Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The People's Health Insurance Company

(originally published at OpEdNews)

Were not Americans almost certain that universal health care would be legislated into existence during the next four to eight years? Were not Americans almost certain that at least one financial burden would be removed from their shoulders over the next four to eight years? Were not Americans almost certain that it could hold its head high as it showed the rest of the world that its government can be as compassionate and as competent as the government of any other nation in the world? Was this not part of the message that Americans sent when they went to the polls in November of 2008?

What have Americans learned about hope and its government?

Americans have learned that its government is neither willing nor able to do what the governments of every other industrialized nation in the world are able and willing to do. They have learned that their government is unable and unwilling to meet its mission statement. Lest we forget what the mission statement is:

“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Our government has decided to ignore the promise to “promote the general welfare”.

The Democrats, the political party that’s supposed to be a loyal opposition to its only competitor, the Republican Party, has violated a political anti-trust guideline. It has joined with The Republican Party to ensure that Americans continue to pay premiums to insurance companies which guarantee the CEOs and top managers titanic incomes the likes of which should embarrass them. They should be embarrassed by those incomes because they should know that US citizens just recently obtained the ability to work for no less than $7.25 an hour. They should be embarrassed by those incomes because those incomes are gained from the illnesses and injuries of Americans. It is only by charging premiums, co-pays and out of pocket payments which are strains on middle class Americans and out of reach for lower middle class and poor Americans that these individuals are able to collect such monumental paychecks.

We got our government’s message, though, didn’t we? We don’t need no stinking government handouts. We’re a proud people and we choose to support ourselves. We choose to support ourselves in spite of the fact that a large and growing number of us have no means of support. We choose to support ourselves in spite of the fact that wealthy CEOs and top managers in the private sector make the jobs in their companies and corporations available not to Americans, but to those who live in foreign nations, preferably poor foreign nations. We choose to support ourselves, which includes having the wherewithal to pay for medical care, without worrying about becoming poor or poorer or just plain broke, in spite of the fact that CEOs and top managers of American based corporations pad their salaries by hiring workers in nations where workers are happy to receive what in this nation would be a poverty level income. We choose to support ourselves in spite of the fact that CEOs and top managers in the private sector grab and maintain their wealth with such a protective spirit that they manufacture their goods in countries which are not wealthy enough, powerful enough or ethical enough to protect the air which their citizens breathe or the water which their citizens, paid poverty level salaries by American corporations, drink.

That’s OK, Mr. President, members of Congress and true leaders of our nation, the heads of American based corporations, pay us no mind. We can take care of ourselves. After all, you decided to stop paying us a living wage and allowing us to lead what we came to know as an American middle class existence a long time ago, didn’t you?

What if A People’s Health Insurance Company was organized and incorporated? What if The People’s Health Insurance Company should differ from other insurance companies is some significant ways?

First, the structures in which every employee of The People’s Health Insurance Company worked would be modest. They would be comfortable for the employees because, unlike the insurance corporations that presently exist, the leaders of The People’s Health Insurance Company would realize that most of their employees, those who make whatever profit the company may incidentally make, are people in need of fairly priced health insurance and a living wage. The People’s Health Insurance Company would use the greenest of technologies to provide comfortable working conditions for its employees. There would not be one unnecessary gadget, decoration or other expense put into the structures in which every and any employee worked.

Secondly, although no one would earn less than a living wage, no one would earn more than a living wage. Granted, the more responsibility one has in The People’s Health Insurance Company, the more one would be paid. This means that employees in the highest positions in the company would earn about $250,000 per year. The top employee, whether a president or a CEO, would earn no more than four times what the lowest paid employee earned. That would be the guideline which The People’s Health Insurance Company would always use for defining the pay scale for its employees.

Thirdly, when any one of its employees fails to meet her or his expectations and a decision is made that he or she is not a good fit for her or his position the company would do whatever it could to keep the employee and find something of value which the employee could do. However, if the company must part ways with any of its employees because that employee refused to do the job for which she or he was being paid, the company would cease to pay that employee. This may not seem unusual and it should not be unusual. Nonetheless, one way in which The People’s Health Insurance Company would differ from other insurance companies is that this policy would hold true for all cases, including those involving the highest positions of management, including the CEO. The CEO or leader of The People’s Insurance Company would not continue to be paid if she or he left the company on unfavorable terms.

The employees would, of course, have the right to organize so that the fair labor practices which were put into place in the beginning would be able to withstand the unforeseen leadership of a potential future greedy leader.

