June 15th - Monday
Hour One: Professor Muhammad Sahimi www.tehranbureau on the Iranian election results & protests
Hour Two: "Cash for Clunkers...more corporate welfare?" Thom mixes it up with Carrie Lukas of the Independent Women's Forum www.iwf.org
Hour Three: "Labor Segment" Jonathan Tasini, Executive Director of the Labor Research Association guests www.workinglife.org
New Yorker Story on "Higher Costs" in Healthcare http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2009/06/01/090601fa_fact_gawande
So these were George Will's refutations of what he called "the 4 main arguments for a public option (like single payer):
1. It will keep the insurance companies honest - as if our government could be considered honest! That's right, he's saying our government is too corrupt to implement single payer--it would be even worse than the private insurance companies. Again, we're trapped.
2. It will play by the same rules as the private ins co's - Will says, "then what's the point? they'll be the same as what we have now. Trapped.
3. The public plan will provide a choice. Will says there are currently over 1300 private health insurers. How much more choice do you need? One more won't make a difference. I've never seen so many straw men. It won't work, it won't make a difference, we can't change anything.
4. There's the argument that American's aren't smart enough to handle something as complicated as healthcare in the open market, Will says, "well, they've done pretty well with computers, haven't they?"
That last construct is so ridiculous, I can't even believe George Will said it. No I guess it's all settled, we have the best healthcare system possible, already, well, except for the one we can't have, because it's not possible.
Here's my take on the debate over a public plan or single payer option. I am actually having a debate with my mother over this and she is a 72 year old breast cancer survivor. I love my mother, she lives in Seattle and she received healthcare through my step father's plan through Boeing and then through medicare. She says that there were many patients in the clinic she attended that were from Canada who came to America to get expedient healthcare because they had to wait in Canada. I suspect that this is heresay and not fact, but can't be sure. When I asked for names, she couldn't give name them. My mother and my step father and my father are conservative, the men worked for Boeing all their lives and for the most part, did receive fairly decent health benefits in part due to union representation.
Honest testimonials are the best way to market any product, whether it be widgets or health care. It is important to get input from the people from other countries who have a national health care plan and televise their opinions. It's as simple as that. Michael Moore did a great job with Sicko, but my mother and father would never watch that movie. The opposition (corporate pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, etc) are spending millions on mis-information. Mainstream American... (my mom and dad) need to see commercials with Canadian cancer survivor patients say "Yes... we like this system and we are alive and healthy because of it." It is hard to refute that.
I'm sure Thom has already read this since he's the one who introduced me to Truthdig, but this scares the crap out of me!
The American Empire Is Bankrupt
Posted on Jun 14, 2009
By Chris Hedges
This week marks the end of the dollar’s reign as the world’s reserve currency. It marks the start of a terrible period of economic and political decline in the United States. And it signals the last gasp of the American imperium. That’s over. It is not coming back. And what is to come will be very, very painful.
Barack Obama, and the criminal class on Wall Street, aided by a corporate media that continues to peddle fatuous gossip and trash talk as news while we endure the greatest economic crisis in our history, may have fooled us, but the rest of the world knows we are bankrupt. And these nations are damned if they are going to continue to prop up an inflated dollar and sustain the massive federal budget deficits, swollen to over $2 trillion, which fund America’s imperial expansion in Eurasia and our system of casino capitalism. They have us by the throat. They are about to squeeze.
There are meetings being held Monday and Tuesday in Yekaterinburg, Russia, (formerly Sverdlovsk) among Chinese President Hu Jintao, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and other top officials of the six-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The United States, which asked to attend, was denied admittance. Watch what happens there carefully. The gathering is, in the words of economist Michael Hudson, “the most important meeting of the 21st century so far.”
It is the first formal step by our major trading partners to replace the dollar as the world’s reserve currency. If they succeed, the dollar will dramatically plummet in value, the cost of imports, including oil, will skyrocket, interest rates will climb and jobs will hemorrhage at a rate that will make the last few months look like boom times. State and federal services will be reduced or shut down for lack of funds. The United States will begin to resemble the Weimar Republic or Zimbabwe. Obama, endowed by many with the qualities of a savior, will suddenly look pitiful, inept and weak. And the rage that has kindled a handful of shootings and hate crimes in the past few weeks will engulf vast segments of a disenfranchised and bewildered working and middle class. The people of this class will demand vengeance, radical change, order and moral renewal, which an array of proto-fascists, from the Christian right to the goons who disseminate hate talk on Fox News, will assure the country they will impose.
