Category: News


Morning News Roundup, April 1, 2011

Hi all!

Today’s yet another morning news roundup, but first, today’s news soundtrack:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CD2LRROpph0

New Vietnam(s)

Afghanistan:

President Obama and Congress unanimously agreed to get out of Afghanistan today by this weekend, sources say.  In response to criticisms that the war in Afghanistan was fruitless, and a waste of American lives and tax-payers’ money, Obama retrieved from beneath the podium a “my condolences” card, signed by himself, George W. Bush, all of congress, and Steve Buscemi.

Iraq:

8 years and 11 days after Saddam Hussein and his whole regime quit peacefully following George W. Bush’s “Shock and Awe” campaign, Iraq’s oil wealth has been funneled into green technology so cutting edge, Iraq is now the third richest country in the world.  It’s infant mortality rate has stayed at 0 for the last three years, and it is a thriving, direct, participatory democracy.  For the 2012 elections, the Iraqi people are said to be sending democratic observers to the United States to attempt to secure democratic rule there.

U.S.

Following the cancelling of the war in Afghanistan, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce dismissed congress for recess for the day.  The Chamber proceeded to draft legislation until early in the morning, but did break at about 8:00 to put President Obama and the members of congress to bed.  The new wave of Tea Party candidates snuck out of their bedroom windows at around midnight to toilet-paper the Pentagon.  When asked about the prank, Sarah Palin defended herself: “I just saw this six-sided building from my porch, dontcha-know Joe Six-Pack dontcha-know, and death panels, and yeah.”  After a brief spell of confusion regarding what Sarah Palin actually said, reporters questioned Michelle Bachmann, who proceeded to jump onto the reporter, bite into the microphone, and run away with it.  White House staff are still looking for where on the grounds she buried it.  In other news, following the extension of pure capitalism throughout the U.S. and the globe, unemployment is now at -0.5%.  It has been at a negative unemployment rate for about six months now, with newly created jobs being increasingly promised to newborns.

Have a good day!

Jeff

Morning News Roundup, March 28, 2011

Hi all,

First day of a new quarter for myself, and I can’t think of a better way to start than another News Roundup!

First thing’s first–today’s News Soundtrack:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJDnJ0vXUgw

New Vietnam(s)

Libya:

Libyan rebels captured two oil refineries and a strategic port within a 20 hour push.  The U.S. military have stated that the successes could be pushed back if airstrikes stopped.  Rebels claim to have taken the town of Sirte, the home of Gaddafi.

 

Japan:

Highly contaminated water is escaping one of their damaged reactors, and is quite close to leaking into the ocean.

U.S.

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York set a budget that cuts more than $2 billion in healthcare and education costs, and gives millionaires a tax break, because when Andrew Cuomo sabotages New York’s future, he sabotages it right.  There was a day-long Saturday meeting in Iowa among Republican hopefuls for presidential candidacy, whose biggest source of friction is whether 2012 candidates should focus more on fiscal conservatism, or social conservatism.  Michelle Bachman argued strongly, in effect, that you can’t simply be classist and turn America into a Third World nation through stomping labor, but you have to stomp on women’s rights and the LGBTQ community too, on behalf of your hateful imaginary friend, whose wishes are dictated to you in a really old translated compilation.  [Note: This is not a critique of theism or Christianity, but of the assumption that God is homophobic, classist, and antifeminist.  It’s also not what she literally said. . . just what I think she meant. ]

Today’s another short news day.  Ever notice we don’t get news on Iraq or Afghanistan anymore?  I know Japan, Egypt, Libya, Wisconsin, etc., are all important–but full radio silence from nations we are still in is a little. . . odd.  Just sayin’.

Have a great day!

Morning News Roundup, March 26, 2011

Hi all,

It’s time for yet another Morning News Roundup, this time brought to you by. . . coffee! (which doesn’t distinguish it from any other morning, I admit)

First thing’s first–today’s News Soundtrack:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_swaxOidGU

New Vietnam(s)

Libya:

Rebels seized Ajdabiya on Saturday following yet another night of airstrikes, with Gaddafi’s forces retreating.

Afghanistan:

A NATO airstrike targeting Taliban fighters accidentally killed seven civilians, including three children Friday in the southern province of Helmand.

