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since 1997 | by maryann johanson

watch it: the 7/25/09 weekly address from President Barack Obama

I was away from the computer all day yesterday, which I wasn’t quite expecting to happen, and so none of my usual Saturday stuff got posted. I’ll catch up today. If I were really on the ball I could have prepared most of those posts in advance and scheduled them to post while I was away, but there never seems to be any time for that. And of course Obama’s weekly address is not preparable-in-advance, since that doesn’t get released till Saturday morning anyway. Let’s see what he had to say:


Why is everyone still talking about health insurance? Health insurance is the problem! There shouldn’t be a “marketplace” for health care anymore than there’s a “marketplace” for firefighting or police protection! Or are we suddenly going to have to worry about making sure we have insurance to cover the investigation of a crime that we’ll be expected to pay for ourselves, should we be robbed or raped? “Sure, your plan covers the collection of evidence but, hey, you chose not to spend the extra money for the rider that covers the laboratory analysis… What? You think police work should be free? You expect the government to just hand it to you?”

Why is Obama talking about “reform” that involves small businesses still having to buy health insurance for their employees? If anyone truly cared about small business, they’d be out there on our TVs screaming about how in England and Canada and France, small-business owners aren’t crushed by these ridiculous costs and don’t have to worry about losing the best talent to big corporations that can offer better benefits than the small companies, and how dare we let stand a situation in which England and Canada and France offer a better environment to entrepreneurs than the United States of America?! (Why should it be our employers’ responsibility to provide health insurance, anyway? How did that come about?)

But the bullshit our politicians — on the right as well as on the so-called left — dish out to us about America being the greatest country is the world is just pap meant to pander to us and to placate us. They know the situation could be far, far better than it is. (Or if they don’t, they are far, far too stupid to be in office. But these people are not stupid: they are wily and self-serving and know exactly what they’re doing.) And our politicians do not care about ordinary Americans, certainly not the ones who run small businesses. Ordinary Americans and small businessns do not put millions of dollars into politicians’ pockets. Big corporations do… including the health-insurance scammers.

So that’s why no one — no one — on our TVs will state the honest truth: a national single-payer plan would cost all of us much less money than we’re paying now, would assure better health care for everyone, and would make small businessness more competitive. Instead, the ones who oppose even these meager “reforms” lie to us about “socialism” and “rationing” and other hot-button words meant to terrify the uninformed. And the ones who supposedly are for “reform” water down their “reform” so much that they might as well not even bother.



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  • Bill

    HR676. Gotta love Dennis Kucinich. This will go nowhere, but the idea is incrementalism, right?

    http://www.hr676.org/

  • AJP

    I’m not sure the CBO agrees that a single-payer system would save money compared to the current system. They certainly don’t agree that any of the currently proposed plans will save any money at all.

  • Peter Connolly

    I love the analogy to Police and Fire services. This pretty much summarizes the view foreigners (myself included) have to healthcare – its as much a core government service as policing and firefighting. The idea that publicly funded health is a communist plot is only slightly more bizarre that the truth that the accusation is a plot by Insurance companies to keep a stranglehold on a lucrative business.

    Sure the Brits may rage against their health bureaucracy and here in Oz the state and federal governments are forever fighting over who is underfunding hospital care but if either system had the cost vs clinical outcome of the US their health officials would be thrown in jail.

  • Victor Plenty

    Some purists say police and fire protection services would be better handled by a market approach than by a tax funded government system. Not many, but there are a few.

    Most market purists this extreme have simply gone ahead and implemented their ideas, so that nobody could even attempt a public debate on the issue. Police forces in the United States are already heavily outnumbered by private security forces. The drive to turn over military duties to private security contractors is not far behind.

    The proper name for these privately hired armed forces would be mercenaries, if that word weren’t forbidden by the right wing version of political correctness.

  • LaSargenta

    Some purists say police and fire protection services would be better handled by a market approach than by a tax funded government system.

    Riiiiight. Like the way Crassius built his fortune? (At least, according to Plutarch!)

    Then there was the way London took care of it’s fire protection in the 17th/18th C.’s … if you paid fire insurance, you got the services of the insurance-owned fire brigade.

    The mind reels.

