Monday, August 31, 2009
The Senate of Trusts
I wonder if my late lifelong Republican father would recognize today's GOP.
His old center-right, chamber-of-commerce Republican Party has morphed into a far right national front party of armed militias, apocalyptic fanatics, conspiracy theorists, and people who keep sheets on hangers in their closets.
Meanwhile, the Democrats, the party of Roosevelt, The New Deal, and The Four Freedoms, has morphed into a conservative center-right party, very friendly with the chamber-of-commerce and the financial industry.
Progressive voices are confined to a single caucus in the House, and to the political and social margins (where most of the rest of the recession punished American population lives right now).
Health Insurance Reform, the most important piece of domestic legislation since the Civil Rights Act and the most important piece of social legislation since the Social Security Act, is now in the hands of legislators who are either batshit crazy paranoids pandering to other crazier paranoids, or legislators who are deeply corrupt openly doing the bidding of the health insurance industry. The White House is no better, making secret deals with the pharmaceutical industry. In this country, corruption and bribery are legal and referred to as "influence" and "campaign contributions".
Republicans and Democrats are but shadow puppets played by the industries. They are engaged in a meaningless slapstick toward the same end, to kill any effort to substantially reform the health insurance system in the United States.
We expect a hopelessly dysfunctional political system to fix a hopelessly dysfunctional health insurance system.
I am expecting little to nothing out of the whole thing. The bill that emerges will be weak and riddled with loopholes. I expect this political toxic waste factory either to completely squash any meaningful health insurance reform, or make something that's worse than nothing; such as requiring everyone to buy into the current system with (maybe) a token tax cut to subsidize the legions who couldn't possibly afford such legally mandated coverage. Health Insurance Reform would be transformed from relief for the general public from a terrible burden to a legally mandated bonanza for the industry. Such a bill would cripple an already overburdened populace and amount to another windfall for our tax-payer funded publicly subsidized corporate oligarchy.
There is only one solution that is staring everyone in the face, and no one (no one who "matters" anyway) wants to look at it.
Make Medicare available to everyone. Make the insurance industry compete with Medicare.
Posted by Counterlight at Monday, August 31, 2009
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Preach it Brother!
I wish that they would stop calling this health care reform and call it what it is, insurance reform. Until we radically alter both the way we deliver and the way we pay for medical care in this country the upward cost spiral will continue. Our medical schools are graduating fewer and fewer GPs because they cannot make nearly enough money to cover the almost $500,000.00 in debt in which they find themselves at graduation (undergrad + med school) plus the exorbitant malpractice insurance premiums. Hence, they all go in for more lucrative specializations. In addition to instituting Medicare for All, we need to work out a way to entice these young MDs into General Practice. One way might be having them start their careers in some form of "public health service clinic" situation for a nominal, though living, wage but with a large portion of their debt forgiven for each year that they spend working as a GP in the public health arena (under the eye of an experienced MD). The clinic should also cover their insurance premiums. This would bring GPs into underserved areas and attract more GPs into the system by permiting them to quickly reduce their debt. (Paying for higher education is a "whole nother can o' worms".)
I'm sure that many on the right would call me a socialist, or worse, but I'm used to it by now.
Indeed, higher education financing is a whole other can o' worms, and a big dysfunctional and corrupt can o' worms.
It's no accident that most of the new MDs these days are named Rahman and Banarjee. The Indian government bankrolls their med students abroad whether they return to India or not.
Unlike the USA which sees all students as an expense, India sees its med students as an investment.
Our ancestors worried whether democracy could work on a large scale, and I think their concerns are justified. For the people to vote the people must be reached, and, with a population in the hundreds of millions, the amounts of money needed to even aspire to national office are astronomical. And we all know where money comes from, and the effect of giving it.
One of the ironies of this last campaign was Senator Obama's decision not to restrict the flow of campaign cash by accepting public campaign financing. I remain, understand, a fervant partisan of the president, and suspect that that was a correct strategic decision, but it bodes ill for the success of the modest reform sponsored by Senator McCain.
For myself, I have always thought that, rather than abolishing the electoral college, we should make it a true electoral college, the members elected locally and democratically, but free to meet, interview, debate, and choose a chief executive from those unencumbered by the massive obligations now necessarily incurred by anyone running for office. It really only worked that way once, and of course we got stuck with George Washington.
Sorry, but the picture you called "The Senate of Trusts" is not created by Thomas Nast. This was drawn by Johannes Keppler and I believe it is called "The Bosses of the Senate."
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