Sunday, July 3, 2011

PRIMING THE PUMP--SINGLE PAYER NOW AND THEN… A brief history.

(Presented to the San Francisco Progressive Democrats of America June 23, 2011)

I’m a member of Physicians for a National Health Program. I am not a physician. I am a Jungian psychotherapist. Martin Luther King, Jr. said that “of all forms of inequality, injustice in healthcare is the most shocking and inhumane.” I’m in this because it is the right thing to do and I want a voice on how it impacts my portion of the health field.

There’s a phrase that I’m sure we all are familiar with—but perhaps not so much aware of its origin. “Priming the Pump.” The old hand pumps for water wells required that you put a little water down the pump in order to create the pressure to start pumping water up. This is priming the pump.

Now, my dad, a good Nixon Republican…. Funny after all these years those two words—“good” and “Nixon” still don’t go together… My dad, used to present me with story questions—
his way of teaching life lessons. In one he would tell me to imagine myself crawling across a desert, dying of thirst and coming upon an old rusty hand pump. Next to the pump was an old bottle of brackish water with a label on it instructing you to use the water to prime the pump and there would be plenty of fresh, clear, cold water. And—to be sure to fill the bottle back up for the next person.

He would ask me would I trust that old pump and the note, or would I just drink the bottle of water. I thought about it and it was pretty clear to me that the bottle certainly wouldn’t keep me alive very long and then there would be none left for the pump or the next person. So, though I didn’t have the words for it at the time, that’s when I realized I was a Progressive Democrat. I would need to trust the pump and leave enough for whoever came after.

Now a Republican would look at that brackish water and that old pump and decide he’d need to drink it for himself. But, don’t worry, he’d give the pump a tax cut and the invisible hand of the market would pump the handle – though it would only spew out dust. Then he’d crawl off and die from the insufficient and tainted water. But, at least , he’d keep it all for himself to the very end.

The health reform, Single Payer movement has been priming the pump for a long time. And we certainly have more to do. There are more successful flows in various places throughout the world-- France, Germany, Taiwan the United Kingdom – but those are subjects of other talks.

Right now, I’ll just present a brief comparative history of Canada and the U.S. In both there is a long history and though Canada is clearly much further along, there are still efforts afoot to reduce the pumps primer.

Many of you might know that Tommy Douglas was the Saskatchewan leader who created Single Payer for that province in 1962. For that and other accomplishments Canadians have voted him the Greatest Canadian of all-time.

But what you might not know is that Universal Healthcare for Canada was proposed as far back as the 1919 Liberal Party national platform. Douglas himself, got universal Hospital coverage in Saskatchewan in 1947. In 1957 the Canadian government began to provide 50% of hospital costs to the Provinces. Priming the Pump.

In 1962 Saskatchewan introduced a province wide universal , publically funded health coverage. This was greeted by a three week doctors’ strike in an effort to overturn it. The government held strong, established the system. Six years later the Canadian government instituted province based Universal Single Payer Healthcare known as MediCare . Priming the Pump.

Today there surely are things to improve in Canada. Many of the problems have resulted as successive governments have reduced funding . These could largely be addressed by adding another percentage point of GDP into health care, and still leave it at 2/3rds of U.S. costs.

IN THE U.S.

Teddy Roosevelt, promoted universal health care in his unsuccessful effort to return to the Presidency in 1912. Priming the Pump.
FDR initially had universal healthcare as part of the Social Security legislation, but had to drop it in 1935 due to political resistance. Priming the Pump.
Truman’s 1949 Fair Deal included universal coverage, but was defeated. Priming the Pump.
In 1965 LBJ headed a coalition that successfully created universal single payer for people 65 and over—Our MediCare. Many had the intent, thus far unrealized, to reduce the age qualification incrementally over time. Priming the Pump.
Nixon (Nixon!?) proposed a healthcare system in 1974 that while employer based allowed for a sliding scale buy-in to MediCaid for those of low income. Teddy Kennedy thought it was insufficient—he was right. He also thought he could get better—he was wrong. Priming the Pump.

(At about this point a woman in the back of the audience yelled out “Time for a New Pump!”)

Today health refors efforts are active in Congress and something like 19 states are at various stages of development.

