|Progressive Calendar 01.04.10||<– Date –> <– Thread –>|
|From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)|
|Date: Mon, 4 Jan 2010 09:50:11 -0800 (PST)|
P R O G R E S S I V E C A L E N D A R 01.04.10 1. Biofuels 1.04 1:15pm 2. Peace walk 1.04 6pm RiverFalls WI 3. Uhcan-mn 1.04 7pm 4. Cynthia McKinney 1.05 5pm 5. AlliantACTION 1.06 7am 6. Merriam/peace 1.06 6pm 7. Ian Welsh - Why Democrats are trying to commit electoral suicide 8. Chris Hedges - The pictures of war you aren't supposed to see 9. Dave Lindorff - Sue the bastards: go to court vs health care "reform" 10. James Petras - One day's read of the Financial Times 11. ed - Political haiku 12. ed - Literary haiku --------1 of 12-------- From: Erin Parrish <erin [at] mnwomen.org> Subject: Biofuels 1.04 1:15pm January 4: Minneapolis Branch American Association of University Women Meeting. 9:30 - 10:30 AM: A Unique Way to Discover Minneapolis History. 10:45 - 11:45 AM: Mental Illness- Resources for Families. 11:45 - Noon: Announcements. Noon - 1:15 PM: Luncheon. 1:15 - 2:15 PM: Food, Biofuels, and Environmental Sustainability. First Christian Church, 2201 1st Avenue South, Minneapolis. --------2 of 12-------- From: Nancy Holden <d.n.holden [at] comcast.net> Subject: Peace walk 1.04 6pm RiverFalls WI River Falls Peace and Justice Walkers. We meet every Monday from 6-7 pm on the UWRF campus at Cascade Ave. and 2nd Street, immediately across from "Journey" House. We walk through the downtown of River Falls. Contact: d.n.holden [at] comcast.net. Douglas H Holden 1004 Morgan Road River Falls, Wisconsin 54022 --------3 of 12-------- From: Joel Albers <joel [at] uhcan-mn.org> Subject: Uhcan-mn 1.04 7pm Next Universal Health Care Action Network of MN (UHCAN-MN) organizing meeting. Monday Jan 4, 7pm Walker Church, 3104 16th Ave S., Mpls,(1 block from Lake str and Bloomington Ave. Lower-Level Agenda: 1.review consensus process,basic rules 2.Reportbacks: 12/19 Protest on Ice; Network Bldg results?;website;on- line fundraising; basic flyering; 3.National HC debate is still in play; analysis, actions to take ? 4.MLK Day, bring out the big MLK puppet for the Procession. 5.MN state legislative session;analysis,actions to take 6.UHCAN-MN Film Series: Rare 20" footage of Seattle 10th Anniversary;analysis, Implications for HC direct action; Rebecca's film ?; other films ? Let me know if you want to add an agenda item. As always, hot tea, refreshments, in a toasty art gallery w/ cozy couches --------4 of 12-------- From: Eric Angell <eric-angell [at] riseup.net> Subject: Cynthia McKinney 1.05 5pm Dear 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, 1/5 @ 5pm & midnight + Wed, 1/6, 10am "Cynthia McKinney, Part 1" The 6 term US Congresswoman and 2008 Green Party Pres. candidate speaks candidly about lobby power in Washington DC, her experiences in trying to break the siege of Gaza, her experience running for public office as an outsider, the role of primary elections in her home state of GA and much more. --------5 of 12-------- From: AlliantACTION <alliantaction [at] circlevision.org> Subject: AlliantACTION 1.06 7am Join us Wednesday morning, 7-8 am Now in our 14th year of consecutive Wednesday morning vigils outside Alliant Techsystems, 7480 Flying Cloud Drive Eden Prairie. We ask Who Profit$? Who Dies? directions and lots of info: alliantACTION.org --------6 of 12-------- From: "Krista Menzel (Merriam Park Neighbors for Peace)" <web [at] MPPeace.org> Subject: Merriam/peace 1.06 6pm 2010 Merriam Park Neighbors for Peace Meetings First Wednesday of each month 6-7:45pm. (Note time change due to reduced library hours) Merriam Park Library ^Ö Basement Meeting Room A or B 1831 Marshall Avenue (at Fairview Avenue), St. Paul, MN Wednesday, January 6, 2010 --------7 of 12-------- Why Democrats Are Trying to Commit Electoral Suicide by Ian Welsh Monday, January 4 Open Left Common Dreams Forty-five percent of the Democratic base now says they aren't going to vote in 2010 or are thinking of not voting. This is a direct result of Democrats in Congress and the Presidency doing things the base disagrees with or not doing things the base wants to see done. It appears politically stupid to act as they have, and yet, they did. So why? Elected Democrats at the Federal level are members of the national elite. If they weren't a member when they were elected, they are quickly brought into the fold. They are surrounded by lobbyists, other members and staffers who were lobbyists, as a rule. They learn they need to raise immense amounts of money in the off years when normal people aren't giving, and that the only way to raise that money is for corporate interests and rich people to write the checks. They also receive the benefits of elite status, very quickly. It's not an accident that the every Senator except Bernie Sanders is wealthy. Whatever Americans think, whether they support a public option or single payer; whether they're for or against Iraq or Afghanistan; whether they agree with bailing out banks or not, elite consensus is much much narrower than American public opinion. It starts at the center right and heads over to reactionary (repeal the entire progressive movement and the New Deal, taking America back to the 1890s). The elites are convinced they know what has to be done. Not necessarily what's "best", but what is possible given the constraints they believe America operates under and the pressures which elected officials work with. So Obama can say, and mean, that if he were creating a medical system