  • MaryAnn, why do you hate America? >B)

  • MaryAnn

    Why do Americans hate themselves? :->

  • Accounting Ninja

    SO true. I used to be agin it, but the older I get, the more I’m fer it. The police/fire analogy is spot on. I work for a small company, and our company premiums are CRIPPLING. And, so many of our employees need the insurance, but can’t afford the outrageous weekly premiums. So, only a priveleged few can afford it, but most of those few tend to be older, which drives up our premiums even MORE, gah! AND, the ones who can’t get company insurance make JUST TOO MUCH money to qualify for government assistance. Shit, one lady was in a car accident a few weeks ago and couldn’t afford to even go to the emergency room. Of course, she has no car insurance either; they are going to pretty much rake her over the coals. :(

  • Grinebiter

    The proper name for these privately hired armed forces would be mercenaries, if that word weren’t forbidden by the right wing version of political correctness.

    Or feudalism.

    Then there was the way London took care of it’s fire protection in the 17th/18th C.’s … if you paid fire insurance, you got the services of the insurance-owned fire brigade.

    And if you were to be hanged, this being in the days before the invention of the neck-breaking drop, your friends would have to bribe Jack Ketch for permission to hang off your legs and strangle you with merciful speed.

  • Victor Plenty

    Grinebiter, feudal lords were ideally expected to fulfill certain responsibilities toward their subjects. Good nobles were expected to protect and provide for the people who loyally served them. No such ideal of reciprocal social responsibility between economic classes plays any consistent role in the ideology of free-market zealots.

    Your comparison does raise a valid point. Too much reliance on privately funded security services may be leading us back toward levels of social stratification between rich and poor last seen under feudalism. On that I could agree with you.

  • Grinebiter

    Good nobles were expected to protect and provide for the people who loyally served them.

    That’s certainly what their paid spin-doctors (aka monks) said. :-)

    But there was, of course, some reality to it all the same. And that component of feudalism is indeed missing from the newest version we are seeing now. The paternalism component was going strong in, for example, the old-style Japanese corporation, where no one was ever fired, and in Maslow’s theories. The aspect I’m thinking of here is instead feudalism as the “competitive outsourcing of governmental services”, where public functions are performed, not by public officials, but by private players under a complex system of private-law contracts.

    I’m just waiting for the return of the tax-farmer myself: fancy maintaining a bureaucratic public revenue service when we could instead outsource tax collection to corporations! The corporation then squeezes the citizen until the pips squeak, passes the contractually agreed amount to the government, and keeps the change. Worked fine for the Romans, the same guys who brought us the M. Licinius Crassus approach to firefighting.

    I’ve written squibs about this that I shall one day post on my own, currently infant, blog…….

  • LaSargenta

    fancy maintaining a bureaucratic public revenue service when we could instead outsource tax collection to corporations!

    We already had this (in the US) since 2005 or ’06, although it is now (supposedly) cancelled as of March, 2009.

    Here is the IRS page explaining the “safeguards” for it:

    http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=155065,00.html

    (Of course, I think that if the IRS can’t manage to do its own collections efficiently enough, something is truly wrong with our economy.)

    Here is a Washington Post article about the program and the outrage it generated: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/01/09/AR2007010901490.html

    Here is the IRS page saying they’ve stopped it: http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/article/0,,id=155136,00.html

    However, it has been done before. It might start again.

  • Grinebiter

    Didn’t know that, thanks; but the tax farmer is something even worse than the private debt collector. After all, the tax assessment process remains in the hands of the IRS, and the private debt collector only collects what he was told to collect by public authority. Of course, it’s a first step….

    As regards contracting safeguards, funny joke, in my neck of the woods they say 85% of private security guards, not excluding airport security, have criminal records.

  • LaSargenta

    Given the methods of so many collection firms, I’m not sure how different in effect they would be from the historical tax farmers. They often actually have no way to prove that they own the debt, or the debt was already paid off to the original entity, but somehow they got the details of the previously owed debt and try to collect on it (happened to me with a dispute between a hospital and my health insurance company), or they continue to try and collect on a real debt, but add “service charges” and “penalties” that were not added by the original company.

    The effect on the debtor isn’t really all that different. A rose by any other name, etc., etc.

    Gah. What a mess.

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