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Posts Tagged ‘The Human Condition Links’

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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 dollarsign This morning, on December 8, 2009, Peter Shane, a law professor and author of “Madison’s Nightmare: Unchecked Executive Power and the Threat to American Democracy” posted an article on the Huffington Post titled WH Releases Open Government Directive: Transparency (Plus) Engagement (Equals) More Democracy. It is a somewhat breathless article about a supposed new openness from the Obama White House.

Regardless of how much credit you want to give to the President for sponsoring openness in government, one item jumped out to me. That is the mandate that government documents to be made public must be placed in an open format. That’s interesting and may cost Microsoft millions. Here’s why:

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Hello Brothers and Sisters,

This is a follow-up on President Obama’s speech in which he tries to explain just why he is sending more troops to Afghanistan.

He failed in giving a coherent and bulletproof explanation, although he expressed himself in beautiful language

The night before his speech, I wrote a post called Bring The Troops Home Now!. Nothing that President Obama said changed my mind, and I’ll post an analysis of his speech in a few days

The whole enterprise seems completely and horribly flawed to me. This will be a tragedy for the American people, the people of Afghanistan, in fact, the whole world.

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It is Monday night, November 30, 2009, as this is being written, and President Obama has apparently committed to sending tens of thousands more troops to  Afghanistan. This is a terribly flawed decision, and absolutely no good can come of it.

Instead of sending more troops, the United States should just bring all the troops home now from both Afghanistan and Iraq.

There is a huge difference between defeating a country in war and conquering a country. The US did not find it difficult to drive the Taliban out of state power with military action.

But conquering Afghanistan, imposing a new form of government on it from the outside is a different task.

As Michael Moore in his heartfelt open letter to President Obama says:

There’s a reason they don’t call Afghanistan the "Garden State" (though they probably should, seeing how the corrupt President Karzai, whom we back, has his brother in the heroin trade raising poppies). Afghanistan’s nickname is the "Graveyard of Empires."

Graveyard Of Empires Indeed!.

 

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This is a rather extensive update of a piece I wrote in December, 2006, nearly 3 years ago, and originally published elsewhere

Most American politicians and many pundits now concede they were wrong to support Bush’s invasion of Iraq, stating that the administration lied to them about its justification. Politicians who voted to support the invasion, especially liberal politicians, say that the Bush administration lied to them about its reasons for this invasion. It is hard to believe this, especially in the case of bright, educated, and talented people like Hillary Clinton and others. The Bush administration’s phony excuses did not fool many ordinary American citizens, who did not have the same access to information as did the Clinton-style politicians and inside-the-beltway denizens.

When trying to justify launching this war, the Bush administration and its apologists gave reasons that included:

  • Saddam’s supposed cache of weapons of mass destruction
  • Saddam’s nose-thumbing UN weapons inspectors in the face of UN sanctions
  • The undoubtedly brutal nature of the Saddam Hussein dictatorship
  • The supposed desirability of creating an Arab democracy that would serve as a beacon in the Middle East, the latter a more “politically correct” and polite version of early 19th century meme of carrying “white man’s burden” and securing the “blessings of western civilization.”

But the truth is that none of these stated reasons were the real reasons for this war. These currently transparent excuses were really nothing more than a now-failed public relations ploy.

As demonstrated below, the American corporate rulers had planned this war a decade before the initiation of hostilities. This war planning had always been about control of energy resources and marketplaces, not democracy, not terrorism, not Islam.

Moreover, this war was not an aberration from American moral principles that supposedly guide its foreign policy. It was the natural  outgrowth of a longstanding foreign policy, a strategy that stems back from the days of the  Spanish-American war of 1898 and before.

Consider my reasons for stating this:

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This is a rewrite and update of something I wrote and published elsewhere about 3 years ago. Perhaps many will think it is still relevant.

Lately, pundits and politicians have both pooh-pooh’d and drawn parallels between the Vietnam war and the present wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But there is another, not-talked-about parallel, and it is much more important.

During the Vietnam war, the military brass and assorted apologists for this appalling adventure complained about how the US was fighting with one hand tied behind its back, owing to the treasonous antiwar movement and their bullying of those weak-kneed liberal politicians.

Until quite recently, the American military brass have avoided voicing similar complaints about the United States’ present efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Although most of today’s military strategists do not think there are anywhere near enough “boots on the ground” to achieve US goals, they have mostly avoided voicing this sentiment too loudly. And there is a good reason why the US has not mobilized its military machine to the extent they did during World War II or even Korea. Looking at the Vietnam war and how opposition to it shook the empire to its roots can provide us with some insight.

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Stephen Spender, one of the 20th Century’s great English-language poets, wrote a poem about war called Ultima Ratio Regum, one of my favorite poems. The name is in Latin, and it means “The King’s Final Argument” or perhaps “The King’s Last Resort.” The Latin has a bit of both meanings, and it refers to the ultimate power of a sovereign state to impose its will: the use of military force.

I can’t reproduce the poem in its entirety, because it is under copyright. You can, however, find it in good poetry collections. But here is a fair-use smidgeon of it

The guns spell money’s ultimate reason
In letters of lead on the Spring hillside.
But the boy lying dead under the olive trees
Was too young and too silly
To have been notable to their important eye.
He was a better target for a kiss.

Because of my personal experiences, I usually spend a part of Veteran’s Day  and Memorial Day in tears. Later on, I will write much more about war and peace, as well as politics. I’ll write about why I think the United States should withdraw its military from Afghanistan and Iraq. I won’t write much, if anything, about my personal experiences.

Here’s a link to the video of Eric Bogle’s rendition of the famous Australian folk song “And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda.”  I challenge anyone to watch this video without shedding a tear for all the brave young people who have died in wars.

 

Regards,

Alan OldStudent

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