from scratch, he'd go with single payer. But he "knows" that's impossible, not just for political reasons, but because there are huge monied interests who would be horribly damaged or even destroyed by moving to single payer. On top of that, he looks at the amount of actual change required to shift all that money away from insurance companies and to reduce pharma profits, and to change which providers get paid what, and he sees it as immensely disruptive to the economy. In theory, it might lead to a better place, but to Obama, the disruption on the way there is unthinkable. The same thing is true of the financial crisis. The banks may be technically insolvent, but the idea of nationalizing them all, or shutting them down and shifting the lending to other entities would mean that the most profitable (in theory, not in reality) sector of the economy would largely be wiped out. Add to that the fact that Obama was the largest recipient of Wall Street cash of the major candidates for the Presidency, and the immense influence the banks wield through their alumni who are placed throughout the Federal Reserve, the Treasury and other departments, and the idea of actually radically reforming the banking system becomes unthinkable. Virtually every technocrat giving Obama, or most Senators advice, will be against it. Moreover they understand that with a few exceptions, the financial economy is the American economy. It's what the US sold to the rest of the world: pieces of paper in exchange for real money which could be used to import real goods, so Americans could live beyond their means. Shut that down and what's going to replace it? How are you going to avoid an immediate meltdown of the US standard of living? How are you going to avoid a large part of the elite being wiped out? You or I may have answers to that, except to wiping out a large chunk of the elite, which is something which needs to be done, but those who grew up under the system, who believe in the system, and who ran the system don't. What they've done all their lives is what they understand. And more to the point the system has been good to them. The last 35 years may have been a bad time to be an ordinary American, but the elite has seen their wealth and income soar to levels even greater than the gilded age. The rich, in America, have never, ever, been as rich as they are now. And if you're a member of the elite, your friends, your family, your colleagues - everyone you really care about, is a member of the elite or attached to it as a valued and very well paid retainer. For you, for everyone you care about, the system has worked. Perhaps, intellectually, you know it hasn't worked for ordinary people, but you aren't one of them, you aren't friends with them, and however much you care in theory about them, it's a bloodless intellectual empathy, not one born of shared experience, sacrifice and the bonds of friendship or love. So when a big crisis comes, all of your instincts scream to protect your friends, your family, and the system which you grew up under, prospered under and which has been good to you. Moreover, you understand that system, or you think you do, and you believe that with a twiddle here and an adjustment there, it's a system you can make work again. Doing something radical, like single payer or nationalizing the banks or letting the banks fail and doing lending direct through the Fed and through credit unions: that's just crazy talk. Who knows how it would work, or if it would work? Why take a chance? And so, until disaster turns into absolute catastrophe, the elites will fiddle with the dials, rather than engaging in radical change. When the time comes when it becomes clear even to them that radical change is required, they are far more likely to go with their preconceived notions of what's wrong with the US, which are very reactionary, than to go with liberal or progressive solutions. So you're far more likely to see Medicare and Social Security gutted, than you are to see the military budget cut in a third or Medicare-for-all enacted. You're far more likely to see a movement to a flat tax (supported by idiot right wing populists) than you are to see a return to high marginal taxation. To the elites, ordinary Americans are pretty much parasites. It's not the bankers, with their multi-trillion dollar bailouts who are the problem, it's old people with their Social Security and Medicare. The elites made it. They are rich and powerful. They believe that their success is due entirely to themselves (even if they inherited the money or position). If you didn't, then that means you don't deserve it. Democratic party elected leaders, as a group, are members of this elite, or are henchmen (and some women) of this elite. They believe what the elites believe, and they live within a world whose boundaries are formed by those beliefs. They have no intention of engaging in radical change which threatens elite, which is to say, their, prosperity and power. The financial industry must be saved, the medical industry must be saved. Social Security and Medicare, which they don't need and don't benefit from, not so much. The military, which funnels huge amounts of money to them, must continue to expand (in real terms military spending is now twice what it was in 2000.) As long as elected Democrats at the Federal level are members of this elite, or identify with the elite they are not going to make fundamental changes against the interests of that elite. And so, no, there is no "change" you can believe in from this class of Democrats. There is no "hope" of an America which is better for ordinary people. That doesn't mean things are hopeless, but it does mean there's little hope for anything radical from this Congress or President. As Adam Smith pointed out, there's a lot of ruin in a nation. America's going to have to endure a lot more of it before things actually change. 