Other news from the region:

Syria:

Another crackdown in Syria in the city of Sanamin near Daraa killed at least 20 people on Friday.

Yemen:

Big protests on Friday, and it is reported that an arrangement towards a peaceful transition of power could come as early as today, based on an offer by President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down by the end of the year.  But then again, who knows?

Labor News

Britain:

It is expected that up to 300,000 people are expected to protest public sector cuts today.

Mexico:

The Mexican parliament is considering regressive labor reform laws–really bad–and whose details can be found here.

Japan:

Radiation levels are spiking in the seawater near Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

China:

A major Chinese pro-democracy activist, Liu Xianbin, was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Friday for, well, being a democracy activist.

North Korea:

Major food production shortfalls = 6 million hungry.

 

Okay all, there you go, and go forth and have a really good day!

Morning News Roundup, March 23, 2010

Hi all,

I’m keeping today short.

But first, here’s today’s News Soundtrack:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bng3agUOYiI

New Vietnam:

Libya:

Libya’s pro-democracy fighters have formed an “interim government,” though they remain outmatched thus far by Gaddafi’s forces.Fighting overnight left 14 people dead and 23 injured in Misurata. Also, it has been announced that Gaddafi’s air force has ‘been defeated’.

Other regional news:

Syria: 6 Protesters dead.

Yemen: Opposition to the government gaining momentum, but no clear potential leaders of Yemen have stepped up.

Japan:

Japan issued a radiation warning on tap water and 11 vegetables.

Everything Else:

Detroit:

The most recent census shows that the population of Detroit has dropped by 25 percent over the last decade.

Morning News Roundup, March 22, 2010

Hi all,

One thing I try to do every morning is keep up on the previous day’s news–so I figured I’d share with you all.  Exhaustive? No, but I’ll try not to waste your time.  Opinionated? Most of the time, but never in the Fox News fake-news way.  Here we go.

First, here’s today’s News Soundtrack:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBfjU3_XOaA

New Vietnam(s)

Libya:

After a third day of Western air strikes in Libya, Gaddafi’s forces have continued to press their siege against the rebels, shelling Misurata, an important Western rebel holdout, and bringing in snipers and tanks.   An American F-15 crashed, but reportedly from technical failure, not Gaddafi’s forces.  I’m not sure if one fighter plane crashing is news, except that it reportedly costs $27.9 to 29.9 million.  The stated U.S. plan is to achieve some quick objectives in Libya towards a no-fly zone, and hand off leadership of the intervention to European nations.  I suppose we’ll see, won’t we?  (Remember Shock and Awe? Wasn’t Iraq supposed to be quick in-and-out?)

Speaking of which, Iraq:

March 19th marked the eighth anniversary of the Iraq War (to whom do I send the birthday card I bought?).  The Department of Defense has identified 4,430 American service members who have died since the start of the Iraq war (with 32,000 wounded) and 1,493 who have died as part of the Afghan war and related operations.  In 2010, more soldiers died from suicide than from combat.  But the real tragedy is what has happened to the Iraqi people.  The British polling firm Opinion Research Business estimated “that over 1,000,000 Iraqi citizens have died as a result of the conflict which started in 2003” in a 2008 analysis, and their infrastructure is still destroyed, many living without electricity, clean water, or medical care [This links to an excellent Al Jazeera article, I’d recommend you read the whole piece].   Otherwise, we’re still there.   Yaa-a-a-a-ay *blows party favor* Happy Birth. . . day?

Afghanistan:

Army Spc. Jeremy Morlock is on trial as one of 12 soldiers who were effectively mass murdering serial killers who kept trophies from and pictures of their victims.  (Side note: he’s from Wasilla, Alaska.  Not to say there is any connection between that and his actions, or him or his actions and Sarah Palin, but it’s strange.)  Apparently we’re now at a stage in Afghanistan where we’re supposed to be beginning to transfer power to the Afghan government by 2014 (we have about 100,000 troops there now, and we’ve been there for more than nine years), but  it’s not a “sure thing” and could be, in theory, indefinitely longer.

 

Other news from the region:

Police are breaking up protests in Morocco, fighting in Sudan.

Syria:

Protests, crackdowns.

Yemen:

Protests.  Yemeni leader says he’ll leave office earlier, but protesters want him out now.  3 top Yemeni generals defected to support the protesters.

