The only thing missing is Billy Mays!

Well, you have to give President Obama credit. He’s throwing everything at us at once and pushing a very aggressive agenda. Rahm Emanuel spilled the beans on television a while back. Take a listen:

So now, everything is being tied to the economic crisis so we’ll all get on board and do what they want for the good of the country. We have to nationalize GM and Chrysler, and the banks, and now healthcare, in order to save the economy. If we don’t, this “crisis” will not end. My friend, anamericanidiot, has a great blog about the “crisis mentality” coming from the White House and how it relates to the health care debate. I encourage you to check it out. It includes a personal story of how potential health care changes could have affected his family and potentially yours.

As I’m reading his blog this morning though, I see a flash from Drudge that ABC is planning a prime time special from the White House with the President pitching his new health care plan. So now the President of the United States is hosting an ABC News special?!? This isn’t news, it’s an infomercial! Where were the ABC News crews when President Bush wanted to revamp the Social Security system? Will ABC be offering an opposing viewpoint on a subsequent show? Bear in mind, this isn’t like other White House events where they host a town hall and all the networks are offered coverage. This is an ABC special from the White House! Obviously, if the President is involved, it will be his agenda which will get the most favorable treatment. Not to mention what ABC is going to do with the news coverage before and after this event.

This obviously raises serious ethical questions. Can we expect ABC to cover the administration even-handedly on other issues if they are showing such clear bias on this one? Who’s controlling the editorial content of ABC News, the White House or ABC employees? Who’s paying for this – ABC, the DNC, the taxpayers?!?

In the Drudge story, there is a letter from the RNC Chief of Staff, Ken McKay, to ABC News chief David Westin. In the letter, McKay says the RNC “requested an opportunity to add our Party’s views to those of the President’s to ensure that all sides of the health care reform debate are presented. Our request was rejected.” Great! A strongly worded letter to the ABC News boss is a good start. But I’ve been watching cable news for almost an hour now and there isn’t any mention of this! While I agree that Iran, North Korea, and David Letterman apologizing to Sarah Palin are all important stories, shouldn’t we cover the death of one of America’s premier news organisations? Where’s Michael Steele, the HEAD of the RNC? Where are the Republican leaders in Congress?!?

For the record, if health care gets nationalized, the America we grew up in is dead also. All of our behaviors will be dictated according to how much it will affect the health care system; the system will not be able to cover everyone, which is the stated goal; and everyone who has nationalized health care has warned us not to do it. But the biggest casualty is the loss of choice for the American people, not just in health care, but in news. When our news organisations so blatantly promote one idea over another, even to the point of letting the President have the podium for a policy pitch with no opposition, the American people are the real losers.

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7 Comments

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7 responses to “The only thing missing is Billy Mays!

  1. Talk about coming out of the closet. Geez, just like MSNBC, there is no pretense of objectivity. But you have to know what they are positioning themselves for. With network news ratings falling into the toilet they know their days are numbered. This is all lead up to their big multi-billion dollar bailout request!!! WATCH, we will all see the NYT, BG, NBC, CBS, & of coarse ABC, collectively asking for a bailout before Obama leaves office. Meanwhile FOX & CNN clean up by splitting the parties and still maintaining a semblance of objectivity.

  2. Ryan

    I am really tired of people talking about how “great” the health care system in this country is. It makes me sick to see these conservative talking heads regurgitating the same tired argument that has been recycled over and over again for the past 60 years. I am not an idiot. I personally do not have health insurance, because my job does not offer it and I cannot afford it. So for me, a working class American, this system sucks. All this crap about “Oh, if you think the DMV is just great, and the post office is efficient, then you’re gonna love Nationalized Health Care!” Personally, that past few times I’ve been at the DMV or Post Office, I got pretty quick service and the people there were very helpful. But that’s beside the point, because Single-Payer Health Care would not work like that. The US army is not going to run up in doctor’s offices and say “This office is now the property of the US Government! Cower in fear of our long lines and poor service! Argggg!” Thats not how it works in ALL THE OTHER 1ST WORLD COUNTRIES BUT US THAT HAVE IT! All this talk about how evil Nationalized Health Care is, it’s just insulting to me, and anyone else who can’t afford it and have to quake in fear if I get sick because there is no one here who can flip the bill. According to The National Coalition
    on Health Care, 62% of Americans who have health insurance get it through there jobs. This means if they want to leave their jobs, they have to consider what will happen if they get sick, thus effectively removing the economic freedom we supposedly enjoy here in America. And if someone under health insurance does get sick, they then have to worry about the people employed by HMO’s to get around paying for that condition. This is so common it’s become a joke. (i.e. when Homer Simpson gets his thumb cut off and Dr. Hibbert tells him he only has finger insurance, and a thumb is not a finger.) As I said, I am not an idiot, and no amount of political rhetoric can blind me to what is going on in my own country.

