by "option" advocates, that the "option" will offer complete freedom to choose one's doctor and hospital. If the contracting administrators who create the "options" around the country refuse to create "options" that limit enrollees' choice of provider, those "option" programs will have less power to drive provider rates down. That means, of course, those "option" programs will have to set their premiums higher than existing insurers that do limit patient choice of provider. That will in turn make attracting a critical customer base very difficult if not impossible. The third fact the Prudential story illustrates is that the size of an insurer at the national level is not an important factor in decisions by clinics and hospitals about whether to sign contracts with an insurer and whether to give that insurer discounts. What matters to clinics and hospitals is size at the local level. Minneapolis hospitals, for example, could have cared less whether Prudential insured 20,000 people in Tulsa or half-a million in Florida. (Size at the national level does have some bearing on whether an insurer can extract discounts from drug and equipment manufacturers' But drugs and equipment amount to roughly 15 percent of medical costs for the non-elderly. It is clinic and hospital costs that make or break an insurance company.) The "chicken and egg" problem is, of course, not limited to entrepreneurs trying to break into the Minnesota market. The conditions that create the "chicken and eggd" problem - high concentration levels within the insurance industry and near-universal use of managed care tactics including limited choice of provider - exist throughout the country. As Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) said in a press release about a May 2009 report from Health Care for America Now, the entire U.S. health insurance industry suffers from "extreme... consolidation". According to the HCAN report, eleven states have more concentrated insurance markets than Minnesota does. "Option" advocates should stop comparing the "option" to Medicare To test your understanding of the "chicken and egg" problem, let me end with a pop quiz: Did Medicare face a "chicken and egg" problem when it started up? The answer is: No, it did not. It did not because it didn't have to create a "customer" base from scratch. Its base was created by the law (signed on July 30, 1965) that created Medicare. Medicare is, by design, the sole insurer for people over age 64. That means that Medicare's administrators had a precise idea of how many Americans they would be representing on July 1, 1966, the day Medicare commenced operations. Equally importantly, every clinic and hospital in America had a good idea of how many elderly patients they would be getting if they participated in Medicare and, conversely, how many they would lose (and how much money they would lose) if they refused to accept Medicare patients. And because the Medicare law gave the nation's entire elderly population - the portion of the population with the greatest need for medical care - to Medicare, Medicare's administrators had a good idea of how much leverage they had on day one over the nation's providers. This allowed them (eventually) to make an offer to America's providers that the providers could not refuse - accept Medicare's below-average rates or lose a lot of money. The offer was not refused. Today, virtually all American clinics and hospitals accept Medicare enrollees even though there is no requirement in the Medicare statute that providers accept Medicare enrollees. In short, having pre-established enrollment, which in turn gave Medicare the ability to set its rates below those of the insurance industry, meant that Medicare did not face the "chicken and egg" problem. More importantly, Medicare didn't face a "chicken and egg" problem because it has always been the single insurer for the services covered under Medicare. Medicare has never had to compete with the insurance industry for "customers". A pernicious consequence of the tendency of "option" advocates to describe the "option" as "just like Medicare" is that "public option" supporters and members of Congress have been lulled into thinking the "option" is bound to succeed just as Medicare did. The tendency of "option" advocates to ignore the daunting "chicken and egg" problem is one manifestation of the lazy thinking that has been induced by the constant comparison of the "option" to Medicare. "Option" advocates should stop comparing the "option" to Medicare. Kip Sullivan is a member of the steering committee of the Minnesota chapter of Physicians for a National Health Program. He is the author of The Health Care Mess: How We Got Into It and How We'll Get Out of It (AuthorHouse, 2006). PNHP welcomes comments on its blog by its physicians and medical student members, and other health professionals active in the movement for single payer national health insurance. Comments by other readers are welcomed but may not be posted. --------17 of 18-------- After Obama By David Michael Green www.opednews.com/articles/ After-Obama-by-David-Michael-Gree-090904-272.html September 4, 2009 Eight months into it, it now seems pretty clear that the Obama administration is finished. There were some of us - indeed, many of us, myself included - who thought there was a possibility that Barack Obama might seize this moment of American crisis, twinned with the complete failure for all to see of the regressive agenda, to become the second coming of Franklin Roosevelt. Many think that was a nalve position from the get-go. I disagree. Not only do I believe that it was a legitimate possibility, I would argue that it was the logical choice even just from the narrow perspective of Obama's personal fortunes. The president is every day committing political suicide by a thousand cuts because he chose not to take that track. That's certainly his prerogative, and at this point I wish him all the worst of luck in whatever comes next. Since I never assumed he would be a progressive once elected, any bitterness