2010 Open Left Ian Welsh has been blogging since 2003. He was the Managing Editor of FireDogLake and the Agonist. His work has also appeared at Huffington Post, Alternet, and Truthout, as well as the now defunct Blogging of the President (BOPNews). In Canada his work has appeared in Pogge.ca and BlogsCanada. He is a social media strategy consultant and currently lives in Toronto. You can contact Ian at admin-at-ianwelsh-dot-NET --------8 of 12-------- The Pictures of War You Aren't Supposed to See by Chris Hedges Monday, January 4, 2010 TruthDig.com Common Dreams War is brutal and impersonal. It mocks the fantasy of individual heroism and the absurdity of utopian goals like democracy. In an instant, industrial warfare can kill dozens, even hundreds of people, who never see their attackers. The power of these industrial weapons is indiscriminate and staggering. They can take down apartment blocks in seconds, burying and crushing everyone inside. They can demolish villages and send tanks, planes and ships up in fiery blasts. The wounds, for those who survive, result in terrible burns, blindness, amputation and lifelong pain and trauma. No one returns the same from such warfare. And once these weapons are employed all talk of human rights is a farce. In Peter van Agtmael's "2nd Tour Hope I don't Die" and Lori Grinker's "Afterwar: Veterans From a World in Conflict," two haunting books of war photographs, we see pictures of war which are almost always hidden from public view. These pictures are shadows, for only those who go to and suffer from war can fully confront the visceral horror of it, but they are at least an attempt to unmask war's savagery. "Over ninety percent of this soldier's body was burned when a roadside bomb hit his vehicle, igniting the fuel tank and burning two other soldiers to death," reads the caption in Agtmael's book next to a photograph of the bloodied body of a soldier in an operating room. "His camouflage uniform dangled over the bed, ripped open by the medics who had treated him on the helicopter. Clumps of his skin had peeled away, and what was left of it was translucent. He was in and out of consciousness, his eyes stabbing open for a few seconds. As he was lifted from the stretcher to the ER bed, he screamed "Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, Daddy,' then 'Put me to sleep, please put me to sleep.' There was another photographer in the ER, and he leaned his camera over the heads of the medical staff to get an overhead shot. The soldier yelled, 'Get that fucking camera out of my face.' Those were his last words. I visited his grave one winter afternoon six months later," Agtmael writes, "and the scene of his death is never far from my thoughts." "There were three of us inside, and the jeep caught fire," Israeli soldier Yossi Arditi, quoted in Grinker's book, says of the moment when a Molotov cocktail exploded in his vehicle. "The fuel tank was full and it was about to explode, my skin was hanging from my arms and face - but I didn't lose my head. I knew nobody could get inside to help me, that my only way out was through the fire to the doors. I wanted to take my gun, but I couldn't touch it because my hands were burning." Arditi spent six months in the hospital. He had surgery every two or three months, about 20 operations, over the next three years. Filmic and most photographic images of war are shorn of the heart-pounding fear, awful stench, deafening noise and exhaustion of the battlefield. Such images turn confusion and chaos, the chief element of combat, into an artful war narrative. They turn war into porn. Soldiers and Marines, especially those who have never seen war, buy cases of beer and watch movies like "Platoon," movies meant to denounce war, and as they do so revel in the despicable power of the weapons shown. The reality of violence is different. Everything formed by violence is senseless and useless. It exists without a future. It leaves behind nothing but death, grief and destruction. Chronicles of war, such as these two books, that eschew images and scenes of combat begin to capture war's reality. War's effects are what the state and the press, the handmaiden of the war makers, work hard to keep hidden. If we really saw war, what war does to young minds and bodies, it would be harder to embrace the myth of war. If we had to stand over the mangled corpses of the eight schoolchildren killed in Afghanistan a week ago and listen to the wails of their parents we would not be able to repeat cliches about liberating the women of Afghanistan or bringing freedom to the Afghan people. This is why war is carefully sanitized. This is why we are given war's perverse and dark thrill but are spared from seeing war's consequences. The mythic visions of war keep it heroic and entertaining. And the press is as guilty as Hollywood. During the start of the Iraq war, television reports gave us the visceral thrill of force and hid from us the effects of bullets, tank rounds, iron fragmentation bombs and artillery rounds. We tasted a bit of war's exhilaration, but were protected from seeing what war actually does. The