Rev. Valerie's Reveries

This blog contains personal reflections from Unitarian Universalist minister Valerie Mapstone Ackerman.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

My email letter to Max Baucus (D-MT) extended play version

The current state of the health care debate is unacceptable to me as a tax-paying, freedom-loving American. How could we have excluded a single-payer system? And now excluding a public option? We burden American businesses unduly by expecting them to be the funders of health insurance. It is absurd and it makes our country less competitive in the world economy. In addition it stifles entrepreneurship by small businesses who can ill-afford to figure the high costs into their plans for start-up or expansion. At root of the controversy is an understated acceptance of the "right" of wealthy medical industry corporations to continue to make exorbitant profits. If health care is a human right (which it is in the rest of the world) then how can we justify putting profits over people? And how can we justify burdening one sector of the free-market economy while padding the profits of another? Every time we justify the profits in the medical industry we squeeze the profits from another sector of the economy. How does this make sense to any capitalist?

Here ends the e-letter and this is what I really wanted to say:

I believe I have officially become a socialist. The arguments over the medical industry reforms (they are not about health care in any way that is recognizable to me) puzzle me as a humanitarian and thinking, compassionate person.
By deciding up front to eliminate the possibility of universal coverage in a single-payer system the Congress has made it clear that the only principle guiding the debate is this: money matters more than people. The money spread through Congress by medical industry lobbyists pad the politician's pockets and sway them away from any humanitarian concerns.
The rhetoric of freedom and responsibility and fear of lawsuits belie the fact that the medical sector of the economy is favored over all others. This is done even at the expense of basic capitalist tenets such as the right to be able to trade without undue fetters of government intrusion. The current regulations and haphazard system favors the profits of medical industry sectors over other industrial and information or service sectors. Thus the government has already decided that it will no longer support capitalism.
Instead it has quietly moved into oligarchic imperialism. The "rescue" of the mega-corporations last fall and winter should have adequately signaled this shift to anyone paying attention. By ignoring the financial crises of the poorer and middling classes and smaller business entities, to favor corporations "too big to fail" our government decided to shift away from capitalism. Now the government assumes the risk for corporate ventures into unwise and unsound business practices. The only people who do well in such circumstances are the already wealthy.
When the wealthy own the means of production (capitalism) AND control all regulations (fascism) by electing men and women they "own" to be guardians of their purses-- we have imperialism. The wealthy now control all relevant sectors of the society.
Under imperialism (nee feudalism) anything owned by "the public" is subjected to massive cuts in collective support giving us an astounding state of deteriorating infrastructure. Roads and bridges become increasingly unsound, public school buildings lack basic maintenance, public school students must buy their own school supplies (thus ending a free public education) and are fed barely edible low nutrient "food". Formerly public services are privatized- from trash collection to the military. All in the name of wealth production for the already wealthy couched as increasing "efficiencies". The next time you hear a capitalist or elected official speak of "efficiency," translate that as "private profit" and you'll understand the primary motivation of any proposed change from public ownership to contracted services and you'll understand the reluctance to move toward a publicly funded system of health care.
When my late grandmother put on a starched white uniform, sensible shoes and a hair-net to go to work each day as a "lunch lady" she left her home knowing that she would find crates of fresh fruits, vegetables and meat in the cafeteria larder that she and her co-workers would soon transform into nutritious and delicious meals for the youth at Norwin High School. She and her co-workers would wash every stainless steel pot, melamine tray, china dish and stainless fork after lunch and put these re-usable items back into service the next day. My grandmother knew she would be rewarded with a living wage and reasonable pension to sustain her when her body gave out from the hard work. As a young widow the cafeteria job helped her to finish raising her two youngest children and gave her the ability to save and invest. Now, contracted minimum-wage, no benefits, part-timers populate the cafeterias of our nation's public schools, serving up high fat, high sodium packaged re-heated "meals" from mass-production factories where other workers are paid unsustainable wages to transform agri-business commodities in something to feed kids. And it is all presented on "disposable" cardboard or styrofoam and eaten with plastic ware all of which go to privately owned and operated landfills also employing people at the lowest possible wage.
At every stage of the public school feeding game from field to cardboard serving tray to the dump, formerly lower middle class jobs have been eliminated in favor of poverty level part-time, no-benefits, at-will employment. This newly "efficient " system is efficient only at transferring dollars from the working men and women of society into the off-shore accounts of the super wealthy.
If wanting to go back to a day in America when working people could cover their basic needs by, well, working, then call me a socialist. If desiring to return to a time when people paid taxes knowing that government services would be made available in return, then go ahead and call me a socialist. If I wish for a time when Americans understood that the commons was commonly owned for the benefit for all (notwithstanding old traditions of racism and sexism) then please call me a socialist.
I will proudly wear the label socialist from now on because I care about the common good of this nation and every person on earth and I refuse to believe that the only way to care for all of us is to allow the wealthy to skim the profits from the top of the heap while leaving the dregs for the masses. If I am a socialist because I think providing health care for all MUST be the important driving factor in this debate and because I refuse to believe anyone should become extraordinarily wealthy by investing in systems which limit access to actual health care interventions for the ill, then so be it. I'll take the label. If refusing the believe profit-making companies of any size will put the well-being of patients before their own remuneration makes me a socialist, OK. If insisting that people paid using governmental taxation should work for the taxing authority and not for contracted corporations, then I guess the label socialist fits. If believing that some things should be provided by society as a basic human right supporting the common good, fine. I want A SOCIALIST HEALTH CARE SYSTEM AND I WANT IT NOW.

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  • At September 20, 2009 5:26 PM, Blogger Bill Baar said…

    Well, I did wear a Socialist label and paid my dues. I knew a doc at the AMA working in the former Soviet Union trying to rebuild their health care system after socialism. So be glad no one was listening to my Socialist pitch back in the 70s.

  • At September 20, 2009 5:50 PM, Blogger Valerie Mapstone Ackerman said…

    I understand your concern about Soviet style socialism, but no one is "rebuilding" socialist health care in European democracies.

  • At September 21, 2009 6:08 AM, Blogger Bill Baar said…

    Are you certain of that? Do you follow Health Care in these countries? No anyone working in health care in these countries? What was the UK's NHS Modernization project all about?

  • At September 21, 2009 6:44 AM, Blogger Valerie Mapstone Ackerman said…

    It seems you have been watching more closely than have I. Are they moving toward privatizing and shifting to making health care into a profit making system?

  • At October 03, 2009 2:01 PM, Blogger sam.i.edelstein said…

    Thank you! We need real change, and we don't need the corporate lobbyists having any more control over what happens to our health. It is ridiculous that we can't have a system that will insure everyone and prevent 45,000 people from dying each year just from lack of coverage!

  • At October 10, 2009 9:03 PM, Blogger Valerie Mapstone Ackerman said…

    I learned a new word at Michael Moore's new film "Capitalism: A Love Story"----plutonomy. Used by Citicorp in describing their victorious acquisition of well, everything! They bragged about completely decimating the 99% in favor of shifting nearly all wealth to themselves (the shareholders and management). sickening.


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