Progressive Calendar 12.17.09
From: David Shove (
Date: Thu, 17 Dec 2009 03:45:32 -0800 (PST)
             P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   12.17.09

1. Save NRP/Mpls     12.17 9:45am
2. Eagan peace vigil 12.17 4:30pm
3. Northtown vigil   12.17 5pm
4. Alliance dinner   12.17 5pm
5. Vs Af escalation  12.17 5:30pm
6. Rethink Af/film   12.17 6pm
7. Rethink Af/film   12.17 7pm
8. Poets/writers     12.17 7pm

9. KFAI/Iraq/Sami    12.18 11am
10. Palestine vigil  12.18 4:15pm
11. LeslieParks/home 12.18 4:30pm

12. Pham Binh     - Obama pleads, begs, and grovels before bankers
13. Mark Weisbrot - Top 10 to tell the side the US is on in Honduras coup
14. John Walsh    - Obama is right: force is justified in fighting evil
15. Kip Sullivan  - Informative polls show 2/3 support single-payer.  3/6
16. ed            - Screw sharing  (haiku)

--------1 of 16--------

From: Peggy Katch <peggy.katch [at]>
From: City of Minneapolis <minneapolis [at]>
Subject: Save NRP/Mpls 12.17 9:45am

The Minneapolis City Council Community Development and Ways & Means/Budget
Committees have scheduled a special joint meeting to be held Thursday,
December 17, 2009, at 9:45 a.m. in Room 317, City Hall.

The purpose of the meeting is to receive information on the Neighborhood
Revitalization Program 2010 Administrative Budget.

The Community Development Committee and Ways & Means/Budget Committee will
each separately convene a special meeting immediately following the
special joint meeting if an action on the subject matter will be taken.

The agendas can be found on the City's website (at a later time).

--------2 of 16--------

From: Greg and Sue Skog <family4peace [at]>
Subject: Eagan peace vigil 12.17 4:30pm

PEACE VIGIL EVERY THURSDAY from 4:30-5:30pm on the Northwest corner of
Pilot Knob Road and Yankee Doodle Road in Eagan. We have signs and
candles. Say "NO to war!" The weekly vigil is sponsored by: Friends south
of the river speaking out against war.

--------3 of 16--------

From: EKalamboki [at]
Subject: Northtown vigil 12.17 5pm

NORTHTOWN Peace Vigil every Thursday 5-6pm, at the intersection of Co. Hwy
10 and University Ave NE (SE corner across from Denny's), in Blaine.

Communities situated near the Northtown Mall include: Blaine, Mounds View,
New Brighton, Roseville, Shoreview, Arden Hills, Spring Lake Park,
Fridley, and Coon Rapids.  We'll have extra signs.

For more information people can contact Evangelos Kalambokidis by phone or
email: (763)574-9615, ekalamboki [at]

--------4 of 16--------

From: Sean Gosiewski <sean [at]>
Subject: Alliance dinner 12.17 5pm

Alliance Holiday Celebration Dec 17

We hope you are enjoying this holiday season. We'd like to invite you to
join us for our Holiday Celebration, Organic Dinner, Art Opening and
Benefit from 5 to 7:30 pm, Thursday, December 17 at Living Waters Market &
Café, 12201 Minnetonka Blvd., Minnetonka (just west of 169).

You'll meet other wonderful members and enjoy complimentary hot organic
cider, an Art Opening and Benefit Auction of Work by Ellen Schillace and
Organic Dinner Buffet ($15 RSVP on line or in person).

--------5 of 16--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at]>
Subject: Vs Af escalation 12.17 5:30pm

Protest the Escalation in Afghanistan: No War! NO WAR TAXES!
Thursday, December 17, 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Representative Betty McCollum's
Office, 165 Western Avenue North, Suite 17, St. Paul.

Representative McCollum supports President Obama's call to send an
additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan and in addition she has proposed a
1% tax increase to pay for this war.

[Reason to NOT VOTE FOR HER in 2010. They don't care enough how many die,
or how much it costs, but they do care about their precious seats. Make
sure she never goes back. - ed]

Join a picket to say NO to the war and to war taxes! The war has already
cost American taxpayers $232 billion. The U.S. spends $100 million a day
on military operations in Afghanistan, and every additional soldier will
add $1 million a year. Representative McCollum has proposed that we pay
for it - she is a co-sponsor of the "Share the Sacrifice Act of 2010,"
which would impose a 1% added income tax on all of us. She said, "Shared
sacrifice means not only committing to fight a war but also committing to
pay for it." Is this a sacrifice you want to share? [Hell no! Vote her out
in 2010. -ed]

Too many Afghans and Americans have already died in this conflict. So far
this year, General McChrystal's strategy has made 2009 the deadliest year
for U.S. troops in Afghanistan, with another soldier dying every 14 hours.
At the same time, civilian casualties are at the worst levels since the
aerial bombings at the start of the war. Expanding the military operations
with 34,000 new troops will send these numbers through the roof.

Stop the bloodshed and demand an end to the U.S. occupation of
Afghanistan. If you can't come, call 651-224-9191, or fax 651-224-3056 her
office to say NO to the war and to war taxes! Organized by: the Anti-War
Committee. Endorsed by: WAMM. FFI: Visit
or call 612-379-3899.

