Nobel Prize for Health Care Bill

November 23rd, 2009 by Gid

Honorable Democratic Senators:

Thank you for your hard work on the current Health Care Reform bill.  Some of us are well aware of the vote in the senate and what it represents.  Unfortunately, many are unaware that suggestions of a Public Option to keep costs under control are grossly overstated, if not patently false.  What started out as a cost control has been so watered down to cater to the whims of the Blue-Dogs and Repugnicans that it can no longer accomplish anything but drive everyone straight to the waiting greedy arms of the private insurers and pharmaceutical companies.  If the Nobel Committee is still granting prizes for outstanding effort, though you may have accomplished nothing, and most of you didn’t really try that hard, you just might stand a chance at one.  If not, it may still gain you some good political exposure, which you may desperately need later.

But if you wish to actually help, you will do your best to give us what the vast majority of Americans want: A Public Option that is open to everyone who wishes it.  Without that simple stipulation, it is neither Public, nor an Option.  It will not provide an effective cost control, and will not ensure accountability of the private insurers.  If you wish to be proud of your accomplishments, if you wish to honor the memory of the late Ted Kennedy, you will take the opportunity afforded you in the debate process to restore this bill to what it ought to be for the benefit of the American people.

If this is not possible, and the bill must remain virtually powerless, then kill it.  Vote “no” when someone asks you if you want to disservice your constituency.  Vote “no” when someone asks you if you want to force millions of people to give billions of dollars to the great Synod of Extortion composed of corporate giants like Aetna, Humana and United Health Care (a misrepresentation at best, as it cares only for its own corporate health).  Vote “no” when someone asks you if you want to perpetuate the same slovenly system of minimal care and claim denials.

This, of course, will mean that you are voting to perpetuate a broken system: that you’re willing to bow down before the Repugnant Republican Right (including the masquerading Blue-Dogs); that you’re willing to admit that the Obama Administration is not only illegitimate, but incapable of carrying out matters of state in the best interests of its citizens; that you’re willing to admit that the Democrats have failed their constituency; that you’re willing to dismiss the life-long cause of Ted Kennedy as well as his memory; that you’re comfortable with allowing 45,000 people to die every year for lack of health care.

But could it be that you’ve met your goals?  When viewed from your perspective, this bill is a godsend, isn’t it?  It’s all right, because the majority of politicians are very comfortable with the system as it currently is, but now even more money will flow generously from the public to the greedy hands of private insurers and pharmaceutical companies, and thereby ensure the continued generosity of campaign contributions, and you can all pretend that everything is fine.  You can tell yourselves that policies like universal health care, while they may work for other places like Canada or France, are not a viable choice for the US.  You can tell everyone that a strong Public Option available to everyone would only raise costs for everyone, while minimizing care even further than it is now.  You can swear that this could not work, because the policy itself is deeply flawed – political concerns are completely irrelevant to the issue.  You’ll tell everyone that this bill is the best thing anyone could have hoped for, the best compromise that you could accomplish, and it’s just enough that some of your constituency will believe you.  It will be all right, because there are plenty of taxes to provide for your comfortable salaries, bonuses and stipends, and some of the best medical care in the country for the elite few on Capitol Hill.  There are enough rich people in the country who can afford decent health care for themselves, and they will be happy to continue to support you in your drive to maintain the status quo, so don’t give it a second thought.

While it’s true that the constituents vote, it’s the corporations that provide so much of that sweet frosting on top of the cake, after all.  Not only the Health [pretend to] Care industries, but the coal and oil industries are good providers.  The war companies’ contributions from those like Boeing, Lockheed, Xe, Halliburton/KBR are among the sweetest, since they get paid from the military coffers, which are funded by taxpayers, so the taxpayers are paying not only your salary, but your kick-backs as well.  Just spin the best arguments against cap and trade and for the continuation of the Iraq/Afghanistan war.  The earth is good for another century at least, every conservative loves a good war, and in a worst case scenario, you get out of politics and get a very well-paid position with one of your former contributors.