The lack of ornamentally extravagant surroundings coupled with the fair pay practices would be the reason The People’s Health Insurance Company would be able to offer everyone and anyone who is a citizen of the US or is even visiting the US any medical care necessary. It would not be free as our government insists that a profit must be realized from the illnesses or injuries of Americans. There would be a payment expected. That payment would be a monthly premium based upon a sliding scale. That premium would be the only payment expected of the clients. There would be no one in the United States who The People’s Health Insurance Company would not cover. In fact, it is quite possible that those who now receive coverage through their employers would view The People’s Health Insurance Company as a competitive option. It is quite possible that The People’s Health Insurance Company would help to lift the burden of providing health care support from businesses large and small. It is quite possible that The People’s Health Insurance Company would even provide “special” arrangements for people who worked for large American based corporations who kept their manufacturing facilities in this country or returned those facilities to this country. The People’s Health Insurance Company would reserve the right to audit the pay practices of corporations to make certain that they pay their employees what The People’s Health Insurance Company would consider a living wage.

The People’s Health Insurance Company would not turn anyone away who needed health care support. This includes those who are today protesting on behalf of wealthy insurance company CEOs and/or protesting our president’s skin color. Those people would come to The People’s Health Insurance Company for health insurance in spite of the fact that they are today not allowing our government to provide health care support for them.

Finally, there are medical providers who also want to see universal health care implemented, but who want to make sure that they are also treated fairly. The People’s Health Insurance Company would operate under the premise that providers entered the occupation to provide medical care to people, not to become wealthy from merely doing a job. The People’s Health Insurance Company should look forward to working with doctors, nurses and medical facilities whose main goal is to promote the general welfare. These would be proud and patriotic Americans who realize that illness and injury do not exist for the purpose of providing them a generous paying job.

Admittedly, this is only a straw man for what The People’s Health Insurance Company could do.

The People’s Health Insurance Company would need to get support from those who have a significant financial fortune and who are today in favor of the kind of universal health care that every other industrialized nation provides. The People’s Health Insurance Company will never even get off the ground without straight out donations from those who can donate significant sums of money. This should not be a problem as we all have seen people who are wealthy by almost any standard express support for universal health care. And that is exactly what The People’s Health Insurance Company would be providing, universal health care. If this never happened, we would have the right to question the sincerity of people who are expressing support for universal health care.

Universal health care is something the US government should be providing for American citizens.

It’s sad that Americans who believe that ours is a “we” society and not an “I’ve got mine so screw you” society would have to fill the gap left in the Founding Fathers’ mission statement with no help from their government. However, as stated, we heard our government’s answer to the question, “Do you intend to promote the general welfare of Americans?” and that answer has always been, is now and will no doubt always be a resounding, “No!”

To friendship,
Michael

“The skill of writing is to create a context in which other people can think.” - Edwin Schlossberg

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Taking the Trash to Task

(published by OpEdNews)


It took almost the entire presidency of George W. Bush for people to understand that The Regime was lying about why it sent people to die in Iraq. There, indeed, were comparisons to Hitler by those who saw Bush, Cheney and others promoting and actually carrying out overreaches of the executive branch. For the greater part of the so called “Bush Administration”, those who opposed The Regime were marginalized and dismissed by the mainstream media.

Immediately following 9/11, it would have been very difficult to find an American who did not stand firmly behind his/her president. That loyalty, although misdirected, was carried into the invasion of Iraq.

The real “attacks” on The Regime happened not only after it was selected in 2000, but after it began leaking the fact that it intended to invade Iraq. This was in 2002, almost two years after the 2000 election. Furthermore, the opposition was based upon policy and only policy. It was based upon policy that it took The Regime almost two years to formulate.

Before Barack Obama was even inaugurated in January of 2008, there was already one well organized web site dedicated to impeaching the then president-elect. That’s how long it took people to realize that Barack Obama’s “presidency was a failure and based upon a lie”.

Yesterday, September 12, 2008, 8 ½ months after that inauguration, Glen Beck and the corporate sponsored FreedomWorks Foundation led what was described as tens of thousands of people in a march on Washington, DC. Naturally, the sponsors of the event claimed that there were a million or so people in attendance. If there were truly 400 or 500 people in attendance, one could dismiss the event as being overhyped by its organizers. However, MSNBC claimed that “tens of thousands” of so called “fiscal conservatives” showed up to “protest government spending”.

As proven when the statue of Saddam Hussein was toppled in Paradise Square in Bagdad, the positioning of the camera taking the picture can veil the truth about the actual number of people in attendance at any event.

However, MSNBC is not likely to give the sort of crowd that showed up yesterday in Washington an inch more credit than it deserves. Several camera shots reinforced the numbers of people claimed to be in attendance by MSNBC and other news outlets. There are a lot of people in the US who may not like what Barack Obama has proposed for the nation during his 8 ½ months as president. More importantly, however, since what Obama has proposed has mostly been for the benefit of the kind of people who are in the financial class as most of those attending yesterday’s rally, it should be difficult to understand why in such a short time so many would express such deep rooted hate of Obama’s policies so early into his administration.