wounded, the crippled and the dead are, in this great charade, swiftly carted off stage. They are war's refuse. We do not see them. We do not hear them. They are doomed, like wandering spirits, to float around the edges of our consciousness, ignored, even reviled. The message they tell is too painful for us to hear. We prefer to celebrate ourselves and our nation by imbibing the myth of glory, honor, patriotism and heroism, words that in combat become empty and meaningless. And those whom fate has decreed must face war's effects often turn and flee. Saul Alfaro, who lost his legs in the war in El Salvador, speaks in Grinker's book about the first and final visit from his girlfriend as he lay in an army hospital bed. "She had been my girlfriend in the military and we had planned to be married," he says. "But when she saw me in the hospital - I don't know exactly what happened, but later they told me when she saw me she began to cry. Afterwards, she ran away and never came back." The public manifestations of gratitude are reserved for veterans who dutifully read from the script handed to them by the state. The veterans trotted out for viewing are those who are compliant and palatable, those we can stand to look at without horror, those who are willing to go along with the lie that war is about patriotism and is the highest good. "Thank you for your service," we are supposed to say. They are used to perpetuate the myth. We are used to honor it. Gary Zuspann, who lives in a special enclosed environment in his parent's home in Waco, Texas, suffering from Gulf War syndrome, speaks in Grinker's book of feeling like "a prisoner of war" even after the war had ended. "Basically they put me on the curb and said, okay, fend for yourself," he says in the book. "I was living in a fantasy world where I thought our government cared about us and they take care of their own. I believed it was in my contract, that if you're maimed or wounded during your service in war, you should be taken care of. Now I'm angry." I went back to Sarajevo after covering the 1990s war for The New York Times and found hundreds of cripples trapped in rooms in apartment blocks with no elevators and no wheelchairs. Most were young men, many without limbs, being cared for by their elderly parents, the glorious war heroes left to rot. Despair and suicide grip survivors. More Vietnam veterans committed suicide after the war than were killed during it. The inhuman qualities drilled into soldiers and Marines in wartime defeat them in peacetime. This is what Homer taught us in "The Iliad," the great book on war, and "The Odyssey," the great book on the long journey to recovery by professional killers. Many never readjust. They cannot connect again with wives, children, parents or friends, retreating into personal hells of self-destructive anguish and rage. "They program you to have no emotion - like if somebody sitting next to you gets killed you just have to carry on doing your job and shut up," Steve Annabell, a British veteran of the Falklands War, says to Grinker. "When you leave the service, when you come back from a situation like that, there's no button they can press to switch your emotions back on. So you walk around like a zombie. They don't deprogram you. If you become a problem they just sweep you under the carpet." "To get you to join up they do all these advertisements - they show people skiing down mountains and doing great things - but they don't show you getting shot at and people with their legs blown off or burning to death," he says. "They don't show you what really happens. It's just bullshit. And they never prepare you for it. They can give you all the training in the world, but it's never the same as the real thing." Those with whom veterans have most in common when the war is over are often those they fought. "Nobody comes back from war the same," says Horacio Javier Benitez, who fought the British in the Falklands and is quoted in Grinker's book. "The person, Horacio, who was sent to war, doesn't exist anymore. It's hard to be enthusiastic about normal life; too much seems inconsequential. You contend with craziness and depression." "Many who served in the Malvinas," he says, using the Argentine name of the islands, "committed suicide, many of my friends." "I miss my family," reads a wall graffito captured in one of Agtmael's photographs. "Please God forgive the lives I took and let my family be happy if I don't go home again." Next to the plea someone had drawn an arrow toward the words and written in thick, black marker "Fag!!!" Look beyond the nationalist cant used to justify war. Look beyond the seduction of the weapons and the pornography of violence. Look beyond Barack Obama's ridiculous rhetoric about finishing the job or fighting terror. Focus on the evil of war. War begins by calling for the annihilation of the others but ends ultimately in self-annihilation. It corrupts souls and mutilates bodies. It destroys homes and villages and murders children on their way to school. It grinds into the dirt all that is tender and beautiful and sacred. It empowers human deformities - warlords, Shiite death squads, Sunni insurgents, the Taliban, al-Qaida and our own killers - who can speak only in the despicable language of force. War is a scourge. It is a plague. It is industrial murder. And before you support war, especially the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, look into the hollow eyes of the men, women and children who know it. 2010 TruthDig.com