that I feel is not rooted in his failure to become the new FDR. However, I am irate that, in domain after domain, President Obama has become the personification of the very Bush administration policies that Candidate Obama so roundly criticized. And I feel deep hostility toward him about the betrayal of legions of voters - especially the young - who believed his message of hope and thought they were getting a president on their side, not Wall Street's. More on that in another column. Right now, the question is what comes next? The Obama presidency is probably already toast, though of course anything can happen in three or seven years. But he is on a crash course for a major clock cleaning and, what's worse, he doesn't seem to have it remotely within him to seize history by the horns and steer that bull in his preferred direction. Indeed, near as I can tell, he doesn't even have a preferred direction. Obama was complete fool if he ever believed for a moment that his campfire kumbaya act was going to bring the right along behind him. Even s'mores wouldn't have helped. These foaming-at-the-mouth lunatics have completely lost all sense and proportion, and were bound to viscerally hate any president left of Cheney, let alone some black guy in their white house. Meanwhile, centrist voters in this country seem pretty much only to care about taxes and spending, and so he's lost them, too, without the slightest rhetorical fight in his own defense. And he's blown off a solid progressive base by spitting in their eyes at every imaginable opportunity, beginning with the formation of his cabinet, ranging through every policy decision from civil rights to civil liberties to foreign policy to healthcare, and culminating with his choice not to even mobilize his email database in support of his policies. So if he's lost the left, right and center, just who does he think is going to be clamoring to give him a second term three years from now, especially if the economy remains lousy for most people in the country, as it's likely to do regardless of GDP or Dow Jones growth? There is the possibility that Obama could change course significantly, just as Bill Clinton did in 1995, following the mid-term election in which his most astute political stewardship managed to turn both houses of Congress over to the Republican Party. But Clinton turned to the right and became just a less snarly version of the Republicans, while Obama is already there. I don't really think he could conceivably turn further rightward at this point, and I don't think he has anywhere near the guts to turn to the left and do what he should have done in the first place. What all this suggests to me is that Obama and his party will manage by 2012 to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and return the GOP - and probably an even nastier version of it than the Bush-Cheney junta, at that - to power. It suggests that the Democrats, who were riding high six months ago over an all but destroyed Republican Party, will be switching places with them within three years time, if not sooner - and all because of their own cowardice, corruption and ineptitude. This outcome is hardly inevitable, but it is fast approaching. Looking out over the horizon, I see five key factors most likely to effect the health and longevity of the Obama administration, and not one of them looks positive. The eight-hundred pound gorilla rummaging around in the kitchen right now is the economy. Indeed, this factor alone could readily swamp the combined effect of all the others, particularly if it swings dramatically in one direction or another. My guess, as a non-economist (which, of course, only means that I have a better shot at an accurate prediction than the economists do), is that the economy will exhibit some substantial signs of growth over the next three years. But I suspect the recovery will be tepid, even according to establishment measures such as GDP growth or the state of the Dow. More importantly, I strongly suspect that this will be another jobless recovery, like the last ones we've had, and that the new mean standard of living for the middle class will be pretty mean indeed, significantly diminished compared to what people were already struggling to hold on to when the Great Recession began. Personally, I think if American history teaches us anything at all about presidential elections, it is that for an incumbent president this is more or less the worst possible scenario imaginable upon which to go asking the public to punch his ticket again. Americans vote their pocketbook, and that alone is likely to be the kiss of death for Obama's second term aspirations. Meanwhile, of course, he's also chosen to put healthcare reform on the table as the signature legislative initiative probably of his entire presidency. That's fine, but watching him in action I sometimes wonder if this clown really and actually wants a second term. I mean, if you had asked me in January, "How could Obama bungle this program most thoroughly?", I would have written a prescription that varies little from what we've observed over the last eight months: Don't frame the issue, but instead let the radical right backed by greedy industry monsters do it, on the worst possible terms for you. And to you. Don't fight back when they say the most outrageous things about your plan. In fact, don't even have a plan. Let Congress do it. Better yet, let the by-far-and-away-minority party have an equal voice in the proceedings, even if they ultimately won't vote for the bill under any circumstances, and even while they're running around trashing it and you in the most egregious terms. Have these savages negotiate with a small group of right-wing Democrats, all of them major recipients of industry campaign donations. Blow off your base completely. Cut secret sweetheart deals with the Big Pharma and Big Insurance corporate vampires. Build a communications strategy around a series of hapless press conferences and town hall meetings, waiting until it's too late to give a major