The Failure of Excess Success

The healthcare fiasco is not the result of failure, but of too much success. Private insurance and for-profit healthcare providers are motivated to maximize profits by charging as much as possible, and to reduce costs by providing as little healthcare as possible. Of the approximately $2.4 trillion spent annually for health care in America, the most expensive in the world, fully $800 billion goes for the activities of the for-profit insurer-based system. This means one of every three healthcare dollars is siphoned off for corporate profits, stock options, executive salaries and bonuses, advertising, marketing, and administrative costs. For-profit public service has a stellar record of successful failure. For example, police and fire protection services were also private, for-profit enterprises at one time. Although they failed, too, they did not fail as spectacularly or cause anywhere near as many casualties as for-profit healthcare.

The cost of giving patients the choice of using a public insurance option is more than offset by the savings from not using our mandatory failed for-profit corporate insurance system. We can’t do any worse than the current failed system (the most expensive in the world while ranking an embarrassing Third World-style 37th — 2000 WHO report).

The Insurance Cartel is fighting tooth and nail against any type of government insurance plan (such as expanded Medicare) because they know once consumers experience better healthcare while paying lower premiums, it’s all over. So, instead of providing a better “product” to deal with a competitor’s superior product, Corporate has put a call on all the politicians it owns to enforce a government-mandated corporate insurance monopoly. Not only is antitrust law dead, but corporate monopolization has been made a fundamental right to be protected and mandated by government. Strange behavior by those who supposedly want to “get government off our backs.” ...

Please support a public option, which will either allow companies that cannot compete to fail, or force them to succeed. We should show them the same mercy they showed millions of Americans forced into bankruptcy by their exorbitant rates, denials and restrictions of coverage, and predatory collection practices.

Mike Richardson
Albuquerque, N.M.

Congressmen Cash In

Living in Mississippi, I watched Rep. Gene Taylor’s Town Hall Meeting held in Moss Point on C-SPAN. Taylor (D) started out with charts showing our national financial burden with regards to health care and that Medicare would not be able to make it in 2017. Social Security isn’t supposed to make it either. In closing his opening he said he would not vote for the healthcare bill currently in Congress because of the financial duress it would place on our country.

We’re in bad financial times and the only thing you hear reflects on money, but nobody thinks of the $1.75 trillion that Congress has stolen from Social Security to pay for their pork with no plan to pay it back and Taylor didn’t mention the $243,253 the health pros’ lobbyist gave him. Is this why he doesn’t like the health bill? We only pay him $174,000.

Rep. Roger Wicker (R) has also come out against the health bill indicating that the public option would put the insurance companies out of business, but I think President Obama answered that when he mentioned the Post Office, which competes against UPS and Fed-Ex, was having financial difficulties. With the public option perhaps insurance companies would treat us as people and not a revenue, which is what we are today. They mandate the rates and have not had any competition. I read what he had to say, but I didn’t see where he mentioned the $962,875 he had received from medical lobbyists. I will have to say that when you scan the long list of congressmen, Democratic and Republican, Taylor and Wicker are on the low end recipients from medical lobbyists. In looking at just the medical lobbyists, it shows me why our Congress works for the lobbyists and not “we, the people.” We don’t have Democrats or Republicans because their votes are determined by what lobbyists have them in their pocket.

The public option allows you to pick where you want to purchase your insurance and the government insurance doesn’t care about pre-existing conditions. The members of Congress pick from their options, which are probably better than ours. Hospitals are already promoting living wills. No, they’re not saying they’re going to kill you. They’re giving you an option. I personally don’t want to be kept alive not enjoying life and running up bills that will be passed on to my family. I’ve led a good life. I don’t know who’s responsible, but before the laws were changed I heard of a family where the husband was critically ill and they got a divorce. The wife won everything so that when he died nothing could be touched by the medical expenses he had. This can’t be done anymore. They’re passed on to your wife or husband. Was this another helping hand that our Congress put in place for us or was it a benefit for the lobbyist?

I’ve had cancer for a number of years and was unable to get health insurance until I got Medicare. There were a lot of years that my medical expenses came out of my pocket. When you read our Constitution today, it says, “We, the People,” and if we want health reform, “we, the people” need to stand up and let Washington know. We need reform and now is our time. We may never get another chance. Take a good look at Washington by going to OpenSecrets.org.

Bill Furlow
Ocean Springs, Miss.

Hold Off On That Axe, Doc

While the very idea President Obama wants to use healthcare reform to axe grandma is nonsense, there are people who think such a healthcare insurance policy would be a great idea.

Take the case of Barbara Wagner. Her doctor gave the 64-year-old woman a prescription to fight her cancer. However, the government-run Oregon Health Plan would not cover her prescription. But if she wanted assisted suicide, that would be paid for under the government-controlled health care system.

Or take the case of a little girl named Haleigh Poutre. All the health care eggheads said she was brain-dead, that her chance to recover was beyond hope, and these smart people won the right to “Terry Schiavo” her by court order from some jerk in a black robe. But on the very day the nurse was about to pull the plug on Haleigh Poutre, she noticed something different about the patient: Haleigh Poutre was conscious. Today, Haleigh Poutre gets around in a wheelchair, reads, watches TV, enjoys music and talks and talks, just like any kid. But get this: Some people would have liked to have her axed anyway, conscious or not. ...

So when you see people worried about the government wanting to kill people, that may not be totally true, but there is a push for this, even if the president’s healthcare reform has nothing to do with it. To learn more: International Anti-Euthanasia Task Force (iaetf.org) and Forced Exit by Wesley J. Smith. This is not about left or right. It is about facts about our so-called healthcare system and one of the things about it that needs reform, now!