--------6 of 16--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at]>
Subject: Rethink Af/film 12.17 6pm

Film Screening: Rethink Afghanistan
Thursday, December 17, 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Washburn Public Library, Meeting
Room, 5244 Lyndale Avenue South, Minneapolis.

Critically acclaimed by Thomas Hartman as "a brilliant masterpiece," the
film discusses key issues surrounding the escalation of the war in
Afghanistan, such as the impact on Pakistan, and the financial costs of
the war. The film is free and open to the public. Sponsored by: WAMM. FFI:
Call 612-827-5364 or email wamm [at]

--------7 of 16--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at]>
Subject: Rethink Af/film 12.17 7pm

Film Screening: Rethink Afghanistan
Thursday, December 17, 7:00 Mayday Books, 301 Cedar Avenue South,

Critically acclaimed by Thomas Hartman as "a brilliant masterpiece," the
film discusses key issues surrounding the escalation of the war in
Afghanistan, such as the impact on Pakistan, and the financial costs of
the war. The film is free and open to the public. Sponsored by: Iraq Peace
Action Coalition (IPAC) and Mayday Books. WAMM is a member of IPAC. FFI:
Call 612-333-4719.

--------8 of 16--------

From: Anya Achtenberg <aachtenberg [at]>
Subject: Poets/writers 12.17 7pm

I will read from a novel-in-progress-- not my choice of topics!!
but I will make jokes, dance salsa up to the podium, and leave quietly when
the bell rings.
Hope to see you,

From: Jules Nyquist <julesnyquist [at]>

I've put together a reading with a fine group of my poetry friends and I
hope you can join us!

We are at the Hennepin History Museum. This is a gem of a
mansion-converted-to-museum located just a block away from the Mpls
Institute of Arts - you may have passed it several times without noticing.

They have an intriguing exhibit - Icons of the Beraved - focusing on
mourning customs of the late 19th Century which will take you back to that
era with clothing, artifacts and photographs.

We will be reading/performing poems of our own, and of our favorite poets
relating to loss - but don't think this is a gloomy event, because in loss
comes great hope for life. The Winter Solstice is also approaching.  We
will indulge you in food and wine and there is a cozy fire. This isn't
exactly a 'fireside chat' as the website says - it's more of a performace
(we'll be using the stage) and if I'm very ambitious I will have my latest
chapbook fresh off the press.  There is a suggested donation of $5 that
goes directly to the Museum. This is optional, no one is turned away.

Come early - around 6 or 6:30 pm if you want to view the exhibit before
the reading. We'll start promptly at 7 pm - and will be reading for a
little over an hour - so you still have time to chat with friends and
enjoy the evening.

Poetry Reading - Icons for the Bereaved
At the Hennepin History Museum
Thursday, December 17, 2009
7:00 pm reading
Come early to see the exhibit

Anya Achtenberg
Kari Fisher
Cindra Halm
Freya Manfred
Loren Niemi
Jules Nyquist
Roslye Ultan
Cheryl Ulloyt (host)

Hennepin History Museum 2303 Third Avenue South Minneapolis , MN 55404 tel
612-870-1329 (half block from the Mpls Institute of Arts)

--------9 of 16---------

From: Lydia Howell <lydiahowell [at]>
Subject: KFAI/Iraq/Sami 12.18 11am

Fri DEC 18, 11am on CATALYST: politics & culture, KFAI RADIO : SAMI
RASOULI, Iraqi-American returns from Hajaf, Iraq to give eyewitness to the
state of his country. For 17 years, rasouli lived in Minneapolis and owned
the Sindbad restaurant. He sold his business and home and returned to Iraq
in 2005 to help rebuild his homeland. He founded the MUSLIM PEACEMAKERS

--------10 of 16--------

From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at]>
Subject: Palestine vigil 12.18 4:15pm

The weekly vigil for the liberation of Palestine continues at the
intersection of Snelling and Summit Aves in St. Paul. The Friday demo
starts at 4:15 and ends around 5:30. There are usually extra signs

--------11 of 16--------

From: Sue Ann <seasnun [at]>
Subject: Leslie Parks/home 12.18 4:30pm

Help Keep Leslie Parks in her home
Stop foreclosures and evictions
Join us Friday, December 18 at 4:30
to hold banners and signs demanding that IndyMac /OneWest come to a just
settlement that allows the Parks family to keep their home.

We will be gathering at Leslie's home, located at 3749 Park Ave. in Mpls.

This event is being organized by the Minnesota Coalition for a People's
Bailout and the MN Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign. We need
to keep up the pressure on IndyMac/OneWest

--------12 of 16--------

Obama Pleads, Begs, and Grovels Before Bankers
by Pham Binh
December 15th, 2009
Dissident Voice


That's the only word that can describe President Obama's meeting with "fat
cat bankers on Wall Street" at the White House today where he called on
them to open their wallets and start lending to small businesses to jump
start the economy. He also urged them to stop lobbying against regulatory

So let me get this straight: The government comes to the rescue of Wall
Street at the cost of trillions of dollars in free taxpayer money to save
the finance industry from the Apocalypse they themselves created. The
bankers take the money and run back to the casino, jack up interest rates
for consumers, and reward themselves with fat bonuses for the amazing job
they've done wrecking the economy and robbing taxpayers in the middle of
the worst recession since the 1930s.

And all the president can do is beg, plead, and grovel before these guys.