An email made its way around cyberspace earlier this summer. It was a copy of a letter which was supposedly written by an executive of The Proctor & Gamble corporation. As you will see, the letter doesn’t deal much with policy, but it is, nonetheless, a letter attacking President Barack Obama. It is also an insight into what drove so many people to Washington DC on September 12, 2008.

The letter is an example of the kind of unsubstantiated trash that those who are for the most part uninformed send out. Those who originally sent the letter out felt that everyone should read it and find out the “truth” about our president.

I partially agree with these people. I believe all should get a chance to read the letter, not to find out the “truth” about our president, but to find out the truth about those who write such letters and those who showed up yesterday in Washington DC.

Well known writer/author Ron Suskind wrote an article for The New York Times in October of 2004. The title of the article is “Without A Doubt”. The article dealt with the then potential consequences of the results of the 2004 presidential election. The following is an excerpt from Suskind’s article:

"In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend -- but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

"The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."
It seems clear that the letter writer, as well as those who “marched on Washington yesterday, may still believe in the practice of trying to create reality. The letter, after all, is extremely creative.

I read this ugly, lie riddled letter and I felt obligated to point out some of the fantasies.

AN OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA

Dear President Obama:

You are the thirteenth President under whom I have lived and unlike any of the others, you truly scare me.You scare me because after months of exposure, I know nothing about you.
Senator Barack Hussein Obama truly began running for the presidency of The United States after delivering an enlightened, powerful and revealing keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic Party convention.

Obama used the first 314 words of that speech to briefly introduce himself, his background, his family and their backgrounds.

He spoke of his father, his mother, his grandmother and spoke with extreme pride about his grandfather who signed up for duty after Pearl Harbor and “marched across Europe” as part of George S. Patton’s army.

It would have taken mere moments of attentive listening to begin to learn about Barack Obama on the evening of July 24, 2004.

I googled “Obama biography” and it returned 4,670,000 hits. If one doesn’t know anything about Barack Obama, it can only be because one doesn’t want to know anything about Barack Obama.You scare me because I do not know how you paid for your expensive Ivy League education and your upscale lifestyle and housing with no visible signs of support.
I began to read some of the multitudinous biographies in an attempt to find out just how President Obama paid for his expensive Ivy League education and the letter writer is correct, there isn’t an awful lot about how he made those payments.

Then it dawned on me. I began to read biographies of several presidents and their methods of payment for post secondary education aren’t exactly crystal clear either. The question, then, becomes, “Why does it bother the letter writer so much because he can’t find ledgers documenting this particular president’s college payment schedules?”

I did get the following quote from one of the many, many, many biographies:

“With a father from Kenya and a mother from Kansas, President Obama was born in Hawaii on August 4, 1961. He was raised with help from his grandfather, who served in Patton's army, and his grandmother, who worked her way up from the secretarial pool to middle management at a bank.

“After working his way through college with the help of scholarships and student loans, President Obama moved to Chicago, where he worked with a group of churches to help rebuild communities devastated by the closure of local steel plants.”

This is more than one would find about many presidents.

You scare me because you did not spend the formative years of youth growing up in America and culturally you are not an American.
Are those who live in parts of our nation called “Little Italy” or “Chinatown” culturally American? I submit that the letter writer would answer, “No.”

It’s difficult to pin down who is and who is not culturally American in the United States, a truly multicultural nation.

After his birth in the US state of Hawaii in 1961, no matter where he resided, Barack Obama remained the son of an American woman and the grandson of another American woman and, as mentioned, a member of The Greatest Generation.

There were presidents who knew only of foreign lands through what they may have read and been told.

This was completely understandable in the 19th century. However, for an American president to not have traveled abroad before being selected president in 2000 is inexcusable and, considering the wherewithal of the man of whom I speak, is lazy and apathetic.

On the other hand, Barack Obama learned first-hand of cultures that were far from American and the richness of that hands-on education has and will continue to serve him well during his presidency. Considering the cultures with which the US has recently been at odds, it is to our benefit that our president knows those cultures intimately so he can avoid looking at them through purely hubristic, jingoistic eyes. He is intelligent enough to avoid arrogantly calling any conflict involving these cultures a “crusade” and flaming the fires that much more.

You scare me because you have never run a company or met a payroll.
Does the letter writer know how may presidents have run a company and met a payroll? I didn’t think so. This and the next point of “fear” are just “close your eyes and throw the dart” types of irrelevant and/or hypocritical nonsense.You scare me because you have never had military experience, thus don't understand it at its core.

More hypocritical nonsense. It takes less than two hands to count how many people in the previous administration, an administration who sent over 4500 American soldiers to their deaths, had any military experience.