David Raisman
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Kagen No Prize

While it is true that Congressman Steven Kagen, M.D., is in his second year as a representative of the 8th District to the US Congress, this is not his second term. John Nichols should have checked his facts in his article [“Dr. Kagen’s Rx for small-business ills,” 9/1/09 TPP)

What is more disturbing to me is that Nichols, who is one of the leading progressive voices at Madison, Wis., the Capitol Times newspaper and national appearances, could give any credence to the watered down health care policies put forth by Dr. Kagen.

I live in Kagen’s home town and district. I have not gone to the “Town Hell” meetings but I have been to the primary debates he had with John Gard, been to listening sessions conducted by AARP and also one held at the local farm and fleet. The doctor also stopped by our monthly peace protest for Fox Valley Peace and Justice when he was campaigning.

What has happened with Kagen, whom I voted for, lacking a Green party candidate running here, is that his position went from Medicare for All in the primary, a two-tiered insurance and Medicare blend at AARP and finally this co-op insurance plan as described in TPP by Nichols.

I do not use the preferred word for being upset in liberal circles which is that of being “sad.” On the contrary I feel betrayed. Unlike the Tea Party conscripts who didn’t vote for Kagen and have gone through their programmed ditto remarks from right-wing radio and other sources, I am firmly in the camp of single-payer universal medical care. But the debate has been watered down (as described above) successively over the months. ...

Lon Ponschock
Appleton, Wis.

Uniquely American

Gov. Brian Schweitzer showed rare courage and deserves our appreciation for standing up for a single-payer system when Obama visited Montana recently. Schweitzer cited Tommy Douglas, a national hero in Canada for winning the battle for Medicare for All back in the ’60s. I was surprised and chilled by Obama’s response that he wasn’t going to look at what other countries offered, because he was trying to find a “uniquely American system.” But I think President Obama can stop looking, since  we already have a unique system — we are the only industrialized nation that has a health system strongly dominated by the idea that health care is a commodity subject to profit and losses of market forces. And it’s not working — as we know, with 47 million uninsured, and even with insurance people are denied care and can go bankrupt with unaffordable health bills beyond coverage. Look at the human cost we pay for keeping a uniquely American plan. President Obama, why not join Douglas and be our American hero for Medicare for All?

Sid Moss
Elkins Park, Pa.

Disruption Isn’t Democracy

There is confusion about whether the Republican-instigated eruptions that are going on in town meetings are expressions of democracy in action, are simply an exercise of our right of free speech. They are not. An important distinction needs to be made here, one that was drawn with precision by the historian Daniel Boorstin. “Disagreement is the lifeblood of democracy, dissension is its cancer. Disagreers seek solutions to common problems, dissenters seek power for themselves.” What we are witnessing here is this cancer. With their disrespect, rudeness, and bullying, their attempts to drown out the speaker and their contempt for civil discourse, these disrupters are exercising, purely and simply, tyranny. It is the same tyranny that made us rebel against King George and create a democracy in the first place.

Why are these Republicans trying to suppress discussion? Are they afraid of ideas?

Anton G. Hardy
East Greenbush, N.Y.

Town Hell Haiku

Having gathered lies

to justify their hatred 

they gather and shout

Charles Roger Leach
Lynchburg, Ohio

Afghanistan No Threat

President Obama is fixated on the idea than unless we defeat the Taliban they will allow al Qaeda to come back to Afghanistan and re-establish their base and plan attacks on us. Such fears are unfounded. The 9/11 attackers did not learn to fly “attack jets” in their base in Afghanistan. (Did they not learn to fly commercial jets in America?) Nor did they learn to operate attack submersibles in any Afghan Naval facilities to bomb USS Cole. (Did they not use a rubber dinghy for the occasion?) Reports of sophisticated training schools in Afghanistan have been greatly exaggerated. There may have been instruction to make bombs, but such knowledge is easily obtained from high school-level chemistry. Financial support for operations did not come from banks incorporated in Afghanistan. From the above, one has to conclude that the battleground is not restricted to a designated campsite (Afghanistan) and future attacks can come from any campsite — the most dangerous of them all is the campsite of their mind. The defeat of the Taliban will give the Afghani people (especially the womenfolk) a fighting chance to have some law and order but it has no bearing whatsoever on our safety.

G.M. Chandu
Flushing, N.Y.

Bank Robbery in Digital Age

When the Ponzi scheme called sub-prime mortgages collapsed, the international banking community found itself in deep trouble. The bankers were holding mortgages for amounts that exceeded the value of their collateral. Bad, bad, bad. What to do?

Their first attempt to heal these self-inflicted wounds was to try to con the government into buying those so-called toxic assets at face value, passing the losses on to taxpayers like you and me. When this lead balloon didn’t fly they used Greenspanian style mumbo-jumbo to trick the public into a partial bail-out, AIG etc, until we found out where the cash was really going and reduced the hemorrhage to a mere heavy bleed. Not really good for us but worse for them.

Not to worry. The bankers came up with Plan B. How do you get out of a situation where you hold a $500,000 mortgage on a property worth only $300,000? Simple. If you can increase the price of the property to $500,000 you will wipe out the loss. How do you increase the price of the property? Inflation. How do you create inflation? Print money by the ton and drop interest rates to almost zero. Does this ring a bell?

Pay attention, people. This time the robbers are on the other side of the cage.

Arthur Robbins
San Diego, Calif.

From The Progressive Populist, October 1, 2009


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