Go home, enjoy your Thanksgiving meal, spend time with your well-provided for family.  Sleep well at night, secure in the knowledge that none of your immediate relatives will ever need to work again.  You are one of the success stories that make this country great and perpetuate the American dream.  The rest of us will manage somehow, just as we always have.

Sweeney Todd School of Health Care

November 16th, 2009 by Gid

“There’s a hole in the world like a great black pit, and the vermin of the world inhabit it, and its morals aren’t worth what a pig would spit and it goes by the name of …”  Well, let’s face it, London has long since lost the title for the hypocritical epicenter of the earth.  While some might try to shift blame by citing British colonization, there comes a point in every child’s life when it must cease blaming the parents and accept responsibility for itself.

There was a time when I was thoroughly snowed.  I thought a Disney world was possible.  I thought an evil man who was shown the true nature of his ways would reform and adopt a policy of philanthropy or minimally, good will and abstention from malevolent acts.  I thought that, given a choice of doing what’s right could outweigh greed and self-aggrandizement.  Of course, I was only 7 and also believed in Santa Claus.  By the time I got to middle school, I was thoroughly disillusioned.  By the time I was through high school, I was disabused of any notion that the creators of Mr. Rogers were anything but exceedingly well-paid, mentally challenged, or both.

It was not until later that I began looking at the mass of corruption that comprises our government that the last lingering shred of hope gave way to cynicism.  Mr. Smith not only failed in his attempt at a filibuster, he never even made it to Washington in the first place, and to this day it remains a great black pit, where the rest of us are bought and sold like so much slave labor.  We pay billions in taxes to support senators, congressmen, and a veritable army of politicos and functionaries, who then sell themselves off to the highest bidders, corporations who have paid good money to have laws written to ensure that we buy only what they offer at prices they set.  Elected officials, of course, get substantially discounted prices in addition to the bribes — nice job, if you can get it.

This is just a sample of the latest villainy.  The US Chamber of Commerce is now raising funds to buy an economist.  The economist will, for a price, concoct a projection that will show the impending economic collapse of the world as we know it should any kind of public health care option be passed into law.  Not that they need to go to all the trouble.  The Dumbocrats have already grabbed their ankles and invited Repugnicans to strip any efficacy out of the bill, except for what will most benefit the private health insurance companies.  In case this should fail, we’ve got Dumbocrats sabotaging the bill from within by adding restrictive pro-life amendments, which all but strip women’s rights and overturn Roe v. Wade.  If that should fail, there’s the White House itself pushing for a trigger to nullify any kind of public option.  In case that should fail, we’ve got Lieberman threatening to kill any bill that contains a public option.  Just to hedge their bets, the big drug companies — who’ve been making all sorts of deals with the Obama Administration to maintain their monopoly and exorbitant pricing – are going to raise their prices in advance to cover the amounts they stand to lose should a health care bill threaten their profit margin.

This weekend, a free health clinic — for which MSNBC’s Countdown spearheaded a fundraiser — took place in New Orleans, LA.  A report was posted by Rich Stockwell, Countdown producer, that bore ample testimony to the deplorable state of affairs propagated by the failure of our elected officials to do anything to endanger the profit margin of the private insurers.  Approximately 1000 people attended.  83% were employed, but had no affordable health insurance; this included an RN who spent his days caring for those who could afford what he could not.  90% of the patients had two or more diagnoses, and 82% had a life-threatening condition such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or hypertension.  One woman was dismissed without a treatment plan, having been diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer.  She will soon be one of the 45000 people who die every year for lack of affordable health care.  No politicians were available to appear on Countdown to discuss the free health clinic, the implications of its findings, or their own culpability in the health crisis.

The worst, however, is yet to come.  What will happen when the health care reform bill fails and millions of people are mandated to pay exorbitant prices for health insurance they’re unable to afford?  What will happen when the public option fails and profits for private insurers drive more and more people toward bankruptcy?  What will happen during the next election when the same people who failed us buy their way back into office?  Cynicism will give way to a bleak acceptance of misanthropy.