Chris Hedges writes a regular column for Truthdig.com. Hedges graduated from Harvard Divinity School and was for nearly two decades a foreign correspondent for The New York Times. He is the author of many books, including: War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning, What Every Person Should Know About War, and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. His most recent book is Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle. --------9 of 12-------- Sue the Bastards: Why are Only Republican AGs Threatening to Go to Court to Fight Health Care 'Reform.? by Dave Lindorff Sunday, January 3, 2010 CommonDreams.org Attorneys General from 13 states - all of them Republicans - are saying that they are going to sue to block the health insurance reform bill if, when it is finally passed, it still includes a measure giving Nebraska an extra $100 million in Medicaid funds. They charge that this "bribe" was used to get Nebraska's conservative Democratic Senator Ben Nelson to join fellow Democrats to get the Senate's version of the bill passed. They're right to sue. Nebraska shouldn't get more funds than the rest of the country to finance hospital care for its poorest residents, and Nelson shouldn't be able to extort the Senate. But the question is why aren't Democratic attorneys general threatening to sue over this execrable bill? Residents of states with higher-than-average health care costs - states like California, New York, Florida, and Connecticut, for example - will be hit hard if the bill passes, because it includes a heavy tax on health plans that cost employees and employers more than a combined $12,000 per year per person. In these and many other states, because of the higher charges by doctors and hospitals, many of which are teaching institutions or public institutions that provide more tertiary care and that treat much larger numbers of low-income patients, and all of which have much higher real-estate costs and wage rates for staff, insurance plans are inevitably also costlier. Yet the residents of those states and their employers will end up getting socked with taxes as high as 40% on those plans that are over the limit. The result, experts say, is that many employers in these states will simply reduce coverage to bring the plans in under the limit. Also slammed by this tax will be unionized workers - most of them again concentrated heavily in relatively union-friendly states like California, New York and much of the northeastern US - who over long years and many bitterly fought contract battles - have negotiated better-than-average health insurance coverage. The fruits of their struggles, which often included tough strikes and lockouts, and deals that involved forgoing bigger pay increases in return for better health coverage, could be erased by this legislation if the bill is passed as written. And what about the so-called "near poor"? Under the plan as it stands, everyone would be required to buy health insurance, or face a stiff fine of as much as $1200 from the IRS for a family. People earning less than 133% of the federal poverty level (that would currently be approximately $13,000 a year for individuals or $30,000 a year for a family of four, except in Hawaii and Alaska where the numbers are slightly higher), and less than four times the federal poverty level ($40,000 for an individual or $88,000 for a family of four), would be given a subsidy to help them buy that insurance. But they would be expected to pay as much as 12% of their income out of pocket for coverage, up to a limit of $5000 for an individual and $10,000 for a family. (I'm just trying to imagine how that would hit a family earning $88,000 a year. First of all, it seems clear to me that many hard-pressed families will look at the costs, just decide can't afford it, and pay the IRS penalty.) But the number of people who could lose insurance coverage under this legislation could be much greater. The right has done a much better job of analyzing the health reform bills in House and Senate, with most of the left holding its collective nose and backing the measures, apparently thinking that things can be "fixed later." (We saw how well that idea worked when liberal Democrats went along with President Bill Clinton's and the GOP's trashing of welfare programs back in the early 1990s. "We'll fix it later" was the mantra, but it never got fixed, and millions families are suffering today because of that Democratic treachery.) But the reality is that because of the mandates and penalties in both versions, and the relatively limited penalties for not providing coverage, many employers will probably end up reducing, or worse, dropping health coverage for their employees and taking the penalties, leaving workers stuck with having to buy crummy coverage through the new "insurance exchanges" envisioned in the bills. