By David Mark Greaves
Health Care’s Three Adversaries
The health care debacle in Washington is because the people are fighting not one, but three adversaries– the insurance industry, those who cater to the rich and the legacy of slavery. Universal Health Care, Medicare for All or single-payer, however you want to call it, is violently objected to by the insurance industry. Because then our health dollars would not be providing the industry profits and paying for all the duplicated CEOs, area managers and their offices.
It’s fought “tooth and nail” by the super-profitable pharmaceutical industry, because they don’t want the government to shop overseas or in Canada for less expensive prescription drugs. And they certainly don’t like negotiating their pricings.
The watchdog group, Public Citizen, reported that pharmaceutical corporations collectively spent more than $150 million lobbying Congress in 2016 and opensecrets.org adds that the insurance industry spent over $147 million in the same year. In a polite society, these dollars are called campaign contributions or issue support, however, in less genteel circles it is known as “grease”, “doing the right thing” or bribery if you can prove it.
What kind of mentality would think it is a good thing to take money from the sick and poor and elderly to give to the already wealthy? A slaveholder would do it without a second thought. The United States is the only country in the industrialized world without a national health program, and the United States is the only country built with slavery in its DNA.
In her dissertation on health care and the slave, “Unfit for Bondage: Disability and African-American Slavery in the United States, 1800-1860”, Dea Hadley writes, “Basically, if they were functional enough to be of any use to the plantation, they were given the tasks they could manage even if those tasks were somewhat small. They were likely treated somewhat like children on the plantation. If they were not useful at all or were a liability, they probably were disabled to the point where their lifespan would naturally be short, whether by illness, lack of the ability to take care of themselves, or accidental death”. In short, when they were of no more use, people were left to die. This was the attitude of the “Planter class” as W.E.B. DuBois called them, and it is the attitude embodied in Republican proposals that the Congressional Budget Office says will force 22 million to go without insurance.
People are fighting back. More and more are finding themselves being relegated to our world, “where their lifespans would naturally be short”, and they don’t like it.
The ranks of the proponents for Universal Health Care will continue to grow as more and more people see the current contortions to make the system work as a mythical Gordian Knot, that only a single-payer sword can cut through.
Congressman John Conyers was prescient with H.R. 676, his Medicare for All Act first introduced in 2003. Maybe now his time has come.
Not Since Pearl Harbor
Not since Japan attacked Pearl Harbor has a foreign power dealt as serious a blow to the American homeland as Russia’s Vladimir Putin. The reaction to the Pearl Harbor attack was one of instant national unification: “A day that will live in infamy” as President Franklin Roosevelt called it. The reaction to the deadly attack on the institution of Democracy itself by the current president, whose victory was the goal of the attack, has been very much different. Either it’s a hoax or it’s Obama’s fault because he should have said something before the election. Of course he did, but was constrained to do more because the Trump/Russian team had put him in a trick bag. Trump would have said, “See, I told you it was rigged!”, as his new slogan and Hillary’s loss, which was her destiny, would have been pinned on Obama and he’d feel inclined to take it. He made the right call.