speech on the issue. Set a timetable for action and then let it slip. Indicate what you want in the bill but then be completely unclear about whether you necessarily require those things. Travel all over the world doing foreign policy meet-and-greets. Go on vacation in the heat of the battle. Rinse and repeat. Altogether, it's an astonishingly perfect recipe for getting rolled, so much so that I'm not the first person to have wondered out loud if that was actually the president's intention all along. Look at this freaking fool. Now look at the guy who ran a letter-perfect, disciplined, textbook, insurgent, victorious campaign for the White House. Can they possibly be the same person? And, since they obviously are, is there possibly another explanation for this disaster besides an intentional boot? I dunno. But what I do know is this. Obama's very best-case scenario for healthcare legislation right now represents a ton of lost votes in 2010 and 2012. And the worse that scenario gets, the worse he and his party do. But even a "success" in the months ahead will produce a tepid bill, a mistrustful public, an inflamed and unanswered radical right, and a mealy-mouthed new government program that doesn't even begin to go online until 2013. A real vote-getter that, eh? Which brings us to a third major electoral liability for Obama. Human beings, by and large, like to be led. They like their leaders to inspire their confidence - even when doing so takes the form of the most fantastically shallow dress-up kind of blowhard buffonery, àla George W. Bush - so that they don't have to think too much about how little personal confidence they themselves actually possess. Obama is the complete antithesis of this model of the presidency. He is Harry Reid's incontinent grandmother as president. He is Neville Chamberlain's squirrely little nephew knocking shit over in the Oval Office while he plays "Mr. President", in-between episodes of SpongeBob SquarePants. He is a bowl of Jell-O. That someone forgot to put in the fridge. He exhibits no competence as a chief executive. He inspires no confidence as a national leader. And, increasingly, his credibility is coming into question. Who wants to vote for that? A related problem is that he loves to flash that big toothy grin of his right before his venomous adversaries knock his choppers back into his head. I'm trying to imagine what a wimpier president would look like, and having a very hard time coming up with an answer. I'm trying to imagine how the regressive right could possibly bathe their country's president in a more acidic pool of vitriol, and I'm having a difficult time topping their assertions that he's out to kill the elderly while simultaneously indoctrinating grade-schoolers into the ranks of the Revolutionary Spartacist League. I'm trying to conceive of how vacant a White House could possibly be of any whiff of push-back against these assaults, and I can't quite envision it. Maybe if they went out and did some real scandals and filmed it all as a gift for the GOP? Perhaps they could dig up Vince Foster's body and murder him all over again, this time on video? Or they could hire Ken Starr to just run amok in the White House for a few years, looking for anything remotely juicy? But could Obama's Keystone Kops even do a scandal properly? I'm not sure, but I'm pretty confident the public is losing trust in this guy as their Big Daddy Protector. Who in America would vote for this eunuch to be in charge of keeping their little suburban Happy Meal-stuffed brats safe from tawny evil-doers with bad intentions? As if all that weren't enough, Obama is probably also sitting on several national security powder kegs - including Guantanamo, which he is unlikely to close; Iraq, which he is unlikely to leave; and Afghanistan, which he is unlikely to win. The latter in particular has now become his war, and lately it is smelling a lot like Vietnam, circa 1964. An decades-long struggle against a popular nationalist adversary. Endless calls from the Pentagon for more troops. Incredibly inhospitable terrain for fighting a war. An American-made puppet government hated for its corruption and for its gross incompetence at every task other than raw predation. Mmmm-mmm. What a yummy stew. Haven't dined on that fine cuisine since 1975. And what another great vote-getter to add to this sorry list, eh? Put it all together and it's pretty hard to see how Obama gets a second term. Which can mean only one thing: We're looking at a Romney or a Palin or some sort of similar monster as the next president, despite the fact that their party was absolutely loathed only a year ago, and actually still is today. It won't matter. People will be voting against the incumbent, not for any candidate, and that will leave only one viable choice, especially for centrist and right-wing voters. Whoever wins the Republican nomination will be the next president, crushing Obama in the general election (assuming he survives the Democratic primaries). And that's a particularly scary notion, since the party's voting base who will make that choice in the Republican primaries is the same crowd you've seen featured all this summer at town hall meetings. Olympia Snowe is not going to be the Republican nominee in 2012. Know what I mean? So the question then becomes, what next? What happens after Obama? I see two possible general paths going forth from that point - one bad, and one worse. The bad path would involve a frustrated but essentially beaten-into-submission public oscillating between incompetent Republican and Democratic administrations, turning one after the other out of office - not on ideological grounds, but instead seeking any change that has the possibility of stanching the empire's hemorrhaging wounds. This would look a fair bit like Japan or Britain does today. The former just replaced its government and the latter will likely do so next spring. But I don't think either of these major party shifts are really ideological in nature, and I don't think either new government is likely to