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Archive for the ‘Economy’ Category

Fair disclosure: The views expressed here are my own and do not necessarily represent Occupy Tacoma supporters. I am a resident of Tacoma, a supporter of Occupy Tacoma, but I’m not an authorized spokesperson for Occupy Tacoma participants. ~AOS

A fellow named Scott, who runs a personal website called A Dad First, had posted several criticisms on his blog explaining his opposition to the Occupy Tacoma and the whole national Occupy Wall Street movement from a conservative point of view. So I posted some responses to these criticisms on A Dad First, which Scott was gracious enough to allow to remain.

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A fellow who calls himself OccupyAnimator has produced an outstanding video. This video is simple, and by being simple, it’s clarity is compelling.

Kudos to OccupyAnimator. He’s only produced this one video, at least under the name OccupyAnimator. He is certainly talented, an asset to the Occupy Movement. I urge everyone to see it, pass it on, study it. Here’s his explanation for his video:

If you’re having trouble understanding what is at stake in the "Occupy" protests, here are some numbers that help explain the problem.

Regards,

Alan OldStudent
The Unexamined Life Is Not Worth Living — Socrates
My Web Site

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On Saturday, October 29, 2011, I had the honor of addressing a gathering Occupy Tacoma supporters in Lincoln Park, Tacoma. My remarks were a part of a longer statement. Several people asked me to post the entire statement here. Above is a video of the speech as it was presented on Saturday. Following is a full statement, including the parts I left out when speaking, slightly edited to make it suitable for posting purposes. This article was originally published on the Occupy Tacoma Website.

Hello all!

My name is Alan OldStudent, and I love what I am seeing here today. You are great! You are amazing!

In my long life, I have seen many amazing things. I saw how a mass nonviolent movement ended the infamous Jim Crow laws, — laws that legalized racial segregation, — laws that made it a crime to marry outside of your race. And now, I am seeing a how a mass nonviolent movement is ending laws against marrying the person you truly love, even if that person is the same sex as you.

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According to The National Priorities Project, The United States passed a landmark on May 30, 2010. On that day, the United States will have spent 1 trillion dollars on the Iraq and Afghan wars, and on June 7, 2010, the Afghan war will become the longest war the United States has waged.

Moreover, the cost of the war in Afghanistan is currently 1 million dollars per soldier per year, according to this November 14, 2009 New York Times article.

One million dollars is a large number, but one trillion dollars is an unimaginably larger number. It’s easy to gloss over when the politicians and pundits toss around these numbers.

The thickness of a dollar bill is 0.0043 inches. So a stack of a million dollar bills would be about 109.22 meters or 358 feet tall. That’s as high as an office building 30 stories tall, counting a story as being approximately 11.9 feet tall (about 3.6 meters).

But a stack of a trillion dollars would be 63,516.5633 miles (109220 km) tall. That’s 2.5 times the circumference of the earth. That’s what American taxpayers pay for the Iraq/Afghan war. And the champions of small government say nothing about this.

Did you know that the United States just by itself has a military budget greater than the rest of the world’s countries combined? Or did you know the US military budget is more than 10 times  greater than that of either Russia or China’s? (Click here for the documentation of those figures).

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Martin Luther King died in 1968, a year of incredible upheaval throughout the world. I was a young married man with a beautiful young daughter. We lived in San Diego, California, and I was a private music teacher. It was a completely different world then. People in my town thought it was funny to call Dr. King “Martin Luther Coon.” Many were sure he was a communist.

A student came to my studio in downtown San Diego for a music lesson. He was about 16, and his father was an officer in the Navy. San Diego had a large US Navy base.

This young man broke the shocking news to me that Dr. King had been assassinated. He was quite pleased. He referred to Dr. King as “Martin Coon.”

 

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Single payer health care reform proposals seek universal health coverage to replace  the confused network of thousands of for-profit private health insurance plans and companies. Under such proposals, a publicly accountable single payer board would administer the payment of medical costs.

Every other industrialized nation on the planet manages to achieve universal coverage for all their residents. They do that without relying on for-profit companies that make obscenely large profits by denying care to the policy holders.

In such countries as the UK, Canada, Japan, Taiwan, Germany, France, Israel, and even Cuba, nobody goes bankrupt, loses their life savings, or gets thrown out of their home because of medical bills.

Yet, in the United States in 2007, 62% of all bankruptcies were for medical costs, according to Business Week. The Business Week article says that the majority of these bankruptcies were in what we Americans call the “middle class,” people who had insurance and no doubt thought they were covered.

As there were 822,590 total personal bankruptcies in 2007, according to the Bankruptcy Law Network, that means there likely was one medical-cost-related bankruptcy every minute during 2007 in the USA. Bear in mind that was 2007, before the big meltdown! No doubt, the situation is much more dire today.