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that some 10 million workers who currently have employer-provided health care will lose it, but other experts predict that the number could be much higher. Democratic states whose residents stand to be hurt by this legislation should be preparing to sue to protect their residents. Unions (most of whom have been backing this legislation when they should have been marching on Washington in protest), should instead be threatening to sue if it passes. Eventually, of course, they will. The courts will be tied up for years in challenges to the inequities and constitutional violations contained in this legislation. Meanwhile, though, Americans are going to get socked with higher tax bills, higher insurance premiums, higher medical bills, and poorer coverage. What is maddening is that none of this had to happen. We could have had health coverage for everyone, and at much lower cost than today, by simply expanding Medicare to cover everyone. The reason we don't have Medicare for all is because, with the exception of Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), John Conyers (D-MI) and a few other members of the House, and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in the Senate, neither the ruling Democrats in Congress, nor President Obama, ever had the integrity and guts to point out that Medicare for All would be a net savings for almost everyone. Yes, expanding Medicare would mean higher taxes for everyone, but the net financial impact, after factoring in the elimination of many hugely expensive current federal, state, county and municipal health care programs such as Medicaid, veterans care, charity care, etc., an end to private insurance premiums paid by employers and individuals, and the end to workers compensation and embedded health costs such as medical coverage riders in car and home insurance policies, would be positive, not negative. Nobody had the integrity and guts to point out that in countries that have a version of Medicare for all, like Canada, Taiwan or many of the European countries, total health care costs both as a percentage of GDP, and on a per-capita basis, are half as much or even a third as much as they are in the US. Medicare is routinely trashed by the right, and by business lobbies, which claim it is going bust, and certainly as presently funded, it is underfunded, particularly with the Baby Boomer population about to be enrolled. But bear in mind that the heavy lifting of insuring everyone in the country has already been done. The one-in-seven Americans currently covered by Medicare are by far the costliest segment of the population. Within Medicare, the reality is that 10 percent of the recipients account for 90% of the costs of the program. More broadly, I suspect that the elderly account for half or more of the total health care costs of the entire population. That is, it would probably cost only twice as much to cover everyone with Medicare as it costs today to cover just those over 65. Since total Medicare costs were just under $500 billion in 2009 (representing about 80% of actual medical costs for care of the elderly), then that means the total cost of health care for the elderly that year was approximately $600 billion. Expanding the program to cover everyone, and to cover them in full, instead of just 80%, would thus be about $1.2 trillion a year. Given that the actual cost of medical care in the US in 2009 was about $2.5 trillion, this figure is probably accurate, because countries that have a version of Medicare for All have health care costs of roughly half what they are in the US. That is to say, expanding Medicare both to cover everyone in the US, and to cover each person in full, instead of only in part, would result in a net savings to Americans of $1.2 trillion to $1.3 trillion a year! How can this be, you might ask? Well first of all, remember that programs like Medicaid ($400 billion a year), veterans care ($100 billion a year), and charity care delivered by hospitals to the indigent ($400 billion a year) would be eliminated as redundant. So would premiums for mandated workers' compensation insurance paid by employers, and the hundreds of billions paid in premiums by workers and employers for private insurance coverage. Also, costs would be hammered as government set the rates for doctors, hospitals, and drugs. Polls have consistently shown that half or more of Americans want Medicare extended to all. Despite all the propaganda on the right and from the corporate lobbies which trash Medicare as "socialism" and which make ludicrous predictions about its impending "bankruptcy," and despite all the propaganda and scare stories claiming that Canadians and Europeans hate their systems (a claim manifestly false, as proven by the fact that even conservative governments in those countries have been afraid to attempt to undo their public health systems for fear of voter wrath), most Americans are smart enough to understand that Medicare for All is what we need. The problem is that the political system is broken. The Democrats elected to majorities in House and Senate, and the Democratic president elected a little over a year ago, don't see their role being to do what the public elected them to do. Rather they see their role as being to prevent the public from getting what it wants, in order to protect the interests of the very industries that are benefitting from the status quo - in this case the insurance companies, drug companies, physicians and hospital companies. Until Americans rise up and start making politicians accountable to them, what we'll get instead of real reform or, in this case, real health care reform, will be rip-offs, screwjobs and flim-flam, which in the end, after months of sturm and drang is all the current health "reform" legislation really is. Dave Lindorff is a Philadelphia-based journalist and columnist. He is author of Marketplace Medicine: The Rise of the For-Profit Hospital Chains (BantamBooks, 1992), and his latest book "The Case for Impeachment" (St. Martin's Press, 2006). His work is available at www.thiscantbehappening.net --------10 of 12-------- One