Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Fillibuster is to Fight Corruption, not to Foster it.

Senate Republicans and Senator Joe Lieberman have forgotten that they are in Washington to serve America. They voted against:

  1. Guaranteed affordable health care ( such as the public option or lowering the Medicare age limit that would offer price protection through competition)
  2. Legislation protecting the insurance customer from being dropped from their insurance
  3. Legislation protecting the insurance customer from arbitrary financial lifetime limits
  4. Legislation protecting the insurance customer from Government interference in their insurance plan (limiting what the private insurance companies cover, such as abortion)

Let's look at it another way. The Republican Senators, and Joe Lieberman voted for:

  1. Forcing 30 million more Americans onto the private health insurance plans without any price protections
  2. Allowing insurance companies to continue to defraud customers into paying premiums when there is no intention to actually pay for their health care
  3. Allowing insurance companies to declare any financial limits as to coverage that they choose
  4. Limiting the type of coverage that private insurance companies can offer (preventing them from paying for legal procedures such as abortion).

Every single Republican Senator voted for the above abuses of the American people. Luckily for us, they lost the vote!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Truth from a Fellow American

Yesterday, I was at the IGA grocery store, and got to talking to the grocery manager who was stocking the shelves behind me. I was looking at the tea, which wasn't on my list. We like an assortment of black and green teas, as well as flavored teas for after dinner, and I was trying to remember which ones we had recently finished. I must have been there long enough that he thought I might be interested in a conversation.

"My wife just called from Walmart" he said, "and whatever they might say about the recession, she says the store is empty."

This triggered my thoughts about Walmart, and as I was shopping at my local store, and he was employed by my local store, I thought it was worth a mention. He seemed to read my mind, because he continued.

"I know what they say about Walmart," he responded, "but they have the lowest prices, and several of he (Mr. Walmart) loses money on several of his products just because he promises to have to lowest prices."

I admitted that they had the lowest prices, and reminded him that I usually shopped locally so that local merchants would stay near where I lived. (The Walmart was 30 miles away.) I then explained the movie about Walmart which he hadn't seen. A couple had an invention and they wanted Walmart to pick it up because that would insure their financial success. Walmart told them the price they wanted to pay for it. This price was much lower than the couple's original plan, and they eventually found that they could only produce it at that price if they had it manufactured in China. They did, and Walmart agreed to sell it for them.

Overseas Manufacturing is Hurting Us

He agreed that it was a shame that US goods were being manufactured overseas, but that if they were the least expensive....

I suggested that the big corporations would do well to remember that if they didn't hire US workers, that there would be an ever shrinking market. If there is no one to buy, there won't be those great big profits for them.

He then told me a story that you would only hear from someone who had been in the grocery business for years and years.

Corporate Greed has Increased Since Owners Have Sold to CEO-run Corporations

He used to work at Waldbaum, when it was owned by Mr. Waldbaum. They marked up their goods about 15%. There were 75,000 full time employees. Mr. Waldbaum paid good wages and took care of his employees as well as his customers. He was a millionaire and his stores did a large business.

A&P then bought the chain. They fired 65,000 full time employees. They increased the markup to 30%. This increased profits greatly, but the chain's revenue dropped to half of what it had been. My grocery manager, Larry, explained that this kind of greed was happening everywhere. We didn't have business owners anymore, but CEO's. And, he added, CEO's don't care about anything but profit and they don't care about anyone but themselves.

He said that when he was young, people were paid well for what they did. He bought his home when he was still in his 20's as many of his friends did. It was a shame that wages were so low for most people these days that they couldn't afford to pay rent, energy, phone and insurance and feed a family and that the CEO's were earning billions. "They will never understand what it's like for most people who have to worry about how to pay their heating bill" he added.

Before Ronald Reagan, corporate CEO's earned no more than 25 times the salary of their lowest paid employee. If the receptionist earned $7/hour, the CEO would earn no more than $175/hour. William McGuire of United Health Group is paid $234 a minute or $14040/hour. There are people in America earning less in a year than he earns in an hour.

Those who are paid these exorbitant salaries are people who can fire 65,000 Americans in a minute and people who can cut off a woman just diagnosed with breast cancer from health insurance for mistating her weight 5 years ago.... These are rare people. These are psychopaths who have no feelings for other people.

There are Solutions:

Larry had some solutions:

  1. Restore the Tariff, so that it will NOT save money to manufacture overseas
  2. Return Taxes on those earning more than $500,000 per year to 90% as it was during Eisenhower's presidency.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Christmas, HR3962 and Stupak

Those who want the Stupak Amendment added to HR3962 are against the "killing of innocent children" no matter whether they are already dead or would be born without a heart or a brain.