If this kind of moral suasion is so effective, why not use it on the
Taliban? Why not call Mullah Omar to the White House, call on him to lay
down his arms, and urge him to please stop blowing up our troops?

Of course this is absurd, but it is also illustrative.

If the president was serious about taking on the fat cats on Wall Street,
he wouldn't be asking them to be on their best behavior and play nice with
the rest of kids in the Capitol Hill sandbox. If he was serious about
taking them on, he'd fire his Wall Street cronies, Timothy Geithner, Larry
Summers, and Ben Bernake and replace them with Paul Volcker, Elizabeth
Warren, and Ralph Nader. If he was serious about anything he claims to
stand for, he'd go to Capitol Hill himself and lobby Congress to pass a
reform bill with teeth just as he has with his industry-friendly health
care bill. If his actions were in line with his words, the Dow Jones would
suffer and Wall Street would start plotting regime change at home just as
they did FDR.

That would be real change we can believe in.

But that's not what Goldman Sachs and the rest of the Wall Street crowd
paid for when they bankrolled Obama's presidential campaign. They invested
in a slick-talking lawyer from Illinois with a thin resume who seemed to
be everything to everyone and they are certainly getting their money's
worth. Think of it: trillions in bailouts and being branded "too big to
fail" by the government in exchange for hundreds of thousands in campaign
contributions. That's the deal of a lifetime.

When you look at it this way, no wonder Obama is so nice to these fat
cats. They own him.

Maybe someone should tell Mullah Omar to get out his checkbook.

Pham Binh is an activist and recent graduate of Hunter College in NYC. His
articles have been published at Znet, Asia Times Online, Dissident Voice,
and Monthly Review Online. He can be reached at: anita_job [at] Read
other articles by Pham, or visit Pham's website.

--------13 of 16--------

Top Ten Ways You Can Tell Which Side the United States Government Is on
With Regard to the Military Coup in Honduras
by Mark Weisbrot
Wednesday, December 16, 2009

At dawn on June 28, the Honduran military abducted President Manuel Zelaya
at gunpoint and flew him out of the country. Conflicting and ambiguous
statements from the Obama administration left many confused about whether
it opposed this coup or was really trying to help it succeed.  Here are
the top ten indicators (with apologies to David Letterman):

10.The White House statement on the day of the coup did not condemn it,
merely calling on "all political and social actors in Honduras" to respect
democracy.  Since U.S. officials have acknowledged that they were talking
to the Honduran military right up to the day of the coup - allegedly to
try and prevent it - they had time to think about what their immediate
response would be if it happened.

9.The Organization of American States (OAS), the United Nations General
Assembly, and other international bodies responded by calling for the
"immediate and unconditional" return of President Zelaya. In the ensuing
five months, no U.S. official would use either of those two words.

8.At a press conference the day after the coup, Secretary of State Clinton
was asked if "restoring the constitutional order" in Honduras meant
returning Zelaya himself. She would not say yes.

7.On July 24th, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton denounced
President Zelaya's attempt to return to his own country that week as
"reckless," adding that "We have consistently urged all parties to avoid
any provocative action that could lead to violence."

6.Most U.S. aid to Honduras comes from the Millennium Challenge
Corporation (MCC), a U.S. government agency. The vast majority of this aid
was never suspended. By contrast, on August 6, 2008, there was a military
coup in Mauritania; MCC aid was suspended the next day. In Madagascar, the
MCC announced the suspension of aid just three days after the military
coup of March 17, 2009.

5.On September 28, State Department officials representing the United
States blocked the OAS from adopting a resolution on Honduras that would
have refused to recognize Honduran elections carried out under the

4.The United States government refused to officially determine that there
was a "military coup," in Honduras - in contrast to the view of rest of
the hemisphere and the world.

3.The Obama administration defied the rest of the hemisphere and the world
by supporting undemocratic elections in Honduras.

On October 30th, U.S. government representatives including Thomas Shannon,
the top U.S. State Department official for Latin America, brokered an
accord between President Zelaya and the coup regime. The agreement was
seen throughout the region as providing for Zelaya's restitution, and .
according to diplomats close to the negotiations - both Shannon and
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave assurances that this was true.

Yet just four days later, Mr. Shannon stated in a TV interview that the
United States would recognize the November 29 elections, regardless of
whether or not Zelaya were restored to the presidency. This put the United
States against all of Latin America, which issued a 23-nation statement
two days later saying that Zelaya's restitution was an "indispensable
prerequisite" for recognizing the elections. The Obama administration has
since been able to recruit the right-wing governments of Canada, Panama,
and Colombia, and also Peru, to recognize the elections. But its support
for these undemocratic elections - to which the OAS, European Union, and
the Carter Center all refused to send observers - has left the Obama
administration as isolated as its predecessor in the hemisphere.

2.President Zelaya visited Washington six times after he was overthrown.
Yet President Obama has never once met with him. Is it possible that
President Obama did not have even five minutes in all of those days just
to shake his hand and say, "I'm trying to help?"

1.The Obama administration has never condemned the massive human rights
violations committed by the coup regime. These have been denounced and
documented by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the OAS
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), as well as Honduran,
European, and other human rights organizations. There have been thousands
of illegal arrests, beatings and torture by police and military, the
closing down of independent radio and TV stations, and even some killings
of peaceful demonstrators and opposition activists.

