Mr. President–Tear Down That Health Care Lobby!

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Americans are finally hearing the truth. Through the competitive din of chattering and yammering talking heads, carefully coiffed, with each dental implant glinting off the studio lights, warmed-over failed-Republican and newly revived Democrat “consultants” drone on with their well-rehearsed talking points. But in the White House, one man and a group of loyal, hard-core revolutionaries are chopping through the forest of lobbyist-grown obstacles. They have one weapon…a public voice…the right to speak to the American People at any hour on any subject. And this new leader is forcefully shoving the truth down our throats–whether we like it or not.

We eat too much. We blindly and stupidly bought the wrong cars. We didn’t fight hard enough for our children’s educations. We drove our credit cards and our second mortgages beyond what we could afford. We let political felons tells us lies, and while we listened and young boys died we argued quietly among ourselves, instead of marching on the White House. We let the poor and patriotic young men and women pay the ultimate price for the greed of a few wealthy oil men. We looked on as our leaders tried to bully the entire world.

And where was this young, attractive, brilliant Ivy-league graduate who is now our President? He was busy, in the ghetto, helping mothers get food, and elderly stay in their tiny apartments and children get attention from doctors on their way from the BMW dealership. He wasn’t ready to lead. He had much to learn first.

So he went to Harvard Law School. And then where did he go…to Wall Street? He went to serve in the humblest measure of public service there is, after community organizing. He went the state legislature. That job was almost as much a joke to many as “community organizer” was to Rudy Guiliani, until Rudy and the Republicans were humiliated and annihilated in the 2008 elections by a community organizer.

They’re not laughing now. They’re huddled around the monumental flesh of Rush Limbaugh, lacking ideas and leadership, with only the fear of failure staring back at them from the mirror…pathetic, cowardly fools…who were challenged as decent human beings and found wanting. They and their lobbyist friends were caught in the open at precisely the time that the American People finally picked themselves up, fought their way through the jungles of  Right Wing propaganda, marched to the polling places. They voted for the future of their children, for an equitable society, for the possibility of dignity in old age and for peace in our time. The American People, searching for the truth, found their common conscience and their common sense at that last minute, when, as Churchill said, all other options had been exhausted.

We voted for hope but we voted for pain. Economic pain was thrust upon us by the ruling elite of the previous Administration. We voted for someone who would help us recover from the results of eight years or more of a never-ending search for personal financial satiety. To recover from a situation where a Secretary of the Treasury, a Wall Street mogul himself, could walk into the halls of our highest legislative body and extort $750 billion dollars from Congress for already lavishly rich investment bankers and bond salesmen or they would reduce us to a society that only Dickens would recognize.

The only term that accurately describes the previous Administration is a ruling elite. They were a ruling elite composed of monopolistic international corporations, with owners and managers gone totally berserk. Salaries beyond the wildest dreams of Arab sheiks. Gated communities and lackeys in Washington who coveted what their masters had and were willing to do virtually anything to get their meager share.

They were busy, these dirty, rotten scoundrels. They turned off the electricity of little old ladies in California nursing homes. They cheated enterprising Native Americans of hundreds of millions of dollars and a generation of hope after centuries of apartheid.  Not to mention the catastrophe they caused for the average citizen of Iraq. We have created much damage in the Middle East for which we must take responsibility. This bright, thoughtful new President understands and has already made our preliminary apologies. Now we must follow up with deeds.

And we must follow up here at home. The same people who brought you the last eight years of disaster are not through with you yet. They still exist and their owners still have the money to pay them well, while you or someone close to you struggles to disengage from this economic whirlpool.  The 2008 elections were not  a fight to free ourselves from economic oppression. It turns out that 2008 was merely the first battle in a war against entrenched monopolistic enterprises that are launching new attacks. The crucial first battle line is drawn around health care.

The only industry hiring new employees now is health care. That is good for those of our citizens in the health care industry. But we need to insure that those individuals are employed in performing services that they can be proud of, helping all Americans to live healthier lives, regardless of their income level or the current state of their health. We need affordable health care for all Americans.

We need to have what all those other industrial countries have and which none of them, under threat of revolution, would part with…universal health care.  We have been told incredible lies about universal health care by doctors, hospitals, health insurance companies and HMOs. The lies have been amplified and relayed by paid Washington lobbyist “think tanks” like Cato and American Heritage Institute and by the Chamber of Commerce, FNIB, by associations of hospital groups, health care insurers and the Republican and Democratic legislators who are in the pockets of the health care community.