  3. Oh Ryan, you see this is why it is so important to do the hard work on the front end, not the back end. This country is full of opportunity t for everyone and, yes, does in fact have the greatest health care in the world. When people in foreign countries need special medical treatment, who do they call? The US. Don’t complain to me that you have a job that doesn’t provide the access you want to the health care you need. Or that you can’t afford it because you don’t make enough. You, like everyone in these United States, have access to free education from birth to high school. And if you work hard and set goals for yourself and achieve them, you can have colleges begging you to attend their college so that you’ll be a feather in their cap. Or you can get low-interest loans like most everybody else. In any case, you get a good education which affords you opportunities for a great job with tremendous benefits. If you choose not to take advantage of those opportunities, you still have access to the tremendous medical care the country offers through Medicaid and other government programs provided through your state and local government. Just a couple of years ago, I was having what I thought was a heart attack. I raced to the emergency room. We were new to the area and I was self employed so we didn’t have health insurance. I was treated (it wasn’t a heart attack or anything else serious), kept overnight, and released. I’m still paying that bill, $25 a month. But I got treatment! The point is, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. We DO have the greatest health care in the world and with the proper market influences reintroduced to the system, we could make it more affordable for everyone. It appears though that we are headed in the opposite direction.

  4. Hey Reed,

    I read your back and forth with Ryan, and couldn’t help but comment. Ryan’s got some great ideas and energy, but you are right, a more scientific approach to the question could prove useful in solving the question of the healthcare crisis.

    I also agree that the current political regime is absolutely going in the opposite direction of a plan that could make healthcare more affordable for everyone, but perhaps for different reasons.

    The plan that Obama and the Democrats are consistently putting forward is a national version of the Massachusett’s health care model as it was initiated in 2006, under the name of Commonwealth Care. This plan was initiated to be a way forward for insuring the uninsured, while still providing private health insurance an opportunity to get a piece of the pie, bringing the percentage of those insured in the state to 97.4%in the summer of 2008, up from 88% in 2004.

    How does it do that? By mandating the purchase of private health insurance! As writer Joshua Koritz says in his article in Justice: The Massachusetts Model – How NOT to Solve the Healthcare Crisis “Commonwealth Care mandates all Massachusetts residents to purchase a health insurance policy or face fines…Those on this new plan face the highest co-pays, the least options for care, and are likely to have to pay large out-of-pocket fees for any expensive procedure. ”

    Before Commonwealth Care was initiated in 2006, I would have been able to walk into a clinic or community care facility, without actually having insurance. Now, without the use of an emergency room, it is impossible for me, part of the 2.6% who are uninsured, to recieve any care whatsoever!

    Not only this, but every time I have tried to apply for health insurance, even through the state run program designed for those with low-income, I have been set upon with such a sea of bureaucratic twists, turns, loopholes, forms, call centers without service, etc. that I have almost given up entirely on the idea of getting health care while I work in Massachusetts.

    This system was said to have been enacted to reduce public reliance on state government, but Commonwealth Care actually cost the state of Massachusetts 1.1 billion dollars in 2008! That’s up from 630 million in 2007!

    The sickest part of this is that not all of that money is actually spent on providing health care and services to people, but just the opposite. In the U.S., the for-profit, and even the non-profit, health insurance industry spends 31% of all its money on administrative costs, double the amount spent per person in Canada (Toronto Star, 8/21/2003). In other words, 31 cents on every US dollar spent on health insurance goes to hiring people to deny health care to folks like me and Ryan!