The same goes for the administration prior to that one.

So, I guess, “C’mon, who are you trying to kid?” is an appropriate response for this “fear”.You scare me because you lack humility and 'class', always blaming others.

“Always blaming others.”

“Always” is quite often. I can name times when Obama has said “my bad”. And blaming others makes him different than most other politicians – how?

If he’s ever blamed others, is it possible that it might be that others are to blame?

You scare me because for over half your life you have aligned yourself with radical extremists who hate America and you refuse to publicly denounce these radicals who wish to see America fail.
Here’s a place when all that can be said is, “The truth is that Barack Obama has not aligned himself with radical extremists who hate America for half of his life – pure and simple.” I guess that makes the above statement a lie, the vomitus bile that extrudes from such toxic places as Fox Fake News and Rush Limbaugh’s well paid fat mouth. That’s the mouth that’s paid to keep this country as divided and self-flagellating as possible. The people that the letter writer obviously listens to are paid to spread lies, many which I believe they, themselves, know are lies. But, money talks and money means more to some than a United States of America.

Of course, Bill Ayers “are the radical extremists” with whom Obama has “aligned” himself. Yes, at the age of eight, Obama was right there at Ayers’ side.

You scare me because you are a cheerleader for the 'blame America ' crowd and deliver this message abroad.
Of course, here the letter writer is referring to the president’s speech in Cairo. The president said:

“More recently, tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations.”

To be fair, it would be the onus of the letter writer to disprove that the US has, indeed, colonized the Middle East, with the help of its unscrupulous leaders. It has done so to the point where we in the US extract and use more Middle East oil than do the people who live atop of that oil.

So, on the one hand, we have one president who calls it as it is and, on the other hand, a former president who chose to insult the people of the region by exclaiming that ours is a “crusade” against the people of the region. Those people and their ancestors know the horrors hidden behind the word “crusade” all too well. You scare me because you want to change America to a European style country where the government sector dominates instead of the private sector.
The United States has a Constitution and, although I pride myself on getting to know the Constitution better and better as time goes on, I had to, yet, read it again to try to find where it states that the private sector should “dominate” the social discourse in our country.

For sure the private sector has a major role to play in the US, especially in the area of commerce.

However, it is not the place of the private sector to declare war or to make laws which “promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to (the American people) and (their) posterity”. That is and always has been and always will be the job of government.

If the writer is saying that, despite what The Constitution says and in total defiance of The Constitution, the private sector, through its illegal lobbying and payoffs of members of Congress, actually make these decisions that should be made by the government, then I’d have to agree. This is an unfortunately widely accepted illegal practice that anyone who claims to be “patriotic” should be working very hard to stop.

You scare me because you want to replace our health care system with a government controlled one.
The letter writer, as all who oppose government involvement in distributing and assuring health care for all Americans, should not fear government control. They should be embarrassed and ashamed that The United States of America is the only industrialized nation in the world who sees health care as a privilege, not a right.

It never ceases to amaze me that people will campaign against their own best interests.

No one wants to do away with Medicare or the VA, two “socialized medicine” systems which are managed efficiently and effectively by the government. I don’t hear members of Congress wanting to do away with their health care plan; another government provided, paid for and administered system.

We trust government when it comes to making life and death decisions under the most catastrophic of circumstances, war. However, suddenly government isn’t up to the task of implementing and overseeing health care delivery. The double standard is palpable and the hypocrisy in ubiquitous.

You scare me because you prefer 'wind mills' to responsibly capitalizing on our own vast oil, coal and shale reserves.
Let’s look at the earth as a closed system, sort of like a space ship. The resources inside a space ship are finite. So are the resources inside the space ship earth. Eventually the resources on this space ship will run out. Isn’t finding a method of creating the energy we need from that which will not “run out” the intelligent thing to do?

I also wonder if the letter writer actually realizes what kinds of things happen when we mine the types of carbon based energy sources about which he speaks.

Is humanity the only life form upon the earth? Of course not.

Is it humanity’s right to extinguish other life forms so that humanity can continue to live the unsustainable life style to which it’s accustomed?

If you answer, “Yes”, I strongly suggest you research the word “ecosystem”. The basic meaning of the word “ecosystem” says that humanity will reap what it sows. What we destroy while mining oil, coal and shale reserves are parts of the ecosystem that we need. Indeed, it is far, far more important that we keep the ecosystem intact than it is for us to mine oil, coal and shale reserves.

Humanity needs to use the intelligence that has evolved with it to discover and/or create new sources that can give us close to what we are used to without using finite resources and damaging ecosystems.

The letter writer not only insults human intelligence and resourcefulness, but displays a total disregard for all other life forms on earth. More seriously, he shows his ignorance of the necessity of a balanced ecosystem.