We all agree that the killing of healthy innocents is wrong, although some of us think it matters how many cells a zygote has and whether or not that zygote would be able to live after birth. Yet, these same anti-abortion Christians/Jews don't support the public option. I have tried to point out that once those children are born, their families might need support. They then tell me that it is the woman's "personal responsibility".

I have pointed out that the woman was accepting her responsibility when she made the difficult choice to have an abortion, and it was the Christian/Jew who took away her ability to make that decision. Therefore, it becomes the Christian/Jew's responsibility, at least in part I think, to insure that she has the means to properly care for that child.

"No" says the Christian/Jew. She should have kept her pants zipped. (Let's not get into the dress code here....) I pointed out that the man could have kept his pants zipped.... The Christian/Jew answers, that it is their personal responsibility also.

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

A person can only be responsible if s/he has life and liberty, and authority over his/her own life.

When the founders wrote the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence, they lived in a land that had water with abundant fish, and in a land with abundant game and timber. Any healthy person with some skills could live abundantly. If a family was large, you simply chopped down a few trees and built an addition to your home. It was more hands for fishing, farming or for cooking. This gave people authority over their own lives.

This is not so true today. For a person living in poverty, it's very difficult to provide for a family. The larger a family becomes, the more stress is put on the family economy. This stress forces a family to make decisions between buying health insurance, or paying the mortgage, or between after school activities and private school, or even Mom's medication and food for dinner. Many upper and middle class men are choosing to have vasectomies to limit family growth.

But, what about the woman whose boyfriend or husband doesn't have a vasectomy? Should she allow all her children to suffer if she becomes pregnant? We certainly can't answer this here, but it is not such a simple problem once a pregnancy has started.

Let's talk a little more about authority over one's life

In urban areas, there is a strong correlation between living or working near a power plant, and respiratory disease. As you probably know, power plants are not generally put in the wealthy areas where people have health insurance. They are built in the poorer areas where people have low paying jobs that don't come with health insurance.

These families without private health insurance take their asthmatic children or elders to the nearest hospital ER or free health clinic. These are costly visits for the US government and are partly responsible for the rapidly increasing costs of Medicare/aid.

Those Christians/Jews who speak so easily of preventing abortions are not accounting for the environmental illnesses that are part of living in a poor area. The poor have less access to clean air, a stress-free environment and fresh vegetables. This contributes to an increased incidence of asthma and other illnesses.

These families do not have the freedom to move to a better location, far from power plants. However, Medicare for all would give these families greater authority over their lives. They would have access to a family physician who could help with preventive care and family planning as well as consistent palliative care.

Community Responsibility

One might expect that the Christian/Jew who insists on preserving life would also seek to protect those lives. This is not the case. Those who speak against abortions do not generally accept the principle of community responsibility. They call this "communism" or "socialism". They speak against community responsibility as an affront to their "freedom".

It is alright for a private health insurance executive to earn a salary of millions of dollars, yet, they are blind to any connection between this salary and the high cost of health insurance. This is "free enterprise". They blame increasing health costs on the government.

In every other country that has government health care, costs are lower and outcomes are better. Their argument is easily refuted, but the anti-abortionists are arguing from principle rather than from fact or history.

So, the anti-abortionist insists that they have the right to prevent a woman from exercising free choice over her family size but that the woman does not have the right to expect any responsible assistance from them.

Right to Life

This is the most absurd phrase in the American political lexicon. Those who identify with this term generally:

  • Believe in preventing abortions (thus forcing more births) but not in taking care of those children
  • Believe that most Moslems are political extremists and terrorists and should be killed
  • Believe that the US has the right to kill and that the soldier can do no wrong until s/he comes home and needs health care and benefits because s/he can't work to support him or herself
  • Believe that Capital Punishment is a deterrent to murder, and that state sanctioned murder is fine
  • Believe that doctors who care for women seeking abortions can (or should) be murdered because they murder fetus'
  • Believe that wealthy CEO's who cause the deaths or illness of other Americans through extreme pollution or rescission of health insurance are not murderers but "free market capitalists" which is somehow close to godliness or sainthood.
  • Believe that government officials who seek to provide christian charity to those who can't provide for themselves, are anti-American

I have to admit that I can't see the logic in this position. This is a lot of killing for someone who claims to believe in the "right to life." Can anyone explain this to me? Please comment and I promise I will write you back.