Heath Care, Progressivism, and a New Format for The Moose

2010 March 17

by Roy W. Bakos, Sebastian Melmouth, and Michael Parmele

“I think I hit my writing block when the idea of “publishing” was put into place. Suddenly, I don’t feel like I have anything worthwhile to say.
Yet, at the same time, I feel like I could throw (m)any half-baked ideas at this (former) discussion group and everybody would jump on the band wagon and we’d have a good discussion, learn a bit, and possibly come up with a good idea (or two).”

Sebastian recently wrote these words in an e-mail string talking about this very blog, and our lack of recent writing.  I, as editor (and first named in the above byline) agreed with his sentiment and we will be starting to publish some of these “half-baked ideas” on the website in an attempt at discourse and an attempt to flush them out into something greater or just reflect on our state of mind at the moment.  I hope this format encourages commentary and further discourse from all 5 of you who read it and I hope it leads to at least weekly “articles” on the sight.  Thanks for your patience.  RWB.

A Take on the State of Looming Heathcare Legislation

I abhor the Stupak language in the house bill. But, isn’t the solution to the impasse that the Stupak Bloc vote to pass the Senate version of the Health Care bill with the promise that they can bring their amendment up as a separate bill that the House and Senate leadership will let come to the floor in a majority-rules, unwhipped fashion? I think this would achieve several goals. First, the health care bill has to pass and the House has little choice but  to pass the Senate version. Once it is passed, all changes have to be in separate legislation. So, this abortion language would be the first of many “amendments” to the health care law. Since many Republicans would have to vote for a simple, anti-abortion measure, it would co-opt them into the process for “improving” the passed legislation because the passed bill is now the default/status quo. I personally hope this bill fails, but whether it fails or not, by attracting even 10 Republican votes, they would be admitting their responsibility for changing/amending/improving it. Any votes from their side would also begin to take away their argument that it takes a 60 vote majority in the Senate to make changes to the bill, so that when the Democrats want to amend the bill in other ways — both small and large (public option, single-payer, extending Medicare to 55+ …), they will already be on record as having supported a bill that was merely seeking bare majorities. And, finally, even if this language does pass, it would only take a new majority to un-pass it or to pass something much, much better.
In fact, since the House has such a tight, tight margin at this point, maybe the compromise for all the wavering — both thinking about changing from yea to nay, but also those who might be convinced to change from nay to yay! (I’m looking at you, Kucinich) could be tempted with the idea that if they vote to pass the Senate bill, they would be allowed by leadership to bring any damn thing they want to a full vote to tinker with the legislation once it’s passed.
-Sebastian Melmouth

So, here we sit on the precipice of the health insurance reform vote and, once again, both political parties have failed the American people miserably.  The Republicans are once again harnessing fear of the unknown and the false, while the Democrats prove themselves incapable of mustering the support of their members, let alone their base.  In fact, the Democratic base of the party (those progressives who feel that the current legislation does not go far enough in reforming the way paper is pushed around to keep the insurance industry going), has been doing its best to motivate the politicians to actually push something through.

There is no longer any reasoned debate by those charged to hold such debate.  Every issue is seen through the lens of the political game and the next election cycle.  Consistent polling shows that the VAST majority of the American public disapproves of the performance of Congress and continually demands that “we throw the bums out!”  However, over the last four election cycles, Congressional representatives have enjoyed a 95% reelection rate.  What this shows is that the American people want to “throw the other bums out, my bum is just fine.”

The truth of the matter is that it is no longer Republicans vs. Democrats, but politicians vs. the American people.  We live in a thriving coporatocracy, with individuals “serving” in the public sector so that they can write the rules for industries and then move into those same industries to benefit from the rules they have just written in government.

There are those opposed to the health insurance reform that has passed in Congress who say that this is a government takeover of health care in this country.  To those opponents I say, in order to be intellectually honest about that position, you must also push for the repeal of Medicare and an end to the actually socialized system of military healthcare.  If Medicare is so successful and a great idea for people over the age of 65, why is it a communist plot if you are 64?