I called Hudson, who has an article in Monday’s Financial Times called “The Yekaterinburg Turning Point: De-Dollarization and the Ending of America’s Financial-Military Hegemony.” “Yekaterinburg,” Hudson writes, “may become known not only as the death place of the czars but of the American empire as well.” His article is worth reading, along with John Lanchester’s disturbing exposé of the world’s banking system, titled “It’s Finished,” which appeared in the May 28 issue of the London Review of Books.
“This means the end of the dollar,” Hudson told me. “It means China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Iran are forming an official financial and military area to get America out of Eurasia. The balance-of-payments deficit is mainly military in nature. Half of America’s discretionary spending is military. The deficit ends up in the hands of foreign banks, central banks. They don’t have any choice but to recycle the money to buy U.S. government debt. The Asian countries have been financing their own military encirclement. They have been forced to accept dollars that have no chance of being repaid. They are paying for America’s military aggression against them. They want to get rid of this.”
China, as Hudson points out, has already struck bilateral trade deals with Brazil and Malaysia to denominate their trade in China’s yuan rather than the dollar, pound or euro. Russia promises to begin trading in the ruble and local currencies. The governor of China’s central bank has openly called for the abandonment of the dollar as reserve currency, suggesting in its place the use of the International Monetary Fund’s Special Drawing Rights. What the new system will be remains unclear, but the flight from the dollar has clearly begun. The goal, in the words of the Russian president, is to build a “multipolar world order” which will break the economic and, by extension, military domination by the United States. China is frantically spending its dollar reserves to buy factories and property around the globe so it can unload its U.S. currency. China is frantically spending its dollar reserves to buy factories and property around the globe so it can unload its U.S. currency. This is why Aluminum Corp. of China made so many major concessions in the failed attempt to salvage its $19.5 billion alliance with the Rio Tinto mining concern in Australia. It desperately needs to shed its dollars.
“China is trying to get rid of all the dollars they can in a trash-for-resource deal,” Hudson said. “They will give the dollars to countries willing to sell off their resources since America refuses to sell any of its high-tech industries, even Unocal, to the yellow peril. It realizes these dollars are going to be worthless pretty quickly.”
The architects of this new global exchange realize that if they break the dollar they also break America’s military domination. Our military spending cannot be sustained without this cycle of heavy borrowing. The official U.S. defense budget for fiscal year 2008 is $623 billion, before we add on things like nuclear research. The next closest national military budget is China’s, at $65 billion, according to the Central Intelligence Agency.
There are three categories of the balance-of-payment deficits. America imports more than it exports. This is trade. Wall Street and American corporations buy up foreign companies. This is capital movement. The third and most important balance-of-payment deficit for the past 50 years has been Pentagon spending abroad. It is primarily military spending that has been responsible for the balance-of-payments deficit for the last five decades. Look at table five in the Balance of Payments Report, published in the Survey of Current Business quarterly, and check under military spending. There you can see the deficit.
To fund our permanent war economy, we have been flooding the world with dollars. The foreign recipients turn the dollars over to their central banks for local currency. The central banks then have a problem. If a central bank does not spend the money in the United States then the exchange rate against the dollar will go up. This will penalize exporters. This has allowed America to print money without restraint to buy imports and foreign companies, fund our military expansion and ensure that foreign nations like China continue to buy our treasury bonds. This cycle appears now to be over. Once the dollar cannot flood central banks and no one buys our treasury bonds, our empire collapses. The profligate spending on the military, some $1 trillion when everything is counted, will be unsustainable.
“We will have to finance our own military spending,” Hudson warned, “and the only way to do this will be to sharply cut back wage rates. The class war is back in business. Wall Street understands that. This is why it had Bush and Obama give it $10 trillion in a huge rip-off so it can have enough money to survive.”
The desperate effort to borrow our way out of financial collapse has promoted a level of state intervention unseen since World War II. It has also led us into uncharted territory.
“We have in effect had to declare war to get us out of the hole created by our economic system,” Lanchester wrote in the London Review of Books. “There is no model or precedent for this, and no way to argue that it’s all right really, because under such-and-such a model of capitalism ... there is no such model. It isn’t supposed to work like this, and there is no road-map for what’s happened.”