Congressionally, as you probably know, Michigan’s John Conyers has introduced a national single payer health bill every year since 2003. HR 676 would create an improved MediCare for all. It would, additionally require for-profit hospitals return to or become non-profit institutions. Vermont’s Senator Bernie Sanders and Washington’s Representative James McDermott have introduced S915 and HR1200. They would create state based single payer programs. Inexplicably, they would exclude “undocumented” residents.

In the states, most significantly we hear about Vermont and California. California has SB 810 in the legislative process into the 2012 session. ( My co-presenter followed me and reviewed 810 )

We’ll come back to Vermont momentarily.

There are formal legislative processes up in running in Oregon, New York, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and Maryland. Additionally at least Ohio, Montana and New Mexico have inititiated strong grass roots movements. A lot of pump priming going on.

Labor, of course, would like to stop having to negotiate against itself—healthcare vs. wages/working conditions. They would much prefer to have a national healthcare program take care of one side of that equation.

And, perhaps that is true for big business, too. It would most likely be better for their bottom line and make them more competitive in the international markets. However, never underestimate the class loyalty of big money, nor would they want to give up such a divisive weapon against labor.

In Vermont, where single payer activists were called “bomb-throwers” two years ago the movement has made major strides. The governor and much of the legislature was elected on a single payer platform. Vermont has passed and signed into law what is billed as single payer. However, it is important to realize that at this point the law’s framework would be more accurately described as “fewer payer.”

The regulatory skeleton that has been established may in two to three years time actually produce a single payer system. Unlike California's proposed (and twice passed and vetoed)legislation, Vermont does not incorporate MediCare into their structure. Also stlll “in-play” are our old favorite private for-profit insurance companies, co-pays, deductibles, etc.

And, finally, there is one county in the U.S. that has single payer for everyone. Every resident, even every “former” resident of Lincoln County, Montana is now covered by MediCare for All. Is this some sort of pilot study?, something that will set the stage for universal single payer ? Well maybe the latter. But how did this come about?

You may remember Montana Senator Max Baucus chair of the Finance committee. Single payer activists showed up at his committee chanting, “We need single payer!” He had them thrown out, famously commenting, “We need more police.” Well, Max decided for the good of politics, er, the people of Lincoln County.

The small town of Libby in Lincoln County was the home of a W R Grace vermiculite mining operation that spread asbestos and other pollutants throughout the air, water and ground. Grace has avoided all responsibility and the county has been declared a Public Health Disaster. To cover for his old friends Baucus inserted a MediCare for all -–of Lincoln County-- into the Health Care bill. No age limit, no income limit, no waiting, no exclusion, no buy in just—MEDICARE FOR ALL.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

They Are Lying to Us

(Remarks prepared for speaking to the Single Payer Rally Outside of the American Health Insurance Plans convention, June 16, S.F.)

Ronald Reagan is famous for proclaiming as the nine most terrifying words in the English language as, "I'm from the government and I'm here to help."

Well, I have the five Truest words in the English language-- THEY ARE LYING TO US!

When they tell us there is no money for healthcare...
THEY ARE LYING TO US!
When they tell us there is no money for MediCare...
THEY ARE LYING TO US!
When they tell us that Canadians come here for healthcare...
THEY ARE LYING TO US!
When they tell us that insurance companies are better than the government...
THEY ARE LYING TO US!
When they tell us that single payer will not work...
THEY ARE LYING TO US!
When they talk about "entitlements"...
THEY ARE LYING TO US!

You now they talk about it as if we act entitled. When in their usual projective way, living in "opposite world", they are the ones who act entitled.

ENTITLED to their TARPs; ENTITLED to their Bailout;, ENTITLED to their recissions; ENTITLED to their denials; ENTITLED to their obscene profits and salaries; ENTITLED to their low or no taxes;
ENTITLED TO DESTROYING THE MIDDLE CLASS !

We are not ENTITLED! We have WORKED for and EARNED our Social Security;We have WORKED for and EARNED our MediCare; We have WORKED for and EARNED our paycheck; We have WORKED for and EARNED our right to a decent life, a decent standard of living; and we sure as hell are WORKING for and EARNING our SINGLE PAYER HEALTHCARE !

SO REMEMBER NO MATTER WHAT THEY SAY-- THEY ARE LYIN' TO US! LYIN' AS IN RYAN! (GODDESS BLESS YOU WISCONSIN!!)
SO REMEMBER NO MATTER WHAT THEY SAY-- THEY ARE LYING TO US!