    The state government also fines you heavily on your taxes, coercing you to go out and buy private health insurance. This practice has led me to not file my state taxes, due to the fact that my due refund was turned into a payout of 100 something dollars to the IRS and the State of Massachusetts.
    So, this means that I was being told to pay them to NOT provide me health care! What an absurdity!

    It’s things like this that reveal the true caricaturist nature of the Democrats so-called “universal” health care model. It’s private health insurance forced on the poor!

    Now, that having been said, I do not draw the same conclusions that you do from all this. This does not tell me that we need a purely market based solution to the crisis, or that national or universal health care do not work. In fact, it tells me just the opposite!

    When I look at the market based version of universal health care(Commonwealth Care), it illustrates to me the complete ineptitude and inability of the capitalist system to provide for the people who work to sustain it, a decent life under decent conditions, with decent care.

    For instance, I mentioned earlier the amount of bureaucratic overhead (31%) that is spent by the US from the amount that it spends on health care, but what I did not mention is that this is estimated to be double the amount spent per person in Canada. This is a clear example of the superiority of a single payer health care system.

    The Canadian health care system is not something that was delivered to the doors of the Canadian worker’s by a liberal presidency or a liberal party.
    It was fought for and won by the independent political action of the Canadian working class:
    “In 1966, under the twin pressures of organized labor marching in the streets and the NDP[New Democratic Party] holding the balance of power in parliament, the capitalist Liberal Party then in power was forced to pass the Medical Care Act (Medicare), which extended the HIDS Act cost-sharing to allow every province to set up a universal single-payer healthcare plan. Only when the capitalist class feels their rule threatened by a mass movement will they grant reforms. The Canadian experience shows the importance of linking up workers’ struggles on the ground with building an independent political party that can challenge big business for power.”(Justice Article: How Canadian Workers Won Universal Health Care by Brandon Madsen)

    But, hold on, you might say. The Canadian Health Care system doesn’t work! Worker’s looking for care are faced with long lines and waits, and the Health care system has to resort to private companies to produce alot of its medications!

    The explanation for this is not that Single Payer Health Care is inefficient, and unaffordable, but quite the contrary! This can be shown to prove that capitalism and the market are absolutely incapable of solving the issues that contemporary society faces, even with superior systems such as single payer health care in place.

    The right wing politicians in Canada, while unable to completely abolish their single payer health care in place due to its massive support throughout the Canadian population, are still able to use their power to undermine its efficiency and affordability at every turn by consistently failing to allocate enough funds to the Medicare system to cover its costs. This puts undue strain on the provinces and causes parts of the system, like prescription drug coverage, to be pushed into the private sector.

    “Also, the Canadian system is still not fully publicly-run. Doctors still operate as independent businesses, but are paid per visit through contracts with the government insurance agency. This setup, along with varying income between provinces, has caused chaotic distribution of resources with severe doctor shortages in certain areas. Without real democratic workers’ control over the healthcare industry, the government puts forward “free market” solutions that only threaten to worsen the situation.As long as society is run for the benefit of corporate profits, we can expect to see all our gains clawed back by big business. The ruling class in Canada is trying to privatize healthcare, and their political parties underfund the system so they can push the idea that publicly-financed healthcare doesn’t work. We need to argue against this propaganda by calling for more funding for social programs, paid for by taxes on big corporations and their ultra-rich CEOs.” (Justice Article: How Canadian Workers Won Universal Health Care by Brandon Madsen)

    The only freedom that the rightwing and the market can offer us from the oppression of the Democratic Party, is the freedom to be sick without care, or the freedom to be buried under a mountain of hospital bills and working for low wages in slave conditions. True freedom comes through the power to no longer be subjected to a constant struggle to survive, but to raise above the objective situation, to take control. Freedom is not to “choose” not to have health care, but to know that you will be cared for because you WORK.

    The solution to the health care crisis can not come from the market or from the left and right wings of big business, because the market is the number one cause of all crises of capitalism, and capitalist society, where centuries ago it was a progressive social force, is now in a state of absolute decay and senility, completely unable to stop itself from destroying all the achievements which it has consolidated for humanity.