Compare that massive number to zero medical bankruptcies in the above-named countries—no elderly, no desperately ill, no children, no pensioners, no handicapped, no working people thrown out of their houses and into the street because of  medical bills! Zip! Zero!

Meanwhile, medical bills thrust hundreds of thousands of Americans into penury every year.

To get some perspective on this, consider that the number of people killed in the 9/11 terrorist attack on the International Trade Center was 2,973 (not including the 19 terrorists). According to this Urban Institute study, the number of excess deaths in 2006 in the United States was 22,000. That means there were 7 times more victim deaths owing to lack of medical insurance in 2006 than victim deaths owing to the 9/11 terrorist attack!

As the American Folksinger Woody Guthrie said:

As through this world I wander
I meet lots of funny men.
Some’ll rob you with a six-gun
And some with a fountain pen.

Just think about that for a moment, will you?

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By all accounts, when the proposed “health care reform” bill passes, it will still leave many Americans uncovered. We will still be saddled with a crazy-quilt of separate for-profit insurance bureaucrats who know zip about medicine, but who will nevertheless check their spreadsheets and profit margins before deciding what medical care we can get. Medical decisions will not be made by you and your doctor, but by the insurance bureaucrat standing between you and your doctor.

This law will require all Americans to become the paying customers of private companies or pay a fine. These insurance companies enjoy exclusion from antitrust legislation . These companies will still be able to set rates, define benefits, and exclude people whom they say did not disclose preexisting conditions.

The politicians, including the liberals and moderates, tell us that these measures are necessary to protect free enterprise system and enable market forces to solve our broken health care system.

There’s something terribly wrong with that picture.

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Reader Bob White, a Canadian resident and citizen, commented on the recently posted article: Obama’s Health Insurance Bailout Bill of 2009.

Like many Canadians and Britons, Mr. White finds the American conservative’s description of their health system strangely at odds with their usual medical experiences.

I invite any other interested Canadians or Britons (or anybody else, for that matter) to share their reactions, experiences, and opinions. And do click here to see Mr. White’s comments if you haven’t already read them.

Between April 23 and May 5, 2009, the  Nanos Research firm, (probably the most prestigious polling firm in Canada) conducted a poll that shows 86.2% of Canadians want public health care to be strengthened and oppose privatization. Although Canadians have their criticisms of Canadian Medicare (Canada Health Act), it is widely popular and enjoys  broad public support.

For example, a blogger named Sara Robinson, who contributes to Orcinus and who is a US citizen residing in Canada, weighs in on her personal experiences and impressions of both Canadian- and American-style health care delivery. You can read her blog article called Mythbusting Canadian Health Care by clicking on the title of the piece.

It’s a worthwhile read and backs up what Mr. White and the Nanos Research organization say.

It’s not just our Canadian cousins whom the American anti-reform advocates lambaste. The American health insurance apologists are even more horrified at the UK’s NHS system, perhaps because it actually is socialized medicine, unlike Canada’s system.

For the information of those outside the UK, NHS stands for National Health Service, the British health care program, and although Britons have their gripes about it, they are fiercely proud of it and resent American conservative attacks against it. And when those attacks display ignorance about the facts that are completely obvious to UK residents, many Britons find them to be particularly galling.

Consider the following:

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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!

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Right now, in the USA, a patchwork of private insurance companies pays for health care of a major proportion of American population.

To put it baldly, the health insurance companies make money by denying you coverage that you, as the policy holder, have paid for. This becomes especially true if you become really ill and desperately need that coverage, although you’re probably okay if you just get a cold.

That’s just crazy making.

Under modern capitalist management theory, corporations try to minimize the impact of what they call, in polite corporate circles, “cost centers” and maximize the impact of what they call “revenue centers.”

For an operation like an auto maker, a megastore like Wal-Mart, or a meatpacking operation, a “cost center” might be wages and benefits paid to workers. Alternatively, “revenue centers” may consist of sales of SUVs, sales of hormone-laden, additive-spiked dead cow burgers, or sales of cheap nasty plastic garden gnomes.

And in the case of health insurance companies, payouts to health care providers would constitute a “cost center,” while the collection of premiums constitutes a “revenue center.”

In other words, if you become really ill and really need medical care to save your life, your health insurance company would benefit from spending as little as possible on you, even  to the point of denying you the very coverage that you paid for. That’s about when the insurance company starts looking for some “undisclosed preexisting condition” or some other dubious reason to drop your coverage, as I explain below. The insurance companies make money by saying “no” when you need coverage, and they lose money by saying “yes” when it comes time to pay your medical bills.

That unappetizing economic fact is the most salient point to keep in mind when looking at the present political spitball fight going on in Washington.

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