Bahrain: After major crackdowns on protesters last week, with the aid of Saudi Arabia, protesters are softening their demands. Bahrain is a major U.S. government ally. . . I wonder which freedom package they will get?

 

Labor News

Wisconsin:

On Friday, a judge delayed Walker’s anti-union bill from going into effect.  So, that’s stalled for now.

Indiana:

Union agitation and protests have effectively stopped Indiana ‘right-to-work’ (that term is such ideological b.s.) laws.

Japan:

Power has been restored to three reactors, and Japanese authorities report the death toll from the earthquake and tsunami as exceeding 18,000.  There is concern about contamination of food and water in the region, and they are still trying to prevent a full meltdown at the Fukushima plant.

Oh, and one more thing. . .

Obama Kicks Off Latin American Tour

Straight from Democracy Now:

“President Obama is in Brazil to kick off a three-nation tour of Latin America that will also include stops in Chile and El Salvador. In Chile, protesters gathered on Sunday calling on United States to apologize for its support of the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet. Meanwhile, in El Salvador, Obama is expected to visit the grave of Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was assassinated in 1980.”

That’s got to be an awkward conversation.  “Yeah, so. . . um, sorry Chile about the supporting-a-coup, killing-your-democratically-elected-president, and installing-a-Neoliberalism-friendly-dictator thing.  Our bad.  Oh, and can you tell El Salvador we’re sorry about the Romero assassination that we had a role in, too.”

Anyway, y’all have a damned good day!


Apparently, in supporting Wall Street over Main Street, the capitalists over the working class and citizenry, in health care, job policy, economic regulation (or lack thereof), consumer protections, and unpopular overseas conflicts, the Obama Administration apparently decided that it had not yet chosen enough plays from the Bush Administration playbook.

Democracy Now! reports:

Clinton: US “Deeply Concerned” about Venezuela

Clinton’s visit to Brazil came as part of her first visit to Latin America as Secretary of State. It comes one week after Latin American and Caribbean nations agreed to form a new regional body excluding the United States and Canada as an alternative to the Organization of American States. At a news conference, Clinton criticized the Venezuelan government.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton: “We are deeply concerned about the behavior of the Venezuelan government, which we think is unproductive with respect to its relations with certain neighbors, which we believe is limiting slowly, but surely, the freedoms within Venezuela, therefore adversely impacting the Venezuelan people. And we would hope that there could be a new start on the part of the Venezuelan leadership to restore full democracy, to restore freedom of the press, to restore private property, and return to a free market economy. We wish Venezuela were looking more to its south and looking at Brazil and looking at Chile.”

So, I guess if you have to  defend the American Empire, you. . . uh, pick a fight with Venezuela?  Really?  Now, regarding issues such as the closure of oppositional press and attempts to delimit terms, I won’t say much. . . however, given that the majority of closed press have been closed due to expired licenses (a policy that we would uphold ourselves), and a number of oppositional press supported the 2002 coup attempt (which, if there was an attempted coup in America, there is no doubt we would shut down presses that supported it), and that the limitation of terms is, at least in one sense, arguably undemocratic, given that it restricts the population’s ability to vote for a popular president past a certain point, I don’t think her critique is totally valid (not so say that I would not change some things in Venezuelan policy).

However, let me make a few further points.  First, democracy and capitalism are polar opposites.  First of all, economic democracy, a key socialist principle, would render all corporations employee self managed, in a democratic a nonhierarchical manner.  To the extend that this is not the case in Venezuela, I disagree with Venezuelan policy on the matter. . .but is it the opposite of the case under capitalism, because private ownership of the tools and resources that go into production, exploitation, and the inequality and power that come from them can only be protected if the workers who actually produce the goods that form our world have no democratic say over them.  True economic democracy would allow each worker to see their true importance in the workplace, gain greater knowledge over their work processes, and render them powerful enough to get their fair share of the revenue they’ve produced.  Economic democracy would be better for all workers, and have a number of economic benefits, but would be less profitable for the ruling class.  But none of that under capitalism.