    The only way forward to really solve these crises is for the working class to independently take action and struggle for democratic control of the economy and government, armed with a socialist, class based and internationalist strategy and program, which rejects the idea of supply and demand ruling over all of our lives, which understands that health care is an absolute human right, and calls for a greater freedom based on collective ownership and decisionmaking.

  5. reedkeys

    Hi Christian, welcome to my blog. I hope all your comments are as thorough. Fortunately, I don’t have to pay for the space you use! LOL JK! I believe you have hit on the absolute crux of the issue here. Those who believe health care is a right and those who believe it is a privilege. I believe that when you start assigning commodities as rights, you start down a very slippery slope. If health care is a right, then where do you draw the line? Health care would be useless if people didn’t have food to eat, right? Why would we be worried about whether people have proper health care when food is such a bigger necessity? And is it really fair that some people can afford more food than others? We should have a single-payer food supply too. Then NO ONE would go hungry, right? No one would ever get to eat what they want either, but these are the kind of sacrifices we’ll have to make for the greater good – the good of the collective. And what about houses? Shouldn’t everyone have a place to live? And is it really fair that some people can afford nicer cars than others. I mean we should all have a right to transportation so we can be more self-sufficient. How can we be expected to get to work at the appropriate time if we don’t have proper transportation? In fact, there should be free mass transit, no cars for anyone. That way the streets would be clear and there would be WAY less car accidents. This would also relieve the health care system from the burden of those who make bad transportation decisions. Of course, if you wanted to go some place the trains don’t, you’re screwed. And what if you had a relative who was dying but the trains didn’t run at that time, you wouldn’t get to say goodbye. But that’s OK, it all benefits the collective – and the earth!! Oh geez, I almost forgot about the earth! We would SAVE the earth with mass transit for everyone!

    Well you get the idea. I don’t believe in the collective and I don’t think health care is a right. In this country, we celebrate the individual. The individual is supreme. Each has the ability to take their natural God-given talents and abilities and parlay them into a set of marketable skills. You take those skills out into the open market and sell them for the most you can. You take that money and create for yourself the life you choose with the amenities you want. If health insurance is a priority for you, great! If not, roll the dice. Chances are you won’t need a doctor unless something catastrophic happens, God forbid.

    That doesn’t mean we don’t still need attention to our system here in the States. I would start by grading the doctors, so I could pay more for the really good doctors, pay less for the mediocre doctors, and avoid the quacks! We don’t grade doctors here and we should. That would solve a lot of the problem. Then we return the profit motive back into the system and force doctors to compete for our dollars. Now they take them for granted since ultimately we’re not paying them, the insurance company is. The one thing we don’t need is more government intervention!

  6. In a World Socialist Republic, you could make a living regardless of nationality, race, birthplace, social standing and economic privilege. Under capitalism, those who are born wealthy do not have to work, but live off wealth which is created by the labor of others(surplus value). Under socialism, all the labouring power of the world working class could be put to full use, because of the elimination of unemployment. This would shorten the workweek and workday to minuscule proportions, and free up our time to engage in creative practices absolutely essential for solving bigger human crises such as global warming, so that we may continue to utilize the resources of this planet and propel our species forward. The market system cannot solve these crises. Beijing is a great example, with its toxic fuel emission levels causing American Olympic teams to have to wear gas masks to survive! It is not a question of preferring socialism to capitalism, but of preferring socialism to barbarism and the destruction of our species. P.S. Health Care is a right because we work our whole lives for the profit of others, and if we cannot afford health care because of the profit system, and the profit system cannot afford to let us have it, then we cannot afford the profit system! (I briefly glanced at your reply, but will look at it again in a few hours for a more detailed reply, don’t think I am slighting the issue or your response. This is just a quick soundbyte on my way out the door.)

  7. P P S Competition introduced into public industry leads to disaster. See No Child Left Behind, and Obama’s wanting to introduce competitive pay into public schools everywhere and how it is eroding the efficiency of our education system, by forcing teachers to ignore underdeveloped and problem kids and to also focus less on education and more on standardized tests

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