/:And what do we say... SINGLE PAYER NOW!:/

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Provider, Employer, Consumer, I

I want to talk with you about Single Payer Healthcare from the perspectives and concerns of an allied health care, non-medical, private practitioner and public health provider/manager. I’m a Jungian psychotherapist with a Marriage and Family Thearpist license. A short list of my career of over 30 years includes mental health, substance abuse, HIV/AIDS, supportive housing, in home care, non-profit service and executive management, public policy development and advocacy. All these are tremendously impacted by the reimbursement system—private and public.


I’ve been practicing so long that I remember billing insurance companies $120 a session. And you know what they paid me? $120! And that was when $120 was real money. Now-a-days insurance reimburses about $60 a session and severely limits the number of sessions.

Along the way I’ve experienced an unending cascade of catastrophic attempts to control costs of services. Another way of saying that is though services were inadequate to begin with we were asked to to do more and more with less and less and what actually happens is less. Another way of saying that is the less we got the more profit the insurance companies got to keep.

I’ve seen that fee for service “full reimbursement” I mentioned . I’ve also seen and worked with, in no particular order--community rating, experience rating, capitation, case rate, DRGs, HSAs, HMOs, IPAs, FSAs, EMRs, Provider Groups, Consumer Driven, Consolidation, Co-pay, Co-insurance, Deductible, Out of Pocket, Carve Outs, Carve Ins, Authorization, Assertive Community , Targeted Populations, Best Practice… and though the list is far from complete, let me just finish with everyone’s favorite—-PRE EXISTING CONDITION EXCLUSION.


You know what? YES, you KNOW! NONE of them work. None of them deliver adequate services and none of them contain overall cost. This is greed over service. It is, frankly, cruel. As the current GOP/ Ryan Budget has finally exposed.

SO THE QUESTION IS how do we change all this and what do we change it to ?.

SINGLE PAYER is the proven approach used by much of the quote/unquote “developed” world. WHY? Because it works and because they have had the fortitude to focus on solving problems not on , for example, where their head of state was born. It is this kind of diversion tactics that has left us as at #1 in health spending and 37th in health outcomes.

There is so much to say about the superiority of single payer. The one point I want to underscore here is that with single payer you get a system that takes responsibility for overall care including future costs. Unlike the current patchwork system, single payer recognizes that it has to bear the costs now and later. It is incentivized to provide adequate treatment to reduce future costs. Private insurers know that if they deny service now, probably someone else will be faced with the bigger bill later. They are incentivized to kick the can-sumer down the road.

The importance of our work surely stands on its own. But, this bears on us as allied health professionals because it is certainly demonstrable that our services now are important drivers for reduced costs later.

As allied health professionals—mental health, chiropractic, substance abuse, etc. we are included in the single payer coverage. As consumers, we are, of course, covered. And if we are employers we will also be impacted by it.

I am looking forward as a knowledgeable activist consumer to a more complete, humane health care system. However it works out, exactly, it is clear to me that we will get more predictable, less expensive, understandable, comprehensive services . Imagine if you didn’t have to worry about your health care costs, your families, or see your neighbor lose their house because of some catastrophic illness. Over half of the bankruptcies in the US are related to medical costs.

I know as a provider we have a lot of questions as to how this will affect our practices, fees, reimbursement, paper work, etc. Will services be on demand or will they need prior authorizations? Are we looking at a fee-for –service? Will the program essentially be a “consumer-voucher” for service ? Will there be ways to aggregate funds into programming ? Will the regulations and billing processes be as onerous as they currently are for MediCare Mental Health? Will it recognize the need for and efficacy of long-term , depth work? What providers will be included/excluded? Will it be allowed to truly be a “behavioral health” approach and dispense with substance abuse morality issues? Will it help promote service delivery to lower socio-economic groups and efforts against stigma?

Will universal coverage force us to participate in an insurance system that is underpayed and over administered at the same time it dries up our high paying private client pool?

How will it impact us as employers? Probably payroll tax and employee tax will be revenue sources— how will these be structured so that they are more affordable than the current system ?

It won’t come for free—but it will be less expensive and provide better care. How its finances and delivery systems are structured will be best determined by those involved in its creation and maintenance. These issues need to be being addressed in all our policy and advocacy discussions.