These human rights violations have continued right through election day,
according to Amnesty International and media reports, and beyond,
including the killings of two activists opposed to the coup - Walter
Trochez and Santos Corrales Garca - in recent days.

The United States government's silence through more than five months of
these human rights crimes has been the most damning and persistent
evidence that it has always been more concerned about protecting the
dictatorship, rather than restoring democracy in Honduras.

The majority of American voters elected President Obama on a promise that
our foreign policy would change. For this hemisphere, at least, that
promise has been broken.

The headline from the latest Time Magazine report on Honduras summed it
up: "Obama's Latin America Policy Looks Like Bush's."

Mark Weisbrot is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy
Research, in Washington, D.C.

[Pledge now not to vote for Obama in 2012. Secede from Obama and
Obamamania. It'a all up to us; count on him for nothing but grief. -ed]

--------14 of 16--------

Obama's Oslo Speech Was Right: Force Is Justified in Fighting Evil
by John Walsh
Dissident Voice
December 15th, 2009

I agree with Obama. Force is necessary at times to fight evil.

But what is "necessary" or "just" or justifiable force? Obama raises this
in his Oslo speech, and we would do well to consider it. Justifiable
force, most of us can probably agree, is that used in self-defense or to
stop an assault on ourselves and our loved ones. And such assault we can
define as evil.

By that definition Occupation is evil. And hence Obama the Occupier is

We can fight back with violence if necessary against evil, and often that
is the only way to win. Hence the Iraqis and Afghanis are in the right to
use force against the American Occupation. Just as the Palestinians now
and the Black South Africans earlier were in the right when they used
violence against their Occupiers and Apartheid. And the Chinese revolution
was in the right when it used force against the Western and Japanese
Occupiers and against the murderous landlord class, which were killing
Chinese by the millions. And so too the Indigenous peoples were right to
fight back against the Europeans who conquered their lands, and the slaves
of America were right to rise in rebellion against their masters. The
American colonists were justified when they violently threw off the
arbitrary rule of King George and his army of Occupation, in the same way
as are Iraqi and AfPak freedom fighters today. Our Declaration of
Independence, which recognizes this right, is not a pacifist document, and
the anti-Empire movement cannot be pacifist either. Nor is the average
American a pacifist, simply because pacifism does not mesh with the common
sense idea of self-defense.

Let us add to that a rejection of the fiction that the US is in Central
Asia to fight terrorism. The failure of liberals and the Democratic Party
left, like Progressive Democrats of America, is that they accept this
premise, a premise which figures prominently in Obama's speech and a
premise which is clearly a lie. Iraq did not have WMD, and the
perpetrators of the war on Iraq knew that very well. So why the war? Many
strands contributed to the war - the ambitions of the puppet master of
much U.S. foreign policy, Israel, to wreak as much destruction as possible
on Muslim lands; the desire to control energy resources so as to deprive
the Empire's economic competitors,1 principally China, of these energy
supplies; and the desire to control Central Asia militarily and hence to
encircle China and to a lesser extent Russia. In sum these wars are all
about maintaining and extending the U.S. Empire's world domination as
dictated by official, public U.S. policy to allow no nation to eclipse it
as number one. The war on Iraq was never about terrorism; and it is not
believable that the war on AfPak is about that either. Both are directed
at the Empire's economic adversaries, especially China.

So Obama is not fighting evil. Obama is the leader of an Evil that must be
fought. Evil on a grand scale like war is not something built into men's
brains but can emerge from great power which is given to certain men,
notably the President of the U.S. at this point in history, by virtue of
social and political arrangements. This view of things is that of the
radical Left or that of a strict Jeffersonian. But it is also consistent
with Libertarianism since Libertarianism views force justifiable against
those who assault us or otherwise do us grievous or mortal harm.2

The U.S. Empire has set itself not just against the Muslim peoples but
against many of the peoples of the world - including the people of the US
itself. If all else fails in curbing this Empire, the peoples of the world
are entirely justified in rising up against it. The "left" wing of the
Democratic Party, Obama's disappointed supporters, has proved useless or
worse in curbing Empire. The next step will surely be an independent
anti-imperial electoral effort, and we shall see whether that works. If it
does not, the Declaration of Independence tells us what is likely to

1. Note that this is an economic not military competitor since there is no
military power which can now compete with the US. [.]

2. This is not so surprising since the Marxist view of the state and the
Libertarian view are very much the same, no matter how much the two
diverge on economic matters. [.]

John V. Walsh can be reached at john.endwar [at]

--------15 of 16--------

Informative polls show two-thirds support for single-payer
By Kip Sullivan, JD

In Part 2 of this six-part series, I reported on the results of two
"citizen jury" experiments in which advocates for single-payer, managed
competition, and high-deductible policies spoke to, and were questioned
by, "juries" that were representative of America. In the case of the 1993
"jury" sponsored by the Jefferson Center, 71 percent voted for
single-payer. In the case of the 1996 "jury," 61 percent voted for
single-payer when no specific information about its cost to individuals
was presented, and 79 percent voted for a single-payer system that would
have lowered premium and out-of-pocket costs by as much as taxes rose.
Both juries rejected proposals relying on health insurance companies by
huge majorities.

Many polls that ask about support for Medicare-for-all produce results
that confirm the citizen jury findings. But others don't. What explains
that inconsistency?

