Insurers Plunder

I offer the following as a postscript to the "Saving Private Insurance" article in your 3/15/07 issue.

On Dec. 1, 2006, the wife of my youngest son was accidentally killed. The couple had one child, my grandson, whose seventh birthday was at the end of that month.

My son is self-employed so the health insurance for the family was carried under a group policy provided by my late daughter-in-law's employer. After her death, an application was made to Blue Shield/Blue Cross of Illinois for a health insurance policy for my 7-year-old grandson (which would be a great savings compared to the cost of continuing temporarily with Cobra payments under the deceased mother's policy). It was anticipated that a policy would be obtained in due course because the boy is in good health.

However, after the death, a psychologist was engaged to provide grief counseling for my grandson, and this was disclosed on the application to Blue Shield/Blue Cross. The disclosed visits to the psychologist resulted in the refusal to insure by Blue Shield/Blue Cross.

To me, the refusal demonstrates all that is wrong in relying for health insurance coverage from business entities which are primarily (and often solely) concerned with their "bottom line."

James Van Vliet
Bristol, Ill.


Health Care, Not Insurance

The article "Saving Private Insurance" [3/15/07 TPP] focused on how we can insure all of our citizens. What always get lost in these discussions is that what all of our citizens want is not health insurance. What they want and need is health care. The goal should be to deliver adequate health care to all Americans, not health insurance.

David Rich
St. Paul, Minn.


Beware Frankenfoods

A few years ago genetically modified organisms were added to our food supply. This was done without a word of warning. One of the main ingredients they are found in is fructose, and corn syrup. At present, about 70% of our foods, especially those that are canned, boxed, or bottled as soda pop, contain GMOs.

About five years ago the question came up. Should these products be labeled? Thanks to pressure from Corporate Ag, the FDA chooses not to require it.

Many European and African countries will not allow the importation of GMO human foods. There are two main reasons: one is that they have not been thoroughly tested, the other is that they are not labeled.

The last flier sent out by St. Joseph's Hospital had an interesting article on fructose, and its being a substitute for sugar.

One of the solutions might be the rising price of corn. Anticipating this, corporate ag is looking into GMO cottonseed. It could be ground into powder and added to foods. It is another way for them to get a slice of the food dollar. This was recently reported on an agricultural radio program.

The last N.D. Legislature passed a law prohibiting counties and townships from prohibiting the importation of GMO products. It is an example of the Legislature bowing to out-of-state corporate interests, when they should be thinking about what is good for the people of N.D.

Mary H. Rowley
Hettinger, N.D.


Thanks for Molly

I had been mourning the passing of Molly Ivins for several weeks. I read as many tributes that I could find on the Web. I receive a Progressive email weekly, I guess, and saw the item on Molly Ivins' passing and mention of the issue of The Progressive Populist. I tried to locate the issue but wasn't successful.

Then, lo and behold, what arrives in the mail but a sample [3/1/07] issue of TPP. I was delighted and, frankly, brought to tears. I read the issue, front to back, that evening. I decided by the end of the first page that I wanted to subscribe. I also, in tribute to Molly Ivins, choose to pay the full, listed subscription price for a year of $32.95. ...

This was a truly wonderful issue. The facing pages, 8 and 9, with the magnificent pictures of Molly Ivins were worth the year's subscription price. There she is, in youthful exuberance and full of health on page 8, and there she is, near the end of her life, on page 9, but with that magnificent Molly Ivins smile. Those images will stay with me the rest of my life as a model of how to live a joyous life and how to die a dignified death.

Molly Ivins was -- and remains -- inspirational for me in terms of how to live a high-spirited but, most importantly, "progressive and populist" life. As I recall, she gladly embraced "liberal" as a descriptor but her personal choice was to be known as a populist. My, what a party must be going on somewhere; Molly is home.

Thank you for your continued efforts to be an oasis of thought in this desert of contemporary media.

Allan N. Schramm
Oneonta, N.Y.


Try Real Democracy

The Declaration of Independence states that we have "certain unalienable rights" and "governments ... derive their just powers from the consent of the governed" and "whenever government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it"!! (italics mine).

The Congress (our alleged representatives) and the Imperial President don't seem to care what we the people think or desire.

Maybe what we need is The National Initiative for Democracy (pull it up online at www.ni4d.us). Join, donate, vote (I did). We can have government by the people.

John Culkin
St. Petersburg, Fla.


Try Term Limits

May I just have a few words of wisdom for your readers, especially the young people who will go through their lives forever believing that electing the Democrooks over the Repulicrooks will make an appreciable difference in their lives? Yes, with the election of a total disaster like we have there will be some improvement since anything is better, but most elections are "much ado about nothing". ...

Sadly, everybody seems to think that the Democrooks were thrown out in 1994, because that was what they had become, crooks. Not so; the first of the 10 items in Gingrich's Contract For America was term limits. The people knew there was virtually no possibility of unseating an incumbent, no matter how despicable or corrupt, but finally they saw an opening to restore democracy and make their representatives beholden to their electorate.

But, now that the Republicrooks had used it to achieve their goal it was forgotten and never mentioned again. In fact there were 12 challengers elected in 1994 that ran on the promise to serve only 6 years in the House and 12 in the Senate. In fact it was they who held the balance of power that unseated Newt as Speaker of the House, since they were true to their vow and refused to stoop to his shenanigans.