You scare me because you want to kill the American capitalist goose that lays the golden egg which provides the highest standard of living in the world.
According to the UN, the five countries with the highest standard of living are Iceland, Norway, Canada, Australia and Ireland. The US ranks 15th. This makes the premise of the above “fear” a lie on its face.

In a speech he made on July 17, President Obama said,

“I've always been a strong believer in the power of the free market. It has been and will remain the engine of America's progress -- the source of prosperity that's unrivaled in history. I believe that jobs are best created not by government, but by businesses and entrepreneurs who are willing to take a risk on a good idea. I believe that our role is not to disparage wealth, but to expand its reach; not to stifle the market, but to strengthen its ability to unleash the creativity and innovation that still make this nation the envy of the world.

“That's our goal -- to restore markets in which we reward hard work and responsibility and innovation, not recklessness and greed; in which honest, vigorous competition is the system -- in the system is prized, and those who game the system are thwarted.”

What the letter writer doesn’t speak about is the “recklessness and greed” which has been the true assailant of American capitalism.

Unfortunately, the derivatives market was based upon reality and involved peoples’ mortgages, savings and retirement accounts. As with all gambling, the house won most of the hands and the sources upon which these high stakes gamblers bet, lost and shared their losses, thus creating the untenable and immoral economic downturn which began in 2006, were mostly so called subprime mortgages. This disaster was inherited by President Obama’s administration.

Warren Buffet, the wealthiest person in the entire world, reached that position not by leading a Socialist revolution, but by using the tools of capitalism. In Buffet’s case, the tools were honest, indeed, legal economic tools.

Thus, Buffet’s 2002 exposure of the greed that was taking hold inside American corporations, especially financial institutions, and his prediction of economic catastrophe, should have been heeded, but was not. This greed manifested itself through derivatives, instruments more risky and less certain than those used by t-shirted men with unshaven faces who show up at the horse track or the casino day in and day out.

The following is a summation of what Buffet, who even the letter writer has to admit should know something about economics, had to say in 2002, six years before Barack Obama was elected president of The United States:

“I view derivatives as time bombs, both for the parties that deal in them and the economic system. Basically these instruments call for money to change hands at some future date, with the amount to be determined by one or more reference items, such as interest rates, stock prices, or currency values.

“… before a contract is settled, the counter parties record profits and losses – often huge in amount – in their current earnings statements without so much as a penny changing hands. Reported earnings on derivatives are often wildly overstated. That’s because today’s earnings are in a significant way based on estimates whose inaccuracy may not be exposed for many years.

“…the parties to derivatives… have enormous incentives to cheat in accounting for them. …often there is no real market…. This substitution can bring on large-scale mischief. In extreme cases, mark-to-model degenerates into what I would call mark-to-myth.

“Almost invariably, they (derivatives) have favored either the trader who was eyeing a multi-million dollar bonus or the CEO who wanted to report impressive “earnings” (or both). The bonuses were paid, and the CEO profited from his options. Only much later did shareholders learn that the reported earnings were a
sham.


“Another problem about derivatives is that they can exacerbate trouble that a corporation has run into for completely unrelated reasons. …It all becomes a spiral that can lead to a corporate meltdown.

“Derivatives also create a daisy-chain risk that is akin to the risk run by insurers or reinsurers that lay off much of their business with others. In both cases, huge receivables from many counter-parties tend to build up over time. A participant may see himself as prudent, believing his large credit exposures to be diversified and therefore not dangerous. However under certain circumstances, an exogenous event that causes the receivable from Company A to go bad will also affect those from Companies B through Z.

“In banking, the recognition of a “linkage” problem was one of the reasons for the formation of the Federal Reserve System. Before the Fed was established, the failure of weak banks would sometimes put sudden and unanticipated liquidity demands on previously-strong banks, causing them to fail in turn. The Fed now insulates the strong from the troubles of the weak. But there is no central bank assigned to the job of preventing the dominoes toppling in insurance or derivatives. In these industries, firms that are fundamentally solid can become troubled simply because of the travails of other firms further down the chain.”

How prolific was this risky trading of derivatives? The worth of the derivatives now out, the bets that have been made against such resources as mortgages, is now $1.4 quadrillion. That’s right, quadrillion dollars. The GDP of the entire planet is $45 trillion. There are more derivative “bets” out right now than there is money to pay them off, should they come due. Exactly how is Barack Obama to blame for this madness which began in 2006?

As you can see, President Obama has not killed any goose, capitalist or otherwise.

You scare me because you have begun to use 'extortion' tactics against certain banks and corporations.
As you can plainly see from the previous response, those who hold banks and corporations hostage are the CEOs and top executives of those banks and corporations.