  The more they know about single-payer, the more they like it

In this paper (Part 3 in a six-part series) I will present data from polls
that ask about single-payer, and then inquire why some polls show
landslide majorities for single-payer and some do not. We will find a
clear pattern: Polls that convey more information tend to report higher
levels of support than polls that convey little information, and polls
that convey accurate information tend to report more support than polls
that convey inaccurate information.

Table 1 lists 14 poll questions taken from 11 polls conducted over the
last two decades which used the phrase "single payer" and/or referred to
an existing single-payer system (Medicare, for example). All 14 questions
found majority support for single-payer.

Three of these polls (representing one question each) were limited to
doctors. I have included these physician surveys to debunk the false
impression (created primarily by the American Medical Association) that
the average doctor is opposed to single-payer. The three polls shown in
Table 1 indicate that support among doctors is about 60 percent.

Table 1 indicates that public support for single-payer ranges from a low
of 50 percent to a high of 69 percent. I have divided the polls of the
general public into those that found support levels at 60 percent or
higher (eight questions) and those that found levels in the 50-to-58
percent range (three questions).

Table 1: Polls indicating majority support for single-payer

...........................................For SP...Vs SP

General public: Polls in which support is 60 percent or higher

Harvard University/Harris (1988)(a)........61%......not asked
LA Times (1990)(b).........................66%......not asked
Wall Street Journal-NBC (1991)(c)..........69%......20%
Wash Post-ABC News (2003)(d)...............62%......not asked
Civil Society Institute (2004)(e)..........67%......27%
AP-Yahoo (2007)(f).........................65%......not asked
Grove Insight (2009)(g)....................64%......28%
Grove Insight (2009)(g)....................60%......27%

General public: Polls in which support is below 60 percent

AP-Yahoo (2007)(f).........................54%......44%
Kaiser Family Foundation (2009)(h).........58%......38%
Kaiser Family Foundation (2009)(h).........50%......44%


New Eng J Med (medical school faculty and students) (1999)
...........................................57%......not asked
Arch Int Med (doctors) (2004)..............64%......not asked
Minnesota Med (doctors) (2007).............64%......not asked

(a) The question asked by the Harvard University/Harris poll was described
in the Health Affairs article reporting the results as follows: "The
majority of Americans (61 percent) state they would prefer the Canadian
system of national health insurance where the government pays most of the
cost of health care for everyone out of taxes and the government sets all
fees charged by hospitals and doctors...". An analogous question posed to
Canadians found that only 3 percent of Canadians said they would prefer
the American system.

(b) The question asked by the Los Angeles Times poll was: "In the Canadian
system of national health insurance, the government pays most of the cost
of health care out of taxes and the government sets all fees charged by
doctors and hospitals. Under the Canadian system - which costs the
taxpayers less than the American system - people can choose their own
doctors and hospitals. On balance, would you prefer the Canadian system or
the system we have here in the United States?" Sixty-six percent chose the
Canadian system and 25 percent chose the US system.

(c) The question asked by the Wall Street Journal-NBC poll was: "Do you
favor or oppose the US having a universal government-paid health care
system like they have in Canada?"

(d) The Washington Post-ABC News poll asked: "Which would you prefer -
(the current health insurance system in the United States, in which most
people get their health insurance from private employers, but some people
have no insurance); or (a universal health insurance program, in which
everyone is covered under a program like Medicare that's run by the
government and financed by taxpayers?). Thirty-three percent preferred the
current system while 62 percent preferred the "universal system".

(e) The Civil Society poll asked: "Other major nations, such as Canada and
England, guarantee their citizens health insurance on the job, through
government programs, or via a nonprofit source. Would it be a good or bad
idea for the United States to adopt the same approach to providing health
care to everyone?"

(f)The AP-Yahoo poll asked two questions. One asked respondents which of
these two proposals they agreed with: (1) "The United States should adopt
a universal health insurance program in which everyone is covered under a
program like Medicare that is run by the government and financed by
taxpayers. (65 percent chose this option); (2) "The United States should
continue the current health insurance system in which most people get
their health insurance from private employers, but some people have no
insurance" (34 percent chose this option). The second question was: "Do
you consider yourself a supporter of a single-payer health care system,
that is a national health plan financed by taxpayers in which all
Americans would get their insurance from a single government plan, or
not?" (54 percent said they were supporters of single-payer and 44 percent
said they were opposed).

(g) The Grove Insight poll asked two questions. One asked: "Federal
leaders are considering expanding Medicare to all Americans, so that
people have another option besides private health insurance or an HMO. Do
you favor or oppose the creation of this type of public health plan
option?" (64 percent said they favor this proposal). A very similar
question was asked which differed from the first by including information
on the financing mechanism: "There is proposed federal legislation that
gives any American, regardless of age, the option of joining the Medicare
program. Americans who choose this option would share the cost of the
coverage with their employer through increased Medicare payroll
deductions, instead of paying private health insurance premiums. Do you
favor or oppose this legislation?" (60 percent favored it and 27 percent
opposed it). Both questions, especially the second one, imply private
insurers will continue to exist alongside a Medicare program open to all.
But the questions are so similar to questions that clearly ask about
Medicare-for-all systems that I decided to include them here.

