Wednesday, March 17th, 2010
It was amazing. Every story on the front page of Tuesday's New York Times told the story of the Age of Greed during which a system known as capitalism is slowly, but surely, killing us:
Insurance company greed: "Millions Spent to Sway Democrats on Health Care"
War profiteers: "Contractors Tied to Effort to Track and Kill Militants"
There's no profit in repairing our infrastructure: "Repair Costs Daunting as Water Lines Crumble"
China, the bank: "China Uses Rules on Global Trade to Its Advantage"
You mean NAFTA didn't improve life in Mexico: "Two Drug Slayings in Mexico Rock US Consulate"
What happens when Big Food profits from hurting kids: "Forget Goofing Around: Recess Has New Boss"
There's now a daily parade of news like this -- well, not really "news," more like the media division of large corporations shoving your face into the dirt that is your life. You already know the schools are a disaster and the war is a boon for the Halliburtons and a bust for you. You don't need a newspaper to tell you the roads and electrical lines and the local sewage plant is in miserable disrepair.
And by now you've figured out that you don't really have any say in this, that what we call the "democratic process" is mostly a sham, pretty words that get repeated in the hopes we will all still fall for it. But the fix is in and we don't fall for it anymore. Admit it: Wall Street owns "our" Congress lock, stock and big barrel o' campaign cash. You want a say in this? Well, I don't see you on the Forbes 400, so shut the f@*& up and go fetch me another bottle of bubbly.
Within days, the House of Representatives will vote to pass the Senate health care "reform" bill. This bill is a joke. It has NOTHING to do with "health care reform." It has EVERYTHING to do with lining the pockets of the health insurance industry. It forces, by law, every American who isn't old or destitute to buy health insurance if their boss doesn't provide it. What company wouldn't love the government forcing the public to buy that company's product?! Imagine a bill that ordered every citizen to buy the extended warranty on all their appliances? Imagine a law that made it illegal not to own an iPhone? Or how 'bout I get a law passed that makes it compulsory for every American to go see my next movie? Woo-hoo! Who wouldn't love a sweet set-up like this windfall?
Well, the insurance companies -- get this -- don't like the Democrats' bill! That alone should be reason enough to vote for it.
Now, you would think these thieves would love this bill -- but they are actually fighting it. Why? Because it doesn't give them ONE HUNDRED PERCENT of the what they want. It only gives them... 90%! YOU SEE, pure greed demands all or nothing.
The insurance industry hates this bill because it puts a few minor restrictions on them. Six months after its passage they won't be able to deny children coverage if they have a pre-existing condition. How awful! Government interference! SOCIALISM!
But, hey, they'll still be able to deny these children's parents coverage until 2014! So if a parent gets sick and dies in the next four years, I'm sure someone will step in and raise these already-insured orphans.
And how big will the fines be if the insurance companies do deny someone coverage for having a pre-existing condition? Are you sitting down? A hundred dollars a day! That's it! So if you're the insurance company, and Judy is a customer of yours, and Judy needs an operation that will cost $100,000, what do you do? You take the fine! Let's say Judy lives another year after you've sentenced her to death, your $100-a-day fine will only cost you $36,500! That's a savings of $63,500! And trust me, my friends, that's EXACTLY what's going to happen.
There are some good things in this bill. Parents will be able to keep their children on their policy until the kids turn 26. A few things like that. So, yes, pass that.
But don't insult me and 300 million Americans by calling this "health care reform." At least you've stopped calling it "universal health care." We will not have universal health care or anything close to it. I wish the president and the Democratic leadership would just stand up and say, "We're sorry, America. We didn't get the job done you sent us here to do. We're weak and scared and unable to communicate the simplest of messages to the American people. Therefore, our bill will guarantee that 12 million of you will still have NO health insurance. And that's because we have decided to leave the greedy, private insurance industry in charge of our system. Forgive us for this and for continuing to allow profit to be the determining factor as to whether a patient gets the help she or he needs."
Please, Democrats -- just say that -- then pass this poor excuse of a bill. Pass it because, if President Obama takes a fall on this one, I don't know if he'll be able to get back up. And then NOTHING will get done. We can't have that. (And thank you Dennis Kucinich for hanging in there right up to the end and being the only one out of the 435 members to speak the awful truth.)
On the front page of yesterday's New York Times, the dateline was, sadly, once again, "Flint, Michigan." The story was about how doctors are no longer accepting Medicaid patients. Which means tens of thousands of poor can no longer go to the doctor. Last year, the State of Michigan also prohibited doctors from accepting Medicaid patients who had anything wrong with their vision, their hearing, their feet or their teeth. In a 16-county area northwest of Flint, there will soon be not one single hospital that will allow you to give birth there if you're on Medicaid. The official unemployment rate in Flint is 27% (unofficially, closer to 40%).
This is an American tragedy. And, as I've warned you for years, this tsunami is heading your way -- if it's not there already.
I've just turned on my new iPhone and it informs me that it has "apps" it would like to suggest I buy. One is called "Scanner." It will allow me to listen in on police scanners anywhere across the country. I buy the app. I see that the Flint police scanner is part of this. I turn it on out of curiosity. And this is what I hear, at one in the morning: A woman is being beaten by her husband... A home invasion is taking place ("16-year-old black male, wearing a white skull cap")... A child has been missing since noon today... Another woman is being beaten by her boyfriend... A diabetic, obese man is having trouble breathing and needs to be rushed to the hospital (there will be three more of these obese diabetics in the hours to come; the entire town is ill)... One more woman calling, screaming for help, "officers urged to use caution..."
...And on and on and on. This is what I have listened to before going to bed. I am filled with despair and helplessness as I hear my former neighbors crying out for help. I hate it. I have to turn it off. I start to cry. Thank you, iPhone. Thank you, Democrats. I'll sleep better knowing that you're looking out for all of us.
P.S. I'll continue my jihad today on Dylan Ratigan (MSNBC, 4pm ET) and, for the first time together in the same studio since our, um, 2007 debate, I'll join Wolf Blitzer live in his CNN Studio (5-8pm, ET). I'll also be on live for the entire 11am hour this morning on the wonderful Diane Rehm Show on NPR. You can listen live online here.
The rest of the day I'll spend wandering the halls of Congress with my shillelagh and shamrocks, doing my best impersonation of St. Patrick as I try to drive the snakes out of Capitol Hill. Wish me luck...
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