In 1980, the median pay for CEOs of multinational corporations was 42 times that of the workers who made those companies tick, who actually produced the wealth.

Today, that number is 344. The median income for CEOs of multinational corporations is 344 times that of the people who actually create the wealth.

What is patriotism? Is it patriotic for the CEO of an American based corporation to ensure the unemployment of American workers while they rake in millions and millions of dollars? As of late, much of this compensation is in response to a job well failed. CEOs do something that they are trying like hell to stop their workers from being able to do. They sign contracts before they begin working for a company. Not only do these contracts ensure them an obscene salary while they are employed. These contracts ensure that the CEOs receive severance packages when they leave the company which are worth more than the front line worker will ever earn in her or his entire career. These are the same CEOs and top executives who throw American workers out into the streets in favor of slave labor found in Asia, Mexico, Central and South America. These CEOs receive these obscene severance packages whether they retire or are fired. It doesn’t matter if they’ve failed. Even if they’ve failed, they take an enormous amount of money with them when they leave the company. That’s money that could be paid to front line workers who, in turn, would spend it, consequently strengthening the economy.

Who are the extortionists, indeed?

You scare me because your own political party shrinks from challenging you on your wild and irresponsible spending proposals.
Democrats support Democratic presidents and Republicans support Republican presidents. However, no party has supported a president in such tight lock step as did the Republicans of the 108th and 109th Congresses. They supported a president who spent money he didn’t have to wage war with a country who did nothing to The United States of America. They, and Democrats as well, supported the president and his illegal war that took the country from a $128 billion budget surplus to a $496 billion deficit. Now that’s a congress that shrinks from its responsibility.You scare me because you will not openly listen to or even consider opposing points of view from intelligent people.

Barack Obama is well versed in communications technology and is using it to encourage and accept interactive, two way communication with the American people. One tool he’s using is what is called The Open Government Blog. Never in the history of the United States of America has a president been so open with the American people. Granted, he has more technology on his side than most previous presidents. However, the Clinton and the Bush administrations could also have used the very same technology to open the debate and the discussion, but chose not to do so.

It is apparent that intelligent people are just the people with whom President Obama wishes to interact. This may be the reason the letter writer isn’t aware of the president’s Open Government Blog.

Additionally, do we know of any other president in modern history who would have invited the two parties involved in a local police matter to The White House for a beer to talk the situation through? No, we don’t.

You scare me because you falsely believe that you are both omnipotent and omniscient.
Ah, and the truth begins to ooze out! The letter writer is presuming to know what Barack Obama believes about himself. Where does the letter writer get this inside, very inside, information?

We can only learn what people believe about themselves if those people choose to tell us what they believe about themselves.

I’ve heard Barack Obama say that he has enough confidence in himself to be president of the United States. George W. Bush, John Kerry, Bill Clinton…on down to Theodore Roosevelt; each person has told his contemporaries that he believes he can be president. Expressing and sharing that belief is necessary if one wishes to run for the presidency. It’s anything but arrogant.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the letter writer hasn’t heard President Obama say much. I honestly believe that I’ve heard more of what the president has said than the letter writer has heard and I’ve never heard President Barack Obama say the he believes he is omnipotent and omniscient. Furthermore, I know that President Obama is far too intelligent to believe that about himself or about any other human being.

The letter writer has begun projecting and the truth begins to come to the surface.You scare me because the media gives you a free pass on everything you do.
The media gives a president a free pass when it does not question a president who uses resources that should be used to capture those who took down The Twin Towers on September 11, 2001 to invade a nation who had nothing at all to do with that event.

The media gives a president a free pass when it knows of a British cabinet meeting held on Downing Street in which it becomes clear that President Bush intended to invade Iraq, whether or not it possessed so called weapons of mass destruction. What mainstream media outfit ran with this?

Bush lied to Congress and to the American people when he said that Saddam Hussein had 48 hours to leave Iraq or face an American invasion. According to the notes taken during the July 23, 2002 Downing Street Cabinet meeting, The American Regime was going to invade Iraq no matter what the outcome of the UN vote was and no matter if Saddam Hussein stepped down or not.

This lie was not as large and as important as the lie that forced Nixon out of office. The Regime’s lie was much, much bigger than Nixon’s lie and much, much more important and involved putting American troops in harm’s way for absolutely no good reason. Where were investigative reporters like Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward? This should have brought The Regime down and brought it down quickly.

That’s a shameful pass given to a murderous regime by a compliant press.

You scare me because you demonize and want to silence the Limbaughs, Hannitys, O'Relllys and Becks who offer opposing, conservative points of view.
First of all, we should all be thankful that there aren’t “Limbaughs”, “Hannitys”, “O’Reillys” or “Becks”. We should be thankful that there is only one of each of these people.