(h) The Kaiser Family Foundation poll asked: "Now I'm going to read you
some different ways to increase the number of Americans covered by health
insurance. As I read each one, please tell me whether you would favor it
or oppose it"?. This was followed by eight proposals which, with the
exception of the question about the "public option," were asked in a
random order (the "option" question was always asked at the end). Two of
these questions asked about single-payer. The first read: "Having a
national health plan in which all Americans would get their insurance
through an expanded, universal form of Medicare-for all". Fifty-eight
percent said they favored this proposal while 38 percent said they
opposed. The second read: "Having a national health plan - or single-payer
plan - in which all Americans would get their insurance from a single
government plan". Only 50 percent favored this proposal while 44 percent

For sources see Table 2 below.

If we examine the questions posed by all the polls of the general public,
one difference between the two sets of poll questions jumps out
immediately: The questions that generated levels of support at 60 percent
or higher mentioned one of three existing single-payer programs - the
Canadian system, the British system, and the US Medicare program. (I have
bolded the words referring to these systems in the poll questions, which
are presented in the footnotes to Table 1.) In other words, those
questions didn't just rely on the phrase "single payer," a phrase most
people do not understand.

On the other hand, the three questions that prompted support in the
50-to-58-percent range used the phrase "single-payer" but did not refer to
an existing single-payer system or program. The second AP-Yahoo question,
for example, merely asked respondents if they considered themselves to be
"single-payer supporters". Fifty-four percent said yes to that question,
which was substantially below the 65 percent who indicated in the same
AP-Yahoo poll that they supported a system of universal coverage "like
Medicare". These two AP-Yahoo questions taken together suggest that merely
using the term "single-payer" and not comparing it to Medicare will cut
roughly 10 percentage points off the support level for single-payer.

It might be argued that the second AP-Yahoo question shown in Table 1
produced a relatively low single-payer support rate (54 percent) because
it also mentioned the words "taxpayers" and "government". But that
argument doesn't work. All but one of the other questions that produced
support levels of 60-percent or higher also mentioned "government" and
"taxes". The difference is they also mentioned an existing single-payer
system or program.

Apples-to-aardvarks comparisons also reduce support for single-payer

The two questions in Table 1 posed by the 2009 Kaiser poll (see question
13, page 8), which showed 58 and 50 percent support for single-payer,
reveal another factor that seems to influence poll results - a factor I'll
call the "line-up effect". The Kaiser poll asked about single-payer as
well as a half-dozen other proposals without indicating what effect each
proposal would have on costs, the number of uninsured, and freedom to
choose one's doctor, to name just a few of the variables most people would
be interested in. By contrast, the polls listed in the
60-percent-or-higher category did not present single-payer in a line-up
with other proposals; they simply asked whether respondents would support
a single-payer system, or they contrasted single-payer with the current
system. The "line-up effect" generated by the Kaiser polls would be
minimized or eliminated in a citizen jury experiment because the jury
would have plenty of time to inquire about the relative effectiveness of
the competing proposals. Respondents to polls don't have that luxury.

The 2009 Kaiser poll began with this announcement:

Now I'm going to read you some different ways to increase the number of
Americans covered by health insurance. As I read each one, please tell me
whether you would favor it or oppose it.

Notice the phrase, "different ways to increase the number of Americans
covered by health insurance". It implies the "different ways" have all
been shown by research to work, and perhaps to reach roughly similar

This question was then followed by a description of eight proposals,
including "expanding Medicare to people between the ages of 55 to 64,"
"offering tax credits to help people buy private health insurance," and
"requiring all Americans to have health insurance".

This "line up" method of asking about support for single-payer is by no
means fatal, but it does appear to reduce the pro-single-payer response
rate by somewhere in the range of 5 to 10 percentage points. The Kaiser
question that produced 58 percent support asked about ".having a national
health plan in which all Americans would get their insurance through an
expanded, universal form of Medicare-for all". Because this question did
not mention taxes and government, you might think more than 58 percent of
Americans would have said they favored this proposal. After all, when
other polls that do not put single-payer in a line-up but do compare
single-payer to Medicare and do mention "government" and "taxes" (see the
upper half of Table 1), more than 60 percent indicate their support. The
fact that only 58 percent of Americans responded favorably to this
question from Kaiser - a question that does mention Medicare but mentions
neither "taxes" nor "government" - begs for an explanation. It is
reasonable to hypothesize that the explanation is the "line up" context in
which the question was asked.

The second Kaiser question listed in Table 1, the one that produced only
50 percent support, contained a double whammy. Like the first Kaiser
question, it used the line-up method; unlike the first question, it failed
to compare single-payer with Medicare or another single-payer system. This
suggests that the cumulative effect of the line-up method plus failure to
compare single-payer to Medicare can diminish support for single-payer by
about 15 percent.

Perhaps an analogy will help. Imagine if you were asked to indicate
whether you "favored or opposed" six "ways to lose weight," and the "ways"
("ways" is the noun Kaiser uses) ranged from the truly effective (for
example, exercising for half an hour a day) to the barely effective (for
example, weight loss pills or drinking more water). Imagine furthermore
that the pollster gave you no information at all on the effectiveness of
the various "ways" nor on their side effects. It seems likely that many
respondents could be lulled into thinking all the "ways" are roughly
equivalent in effectiveness and that respondents would, therefore, give
less support to the effective methods of weight loss in response to this
type of "line up" question than they would if they were simply asked, "Do
you support exercise as a means of weight loss?"