Stop wasting your time hoping and voting for these despicable characters and devote your efforts to instituting term limits so they will be gone before they become beholden to the ill-gained fruits of their chicanery. Only by limiting their terms can we hold hope that they will sustain their integrity against the corporate lobbyists and the others willing to pay copiously for their favors and we will be a democracy in fact.

Only then will honorable people be inspired to serve their country and the effort worthwhile since the power of wealth in winning elections will be diminished by the mere fact that it will no longer be a lifetime endeavor

Even many political columnists dread the thought of having to seek new resources for their inside information and shun term limits like the plague.

Do not be discouraged. Eighteen states now have term limits with great success and despite effort after effort by these sleazy characters and millions of dollars provided by corporate and other institutions to defeat these measures the people have voted their support by upwards of 70% time after time to maintain it.

Alton Eliason
Northford, Conn.


American Retribution

As children we were told, and believed that this nation was the greatest nation in the world. Maybe it was; or maybe it was an elaborate fantasy procured by some idealist somewhere. We believed we were the most compassionate, moral, safe, and free people; maybe we were in some ways, at some time. Now we are angry, confused, and perplexed. Once we were a nation inspired by individuals' natural born rights; admirably founded in and protected by representative government and "checks and balances".

Today I fear all of that is lost. The Great Experiment is proving wrong. What I see is a nation plagued by intolerance and corrupted by power. We are surrounded and bombarded with "spin" (lies). We now have become a nation where money and power are more important that truth and values and are too often mistaken for them- a nation of consumers rather than citizens.

We unknowingly have become a nation in which policy is led and, in some cases, drafted by corporations -- whose interests lie in profit not in people. A nation that doesn't even know its constitution well enough to know that there was never supposed to be a sole "Decider". A nation that watches and in some cases even champions broken laws by its most powerful "representative". What kind of message do we send our children and the world? That you can break the law and get away with it as long as you're rich and powerful?

As a tired American, just one of many who are fed up, I demand retribution! I want to see this administration and anyone else who has broken the law and betrayed the American people prosecuted. This is not a Republican/Democrat issue! This is an American issue! Will we stand idly by as our nation founded on freedom and justice is pillaged for everything noble about it?! Will we remain asleep at the wheel? I say Not on our watch … we cannot let our children live in a 1984! A country dominated by the few and the powerful! It's time to stand up, speak out, and demand justice be served!

Eric John Coury
Barrington, R.I.


Is Democracy Dying?

Well, it certainly is on life support. The world's premier democracy, here in America, is in dire straits, and there are precious few healthy examples elsewhere. Consider this: effective democracy requires a well-informed, secure, politically active electorate. Readers of this periodical are among a tiny minority of American voters who fit this description.

Your latest issue urges us to "Take Back Democracy," yet provides ample evidence of the life-threatening illness that pervades nearly every aspect of our political and economic environment: healthcare, agriculture, high crimes and treason by the executive branch, an illegal, unwinnable war, a cowardly, ineffective Congress, corporate malfeasance, economic injustice, a Supreme Court that equates money with free speech and insists that corporations have the same rights as individuals, neo-fascist fundamentalists (representing all the major religions), hateful right-wing media, egregious mistreatment of wounded veterans and, perhaps the worst news of all -- the tragic loss of the irreplaceable Molly Ivins.

And so, I ask, once again, how bad does it have to get? Some of us have been in mourning for our democracy since the spring of 1980, when it became painfully clear that Ronald Reagan would be nominated by the Republicans and inevitably move into the White House, and we have gone straight downhill ever since. Bush Senior ran the treasonous Iran-Contra program, then pardoned Weinberg. Clinton sold us out with NAFTA and Welfare "Reform," and Bush Junior has provided the exclamation mark.

Preaching to the choir (in progressive publications), public demonstrations, brilliant best-sellers (Barbara Ehrenreich, Michael Moore, Al Franken, even Molly Ivins) -- nothing makes any difference. Everything just keeps getting worse. What recourse is there for a non-violent minority? If Martin Luther King were still here, he would be demanding that we organize meaningful resistance, refusing to participate, withholding our consumption, even our taxes if all else fails and, above all, defying unjust laws, regardless of the personal or collective consequences.

Anyone have a better idea?

Shorey Chapman
San Francisco, Calif.


Stop War Now

Those folks in Congress make you so mad you can't think coherently. Our esteemed leaders have lied us into a war with no seeming end in sight, at least until their term expires. Doesn't matter to them how many of our young people are sacrificed to satisfy their blood lust. They couldn't care less. Untold thousands of Iraqis have also suffered loss of life, limb, property and living conditions, and those left alive in constant fear of their own life. The new Congress was put in office to stop this insanity, and what do we have? The firing of eight US attorneys, who can probably go into private practice and earn 10X more than they are now making, has consumed this Congress and the media.

What about the war? The killing hasn't stopped. I think most of Congress has Attention Deficit Disorder. All the executive branch has to do is create a side show and Congress goes crazy chasing off in another direction. Our troops need to come home, NOW! Not next month, not next year, not when Bush's term expires, now!

David M. Chaney
Mount Vernon, Texas


War Nutshell

Defeated dad
Hanging chad
Son so mad
Too bad
So, so sad!

Jack Neely
St. Paul, Minn.

From The Progressive Populist, April 15, 2007

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