I'll be exploring and discussing this as we go along. For now, it is true that I can not give you clear answers on all these questions. Many of them are "in process," depending on how legislation and regulation is developed. That is to say, that the current answer seems to amount to “it will all come out in the wash.” It is imperative that we are involved in this particular laundry.

The current legislative process develops regional councils to design answers to these and other questions. Will this be adequate/will allied health have enough political will and presence to sufficiently address our concerns?

So while you/we are dealing with the usual cascade of crises that seem to make up our lives and work , we really need to attend to this tipping point before we are tipped without being part of the tipping. (To keep up to date and to get involved check out PNHP CA)

IMPROVED MEDICARE FOR ALL!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Them Producers and Us Parasites

Perhaps it is the right's article of faith that low taxes have magical effects on the economy. But it is a faith untested by conflict. A conflict of concern for those immediately (and on-goingly) hurt. They just don’t care about those people. After all They are the Producers and “those people” (the 95-99% that constitute the “rest of us”) are the Parasites.

Why else does boy genocidist genius Paul Ryan require his staff to read Ayn Rand? It is her Objectivism that celebrates the separation of the anointed and to be pampered (and socio-pathic) Producers from the Parasites of the rabble who want to hold them back.

This is a central reality we must understand in our dealings with the right. At core they are a “Me” culture and some hide it very well even from themselves. We are, and always have been, a “We” culture. While recognizing that we may compete, it is in the crucible of a culture that provides concrete and intangible support to each and all of us.

The right, either honestly or dishonestly, will provide themselves with the talking points about caring for the people, doing what is best for the people. Really, at heart , they promote what is best for the Producers (the haves) whether or not they truly believe that will have a positive impact on the have-nots (Parasites.)

This leads to what Robert Scheer says—“It is time to admit that we are, in practice if not surface appearance, close to the Chinese communist model of state-sponsored capitalism that sacrifices the interests of ordinary workers, be they in the public or private sector, for the exorbitant profits of the superrich.” Musings on Plutocracy

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Tax Gauntlet

So, the Tax Gauntlet has been thrown. Will it be picked up ? Will it be ignored? Will it be allowed to be ignored?

Early signs are good. NewsHour dean, Jim Lehrer, almost disbelievingly asks of SecTres Geithner-- Do you really mean we are talking about raising taxes. Duh! (Though Obama calls it "reducing spending in the tax code." It will be interesting to see how that messaging catches on.)

Boy genocidist genius Ryan says that Obama can't be serious calling for tax increases.

So much for, albeit stunned, non-ignoring. It is on the agenda. In a way that it wasn't even with the December "Compromise." But it ain't got a chance in this Congress. Yes, this is Campaign 2012-- The Early Rounds.

But, finally, we no longer feel like the lonely voice in the wilderness. Raise Taxes! Especially on those that can most afford it. As 70% or more already agree. But now, it is not a poll question, it is a presidential dictum.

Perhaps it is almost, ALMOST, worth it to have the R's in charge in the House just so they had to show themselves for whom they are. They do want to "process the elderly into snack crackers" --Tom Tomorrow (
Language is a Virus) and now they are being seen for it. Will enough see enough?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Health Care "Entitlements"

The term "entitlement" is very misleading. In the pejorative sense that it is meant to imply it is most applicable not to Social Security and MediCare-- which are insurance programs paid for by the users-- but to the "entitlement" of those who are the least needy. It is Wall Street, banks, the well-to-do who seem to act as if they are entitled to bail-outs, low tax rates and disproportionate utilization of the commons.

The real way to address healthcare "entitlement" costs and quality is through universal single payer coverage.

Proven by multiple studies and, more importantly, its utilization by much of the “developed” world it provides better outcomes for less cost ( generally at ½ to 2/3 of per capita or GDP spending.)

We have a government sponsored single payer insurance program for those 65 and older—MediCare -- by far the most efficient health insurance in the USA. It is NOT a government takeover of health care. It is far more accurate to characterize as a “takeover” the efforts by Paul Ryan and the Insurance Industry to destroy this shining example and to get their hands on trillions of taxpayer dollars. The real answer is Improved MediCare for All.

Wendell Potter, former insurance executive who has seen the light, tells us of the realization by the insurance companies that the US public was more and more embracing a MediCare for all option. He delineates the industry's clandestine efforts, which to this point have been all to successful, to undermine this trend. Pay Much Attention to the Insurers Behind Paul Ryan's Curtain Wendell Potter

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Bumper Stickers Where The Sun Shines

Frivolous but true... The following "one-liners" have occurred to my weird mind. Can not absolutely claim originality-- because who exactly knows what we may have heard when?