Let me offer one more example of the use of the line-up method in a poll
about health care reform, this one the July 2009 poll by Time Magazine.
Time posed questions about seven different proposals that began with the
phrase, "Would you favor or oppose a health care bill that"?. The
implication of the phrase "a health care bill" is that members of Congress
and experts in general think all of the proposals the respondent is about
to hear will ameliorate the health care crisis to some degree, perhaps to
the same degree. The single-payer question read:

Would you favor or oppose a health care bill that creates a national
single-payer plan similar to Medicare for all, in which the government
would provide health care insurance to all Americans?

Forty-nine percent favored single-payer, 46 percent opposed it. Like all
the poll questions shown in Table 1 that showed support for single-payer
in the 60-to-70-percent range, the Time question mentioned Medicare and
"government". (Oddly, unlike the high-scoring poll questions in Table 1,
the Time question didn't mention "taxes".) You might think, then, that the
Time poll would have produced a level of support for single-payer in the
sixties. The fact that it produced only a 49 percent "favor" rating
suggests, again, that something about the "line up" format reduces support
for single-payer by about 10 percentage points.

To sum up this section: Polls that ask reasonably informative questions
about single-payer show that somewhere between 60 and 70 percent of
Americans support single-payer. This level of support can be reduced into
the 50-to-60 percent range by two methods: Asking about .single-payer.
without comparing single-payer to Medicare or the systems of Canada or the
UK; and inserting the question about single-payer in a list of a
half-dozen other proposals without warning respondents that the
non-single-payer proposals, especially incremental proposals like tax
credits, will have effects that are quite different from the single-payer

  Two more examples of polls that convey too little information

To explore further the hypothesis that vagueness in poll questions
diminishes support for single-payer, consider polls that are even vaguer
than the polls in Table 1 that use "single payer" but offer almost no
details about it. Let's examine three polls that did not use the phrase
"single payer" and offered no details about how the proposed "government"
program would work.

In Part 2 of this series, I described a CBS poll conducted in June and
August 2009 which asked:

Do you think the government would do a better or worse job than private
insurance companies in providing medical coverage?

This question has the ring of a single-payer question, but it leaves
numerous important questions unanswered, including whether the program in
question would provide coverage to everyone and whether "provide" means
cover people directly or give them subsidies so they can buy coverage from
insurance companies.

We saw that when this question was asked in June 2009, 50 percent said
"the government" would do a better job, but when this question was asked
in late August 2009, only 36 percent said "the government" would do a
better job. Does this CBS poll contradict the more precise polls listed in
Table 1 that found two-thirds support for single-payer?

The answer is no. The CBS poll conveys so little information about how
"the government" would do the "job" of "providing medical coverage" that
it isn't even clear if this question was meant to be about single-payer.
In the context of the current debate, Americans are much more likely to
think the question refers to the Democrats' 2009 "reform" bills, which
require Americans to buy health insurance from insurance companies, than
to single-payer legislation. The sharp drop in support for "the
government" in the CBS poll between June and August is evidence that the
highly publicized town hall meetings held in August to discuss the
Democrats' bills influenced responses to the poll, which in turn indicates
many respondents thought the question was about the Democrats'
legislation, not HR 676 (the single-payer bill introduced in the House of
Representatives) or S 703 (the Senate single-payer bill).

We see a similar problem in the following question, contained in both a
CBS/New York Times poll and a Harvard School of Public Health poll,
conducted over several decades:

Do you favor or oppose national health insurance, which would be financed
by tax money, paying for most forms of health care?

Like the phrase "government providing medical coverage" in the CBS poll,
the phrase "national health insurance" in this poll could mean government
financing of universal coverage through a single-payer system or through a
multiple-payer system. If you look at Exhibit 1 on page 35 of this article
from Health Affairs, you'll see that between 1980 and 2000 the percent of
respondents saying they favor "national health insurance" ranged between
46 and 66 percent. The vagueness of the phrase was unquestionably a
significant reason why support fluctuated so much.

 Another way to diminish support for single-payer: Convey inaccurate

In addition to conveying vague information about single-payer there is, of
course, another time-tested method of diminishing support for it, and that
is to convey inaccurate information about it. This can be done explicitly
and implicitly. It can be done explicitly by, for example, asserting in
the question that single-payer systems raise taxes but do not lower
premium payments and out-of-pocket costs. We have already seen one example
of how reducing support for single-payer with inaccurate information can
be done implicitly - by inserting the single-payer question into the
middle of several other proposals, including incremental proposals such as
tax credits for small employers, without warning respondents that the
proposals have very different benefits and side effects.

Since 2001, the Gallup poll has been asking this explicitly misleading
question (apparently each November):

Which of the following approaches for providing health care in the United
States would you prefer: replacing the current health care system with a
new government-run health care system, or maintaining the current system
based mostly on private health insurance? (emphasis added)

"Government-run health care system" has garnered somewhere between 32 and
41 percent support since 2001 (while keeping the "current system" has
attracted the support of 48 to 63 percent). But this poll is so biased it
is irrelevant to the current debate. The problem here is the use of the
phrase "health care" three times instead of "health insurance".

The government does not "run health care" under single-payer systems (or
any other system currently under debate in the US, for that matter). Under
single-payer systems, clinics, hospitals, and makers of drugs and
equipment that are privately owned today would remain in private hands.
What the government will "run" in a Medicare-for-all system is health
insurance, not health care. The latter phrasing conjures up nightmares of
a gigantic government HMO in which the federal HMO owns all the clinics
and hospitals and government bureaucrats decide whether you may have the
surgery you and your doctor think you need or whether you must take
Lipitor when your doctor prescribed Crestor.