Political democracy is hindered by capitalism, too.  Certainly, the USSR was not a political democracy, and neither was China.  These were mistakes–just as it is a mistake to give economic power to any bureaucratic and hierarchical body, be it corporations or an undemocratic ‘state’ over and above the people.  In fact, convincing arguments have been made to see the USSR and the like as ‘state capitalist’ rather than ‘socialist’ because the people owned no means of production, but a hierarchical body owned and determined it.  That being said, ‘democracy’ in capitalist countries is capitalism in name only.  Because the state is organized in a hierarchical manner as all capitalist institutions, our ‘democratic’ government is actually very unresponsive to the will of the people.  Furthermore, there are ‘checks and balances’ against the popular will by design, such as (1) a president who is not directly elected, (2) a supreme court, seated effectively ‘for life’, and not elected by the people, and (3) the senate, giving states power over the country in disproportion to their populations.  Finally, in that the capitalist class, collectively, holds the means of production hostage from the public will, it commands the majority of social means, and whoever holds the social means controls the ends as well.  Consequentially, the American government must appease capitalists as constraints on any action they take.

An illustration: say Doctors Without Borders builds a hospital next to a village on a hill, and builds a bridge to connect the hill to the village.  The hospital is free for all, so it seems as though everyone has equal access, but Ronald Reagan builds a locked gate on the end of the bridge.  Consequentially, Reagan, who has the only key, controls access to the bridge, and thus to the hospital.  While the policy of the hospital looks officially as though everyone has equal access, Reagan in fact has complete control over whether or not someone can get to said hospital.  What looks like freedom is, in fact, nothing like it.  What is the difference, then, if instead of a locked gate blocking access to the hospital, the hospital charges fees?  And if not everyone can pay?  Whoever has ownership of any corporation or institution has the ability to restrict access to its products and services, and thus, has leverage over anyone who needs them.  Since America is a ‘free market’ country, corporations own the majority of the means of production, and so is the provider of jobs for citizens and some direct income for the state.  Since the state needs income through taxation and these corporations, because it owns no means of production itself, it has to hinge its policies not on what is best for citizens and workers, but what keeps corporations happy.  In addition to funding campaigns, they control jobs and, through which, the means for government to operate.  Capitalism controls political democracy, and keeps means from the people.

In other words, capitalism is an enemy to political AND economic democracy, and here Clinton shows her bias, the same bias present in her husband’s role in NAFTA and the WTO.  Clinton should do her homework. . . you cannot support but a ‘free market economy’ AND democracy at the same time.

News: Tobacco Companies versus America

Apparently, two of the three largest American cigarette companies are going to sue the FDA for being willing to do its job fully.  The FDA passed the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act in June regulating cigarette marketing, and allowing the agency to reduce nicotine in tobacco products, block labels such “low tar” and “light,” and ban candy flavorings (according to an AP article, found at the bottom of this update).  The companies are suing with the argument that such legislation imposes on their freedom of speech.  The lawsuit does not challenge FDA authority over tobacco.  The Food and Drug Administration, after all, is supposed to regulate and products sold as food or drugs.  Pretty simple.  But according to the article:

“The companies say in their lawsuit that the law, which takes full effect in three years, prohibits them from using ‘color lettering, trademarks, logos or any other imagery in most advertisements, including virtually all point-of-sale and direct-mail advertisements.’  The complaint also says the law prohibits tobacco companies from ‘making truthful statements about their products in scientific, public policy and political debates.'”

Truthful statements?  Oh, I’m sure they make some.  But that doesn’t stop misdirection, or unimportant ‘truths’ from clouding the important facts of the matter.  All in all, the stronger truths are that (1) cigarettes are addictive, and (2) cause lots and lots of painful deaths.  What ‘truths’ could they advertise that could combat those

Tobacco representative: “Uh, um. . . well, tobacco is a plant, and not all plants are bad for you.”

Media: “. . . Are you nuts?”

. . . Well, okay, that portrayal was inaccurate.  This is, after all, American media, and so the media response might be more like this:

Media: “. . . Well, you sure do have a good point.  The debate over whether cigarettes are healthy or not rages on.  This is perhaps why the newest Idiot Poll shows that 15% of people think the U.S. government is trying to fatten us up so they have a food source after the zombie apocalypse, and %35 aren’t sure.”

