In the short time since the article Obama’s Health Insurance Bailout Bill of 2009 was posted, several people have commented on it, both here, in private messages, and in various other places around the web. This article is in response to some of those comments.
The question often posed is this: Exactly why was single payer taken “off the table”?
When the Obama administration came into office, the talk was that Single Payer was "not on the table" because some of the important "stakeholders" in health care reform opposed it and that passing single payer was unfortunately not in the cards. After all, we have to be “pragmatic” and do what’s politically possible.
Now just who were those "stakeholders"?
Why, they were those very selfsame health insurance companies, those pharmaceutical companies, and the big HMO/hospital chains who had profited by creating the malady in the first place and who now stand to gain beaucoup bucks when the proposed cure is administered! They want to benefit from both causing and curing the disease!
Well Duh! What a bleeding coincidence! We might just as well let the bank robbers design the bank’s security system!
Remarkably enough, the ordinary American patient certainly does not seem to have counted much as one of the stakeholders. If the ordinary American patient had been among the stakeholders, single-payer would have been more seriously considered and probably adopted.
After all, in one stroke, single payer would both eliminate the problem of uninsured/underinsured, lower costs substantially, and drastically simplify the administration of health care.
So then why has this option not been seriously considered?
As I have written in various venues since before the presidential campaign of 2008 got underway, the Democratic and Republican parties both represent different factions of America’s corporate rulers.
In reality, the United States government is actually a plutarchy, a system where a privileged wealthy class has political power. As a matter of fact, the United States was designed to be a plutarchy from its very beginning when owning property (as well as being a white man, not being a woman, and being a landowner) were requirements for even being able to vote.
But because of the historical peculiarities by which the United States came into existence, its birth in revolutionary upheaval, its political traditions of struggle, and the civil war of 1861-1865, the USA also has certain democratic features in its political system.
Thus, we Americans have elections, where we get to choose which representative of which big business faction rules us.
We also currently have a certain and not insubstantial right to freedom of speech, although at certain historical junctions, the government has circumscribed this right considerably, sometimes by legal enactments, and other times through extralegal means.
Nevertheless, since its very beginning, the American system of government has always restricted power to the representatives of capital and wealth. And that’s why the "stakeholders" at the bargaining table did not include the ordinary patient.
Liberal Politicians, Conservative Politicians, Their Allies and Stalking Horses
Liberal politicians like Obama tend to say they’re for the common person, by which they mean those of us who are not among the owners and controllers of the American economy, the owner class being, after all, a very tiny minority of the population. These liberal politicians often agonize over the unfortunate, the poor, the laid-off worker, the uninsured cancer victim, the homeless, the victims of our present system. These liberal politicians are sometimes a bit uncomfortable with the less appetizing effects and suffering that modern American capitalism inflicts on a substantial number of us ordinary Americans.
Conservative politicians, on the other hand, tend to be blind to such negative fallout. Conservative spokespeople may sometimes engage in a bit of denial (“nobody goes hungry in America,” “global warming is a hoax,” “second-hand cigarette smoke is harmless”), or they tell such hapless people to just to suck it up and get over it, show initiative, pull themselves up by their own bootstraps.
If an individual suffers financial misfortune, it’s likely their own fault. If they can’t afford health insurance because their preexisting condition make them ineligible or make the premiums too high, conservative politicians scold them for the unhealthy lifestyle that brought on this state of affairs.
These conservatives preach "discipline," preach “self-reliance” to those unfortunates who lose their jobs and homes, and they don’t like political solutions that rock the boat too much, especially if those solutions threaten some corporation’s profit margin.
As it happens, these Republican and conservative politicians have allies, not always reliable, but their zeal can be manipulated with clever public relations.
The Small “L” Libertarian-Leaning Crowd
One such ally is the libertarian-leaning crowd.
These libertarian allies tell us that the problem is actually a lack of "pure capitalism," (by which they mean an extreme Utopian form of laissez faire capitalism that historically has never existed, never can exist, and never will exist).
All would be well, these libertarian dogmatists tell us, if only we just allowed capitalism to function in an unfettered manner. This unfettered manner includes no regulatory interference by pointy-headed social engineers, government agents, "liberals," antitrust enforcement officers, environmental safety enforcement officers, health and safety regulators, labor relations boards, or other such "statists." And to them, all such “statists” are no more than socialists, i.e. “the left.”
Big corporations who don’t much like regulations tend to fund libertarian think tanks while keeping a diplomatic distance from the shriller and more ridiculous-sounding libertarian spokespeople.
But the Republicans and conservative politicians have yet another stalking horse, one that is much more dangerous, both to them and their opponents, a force much more unruly and potentially uncontrollable. Those are the extreme right-wing conspiracy theorists, whom I shall call the “cons” for short.
These cons tend to be hugely paranoid about some usually secret cabal of bogeymen. The cons are sure to a moral certainty that these dastardly bogeyman pursue a nefarious plot, a foreign ideology.
These bogeymen are supposedly infiltrating our society, our schools, our churches, the mass media, our other institutions, corrupting the moral purity of our youth, of our nation—and all this under our very noses, unnoticed by all except these very perceptive and aware cons themselves, who are only too happy enlighten us if only we have the wit to pay them any heed at all!!
And those who would pay them no heed are either elitists, stupid, naive, arrogant, or complicit in the plot!
Depending on which hobbyhorse a particular group of cons rides, these bogeymen may consist of underground cells of terrorists, Muslims, socialists, militant homosexuals, atheists, Jews, communists, labor unionists, the antichrist, outside agitators, carpetbaggers, or some other bevy of wicked rogues.
As the cons tell us, it is these evil plotters, these swine, these semi-humans, not the corporations, not the traditional social system, and certainly not capitalism itself, that is at the root of society’s problems.
The study of the last 250 years of American history provides the student a rich vein of material about conspiracy theories, conspiracy theorists, and those denizens of their terrifying nightmares, the bogeymen.
To many of today’s cons, Obama is the quintessential super-bogeyman, a secret Muslim/fascist/communist/Nazi, and a foreign-born pretender to the American throne to boot!
Yet for all their yammering about how Obama is bringing socialism to America, what he’s really doing is attempting to save capitalism from its own folly by enabling the big corporations to survive.
After all, this health insurance reform is actually a bailout of the health insurance industry. It forces 40 million uninsured Americans to become their customers, willing or not.
Additionally, the Obama administration gave millions more to the banking industry in another bailout, millions more to the the auto industry in yet another bailout. And now they’re talking about billions more in yet more bailouts. And the bailout money comes from the pockets of American workers, who are the real creators of America’s wealth.
If socialism is such a danger to the existence of capitalism, isn’t it an odd and counterintuitive spectacle to see these “socialists” draining the wealth of American working class to bail the capitalists out of a capitalist crisis brought on by the stupidity and greed of that capitalist class itself!
- Link to article entitled “Obama’s Health Insurance Bailout Bill of 2009”. http://wp.me/pGUvK-2d
- Wikipedia article on Plutarchy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plutarchy
- Anonymous painting: George Washington Rallying His Troops in the Battle of Princeton: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/6/6c/GeorgeWashington_BattleofPrinceton.jpg
- Wikipedia article explaining American English concept of "Bogeyman." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bogeyman
- Drawing of the "Chupacabras," a Mexican entity similar to the Bogeyman, drawn by a Mexican artist and contributor to the Spanish Language Wikipedia whose pen name is LeCire: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/bc/Chupacabras.JPG
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