I will discuss another example of a poll that delivers explicit
misinformation in Part 5 when I discuss the "research" Celinda Lake did
for the "option" movement.

                   The Bermuda Triangle

Finally, there is the occasional outlier poll that produces very low
favorability ratings for single-payer about which I can only offer a
plausible hypothesis. The August 7-8, 2009 Rasmussen Poll (not shown in
Table 1) is an example. The poll asked:

Do you favor or oppose a single payer health care system where the federal
government provides coverage for everyone?

We would expect this poll to produce "favor" responses below the
60-percent level because it offers so little information about what a
single-payer is (it doesn't mention Medicare or the Canadian or British
systems, and offers no other details). But Rasmussen reported that only 32
percent supported single-payer while 57 percent opposed it. This question
was not asked as part of a "line up," so the line-up explanation doesn't
help us here. The two explanations that occur to me are sloppiness and
deliberate manipulation of the process (for example, sampling a lot more
conservatives than liberals). That possibility has occurred to others as
well. Rasmussen's non-electoral polls seem to show more support for
conservative positions than other polls.


We have now reviewed three categories of polls that correspond roughly to
support levels of 60 to 70 percent, 50 to 60 percent, and below 50
percent. Polls that produce greater-than-60-percent levels of support for
single payer not only use the phrase "single-payer" but compare the
concept to an existing single-payer program, typically Medicare. Polls
showing 50 to 60 percent support inquire about "single payer" without
comparing the concept to Medicare or to the single-payer systems of other
countries or they pose the question about single-payer in a line-up
context. Polls that seem to ask about single-payer and which show less
than 50 percent support use phrasing that is so vague respondents cannot
know whether the program being asked about is a single-payer and, if so,
how it would work.

We saw in Part 2 of this series that two citizen juries conducted in the
1990s produced landslide votes for single-payer - votes equal to roughly
60 to 80 percent of all the participating "jurors". These lengthy "jury"
experiments are far more reliable than any poll could possibly be. And yet
some polls confirm the "jury" experiments and some don't. If we ask why,
the answer is the polls that show support in at least the 60-to-70-percent
range use the phrase "single payer" and give respondents concrete examples
of single-payer programs.

If we couple the "jury" experiments with the polling data reviewed in this
part, we see a pattern: The more people know about single-payer, the more
likely they are to support it. We see this pattern when we compare the
"jury" results with poll results, and we see it when we compare polls that
show high levels of support for single-payer with those that don't.

Stay tuned for Part 4: .Jacob Hacker.s ambiguous polls.

Table 2: Sources

Harvard/Harris poll: Robert J. Blendon et al., .Views on health care:
Public opinion in three nations,. Health Affairs, Spring 1989;8(1)149-157.

Los Angeles Times poll: .Health Care in the United States,. Poll no. 212,
Storrs, Conn.: Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, March 1990, cited
in Robert J. Blendon et al., .Satisfaction with health systems in ten
nations,. Health Affairs, Summer 1990;9(2): 185-192. Actual wording of the
question is available at American Public Opinion Index, 1990, p. 649.

Wall Street Journal-NBC poll: Michael McQueen, .Voters, sick of the
current health .care systems, want federal government to prescribe
remedy,. Wall Street Journal, June 28, 1991, A4 (question available here).

New England Journal of Medicine poll: Steven R. Simon et al., .Views of
managed care: A survey of students, residents, faculty, and deans of
medical schools in the United States,. New England Journal of Medicine
1999; 340:928-936, 929.

Washington Post-ABC News Poll: Health Care, October 20, 2003.
Archives of Internal Medicine poll: Danny McCormick et al., .Single-payer
national health insurance: Physicians. views,. Archives of Internal
Medicine 2004;164:300-304.

Civil Society Institute poll: Opinion Research Corporation, Americans and
Health Care Reform: How Access and Affordability are Shaping Views,
September 15, 2004.

Minnesota Medicine poll: Joel Albers et al, .Single-payer, health savings
accounts, or managed care? Minnesota physicians. perspectives,. Minnesota
Medicine, February 2007:36-40.

AP-Yahoo poll: Knowledge Networks, (page 15).
Grove Insight poll: Grove Insight memo to Jamie Court, January 30, 2009.

Kaiser Family Foundation poll, 2009.

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One Response to .Two-thirds of Americans support Medicare-for-all (#3 of
December 10th, 2009 at 3:32 am

 As was noted, well over 90% of Canadians (varies from 92% to 97%
depending on the poll) would never accept an American style insurance-run
health care system. Any Canadian politician who would be stupid enough to
even whisper that they wanted an American style health care system would
not only be defeated, they would be obliterated to the point that their
political career would be irretrievably over. The three main Canadian
sports are hockey, curling, and griping about Canadian health care, but
let anyone try to change the health care system from what had for 45
years and that person had better run in order to outrun the 30 million
Canadians whom would try to kill them.

That.s part of the point, with a government funded system like we have,
the people can can get the government to improve it. Americans have no way
of getting the US health care system improved it in any way because only
profit and shareholders count to the insurance companies that run the
American health care system.

--------16 of 16--------

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