Day's Read of the Financial Times by James Petras January 3rd, 2010 Dissident Voice Asian capitalism, notably China and South Korea are competing with the US for global power. Asian global power is driven by dynamic economic growth, while the US pursues a strategy of military-driven empire building. Even a cursory read of a single issue of the Financial Times (December 28, 2009) illustrates the divergent strategies toward empire building. On page one, the lead article on the US is on its expanding military conflicts and its "war on terror", entitled "Obama Demands Review of Terror List". In contrast, there are two page-one articles on China, which describe China's launching of the world's fastest long-distance passenger train service and China's decision to maintain its currency pegged to the US dollar as a mechanism to promote its robust export sector. While Obama turns the US focus on a fourth battle front (Yemen) in the "war on terror" (after Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan), the Financial Times reports on the same page that a South Korean consortium has won a $20.4 billion dollar contract to develop civilian nuclear power plants for the United Arab Emirates, beating its US and European competitors. On page two of the FT there is a longer article elaborating on the new Chinese rail system, highlighting its superiority over the US rail service: The Chinese ultra-modern train takes passengers between two major cities, 1,100 kilometers, in less than 3 hours whereas the US Amtrack "Express" takes 3 hours to cover 300 kilometers between Boston and New York. While the US passenger rail system deteriorates from lack of investment and maintenance, China has spent $17 billion dollars constructing its express line. China plans to construct 18,000 kilometers of new track for its ultra-modern system by 2012, while the US will spend an equivalent amount in financing its "military surge" in Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as opening a new war front in Yemen. China builds a transport system linking producers and labor markets from the interior provinces with the manufacturing centers and ports on the coast, while on page 4 the Financial Times describes how the US is welded to its policy of confronting the "Islamist threat" with an endless "war on terror". The decades-long wars and occupations of Moslem countries have diverted hundreds of billions of dollars of public funds to a militarist policy with no benefit to the US, while China modernizes its civilian economy. While the White House and Congress subsidize and pander to the militarist-colonial state of Israel with its insignificant resource base and market, alienating 1.5 billion Moslems,1 China's gross domestic product (GDP) grew 10 fold over the past 26 years.2 While the US allocated over $1.4 trillion dollars to Wall Street and the military, increasing the fiscal and current account deficits, doubling unemployment and perpetuating the recession,3 the Chinese government releases a stimulus package directed at its domestic manufacturing and construction sectors, leading to an 8% growth in GDP, a significant reduction of unemployment and "re-igniting linked economies" in Asia, Latin America and Africa.3 While the US was spending time, resources and personnel in running "elections" for its corrupt clients in Afghanistan and Iraq, and participating in pointless mediations between its intransigent Israeli partner and its impotent Palestinian client, the South Korean government backed a consortium headed by the Korea Electric Power Corporation in its successful bid on the $20.4 billion dollar nuclear power deal, opening the way for other billion-dollar contracts in the region.4 While the US was spending over $60 billion dollars on internal policing and multiplying the number and size of its "homeland" security agencies in pursuit of potential "terrorists," China was investing $25 billion dollars in "cementing its energy trading relations" with Russia.5 The story told by the articles and headlines in a single day's issue of the Financial Times reflects a deeper reality, one that illustrates the great divide in the world today. The Asian countries, led by China, are reaching world power status on the basis of their massive domestic and foreign investments in manufacturing, transportation, technology and mining and mineral processing. In contrast, the US is a declining world power with a deteriorating society resulting from its military-driven empire building and its financial-speculative centered economy: 1. Washington pursues minor military clients in Asia; while China expands its trading and investment agreements with major economic partners - Russia, Japan, South Korea and elsewhere. 2. Washington drains the domestic economy to finance overseas wars. China extracts minerals and energy resources to create its domestic job market in manufacturing. 3. The US invests in military technology to target local insurgents challenging US client regimes; China invests in civilian technology to create competitive exports. 4. China begins to restructure its economy toward developing the country's interior and allocates greater social spending to redress its gross imbalances and inequalities while the US rescues and reinforces the parasitical financial sector, which plundered industries (strips assets via mergers and acquisitions) and speculates on financial objectives with no impact on employment, productivity or competitiveness. 