Monday, August 17, 2009

Open Letter to the President: K.I.S. Sir!

Dear President Obama:

The often rowdy debates over your plan to reform health care reveal your fundamental mistake

in thinking that you could prevail if you were cautious.

Caution inspired an extremely complicated organizational chart, which your opponents show off at Town Hall meetings.  Who wouldn't run from that?  More bureaucracy means more money, and dividing up the responsibilities is never efficient.

In order to keep the elite happy, America bends over backwards to plug all sorts of gaps and lacks: we have volunteerism instead of a real safety net.  Americans pay taxes just like people in the welfare states, but since their taxes don't go for social projects, they pay again with their time and effort.

The argument that you would have to to "raise taxes" should be answered with the following: Americans pay income tax and health care contributions via their employer.  The problem is that the health care contributions go to maintain a for profit system.  The same amounts would be paid if we had a single payer system, and the "taxes" part would not have to be any bigger than it is now, because it would be combined with the health care contributions which instead of funding profits would fund non-profit health care.

Of course, there's an elephant in the room, and that's our military engagements: you cannot permit

yourself to point out that if we hadn't decided to keep troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, discussions

about the cost of saving American lives would dissolve into thin air.

Speaking of Town Hall Meetings, I don't believe there were any when President Bush went to

war in 2001 and 2003, nor when you decided to pretty much continue his war policies.

What's the point of having  public debates about health care when we don't have public debates

about going to war?  For all the valor of the anti-war movement, everybody knows that once the horse is out of the barn it's too late to close the door.

By not designing health care reform as a single payer system, which is what all civilized countries have in one form or another, you're rapidly finding  yourself in the same mess as the Clintons, which will force you, in order not to fail completely, as they did, to compromise away the public option which you thought could save the present system while taking care of the uninsured.

The single payer system is the only one that makes sense economically and socially.  You gave the establishment what it wanted by continuing its war policies.  If you don't stand up to it now by clearing the table of all the compromises being studiously worked on to save a dying social system, the beast will continue to suffer a long drawn out illness before collapsing of its own weight.

The simultaneous conflation of health care reform with fascism and communism is the result of our political and media class lumping them together as totalitarianism regimes.  The fascist regimes didn't provide universal health care, the socialist regimes did.  The American public's knowledge of social systems is abysmal and can no longer be ignored if you really want to bring change to America.

There have to be continuing town halls all over the country led by different people and different groups about the role of government in a democratic society, so that Americans can first of all acquire healthy brains.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Amy Goodman reported this morning on Democracy Now that opponents to health care reform at town hall meetings have been saying "Who cares about those who don't have health care?"

The self-reliance that motivated many people in various parts of the world to immigrate to America, the self-reliance that was necessary on the frontier - and the control the Federal Government had over who got what land on the frontier - have come together a couple of hundred years later to distort the very meaning of government.

The motto "that government is best which governs the least" has to be taken IN CONTEXT.  It is not a repudiation of government as such, but a word of caution least government slide from providing services that individuals cannot organize - such as roads and armies - to ensuring that the freedom of one individual does not encroach on the freedom of another.

In the early days of the republic, the need for solidarity among individuals was obvious.  As individuals became less able to provide solidarity for one another, that role was shifted to government.  You are not called in the middle of the night to deliver your neighbor's baby because there is a hospital equipped to do that.  But when your neighbor knocks on your door because she ran out of milk, you say "too bad for you, lady".

Health care has evolved from something the friendly neighborhood doctor could pretty much take care of, to a complicated science involving high technology (while hopefully retaining its early quality as an art).  So instead of  your neighbor counting on you to be there for her when she goes into labor, she should be able to count on you to pay your share of the expense of building, equipping and running the hospital she will deliver at.

If government weren't there, you'd be driving your high-end BMW on dirt roads.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Some Americans are still Living in the 19th Century

I am one hundred percent in favor of universal, single payer health care, because I have lived in several countries that have that system and I have experienced it first hand.  It is a great relief not to have to worry about paying the doctor, or affording medication.
But the health care reform now under discussion seems to have generated a very complicated organizational chart, which would scare anyone.

That is because the President  is afraid to go all the way, so we end up with a very complicated system that is trying to meet all the criticisms of all the sectors involved.  I was present at the now infamous town hall meeting run by Senator Specter and Secretary Sebelius in Philadelphia ten days ago, and when an opponent of the plan held up the chart she had printed from the government's own website, I was appalled.

A single payer system is a simple, straight forward system. It can be organized in various ways.  The president should send a commission around to see how other countries do it and report back.  Then Congress should chose one of these example, knowing that it has been working for decades.  There would be no guesswork involved.

The Germans have had universal, single payer health care since the Iron Chancellor Otto von Bismarck instituted it in 1870!  In most other countries of Europe, everyone has been covered since the end of the second world war, and that was 54 years ago!.

Is our government less capable than those of other countries?

Our government is running Medicare to everyone's satisfaction.  It runs a lot of things.  Without a government, we would be in a state of anarchy.  Why do we have what amounts to an anarchical system of health care?

I just heard ex-presidential candidate Ron Paul saying his doesn't agree that every human being is entitled to health care. Many of those I heard at Senator Specter's meeting wanted to make sure no government money would be spent on abortions, at the same time as they proclaimed loudly that people, once born, are not entitled to health care!

Maybe Americans are particularly wary of government because our country was created by fighting the British government.  Maybe there's some confusion between a foreign occupier and one's own elected government.

Maybe if more people realized that a government that responds to the majority's needs is a good thing, not to be confused with a foreign government that occupies your country, we would understand why peoples we occupy hate us, and at the same time, we would feel better about our own government doing things that need doing here, and which we cannot do equitably without it.

The very idea of making a profit (as opposed to getting a salary), out of saving lives should be abhorrent to us.

While we bicker over how to pay for universal health care, we overlook the fact that, according to figures heard on CNN this morning, it would suffice to do away with private insurance companies and their profits to pay for all the uninsured.

Or maybe it's the fact that Americans are so used to being the world leader, that we cannot imagine that some things are being done better by others.

Let's not be afraid to follow, and catch up to the rest of the world, in the 21st century.