Libya-- Rule by One Person; USA --Rule by One Percent

Obama: Guilty of Governing While Black

They Stole Your Money, Now They Want You to Pay Them Back ?

If Obama Spoke, and Fox News Wasn't There, Would He Still Be Wrong ?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Single Payer and Public Behavioral Health

(Though this was originally published in 2006 and a few stats are out of date-- they are worse now-- I have been asked to "repost" this. One clarification may be important, the reference to "President-elect Santos" -- As was somewhat popularly known at the time, he was TV's "West Wing" young Democratic presidential candidate with an ethnic name who won the election against an elderly white republican senator from the southwest. Yeah, like that could ever really happen. Let me know your thoughts. )

We are coming to a tipping point in health insurance coverage in this country. I believe it is and should be towards universal, single payer healthcare/insurance. The question relevant here is how does public behavioral health impact what is to come. While many of us, understandably, are enshrouded in the fog of our current inefficient system, there seems little discussion of how to influence the development of structure, policy and delivery systems of behavioral healthcare in a national healthcare program.

It seems important to muster here some of the arguments and realities of this coming tipping point. Perhaps we need say no more than it is costing General Motors close to $2000 per car manufactured to pay for the health insurance of its current and past employees. This is a competitive burden for all our major employers that their foreign competitors do not have to carry. Why? Because every other “developed” country has some form of national healthcare that spreads the cost – and, not incidentally, improves the outcomes. ( The U.S. generally ranks around 25th in national healthcare outcomes.)

The administrative/non-treatment costs in utilizing private insurance ranges from 15 to 30%. Our national single payer healthcare for seniors ( MediCare) has a 3% admin rate. (As “President-elect Santos”, Senator Kennedy and Congressman Conyers and many others have been saying—we could just drop the “over-65” part of the MediCare legislation.)

Then there is that the U.S. has a consistently growing percentage of “permanently” uninsured—currently 46 million--16% of the population, with an additional 16 million underinsured.

Oh, and, by the way, between government programs and public employment, government is already paying over 60% of insurance costs.

A single payer system is estimated to save over $200 billion annually, cover everyone and improve outcomes.

The current system gives undue policy influence to private insurers and the pharmacy industry.

Rationing ? Bureaucratic control ? Yeah, right, like we don’t have that now—and it will improve under single payer.

Imagine, if you will, a society in which each of us knows that we, our families, our neighbors are free from the stress of healthcare worries and the possible financial destruction a medical crisis can portend.

And while there is so much more weighing in this balance toward a tipping point perhaps the biggest practical point is that --GM is spending nearly $2000 per car.

So what is happening out there that we need to be part of ?

Well, first of all let me speak to some pseudo-reforms. Space does not permit discussion of some of the finer points of (not-even) halfway measures—such as Massachusetts and Vermont, “consumer-directed”, health savings accounts, “Clintoncare”, etc. Suffice it to say that they all rely on and keep in place the current inefficient multiple insurance system.

What is important is that action is moving towards true single payer. My own state, California, has a bill moving through its legislature. It faces the usual resistance and suffers from state level incrementalism. But it may yet serve as a model for national healthcare.

Congressman Conyers and the Congressional Healthcare Caucus have introduced a National Health Insurance Act-HR 676. This bill is going in the right direction and needs the support of the field, consumers and practitioners. Two major national groups are supporting this process—as well as other activities. Healthcare Now (www.healthcare-now.org) is establishing “citizen hearings” through out the country as well as other actions. Physicians for a National Health Program (www.pnhp.org) have been supporting, developing proposals and making the arguments for single payer since at least 1989

Both these organizations and others have extensive websites. Yet, it is difficult to see how behavioral healthcare will be addressed/provided in these models. There are many questions that come to my mind—and that we need to be involved in to influence. Just a few-- Will services be on demand or will they need prior authorizations? Are we looking at a return to fee-for –service? Will the program essentially be a “ticket” for service ? Will there be ways to aggregate funds into programming ? Will the regulations and billing processes be as onerous as they currently are for MediCare Mental Health? Will it be allowed to truly be a “behavioral health” approach and dispense with substance abuse morality issues? Will it help promote service delivery to lower socio-economic groups and efforts against stigma? How will it impact us as employers, providers? Theory is payroll tax and employee tax will be likely revenue sources— how will these be structured so that they are more affordable than the current system ?