The argument has also been raised that people “don’t want government standing between their doctor and themselves.”  As things stand right now, the insurance companies stand between doctors and patients, dictating what treatment will be allowed and what treatment will be denied.  The difference is that, unlike a government run health insurance system, the people cannot vote to change the people in charge of the insurance companies.

Another argument is raised that “I don’t want to pay for other people’s health insurance,” especially those nasty brown people who come here and do the work that Americans don’t want to do (to be fair, that is my assumption, but I think a fair assumption) and, by the way, those brown people who are here illegally shouldn’t even have the option to BUY their own healthcare, forcing them to go to emergency rooms to receive care…wait for it, which forces the rest of us TO PAY FOR SOMEONE ELSE’S MEDICAL TREATMENT.  So, aside from the fact that the “logic” applied to the illegal immigrant health care question, this entire argument is fallacy because insurance, by definition, has healthy people paying for the health care of sick people!  Which, to me, leaves the only question of who is managing the paper shuffling allowing the healthy people to pay for sick people’s health treatments?  And, as corollary, should people be allowed to profit from shuffling papers allowing healthy people to pay for sick people’s health treatments?

We spend twice, TWICE, as much money every year as the rest of the “civilized” world on healthcare and, sorry to say, we do not have better outcomes.  In fact on the whole, we have less beneficial outcomes in a large number of areas!  How is that fiscally responsible?  In my personal life, if I am going to buy a product which is twice as expensive as another, similar product, I need to be able to make the value judgment that the product I am going to buy provides me with twice as much benefit.  Granted, in many areas of product purchasing, that is a perceived value.  Whatever value I place on the status of driving a BMW vs. a Yugo, or carrying a Sig Sauer vs. a Taurus goes into that calculation.  But that’s the beauty of the health care debate: there is no subjectivity in determining health care outcomes, either a patient gets better or they don’t.
-Michael Parmele

I hate to say it, but I believe that the Health Care fiasco has finally exposed our national political system for what it has devolved into: a corrupt, corporate driven oligarchy where the difference between left and right, liberal and conservative, and Democrat and Republican, have been set up to keep all of us fighting and unfocused on the real split in our society…the split between the 3% that control 90% of the wealth and the rest of us that scrounge to make a living.

There is a debate going on now about some recent development project in my hometown that couldn’t frame the obfuscation of the issues any better.  We are about to give over $150 million dollars of public money (Local, State, and Federal) to a consortium of privately owned companies to develop private land on the waterfront of Buffalo, NY.  Our Common Council UNANIMOUSLY (and this is in all caps because this group, to any and all that are in the know here in the Queen City, can’t unanimously agree that the name of the big yellow-orange disc in the sky that warms us during the day is “Sun”) has passed a resolution calling for living wages and a public statement of accountability by the private companies that are getting our money.  Of course, the power and money elite here have framed the issues as one that is either pro-development and pro-business (no restrictions on their power to do what they want with our money and no public accountability) or one that is “socialist” and anti-free market.  If the poor take government money, they should have to abide by all sorts of rules to do so and this is a “socialist” strain on our economy and democracy but when the rich and powerful take government money, that is merely the free market at work.

As insane as this bad logic might seem, it is a logic that is embraced by many who do not fall in the top 3% but who have the false illusion that they will someday get into that elite club through hard work and diligence.  This is the same problem as the framing of the Health Care debate…public option means socialism and an end to democracy (even though the word option implies choice and democracy in action and a free-market where all can compete) while to do nothing at all or to do a half-assed job at reform means saving the Union from the looming tyranny of well cared for people that no longer have the worry of choosing health insurance for their families or mortgage.

I believe the only answer at this point is to have a nationally viable third party that is Pro-Constitution and
Pro-Bill of Rights for individuals while embracing the ideals of early 20th Century Progressives.  Teddy Roosevelt minus the Imperialism.  Kucinich and Ron Paul and Bernie Sanders at the same convention calling out the rest of the corporate shills that move between running the government and running multinationals that get all of the benefits of the people’s labour and work.  It will take many hours of hard work to establish a party like this but I am willing to try if you are.  This is how democracy works…work.  Let me know if you are interested.
-Roy W. Bakos

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