Tuesday, December 08, 2009

“Patriots” in the Health Care Debate

(originally published at OpEdNews)


There have been a great many reasons given for steering clear of government run health care.

At the bottom of it all is an 1886 Supreme Court decision which did not give the status of natural personhood to corporations but which subsequent Supreme Court cases have cited as if it did give that status to corporations. The case of Santa Clara County v. The Southern Pacific Railroad was as flawed a Supreme Court Decision as any Supreme Court decision and more than most. It should and, hopefully, will be the subject of future articles.

This article, however, must unfortunately be written accepting the premise that even those in the highest levels of our country’s judiciary are still under the false impression that corporations are natural persons and should be treated as such. Under the guise of using their First Amendment right of free speech, health insurance corporations have been able to round up “grassroots” supporters from a small, noisy pool of uninformed “patriots” and neatly place these supporters inside town hall meetings facilitated by members of Congress. These people are anything but neat once the meeting begins. They not only shout down the members of Congress if those members of Congress support health care reform, but have been known to shout down people who are ill or otherwise down and out because of the thieves and the boards of directors who run the health care insurance business.

What are some of the things these “patriots” complain about in opposing health care reform?

First, we have to talk about Socialism. To the uninformed, Socialism is a tyrannical form of governance in which the federal government owns everyone’s lives. Socialism is a form of government which reviews high stepping paraders on the first day of every May. Under Socialism, the government taps the phones of all citizens and intercepts all communications. It reads everyone’s emails and secretly opens everyone’s snail mail before it’s delivered to the intended recipient. To learn the details of how this kind of government operates, read DAYBREAK; UNDOING THE IMPERIAL PRESIDENCY AND FORMING A MORE PERFECT UNION by David Swanson, co-founder of the After Downing Street Coalition. This wonderfully revealing book talks about the so called George W. Bush administration or, more appropriately named, The Regime.

Socialist governments tie the hands of commerce for the good of the state. Under Socialism, only a privileged few can even get into a position of national governance. In the inspiring rags to riches capitalist democratic republic of The United States of America, it’s heartening to know that one can become president by raising and spending a modest $750 million, as did Barack Obama in 2008.

People are thrown in prison because they disagree with the state. Thus, it’s only natural that under a Socialist government, a nation would have more people imprisoned than a nation which is not a Socialist nation.

The fact that the US, home of possibly more Socialist fearing people than any nation in the world, has the highest incarceration rate in the world, giving it the highest documented prison population in the world, is merely a product of the manifest destiny which ultimately became American exceptionalism.

Responses to the fear of domestic spying and open elections have been offered over and over again and most who are reading this article don’t need to be reminded of the irrationality of the comparisons between the anti Socialist US and the rest of the world. They neither have to be repeated nor reproved here.

However, those “natural” people who seem to have more power per person than other “natural” people are able to say of Socialism, “Be afraid. Be very afraid.” And those smaller people who don’t seem to feel the need to be self informed, are, indeed, very afraid of Socialism.

Just as the large natural persons have convinced the smaller persons that marijuana is a gateway drug and will ultimately lead to one stealing money from one’s neighbor to get the next heroin fix, those large persons have convinced those very same smaller persons that socialized medicine will for certain lead to those goose stepping parades and balcony reviews.

The “patriots” want their country back. Giving Barack Obama eight months to take their country away from them - the above mentioned town hall meetings began in August of 2009 - was unconscionable of the 52% of American voters who voted for him. Although he’s since proven disappointing to many voters in this country, including the independents and liberals who voted for him, these corporate fabricated grassroots movements knew before he was ever elected that he was too “uppity” to even run for the office and totally incapable of doing the job.

The article “Socialism and Democracy; The People’s Combination” attempts to explain that the word “socialism” shares its roots with such well accepted words as “social”, “society” and “sociable”. The article shows that, when thought of in that light, socialism or Socialism isn’t a very frightening word at all. Not only that, but if the premise of Socialism can be expanded to other, possibly private sectors of society, we see that not much that we do isn’t of a socialist nature. Many of those activities don’t even have a democratic component.

For example, how many workplaces, especially private sector work places, are democratically governed? Those who remember what it was like to work in a manufacturing factory in the US know that, once a worker enters the corporation’s property, democracy is left at the gate. How many of a Fortune 500 global corporation’s workers have a say in who the leader of their corporation will be? How many workers have a say in how the company can become more “competitive”? Certainly not the workers who are laid off, that’s for sure.

Where there is no union representing a workforce, corporations claim to have the freedom to “pay for performance”. Yet, the payroll, especially for the workers on the lower rungs of the employee ladder, is only so large. One worker may receive a higher salary than another worker based upon some far from democratically decided rating or ranking system, but the difference between the highest and lowest paid worker isn’t much more than a few thousand dollars a year, mere pocket change for the top employee, the CEO. In spite of the fact that many corporations have instituted what are called 360º feedback processes, many of these processes are based upon hearsay, rumor and interpersonal relationships, not upon a well thought out review of the performance of one’s peers. The decision by many large corporations to expunge front line supervisors who emanate from the ranks of the workers makes this feedback system even more of a farce. When one goes to work, one goes to a place where every non executive worker is basically treated the same by an elite management. It’s socialism of the worse kind. It’s undemocratic socialism.