Secondly, the letter writer shouldn’t fear any attempt he believes the president is making to silence the above mentioned people because, if there is such a plan, it’s unfortunately not working.

The people mentioned above are paid handsomely to keep Americans divided and to keep the flames of hate and discontent burning.

I said that people can’t know what others believe. However, I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that one, some or maybe all of the people mentioned above and those that spew anti-American venom on the Fox Fake New Network may not believe what they shout. Some of the people do, indeed, seem intelligent and, if that’s the case, they know very well that what they do is build obstacles to a truly United States of America. They are paid handsomely to do this.

They are as successful as they are because, judging from the kind of trash contained in this so called letter and judging from what I’ve heard their followers say, their followers listen to them, watch Fox Fake News and are loathe to do any research on their own. Keeping a loyal following is easy if one’s followers take what one says as the gospel truth and don’t check the facts.

My sense is that the followers of Fox Fake News, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly and Glenn Beck unfortunately get all of their information from these people and do no investigation on their own.

As far as the president’s trying to silence these people, I have to, again, point to the Open Government Blog. Anyone, even those mentioned above, can add to the blog.

However, these people don’t want to add to an open and honest discussion of issues. These people, like the letter writer, want simply to shout at the moon and anger those who are too lazy to read.

I challenge anyone who believes the lies to begin to become an independent student of current events and of history. Do your own reading and researching.

You scare me because you prefer controlling over governing.
The problem is there hasn’t been any governing for at least the past eight years.

In fact, an important advisor to the previous Republican administration made the following statement:

“I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.”

Remember derivatives – the wealthiest people in the world have more worth tied up in derivatives than there is worth in the world. People like this need to be at least regulated, if not, indeed, controlled.

An American government who cares about all of its people, not just the wealthy, will regulate those who, for some reason, believe they have an unfettered right to all of the wealth in the world.

Read the polls. Look at the results of the last election.

Americans want America to ensure that their children receive a good education.

Americans want America to ensure that all Americans have access to needed health care.

Americans want America to keep its citizens safe.

Americans don’t want America to spread what it thinks would be an appropriate form of governance to other nations by bombing those nations into submission.

Under President Obama, there is, once again, a democratically elected American government which is trying to bring back the conditions that created the great American middle class.

Finally, you scare me because if you serve a second term I will probably not feel safe in writing a similar letter in 8 years.
President Obama did not produce The Patriot Act, a shameful piece of legislation, approved by members of Congress with both Rs and Ds after their names. Those who voted for this intrusive, invasive and illegal “law” should have been removed from office and not been allowed to hold any public office in The United States. That’s the kind of legislation that should make the letter writer “scared” and not feel safe to write what he thinks.

However, this letter writer didn’t write this letter out of a concern for America and Americans. I submit that the letter writer is probably repulsed by more than half of the American people. I say this because more than half of the American people are not Caucasian.

This letter, like yesterday’s “march on Washington, was created out of hatred and racial intolerance.

Remember “America, love it or leave it?” It’s what I was told so many times when I thought that the government of this country was engaged in wars it should not have been fighting. I was told that to disagree with “your president” or “your government” was unpatriotic.

I will not use the same line for those who believe that this letter contains anything substantive and should be sent out to everyone so everyone can see what President Barack Obama is “really all about.” I will not say to them, “America, love it or leave it.”

However, if the reason they find this letter so “awesome” and are passing it around, hoping to create hate toward our president; if the reason tens of thousands of them rallied in Washington DC yesterday, carrying hateful posters which depicted President Obama as Hitler, Stalin or in any other disrespectful manner is that they are racists, then they should just say so. They need to cease attacking the character of the President of the United States of America by pointing to anything that resembles policy. The fact is they don’t care about President Obama’s policies. They need to admit that. They’re ignorant, intolerant racists and I will say that there is no longer any room for them and their racism in The United States of America.

There is no need for them and their racism in The United States of America.

In fact, I submit that most of us, the vast majority of Americans, actually desire that they exit our country and take their racism with them.

To friendship,
Michael

“It's not the voting that's democracy, it's the counting.” - Tom Stoppard

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Message to a Racist

(originally published at OpEdNews)

OK, let’s get real. There are several reasons why it’s so easy to talk people into opposing something that could be for their own good. In the case of health care reform, the biggest reason is racism. And this time around it’s a twofer.

First, you oppose health care because it’s being proposed by an American racist’s worse nightmare, a Black president. That’s right, Barack Obama has saved you from having to blame the potential beneficiaries of health care reform.

When others like President Clinton have proposed reform, you had to be a bit more open. To paraphrase something I heard with my own ears, “I don’t want to pay for health care for Leroy or José.”

Take note, Sparky. How many dead bodies have you had to drive over or step over today? None, you say. If you’d like, I can explain that to you.