Well, perhaps I should take this issue more seriously.  But cigarette companies are hideous leeches on the populace, and this lawsuit is doomed to fail if there is even an ounce of common sense left in our judicial system.  FDA standards, positively, create consumer protections that are important, and negatively, create a bar that is low enough to allow our consumption of deadly or dangerous items, while creating a barrier of entry into these markets to protect monopolized industries.  My point here is this. . . many governmental regulatory standards are relatively meaningless anyway.  They are oftentimes better than nothing, but all-in-all regulation only gets so far as to ban only those items that both almost necessarily result in death and are inessential to an industry.  If the FDA truly regulated industries, they would at leastforce cigarette companies to spend some of their outrageous fortune developing tobacco plants that have carcinogenic chemicals and nicotine removed, in the same manner than Monsanto developed seeds with the ability to reproduce removed.  Giving the FDA increased control, however, is a start in the right direction.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_tobacco_lawsuit;_ylt=AqoHZu__1LEed5Cb_ronKAqs0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTM0NGRlbDl0BGFzc2V0A2FwLzIwMDkwODMxL3VzX3RvYmFjY29fbGF3c3VpdARjcG9zAzgEcG9zAzUEcHQDaG9tZV9jb2tlBHNlYwN5bl9oZWFkbGluZV9saXN0BHNsawNtYWpvcmNpZ2FyZXQ

Philosophy Post: Equality

A recent Huffington Post article alerted me to a paper by UC Berkeley professor Emmanuel Saez, showing that income inequality is greater as of 2007 than ever before in American history.  In fact, as of 2007, the top 0.01% of Americans took home 6% of total U.S. wages.  Why is inequality important?

In addition to the obvious fact that inequality between individuals affects their life chances and ability to satisfy their goals and meet their needs, it also represents something.  Inequality between people represents the valuation of their human worth.  If all individuals’ worth is absolute, i.e. independent of anything they do and wholly because they are, then there would be no inequality.  Look at it this way–if the worth of individuals were equal, and independent of what they’ve done, there would never be any reason for unequal distribution of wealth.  If you doubt this, try to think of a way it could be differential (except for accident, and in case of such an accident, equal valuation would likely result in immediate rectification of such momentary inequality).

But it is cannot be said that inequality represents society’s valuation of different individuals’ worth, because society does not choose the distribution of income or the distribution of property. In all societies but the very earliest communal ones, certain classes have had control over the means of production (i.e. tools and raw materials), and these property relationships have been protected by force and justified by the ideologies of their time.  In class societies, including our own, only the dominant class have the ability to determine who gets what job and what they get paid.  Ideological defenders of capitalism claim that supply and demand determine everything, from jobs (where social demand for a job creates it) to income (where the social valuation of the job determines how much it gets monetarily rewarded).  This picture hides a number of factors.  First, it hides that only ‘effective demand’ gets met.  Effective demand is demand backed by the money to compensate the supplier.  Thus, production under capitalism is not intended to meet needs.  Commodities are produced only when, and insofar as they might realize profits for their ‘owner’. If capitalism meets needs, then, it is purely a coincidence.  An accident.  Thus, jobs aren’t necessarily created because the jobs are socially valued or needed, but because their existence makes money for capitalists.  Same goes for income; capitalists pay employees as little as they can get away with while maximizing profit.  They will thus supply however much they think they can get a profit from, and the more money an individual is willing and able to pay to get a good or service, the more suppliers will fight to produce for that market, regardless of the good.  When an economist explains production and jobs according to supply and demand, they really mean to explain it in terms of money, but that directs the question towards one of inequality and needs, which is precisely what a capitalist economist wants to gloss over and assume away. 

Additionally, discussion of ‘supply and demand’ does not address the ‘rate of profit’.  Capitalists mark up the product from its cost of production, but that does not explain how the amount of this markup is determined.  In more competitive markets, profits tend to be lower, and in more monopolized markets profits tend to be higher, but in neither type of market does supply and demand strictly determine the rate of profit.  They tend to be unofficially standardized according to industry, but the process of their standardization has nothing whatsoever to do with supply or demand.  We cannot really explain anything but the most inconsequential facets of our economic system with the concepts of supply and demand.  It is only useful to tell us that the more suppliers per demands, the more relative power potential consumers have, and the fewer suppliers per demands, the more relative power suppliers have.  They don’t themselves explain the creation of jobs or the distribution of income, they only implicitly relate to the concept of power, and they certainly do not reflect need or the will of society as a whole.