It won’t come for free—but it will be less expensive and provide better care. How its finances and delivery systems are structured will be best determined by those involved in its creation and maintenance. These issues need to be being addressed in all our policy and advocacy discussions.

So while you/we are dealing with the usual cascade of crisis that seem to make up our work life, we really need to attend to this point before we are tipped without being part of the tipping.

In what has become pretty much a “tag line” for PNHP—“Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane—Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Stephen Adair Vernon, LMFT; July 12, 2006 Improved MediCare For All!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Stephen-Ken Dialogue III

Ken

So I’m listening to Thom Hartmann on the radio and he’s asking Mark Gafney (?) MI AFL-CIO president the same questions I was asking you, re: how is the local, MI, media covering all this (specifically Snyder and his minions.)

I suppose you know Thom was in Lasing/E.Lansing the same time we were. I do understand that progressive radio is basically non-existent in “the ol’ stomping grounds.” So this is part of what I want to get from and about you. Clearly you, we both, are, a more aware observer/consumer of the zeitgeist, but, part of what I am interested in is the sense of “where the public is,” what do they have to consume ?, at what level of effort ?, what impact?, etc. A bunch of wonderings that probably have no definite answers (besides-- Answers ARE dangerous) but are worth circumambulating.

Anywho, the union guy tells Thom that he actually thinks that the media is telling an “ok” story. Not as much depth as necessary—but collective bargaining, suspension of governments, critical comparisons of platform to actions, etc. Seem that way to you?

It’s always a kick when Thom waxes on about Lansing—today he mentioned his brother as the press operator union rep at the State Journal. The other day he talked about his stereo store in the late 60’s on MAC Ave. ( A woman had actually called in and said she still has a turntable she bought from him)-- Stephen

Stephen

Depends what press you're talking about. MSNBC is giving the best coverage
you can imagine, led by Ed Schultz, a former Republican who saw the light.
The mainstream press is not doing much of any value. They mention the right
terms but don't go in depth.

I blogged about the rally on Thursday in Lansing, if you're interested.
Please do spread it around. http://kenwachsberger.wordpress.com/2011/03/17/inspiration-at-capitol-in-lan
sing/
--Ken

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Stephen - Ken dialogue II

KEN

So pretty much the same view as from here. Though imagine that MI and WI are a bit better covered there than here. Only a bit, but perhaps not. So what do you call it when 10 teabaggers gather on a corner? A conservative revolution worthy of massive media coverage. What do you call it when 100’s of thousands progressives rally for weeks? A mob that might become violent and doesn’t clean up after itself (and may want a bite out of your cookie—I presume you’ve heard that metaphor/story going around) (I just made up that “what do you call it”s—they may need a little work.)

While I agree that Obama and the Dems blew it and try to play too nice it does remind me of the old 60’s-70’s argument of can we trust the Dems and/or is they all we got?

Just how far they can stray from their corporate masters is a continuing question. Especially when the media so defines the limits of the debate. E.G. I would love that every time some one calls Obama a socialist that the media 1. Educates them on the definition of socialism and 2. Calls them out for the the (50’s) McCarthyite s/he is.) (And my personal favorite irritant, I want them to be corrected every time they say “Democrat Party.”)

Shared Sacrifice!? When they give back the money they “legally” and illegally stole then we can talk about shared sacrifice. (And just where are THEY sacrificing anyway?) (Of the many examples--) They took the Social Security surplus ( a regressive tax) and spent it on their tax reductions and wars and now they say since the “taxpayers” will have to pay it we have to reduce benefits.

And 400 people owning as much (more) than 150 million. Is the obscenity clear just yet?

When I saw the video of thousands of people outside the WI Capitol trying to get in for the anti-union vote another image popped to mind. The dozen (if that many) people (mostly Rebup staff) imported by Karl Rove for the Brooks Brother riot that stopped the Miami-Dade count in 2000.(Rove's Replacement Brags About "Brooks Brother Riot"-- http://www.democrats.com/joel-kaplan )

I won’t even mention the assassinations that killed liberalism(all right, I just
did.)But, ever since Nixon, the Repubs have only won the presidency when they have committed treason or other crimes. Nixon/Kissinger re: the ’68 peace talks; Watergate; Reagan and Iran hostages (straight from the ’68 playbook); Bush I in covering up his Iran involvement, etc; Bush II in the voter purges, stopping the vote count (with the assist going to the Supreme’s).

