Wednesday, July 04, 2007

"Everybody Complains About It, But Nobody Does Anything About it"

Mark Twain famously said, ‘Everybody complains about the weather but nobody does anything about it.” Twain has been dead now some ninety-seven years, and the weather is not considered a political issue, except in extraordinary circumstances as in Hurricane Katrina.

But if routine weather were a political issue and someone tried to do something about it, I know they would be slammed for it.

Such is the case with the health care system in the United States. Everyone knows it is broken, and that it fails to provide even minimally adequate care for the majority of Americans, and that it is overpriced. Michael Moore is being roundly slammed and criticized for daring to make a movie called ‘Sicko’, exposing the hypocrisy of health care in the United States, the richest and most powerful nation in the world. The government and health care industry are pulling out all the stops to 'prove' Moore is merely a 'rabble-rousing' radical.

But, the truth is the truth, even when presented sensationally as Moore does in his movie.

US health care costs are now *16% of our GDP. In 2005 we in the US spent $2 TRILLION, or $6,700 per person on health care. Yet we still have nearly 50 million people totally without coverage. Those who do have coverage often personally spend fortunes beyond their insurance to receive the care they need.

To compare, Switzerland spends 10.9% of GDP, Germany 10.7%, Canada 9.7% and France 9.5%. ALL these countries provide health care for ALL their citizens. France, which spends proportionally the least, is widely recognized as having the best health care system in the world. The US is the ONLY industrialized country in the world without universal health care.

Why is this? In a word ‘Corporatism’, which is now our de facto system of government. Forget ‘capitalism’ or ‘democracy’, or even ‘republic’. Today, the US is ruled by corporations in a system very close to outright Fascism. Corporations are in control. They regularly buy elections and politicians, who then favor the corporations over the people, always, invariably. Giant hospital conglomerates, and pharmaceutical manufacturers are given a free pass to gouge at will. We are even prohibited by law from buying drugs overseas and importing them into our country for our own use by laws in favor of pharmaceutical companies, some of which are not even American!

Other industrialized countries are more truly democratic, and not just in name and claim only as in the US. Canada promises health care for ‘the least of us and the best of us’. In Britain they say, ‘if we an find the money to kill people, we can find the money to help people.”

In the US, ‘no premium charge is too high, and no illness too small to be considered preexisting’. Anything to avoid paying and to up profits. After all, isn’t that what corporatism is all about?

It is a shameful fact that our political leaders have sold out to the corporations and turned democracy in the US into hypocrisy. But why should they care? They’ve got full coverage don’t they? Under the political retirement system, the politicians don’t even have to rely on social security like the rest of us - they’ve got their own cushy, special system which pays them a very comfortable income, and provides full and complete medical coverage for the rest of their lives.

But, only because we allow it.

* Source: National Coalition on Healthcare

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

"Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others"

To borrow a line from George Orwell’s ‘1984’, “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”.

This was proved yesterday by United States President George W. Bush who ‘commuted’ the prison time for White House staffer Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby. Libby is now a criminal convicted, a felon who, were he anyone else, would receive the full penalty for lying to Federal investigators and obstruction of justice.

The President’s commutation of Scooter Libby’s prison sentence does not serve justice, condones criminal conduct, and is a betrayal of trust of the American people. The President said he would hold accountable anyone involved in the Valerie Plame leak case . . .

Nonetheless, Bush overruled the judge and the jury in the case, saying Libby’s sentence was ‘excessive’ and commuted any active prison time.

George W. Bush is the same president who:
  • Sneered when Pope John Paul pleaded with him to spare the life of the Karla Faye Tucker and mocked the poor woman by pursing his lips and whimpering ‘please don’t kill me’;
  • Oversaw the execution of 152 prisoners while governor of Texas - far more than any other governor in history. In 1/3 of those death penalty cases, the defendant’s attorney was later disbarred or otherwise sanctioned. Bush earned the title of ‘Most killing governor in US history’;
  • Put to death the mentally ill and an extremely high proportion of black and Mexican-American prisoners;
  • While Texas governor, vetoed a bill passed by the legislature that would have allowed Texas counties to set up limited public defender programs for the poor;
  • As governor Bush was proud of eliminating parole for criminals, saying “My appointees to the board of pardons and paroles reflect my no-nonsense approach to crime and punishment. They believe people who commit crimes against innocent Texans should pay the consequences; they believe sentences imposed by juries should be carried out. The Texas prison system had become a revolving door earlier in the 1990s, when the prison population had far exceeded the capacity of the system. I am proud that Texas today has virtually eliminated parole for violent criminals.”
  • Proudly and sanctimoniously calls himself a ‘compassionate conservative’.
Bush’s action in Libby’s case is a clear demonstration of conflict of interest. Widely suspected is that Bush is covering up for Richard Cheney and himself in their own criminal complicity in the Valarie Plame case. Given this administration's record for lying, deceit and dissemination, that concept is very plausible.

Yes, with Bush, some animals are definitely more equal than others. This man belongs in jail and not running the United States of America. While we’re at it, let’s jail some of his co-conspirators too: