Sunday, February 27, 2011

To the Republicans Who Would Throw My Family Out In The Street

A commenter on a friend's facebook page describes my opinions as dishonest.

Don't talk to me about honesty. At this moment my family's very existence is being saved by unemployment insurance, a lifesaver that morons like Rand Paul and his followers think is more destructive to my family than the moral lesson that we are weak and inferior because my wife, a public school teacher, can't magically conjure up some great, high-paying alternative. The idea that she'd rather sit on her ass and collect than work is an insult based on nothing, since you never met her, don't know her, and can't begin to guess at her character.

But don't let that stop you. You never do.

Only on Wall Street can you ruin the world and be rewarded with a big fat bonus. Real teachers, nurses, social workers -- we know reality from fantasy because we can't afford not to.

The fantasy IS the reality to the GOP, just like the ginned-up paranoid fantasy of armed jihadists posing as Mexican fruit pickers so that big business cronies can put up fences that catch no one and produce nothing but political fodder for extremists. Or the fantasy that Saddam Hussein must have somehow been responsible for 9/11. Or the fantasy that the President is a Muslim spy who was born in Africa.

Another whopper of a fantasy is this Reagan worship. This man had some strengths but connecting well with reality was never among them. Trust me, I've read his autobiography and you haven't; it's all in there. Ronald Reagan did the opposite of what his worshipers think he did, but they don't care. In fact, Reagan himself bloated the federal government, expanded its payrolls, while at the same time deriding "welfare queens" as somehow being responsible for the fiscal problems of the nation. It was Reagan who called Medicare "Socialism," and took money from Joe McCarthy as a PAID FBI informant to finger left-leaning writers in Hollywood during one of the darkest and most shameful periods of American history.

These are your leaders, not mine. I don't need a mountain of statistics to remind me that Reagan was a fraud, that Sarah Palin does not know Africa is not a country, and when asked what newspapers she reads to stay informed, replies "I don't know. All of them." She thinks the First Amendment is violated when someone criticizes her, but it's OK to ban books in Wasilla when they don't appeal to her narrow sense of right and wrong.

Your leaders ruined the economy through deregulation, left a mess for the Democrats to clean up, blamed them for the hard choices they were too chickenshit themselves to make, decided that helping people struggling without health insurance protections was less important than handing Obama a "Waterloo."

The Republicans are the ones who explode budgets and balloon deficits. The last balanced budget came from Clinton. How did you thank him for doing what you now say is the holiest job a president can do? You impeached him for denying a marital affair. You Republicans did that, not me. I was an adult. Men have affairs, I said. This is not a state matter. No, you said, his penis his more dangerous than Osama bin Laden, more important than our economy.

It is the Republicans today fighting to keep credit default swaps and esoteric derivatives trading unregulated. It is Republicans in the top 1% who are living in incredible luxury, best ever, better even than a decade ago. The pain is only for the people, and the Left.

The GOP is the party of Ayn Rand, of naked self-interest, and of teabaggers (self-described, not a slur) who promised jobs but instead chose to redefine rape so that a woman with a knife to her throat is somehow considered giving consent and so must carry his child to term. They do this with a straight face while describing themselves as protectors of American freedom. Rapist's freedom, I guess they mean. This is their idea of creating jobs, the plan they campaigned on.

For today's Republicans, a public union giving in on every concession is not enough; they must also commit suicide and cease to exist.

There IS a class war in America. There is blood in the streets and it's only just beginning. It is brutal, savage, cruel, un-Godly, and the wrong side is winning.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Thoughts For Today

If you love your country you want it to thrive. If you have billions you should be grateful to live in a land where such fortunes are possible to make and keep.

This country belongs to its citizens. Our legal system is as much mine as Donald Trump's. Every time he gets a permit to build something he is asking the people to share their common wealth in allowing him to do so. He has asked for a lot of these, BTW.

Every time a major corporation sues someone for copyright or patent infringement, or breach of contract, etc., it is using our common wealth - the courts, which we all own equally - to do so.

The billionaire uses all the same parts of America that the rest of us do, only in vastly higher quantities. Whether it's consuming more energy from the electrical grid, putting more cars on the collectively-owned highways, using more water, or utilizing the court system more often to address grievances, the rich use up more of this country's shared wealth than the poor. They should pay more because they use more, make more waste, consume more resources, and they couldn't make one thin dime without clean air, water, workable infrastructure, power grids, courts and police to guarantee legal redress...