And just how could the media even pretend that Bush was at all a competent contender. He had destroyed everything he had ever managed and the TX governorship is certainly no training ground for the Presidency. Maybe just an accurate coherent sentence or two should be minimal qualification.



Stephen,

The difference between the Dems and the Reps always was that the Dems always
said the right thing, at least long enough for the masses to think maybe
they might perhaps just possibly come close to doing the right thing--and
then they did the opposite. The Reps always promised to do what you hated
and they came through. Obama did a great job of co-opting the left, and he
has indeed done a few good things. But he presently is selling out as fast
as he can. Where is he on the union struggle issue. I can't hear him. What
is he doing with Bradley Manning--consenting to torture and denying he's
doing so (he asked the jailers if BM was being treated okay, they said he
was, and so he reported that he was satisfied).

It's too bad. Obama had a mandate to make major change but he was much more
interested in making major nice.

But you can't expect the corporate media to tell the truth. They're the same
folks we dealt with back when, only they're now more concentrated. There is
still the same need for the alternative media. The bloggers are our
successors but most of them have no idea what went on back when with the
underground press. That was why I invited Markos Moulitsas, founder of
dailykos.com, the most important, in my opinion, progressive blog site, to
write the foreword to volume 1, to connect the generations. It isn't because
the bloggers have turned their backs on us or think they're better than us.
It's because they don't know we existed because the schools don't talk about
the alternative press--even journalism history classes, a point I made in a
radio interview yesterday.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Stephen - Ken dialogue

No better place to start this effort at  communication with impact than a recent dialogue with ol' buddy Ken in Michigan.  Talking politics, the world and whaddaheck is gong on and whadwecando to help move the world forward.  ( where is that fulcrum, anyway?)

To Ken:

Not little influenced by the goings on back there--Been thinking about the old stomping grounds, you, et al. How are things from the MI point of view? What's the haps in WI?

From here (SF Bay Area) I certainly see an occasional burst into the general mediaof some limited conception of thousands of people protesting against the loss of collective bargaining.As minimal as that is it is more than overwhelmed by theunexamined "neutral" langauge of the talking heads of the threat pensions are to the taxpayer, or, that deficit reduction not only is immediately necessary but can only be accomplished by cutting and "shared" sacrifice(ing of the middle class on the altar of the rich) (I added that last part)

Of course I listen to and look for better, more enlightened, perspectives on the
political/personal processes of the times. Yet, even though I remain hopeful--in the long run-- I disdain my own hopefulness.

Perhaps it is always at least some Rage Against the Machine but redirecting the machine is often tantamount to destroying it. Insurance based healthcare is healthcare for the insurance companies. Single payer is healthcare for the people.

Anyway, my heart and hope is with the Solidarity reaction to Republican overreach. And though this phase, as all do, will wane, perhaps a new perch will be regained from which to operate.
--SV


To Stephen:

Democrats at the national level had a chance to make major change--including
single-payer insurance--when Obama won but they dickered around and Obama
spent too much time trying to make nice to people who hated his guts and
were committed to saying no to anything he said yes to. They still are and
he still is. Democrats could have crushed Republicans into the next century;
instead, they let Republicans define the terms of debate. I would say
Republicans are great at that but in truth Democrats are just incompetent.
Republicans say the economy is still no good under Obama. Where are Obama
and the Democrats saying the economy is bad because the Republicans voted
down the ideas that would have made it good? And now Afghanistan is Obama's
war, with no end in sight and my bet that Obama will invade Libya because
the Republicans are taunting him to.

What's happening in Wisconsin is 1) a travesty; 2) happening all over the
country. The Wisconsin Democrats came to life. This is refreshing--maybe, as
George Jackson wrote, you have to feel the worst of how bad things can be
before you begin to make them better (which is just a rework of the therapy
idea that you have to feel the pain before you can begin to get rid of it).
If this is so, then "overreach" will be an understatement when the unions
rally the rest of the disappearing middle class and do what the majority in
a democracy is supposed to do.

It can be frustrating. Sometimes you have to withdraw to regain your energy
but then you have to come out fighting.
--KW
(to be continued)