be hugely different from the one it succeeded. But Americans seem to me especially piggish critters these days, and the benign model that is sufficient to placate disgruntled citizens of long-lost empires may not suffice to soothe the savage soul of Yanquis still deep in the process of watching theirs crumble around their feet. That moves us from the bad path to the worse. Given what the American public is capable of happily countenancing during relatively flush times (can you say "Reagan"? "Bush?), imagine what could happen when spoiled Baby Boomers go to the polls under conditions approaching the 1930s. Such a crisis could conceivably entail a sharp turn to the left, and in every rational country certainly would. But this is America. We pretty much don't go anywhere near socialism, at least not overtly, and in any given decade - especially the recent ones - we're lucky to get away with anything less than creeping fascism. Moreover, elections are almost always reactions to the status quo. Since Obama is ridiculously - but nevertheless widely - perceived as a liberal, the reaction is all the more likely to involve a sharp turn to the right in response. Under this scenario, anything portside of Torquemada would be buried alive if not annihilated, and the next regime would likely be one that could make Dick Cheney shudder. And that's the happy side of the equation. If history is any guide, a nifty (not so) little war could only be right around the corner, for the helpful purpose of jump-starting the economy, crushing the domestic opposition, and distracting the public from that pesky nuisance once affectionately referred to as "reality". I don't want to lay odds on which of these outcomes is the more likely, but I feel pretty confident, I'm sad to say, that any happier scenario is considerably less likely than either of these. For a lot of reasons, America's near-term future looks bleak to me, and this country - which already has a remarkable tendency to make dangerously foolish and sickeningly selfish political choices - is altogether too likely to do something that would make the Bush years look like a scene from a Norman Rockwell canvas by comparison. This tragedy, if it comes, will have many sires who share responsibility for driving America from Republican red to fascist black. But on that list must certainly be included the powder blue of the effete Obama administration that came in between. Rahm Emanuel once famously averred that "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that is an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before." I don't really believe that corporate-controlled fascism is what he had in mind when he said that. But, who knows? Maybe that's exactly what he was thinking. Or - perhaps most likely of all - maybe nobody at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is doing much thinking whatsoever these days. Author's Bio: David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York. He is delighted to receive readers' reactions to his articles (dmg [at] regressiveantidote.net), but regrets that time constraints do not always allow him to respond. His website is www.regressiveantidote.net. --------18 of 18-------- The Day Capitalism Died by Gary Corseri September 5th, 2009 Dissident Voice I forgot to pay my phone bill So they shut off my phone. So when I saw the Terrorist Assembling his bomb I couldn't make the call To Homeland Security. So the bomb went off Under powerful noses That harrumphed and snorted We were under attack By alien forces And, Only absolute curtailment Of freedom of speech Would win ultimate victory (After the obligatory Twilight struggle) So they closed all the schools And sent the kids packing To watch real-time and re-runs Of "American Idol," Certain of congealing Public opinion For the sake of supporting Whatever the judges Judged worthy of judging. Meanwhile, back at the piazza, On reality TV, Someone killed someone In real life, While the cameras were rolling, But everyone forgave him Because he was a good team player Who just really wanted, For the good of the team, To win one for the Gipper. The President gave a speech and said We should all lend a hand And we would get through it Because we are Americans And that's what we do. Somebody launched A nuclear missile Straight at Iran Which then sank some ships That blocked up the Gulf. Gas shot up To ten bucks a gallon And half the stooges At the town hall meetings, Happy with their insurance, (And to hell with the rest of us!) Died of swine flu anyway (And the other half died Of the vaccines), But so did a lot of glaze-eyed kids In the middle of voting for Their "American Idol". The stock market crashed Just like '29, It took wheelbarrows of bucks To buy Coca Cola And the radio nuts Blamed it all On Mexican liberals Crossing our borders. I've been wondering lately Should I pay off my bills? But I haven't decided Whose side I'm on! Am I with 'em Or agin 'em, Am I blue state or red, Am I better off hoping Or better off dead? This world's a delusion, A junkie's chimera, A vampire's kiss Hissing in a cavern, Pissing in the wind. For the sake of a dollar, A ribboned medallion, We die for our country, Kill for sweet liberty As defined by, As circumscribed by, As constrained by, Straight-jacketed by Power and fear, Glory and cupidity. Maybe heaven Is about starting over With a fresh deck Where the dice aren't loaded. Maybe it's helping Where it's most needed, With nothing ulterior, Truth out in the open. Hail, Mary, full of grace. Hail, Caesar, We who are about to die Salute you Heil! Heil! Heil! Gary Corseri has had his work published at Dissident Voice and hundreds of other venues, performed at the Carter Presidential Library, had dramas on Atlanta-PBS and elsewhere. He has taught in prisons and universities. His books include Holy Grail, Holy Grail, A Fine Excess, and Manifestations (edited). He can be reached at: gary_corseri [at] comcast.net. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- - 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.