5. The US multiplies wars and troop build-ups in the Middle East, South Asia, the Horn of Africa and Caribbean; China provides investments and loans of over $25 billion dollars in building infrastructure, mineral extraction, energy production and assembly plants in Africa. 6. China signs multi-billion dollar trade and investment agreements with Iran, Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru and Bolivia, securing access to strategic energy, mineral and agricultural resources; Washington provides $6 billion in military aid to Colombia, secures seven military bases from President Uribe (to threaten Venezuela), backs a military coup in tiny Honduras and denounces Brazil and Bolivia for diversifying its economic ties with Iran. 7. China increases economic relations with dynamic Latin American economies, incorporating over 80% of the continent's population; the US partners with the failed state of Mexico, which has the worst economic performance in the hemisphere and where powerful drug cartels control wide regions and penetrate deep into the state apparatus. Conclusion China is not an exceptional capitalist country. Under Chinese capitalism, labor is exploited; inequalities in wealth and access to services are rampant; peasant-farmers are displaced by mega-dam projects and Chinese companies recklessly extract minerals and other natural resources in the Third World. However, China has created scores of millions of manufacturing jobs, reduced poverty faster and for more people in the shortest time span in history. Its banks mostly finance production. China doesn't bomb, invade, or ravage other countries. In contrast, US capitalism has been harnessed to a monstrous global military machine that drains the domestic economy and lowers the domestic standard of living in order to fund its never-ending foreign wars. Finance, real estate, and commercial capital undermine the manufacturing sector, drawing profits from speculation and cheap imports. China invests in petroleum-rich countries; the US attacks them. China sells plates and bowls for Afghan wedding feasts; US drone aircraft bomb the celebrations. China invests in extractive industries, but, unlike European colonialists, it builds railroads, ports, airfields and provides easy credit. China does not finance and arm ethnic wars and "color rebellions" like the US CIA. China self-finances its own growth, trade and transportation system; the US sinks under a multi-trillion dollar debt to finance its endless wars, bail out its Wall Street banks, and prop up other non-productive sectors while many millions remain without jobs. China will grow and exercise power through the market; the US will engage in endless wars on its road to bankruptcy and internal decay. China's diversified growth is linked to dynamic economic partners; US militarism has tied itself to narco-states, warlord regimes, the overseers of banana republics and the last and worst bona fide racist colonial regime, Israel. China entices the world's consumers. US global wars provoke terrorists here and abroad. China may encounter crises and even workers rebellions, but it has the economic resources to accommodate them. The US is in crisis and may face domestic rebellion, but it has depleted its credit and its factories are all abroad and its overseas bases and military installations are liabilities, not assets. There are fewer factories in the US to re-employ its desperate workers. A social upheaval could see the American workers occupying the empty shells of its former factories. To become a "normal state" we have to start all over: Close all investment banks and military bases abroad and return to America. We have to begin the long march toward rebuilding industry to serve our domestic needs, to living within our own natural environment and forsake empire building in favor of constructing a democratic socialist republic. When will we pick up the Financial Times or any other daily and read about our own high-speed rail line carrying American passengers from New York to Boston in less than one hour? When will our own factories supply our hardware stores? When will we build wind, solar and ocean-based energy generators? When will we abandon our military bases and let the world's warlords, drug traffickers and terrorists face the justice of their own people? Will we ever read about these in the Financial Times? In China, it all started with a revolution. 1. Financial Times, page 7. [.] 2. FT . page 9. [.] 3. FT, page 12. [.] [.] 4. FT, page 13. [.] 5. FT, page 3. [.] James Petras, a former Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York, owns a 50-year membership in the class struggle, is an adviser to the landless and jobless in Brazil and Argentina, and is co-author of Globalization Unmasked (Zed Books). Petras. most recent book is Zionism, Militarism and the Decline of US Power (Clarity Press, 2008). He can be reached at: jpetras [at] binghamton.edu. Read other articles by James, or visit James's website. --------11 of 12-------- With leaders like Cong Dems and Obama, we don't need enemies. --------12 of 12-------- From the first time she saw him, Zelda lusted to F Scott Fitzgerald. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ - 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 Research almost any topic raised here at: CounterPunch http://counterpunch.org Dissident Voice http://dissidentvoice.org Common Dreams http://commondreams.org Once you're there, do a search on your topic, eg obama drones
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