Distribution of income, then, reflects the valuation of human worth according to the dominant class in a society, the capitalists in our own.  More specifically, it rewards them according to the function they serve for the dominant class, and how hard it is for capitalists to fill those necessary functions.  Inequality exists, then, because the capitalists (considered as a whole) devalue the worth of the people towards the bottom of the income ladder (relative to the perceived value of their social function), and value the worth of those towards to top more.  This generic formula rings true for labor; the very top tends to consist of capitalists themselves, and class conflict can generate income and benefits for labor with some independence from the valuation of their labor by the capitalists themselves.  This is so because class-conscious laborers can unify as laborers to restrict the supply of their labor, thus giving them greater power, or unify as citizens to enact legislation which will produce similar effects.  In the absence of strong class consciousness on the part of labor, any laborers wages and benefits are as low as capitalists can get away with.

Thus, this inequality is purely the product of class in American society.  It is a combination of the (1) class power of capitalists over society, (2) low valuation of the human worth of those towards the bottom of the economic latter (where laborers, as we have shown, have no inherent worth to capitalists, but only instrumental value), and (3) low class power, revealing their relative absence of class consciousness and unity. It does not reflect nature, or inequality of ability.  It is the result of class society, of capitalism, and the only way out is not a welfare capitalist state, but a postcapitalist (decentralized, democratic, participatory and planned) socialism.

Huffington Post: “Income Inequality is at an All-Time High” – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/08/14/income-inequality-is-at-a_n_259516.html

News Post: Health Insurers Versus America

My August 5th post on single-payer health care outlined why I thought single-payer health care ought to pass and become America’s new health system.  Its now appearing obvious that American legislators are in bed enough with insurance companies to make any important reform let alone the revolutionary change to single-payer health care difficult.  A Business Week cover article from August 6th, called “The Health Insurers Have Already Won” begins with an assertion in their first page that insurance companies will emerge more profitable regardless of any likely outcome.  It is the combination of Blue Dog and moderate democrats with republicans that is so quick to sell out American citizens for their corporate taskmasters. 

Representative Jim Matheson from Utah and Representative Mike Ross from Arizona, opposing progress and affordable health for millions on behalf of the Blue Dogs and corporations, are working to thwart any proposal which would set up a public option to compete with the private sector, a major component of the Obama Administration’s plan to reduce costs among the private sector.  The perspective of the leaders of the Blue Dogs can be easily seen.  Ross had been bought completely by UnitedHealth, stating that “”If United has something to offer on cutting costs, we should consider it.  We need more examples that work, and everything should be on the table.””  Ross wants everything on the table, and he’s worried about cutting costs in the health insurance industry.  What compassion!  Yet he also says that “We have concerns about a public option if it’s not done on a level playing field [with the insurance companies]”. 

Ross seems sincere, right?  I mean, he’s so concerned about everyone that he wants to help us all and help insurance companies, because they sure have been hurting in these hard, hard times. 

The National Coalition on Health Care states:

National Health Care Spending

  • In 2008, health care spending in the United States reached $2.4 trillion, and was projected to reach $3.1 trillion in 2012.1 Health care spending is projected to reach $4.3 trillion by 2016.
  • Health care spending is 4.3 times the amount spent on national defense.
  • In 2008, the United States will spend 17 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on health care. It is projected that the percentage will reach 20 percent by 2017.
  • Although nearly 46 million Americans are uninsured, the United States spends more on health care than other industrialized nations, and those countries provide health insurance to all their citizens.
  • Health care spending accounted for 10.9 percent of the GDP in Switzerland, 10.7 percent in Germany, 9.7 percent in Canada and 9.5 percent in France, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

In other words, Americans spend more than anywhere else despitethe fact that 46 million are uninsured.  Meanwhile, the AFL-CIO reports that “profits at 10 of the country’s largest publicly traded health insurance companies rose 428 percent from 2000 to 2007, while consumers paid more for less coverage.”  You know, now that I think about it, maybe Ross and the blue dogs are more concerned with sacrificingAmericans for insurance companies than he is about being fair to everyone.  He actually bragged about how the Blue Dogs “held the [health care] bill hostage in committee for 10 days” and prevented consideration of a single-payer health care option, as reported by the Huffington Post. 