The average CEO of a health insurance company makes $14 million dollars a year. That is a fact, a statistical fact.  The excess income of these individuals alone would allow millions of Americans to have reasonably priced health care.  We can reduce the administrative overhead on the very same health care…no difference at all…from the (at the very LEAST) 20% of the private firms down to 2% for publicly run health care.  Medicare does it right now.

In Canada, everyone has health care. There are no long waiting periods, despite what Fox News propaganda, or spurious, anonymous “Emails from Canada” sent out by the health care lobby would have you believe. The average time to see someone in a waiting period ranges, depending upon the condition. For cancer, it can take up to six days. For knee replacements that are not crippling, it can take up to…up to…17 months.  In the province of British Columbia, a family of two would pay about $96 per month for health care. In other provinces one might pay nothing. Each province finances its health care from either premiums or from a combination of taxes of various kinds.

The British system is far superior to the American system. Virtually everything is covered. But there are trade offs. Drugs that are experimental are sometimes prescribed but other times the risk-reward is so tenuous,  they cannot be prescribed.  Many people do not know that serious drugs for things like cancer can cost upwards of $200,000 per year. How many people in the United States can afford $200,000 for drugs each and every year. So why would you expect a public system to pay that kind of cost if the outcome were less than promising?

By the way, the French, German and Scandinavian systems–among others–are all much better than the British or Canadian health care systems to which the media constantly compare our system. We are comparing our halting SUV to a Mercedes, while ignoring the fact that still others are driving Ferraris. For the money we spend in this country–twice what these countries with first-class universal health care spend–we could all be driving Ferraris and could insure that they would never break down. Right now that money is going to CEOs of health insurance firms whose profit is made by DENYING your claims.

Right now, in the United States, decisions on eligibility are being made by insurance company clerks whose job it is to earn that $14 million-dollar income for the CEO by denying as much as possible. Wouldn’t you rather have a dedicated, highly-paid physician, who never has to worry about income and who has your interests at heart making those decisions? They have to look you in the eye.  They go home every night, living with the knowledge of what they did or failed to do to keep you alive.  Their satisfaction comes from applying a staggering amount of information to the most keenly honed intellects in society to make you well. Yes, some physicians have become greedy, lazy and cynical. They mirror society.  But we know that if society resumes its idealism, the best and brightest will follow. That is what we need again in this country.

The British government itself is not without problems in financing health care. It should be pointed out that they do not spend half what we spend per capita. They spend only 40% of what we spend. Yet they have far better outcomes. Numerous polls show that the British people would never give up their health care system for ours. But if they increased it by only 10 percent…still only half what we spend…their system would be the envy of the world. It simply shows that the potential for a universal American system is enormous.

On television right now and elsewhere in this blog, you can see the video of a man, Rick Scott,  who was formerly the head of a company that cheated Medicare out of hundreds of millions of dollars and whose company was fined a billion dollars by the U.S. Justice Department.  He was fired but he did not leave that company in disgrace. He left with a severance of about $10 million and stock in that corporation amounting to something like $300 million. He is now on television trying to persuade you to agree with him that universal health care will be bad for you.  The only bad thing is that he is even allowed to be on television telling lies to KEEP you from having affordable health care.

This is a battle that will be fought with lies and propaganda from the gigantic health care lobby to threaten your elected reprsentatives into capitulation…to vote against any substantial health care program that will reduce the amount paid to the health insurance companies.  It won’t be a head-on collision.  These companies know that Americans are fed up with current health care. It will come in the form of innuendo, scare tactics from people you might normally trust. It will come in doctored statistics and subtle lies about universal health care, lies about people denied coverage or false rumors that people are allowed to die because of rationed care or drugs.

Your fight is against this propaganda. Learn the truth. Listen to the Democratic Party. They are the ones who have campaigned and fought relentlessly but unsuccessfully against the previous Administration and the vested health care interests. They have put their careers on the line for better health care. Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy, Senators Leahy, Rockefeller, Feingold, Brown, Schumer,  Durbin…all for universal health care.  Representatives Kucinich, Fazio and literally hundreds more. They’ll get pressure that will not be pretty. Lobbyist will cajole and plead, then they’ll go to the threats, to spend enormous amounts to knock them out of office for voting for a universal public health care system for the People.

They need your help. You need to fight. You need to get on the Internet or call or write letters or join any organization that contacts you to volunteer to help.  The President will have one big vote. But you need to help by influencing the vote of every other legislator who can make this happen.