No, sadly, the rich want socialism for themselves and capitalism for everyone else. Oldest game in the book.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Sunday Morning Politics - GTL Style

My new facebook friend Paul Erickson comments, "Dave, the way I see Obama is that he is truly a leftist. I think there are certain realities he has to live with being president that cause him to move from his leftist agenda. I don't know what kind of a strategist he is. He's come out on the wrong side of several areas: health care, unemployment, bank bail out etc."

Now, I'm only a guy who cares, not a genius who knows all, and I won't comment on whether or not it's a good thing that my wife's unemployment check has allowed us to keep our house and feed our children since she lost her public-school teaching job. Nor will I attempt to untangle the merits or lack thereof regarding those bank bailouts.

But Health Care is something I do know a lot about. So here's my response:

Paul, here comes a lengthy response, so brace yourself! I'd like you to read it with an open mind...

I work in health care - psychiatric hospitalization, specifically - and have turned people away for lack of insurance and have watched people stumble out of the hospital in tears, untreated, because even with commercial insurance they could not afford their co-pays and deductibles, often in the thousands of dollars.

From the perspective of a front line, boots-on-the-ground health care provider working with at least 15 separate insurance companies every goddamn day, including all the biggest ones, smaller ones, plus Tricare (military), Medicare (federal), and Medicaid (state), I can categorically state that here in Massachusetts the present is orders of magnitude better than the past. And I have heard not one complaint from any citizen, employer, or provider with ANY insurance plan, that the new system is either broken, arbitrary, or unfair.

In fact, time after time, people lament that they wish they had Medicaid because only Medicaid provides the comprehensive services at low costs that they need. Some facilities in my city of Lowell will ONLY take Medicaid, because all other comers are too difficult to deal with and reject too many claims.

Medicaid, BTW, has lower overhead, and is the model of efficiency compared to, say, Cigna, Aetna, Fallon, Harvard Pilgrim, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Modern Assistance, and the mother of all substandard insurances, United Behavioral Health (unfortunately, I am insured by UBH, so I'd better keep the crazy to a minimum). I wish you knew the guilt I feel, having to tell people exactly what their benefits are and how much money they will spend in co-pays and deductibles. It is not what I went into clinical social work to do, and it feels just terrible. Remember, the people who come to me are mostly NOT poor, and have private, employer-contracted insurances they can nevertheless not afford to use in many cases.

In short, The HCR package, imperfect as it is -- as all laws are -- is a great leap forward. Plus, although the Right doesn't want you to remember this, it is a truly bipartisan creation, crafted from ideas born in both Democratic and Republican philosophies and think-tanks. The only reason the Republicans fought it is they wanted it to be "Obama's Waterloo," regardless of its merits or the fact that a few years earlier they pushed the same ideas.

For Obama's opponents - I won't call them enemies, we're all Americans - politics trumped the needs of their constituents.

The Obama Health Care Reform law is modeled in large part on Massachusetts' HCR ("Romneycare") law, with which I have abundant direct experience. The reforms have saved millions of dollars and thousands of lives. I know this firsthand. Also, the same companies that administer the so-called "government" insurance plans also offer identical commercial plans to employers for their workers. The only differences between the two are that the private plans have high co-pays and deductibles, arcane and wasteful administrative procedures, and result in denials of care fairly routinely even when people decide to shoulder the hefty debts they will incur -- and these are the WORKERS, understand, not the poor.

Romney should be proud of his accomplishment. Instead, to win the votes of the "government-is-bad" Republican voters, he will either have to repudiate his proudest accomplishment or spin it as fundamentally different than Obamacare - which it is not.

Irony abounds!

One thing is for certain, and that is that there is no government takeover of anything. No death panels, government doctors, government clinics, packed waiting rooms and long waits for inefficient State-provided procedures. Everything feels and functions exactly as before, but is more equitable and protects us better. The insurers working in the government plans make generous, though regulated, profits, and companies compete zealously for those contracts. The new system balances profits with care in truly laudable ways -- UNLESS ---

Unless you have an ideological bias against government providing health care funding in any situation.

In this instance, and there are plenty of people who feel this way, I have little to say except that I care about my patients and any system that gets them the care they need at lower costs and with greater protections must be good. If government does it better, then it cannot be said categorically that government is "never the solution, always the problem."

In this case, the truth is more complicated than slogans.

Thank you for the pleasure of your ideas and intellect, and the privilege on this fine Sunday morning of debating with a person who so obviously cares for his country and fellow man.