It appears that the major argument given by the opposition (Blue Dogs and republicans) to every sane and reasonable healthcare plan (those with public options) is that the creation of a public option, competing with private insurers, would underprice them and drive them out of business.  Then again, if they are so concerned with cutting costs and putting everything on the table, what difference does it make?  In other words, a public option can reduce prices for Americans in a way that private insurance either can’t or won’t.  Tens of millions of Americans have no health insurance because they cannot afford it (I assume there can be no other reason).  Despite that, the Blue Dogs oppose any public option because of its increased ability to make healthcare. . . affordable?  Seriously, their primary objection is that public options will be able to lower their price to such affordable levels that, it is estimated (although controversially) that “88 million people, or 56% of those withemployer-provided coverage, would desert private insurance for a government-run program.”  If private insurers could not compete with a public option, isn’t that a sign that the public option is vastly superior to the private insurers?  I mean, I thought that sound logic went something like this:  “Millions of Americans can’t afford Option A.   Option B costs waaaayyyyless than Option A ever could, with the same coverage.  Because they could afford B waaayyyyy more than A, they’d probably switch from A to B because they like it more.  Consequentially, we should endorse B.”  The ‘argument’ given for supporting private insurers which, even according to the terms of the argument, are wholly unable to meet American needs, is that a public option, undercutting private ones in price, “would destabilize the marketplace and potentially kill the private insurance industry”. 

I suppose the correct response is “Who cares?”  Even those arguing for private insurers and againstpublic options do so from the premise that public options have greater potentiality to be affordable, so there is no reasonable objection to public options.  The healthinsurance industry is already in an oligopoly state in the market, and so arguments that a public option would destroy the competition are meaningless.  It’s not a competitive industry.  It’s massive profit margins and insufficient coverage are results of its lack of a need to be competitive.  Someone concerned withcompetition should welcome a public competitor, and realize that the true result of competition, that private insurers unable to compete might go out of business, is fine.  As for me, I’d rather have Americans have an affordable public option than a number of high priced private options.  We deserve to be able to afford the surgeries and medical care we need.  We deserve to not have to watch our sick children wither and die from our inability to pay for treatments.  We deserve to not have to choose between our children dying now because we can’t afford treatments, and our children dying later because the treatments put us permanently in debt.  We finally deserve democratic say over these issues, and if we have representatives we deserve those who will consider their citizens, rather than lie to their faces about the options before them, and stab them in the back with UnitedHealth’s knife. Stop protecting private insurers from competition!  Stop sacrificing American health for the profits of your capitalist friends! 

My post: https://practicalutopian.wordpress.com/2009/08/05/on-single-payer-health-care/

Business Week: http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/09_33/b4143034820260.htm 

NCHC: http://www.nchc.org/facts/cost.shtml

AFL-CIO: http://blog.aflcio.org/2009/05/27/health-insurance-profits-soar-as-industry-mergers-create-near-monopoly/

On the bailout . . .

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted.  Sorry for the absence.  I’m sure you’ve all been informed of the debate about a proposed $700 billion dollar bailout, and so I’ll go right into a quick comment.

I am absolutely opposed to this bailout.  The controversy has been expressed as “main street versus wall street,” when in a different country they would be allowed to refer to ‘class struggle’.  Essentially, this is a clear case of class conflict, where immoral actions were taken by capitalists to make money in unsustainable ways, and citizens are called upon to bail them out.  The argument goes that the allowance of these institutions to fail would collapse our economy.  I argue that ‘socialism for the rich’ is wrong, and a ‘socialism for the poor’ is superior.  Here is what I would do:

(1) Recognize that the collapse of these institutions would tend to cause economic damage, and correspondingly create jobs, insurance policies, state subsidized housing, and welfare benefits for individuals through the state, to prevent losses in the private sector from spilling onto innocent people.

(2) Allow these banks and insurance companies to collapse, and purchase them in their entirety, restaffing them and using them as engines of the state to gain democratic control of the economy.

These solutions would prevent us from needing to increase our international debt, and would more importantly protect citizens from being punished for the crimes of the capitalists.  Any comments?