This analogy can be used in the health care debate as well. Uninformed “patriots” claim that Socialism won’t work and that’s why any health care reform in the US will be dangerous. This is because a “deserving” person will be forced to pay for the health care of an “undeserving” person.

How does the private sector health care system differ from this?

The private sector is made up of groups of people, millions in some cases, who don’t know a thing about one another. These people pay premiums which create a central fund whence their health care coverage comes. However, not only do these people pay into a central fund, but they’re expected to pay more money called co-pays and deductibles before they can even draw anything from the central fund.

Why isn’t the premium paid into this central fund enough to cover the client’s health care? The overhead for private sector health care institutions is over 30%. This overhead not only covers necessary administrative costs which would exist in any business, private or otherwise, but it covers a payroll for upper management, in particular the company CEO. This is not an insignificant amount as the five top paid CEOs in the health insurance business make an average of $12,211,480 per year. This overhead is made even greater when the plush buildings which house the corporate elite are taken into consideration.

Those who oppose health reform in which government possesses any meaningful role do so, as mentioned, because they claim that government bureaucrats will simply build one more link in the bridge towards Socialism. The subsequent governing body will become far too intimately involved in the personal lives of US citizens and there will be parades on every first of May.

Consequently, by fighting government run health care, these “patriots” are saying that they’d rather be part of a privately owned and run socialist association. They’d rather the CEO and top managers of this association collect personal information about them. They’d rather take the chance of paying for the health care of people who they don’t know through this socialist association than through a governmentally facilitated association. It’s possible that these “patriots” assume that other members of the association are as “deserving” as they are because, like them, the other members can afford private sector insurance which means that those members must have jobs thus, consequently, aren’t lazy. It’s possible that it doesn’t occur to these “patriots” that there are people who do, indeed, have jobs but the health care “assistance” provided by their employers, if their employers provide any, is so lame that they still can’t afford the ever increasing premiums, deductibles and co-pays.

It’s also possible that those who oppose health care reform which includes government involvement believe that all of those who get a piece of their premiums are honest, hard working people. That’s right. Every privately owned socialist health care insurance community is populated with the most honest among us. Not one of the private sector comrades would even consider defrauding the health insurance corporation which, of course, is the socialist health care community.

Belonging to this social network not only debunks that particular society’s irrational fear of Socialism, it takes from its members any chance of having a democratic say in how the society functions. It’s already been observed that most who work for the corporation don’t have a say in how the corporation functions, but how many who pay premiums, another word for private sector taxes, have a say in how the insurance company operates? How many times have the tax paying members of those societies engaged in democratically implemented votes to decide if the private sector taxes should or should not be raised?

Charlene Frizzera, interim head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services earns a yearly salary of $172,200. This is less than the $250,000 per year that candidate and now President Barack Obama has used as a cutoff for raising taxes. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama and Hillary Clinton each said that they would not tax people making under $250,000 per year. Thus, Ms. Frizzera’s salary is less than what Obama and Clinton appeared to consider wealthy and a far cry from the $12 million dollars raked in by the average health insurance company CEO. The most absurd choice that the “patriots” make when they choose private sector, undemocratic socialism over government enabled health care is their willingness to pay 30% of their private sector taxes towards $12 million salaries for CEO and executive pay and accept that only 70% of those taxes will actually be used to help care for their health.

Overhead costs for Medicare are 3-5%. Instead of paying taxes of which 97% go toward actually caring for their health, the “patriots” opt to pay taxes of which 30% go to exorbitant salaries and expensively decorated buildings.

Until an amendment to the Constitution of the United States passes in which it specifically states that the Bill of Rights protects natural human beings and not corporations, the “patriots” have decided that they’d rather give all of their personal information to, pay taxes to and be dictated to by another person. This person is interested in its wealth and not the least bit interested in the health of its socially connected clientele.

Finally, an explanation for the repeated use of the word “patriots” when referring to those who oppose socialized health insurance (socialized medicine hasn’t even been proposed). Those who oppose health reform on the basis that they don’t want any Socialism to sully their wonderful American democracy tend to be people who are outraged by those who speak out against America’s involvement in warfare. They tend to be the same people who used phrases like “America, love it or leave it” during the Vietnam War. They tend to be the same people who support the president if the president is leading America down the path of death and destruction. They tend to be the same people who fly the American flag from their homes and have stickers of that flag pasted on the bumpers of their vehicles. They also have stickers which read “Support The Troops”. I’ve yet to see a sticker with the words “Support Americans”.

These people are “patriots” who believe America and its government excels at destroying but generally sucks at repairing. Their statement is America can be trusted to kill you but it doesn’t have the ability that the governments of all other industrialized nations have to save you.

“Patriots”, indeed.

To friendship,
Michael

“The world is governed more by appearances than realities, so that it is fully as necessary to seem to know something as to know it.” - Daniel Webster


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