We’ve not yet gotten to the point of outright denying health care to people just because they can’t pay for it. Poor people with black skin, brown skin and, yes, even white skin ultimately receive medical treatment. Granted, they get it by going to hospital emergency rooms and they get it when their condition is so bad that the care they need winds up costing more than it would have cost if they had insurance or the wherewithal to go to a doctor earlier.

No we haven’t yet begun to just let people die out on the street. I’m thinking you actually know who pays for the care of those poor people who have no insurance and end up going to hospital emergency rooms. In case you don’t, I’ll tell you who pays. I do and so do you. So, want to or not, you’re paying for Leroy and José and even some White guy named, let’s say, Bubba.

If that’s not enough to get you to stop shooting yourself in the foot, consider this.

I’m assuming that you have health care insurance. I think this because, if nothing else, you’re selfish. You may have to hold your nose, but, if you didn’t have health care insurance and there was a way for you to get it, even if it’s on someone else’s dime, you’d be for it.

You pay premiums no doubt. Do you know all of the people in your health insurance network? Are you one of those manly men or manly women who never get sick? It’s just that you wouldn’t be crazy enough to be without health insurance because you know that you just might need medical care one day. Besides, your employer still kicks in a little something, for now.

I’m going out on a limb here, but I suppose that you’re not a big believer in mental health treatment. I’m going to assume that you don’t believe that mental illness is caused by anything biological or physiological. You probably think that people who claim to have or who have been diagnosed with depression, panic/anxiety disorder or obsessive/compulsive disorder are pussies and are just hiding behind those phony words.

Here’s a shocker for you. Not all Leroys, Josés or even Bubbas are lazy bums who don’t have jobs. Some work and some are even in your health insurance network. It gets better.

The fact that you don’t think that mental illness is a biologically based disease doesn’t prevent mental illness from actually being a biologically based disease. Your insurance company knows this and covers mental illness treatment. It covers it for a person whose name is John, Bubba, Leroy or José. That’s right, my racist fellow American, you may be paying for someone you disdain because of how he looks to receive treatment for an illness you don’t “believe in”. Furthermore, instead of paying for it with a small tax donation, you’re doing it with your outrageous insurance premium.

This is fun, you know? And I’m not even finished yet.

I haven’t checked, but I would be willing to bet that not one CEO of a major health insurance company is Black or Hispanic. However, I worked for a Fortune 500 global corporation and, even though I’m not proud of that fact, I was able to watch as that corporation was promoting people with dark skin to major positions. In spite of what you believe, once they get there, they are legitimately there, just as our president is legitimately our president.

So, Mr. White, you could be paying for dark skinned people to receive emergency room treatment with your taxes, dark skinned people to receive treatment that you don’t even believe is needed with your premiums and possibly a $1, $2 or $3 million dollar or more salary for a dark skinned executive who works for your private sector insurance company.

Hold on, I have one more.

If you are beating yourself up by turning your back on the chance to maintain health insurance whether you keep or lose your job, I’m going to posit that you supported your president when he invaded Iraq. You no doubt had a love/hate relationship with 9/11. Even you, like the rest of us, were angered and, dare I say, saddened by what happened on 9/11. However, you might have liked it just a little bit because it gave you the opportunity to use the pejorative “towel head”. 9/11 even helped you learn a new one, “haji”.

You don’t want your tax dollars paying for health care for Leroy or José, but you don’t mind paying for bombs, at least you didn’t mind and I’m betting, even if you turned on Iraq, your support was good to the last drop. After all, it enabled you to call people like me traitors and unpatriotic. You just love calling people names, don’t you? I used to do it, too, when I was in first grade. Well, I admit, referring to you as a racist is a bit cathartic for me, but I only do it because you are one.

What’s a bomb? What’s that precious tax dollar paying for?

The government gives a private contractor lots of money, some of it yours, to take some steel, mold it, possibly fill it with something volatile and then load it onto a plane. The plane then flies over some “target” in Iraq or now, maybe, Afghanistan, and drops that molded metal or propels it into a building. What happens to your tax dollar then? It breaks into billions of little pieces, never to be of any use ever again. Bye, bye tax dollar.

Of course, you’ll justify it if there are 100 members of The Taliban inside the building and they’re all burnt to a crisp. You won’t entertain the possibility that your tax dollar collaterally burnt 100 Afghan children to a crisp because that might even bother you.

Well, that’s it, I guess. Continue to shill for your HMO protectors, even though they won’t protect you if you should lose your job. And continue to pay for what you think you’re avoiding. I see no good reason for you to start thinking logically now.

To friendship,
Michael

“In journalism, there has always been a tension between getting it first and getting it right”. - Ellen Goodman

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