The cost of daily living, from buying food to getting medical care, will become difficult for all but a few as the dollar plunges. States and cities will see their pension funds drained and finally shut down. The government will be forced to sell off infrastructure, including roads and transport, to private corporations. We will be increasingly charged by privatized utilities—think Enron—for what was once regulated and subsidized. Commercial and private real estate will be worth less than half its current value. The negative equity that already plagues 25 percent of American homes will expand to include nearly all property owners. It will be difficult to borrow and impossible to sell real estate unless we accept massive losses. There will be block after block of empty stores and boarded-up houses. Foreclosures will be epidemic. There will be long lines at soup kitchens and many, many homeless. Our corporate-controlled media, already banal and trivial, will work overtime to anesthetize us with useless gossip, spectacles, sex, gratuitous violence, fear and tawdry junk politics. America will be composed of a large dispossessed underclass and a tiny empowered oligarchy that will run a ruthless and brutal system of neo-feudalism from secure compounds. Those who resist will be silenced, many by force. We will pay a terrible price, and we will pay this price soon, for the gross malfeasance of our power elite.
Below is one of the headline news stories from today's Democracy Now! I'll let the story stand for itself without comment from me. You can find Democracy Now at http://www.democracynow.org/ and this particular story at http://www.democracynow.org/2009/6/15/headlines#5
Report: 30 Lawmakers Have Financial Holdings in Health Care Industry
The Washington Post has revealed almost 30 key lawmakers helping draft landmark health-care legislation have financial holdings in the industry, totaling nearly $11 million worth of personal investments. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has at least $50,000 invested in a health-care index. Republican Sen. Judd Gregg, a senior member of the health committee, has up to $560,000 worth of stock holdings in major health-care companies, including Bristol-Myers Squibb and Merck. The family of Democratic Congresswoman Jane Harman held at least $3.2 million in more than 20 health-care companies at the end of last year. On Tuesday the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee plans to hold a key hearing to discuss health care reform. On that 22-member panel, at least eight senators have financial interests in the health-care industry. The hearings will be led by Democratic Senator Christopher Dodd whose wife serves on the boards of four health-care companies. She received more than $200,000 in salary and stock from her service last year.
I think you make an excellent point that Obama's comment indicates that he believes that single payer would be the best possible system to provide for health care for our country. You also make an excellent point that our focus should be on how to get to single payer.
B Roll and Jeff,
Obama will be speaking to the AMA next hour. It will be interesting to see what he says about single payer, if anything.
BTW, fmr. Dem. senate leader Tom Daschle is in the news today for saying that this country needs to cut back on medical malpractice lawsuits. If he supported the single-payer option (which, as a health-care lobbyist, he doesn't want to do), there would be a dramatic reduction in malpractice lawsuits, since future medical needs would be automatically addressed. However, pain and suffering and loss of wages might still be issues.
THIS IS HUGE !!!!!!!
Japanese nationals caught transporting $135 BILLION in BEARER bonds (bearer bonds have been banned since the 1980's)
Has the US been printing up bogus treasury bonds ILLEGALLY?
Bernie Sanders appeared on MSNBC to defend single payer / the public option before the President's speech to the AMA.
( A side note, notice how the public option and single payer are becoming conflated? The dreaded slippery slope to single payer! I actually think that's a good thing. It's an utterly ridiculous argument on its face: we can't even allow people the choice of single payer, because everyone will take it--because it's what everyone wants!--and that would be bad!)
But back to Bernie's appearance. The MSNBC (yes, the so-called LIBERAL network) host was fully stocked with right-wing talking points, just as well prepared as any FOX Newser. She even threw in the "isn't it interesting..." before making a comment. I think they let Bernie Sanders on and attack him in order to discredit him. Much like they did with Dennis Kucinich. (BTW, wasn't single payer a huge part of DK's presidential run?) Fortunately, Bernie is better at defending himself than DK.
And as soon as Bernie summed up his refutation of the Frank Luntz-scripted diatribe from the MSNBC host with the gem: "the private health insurance companies' primary goal is to make money." she quickly changed the subject and went to her next talking point. That line is a dagger.
But make no mistake, the TV networks also make lots of money (in the form of advertising) in the Health for Profit industry, In fact, far far more than they ever have. Huge money.
Daschle was one of the earliest backers of Obama's presidential run. I remember one of the first things I learned about Obama's campaign was that a lot, maybe most, of Obama's top campaign advisers were former Daschle staffers.
Don't forget that Daschle's wife, Linda Hall Daschle, is a big time Washington lobbyist although I don't think she has any health care industry clients.
My perception of MSNBC is that the "liberalism" (such as it is) is in the afternoon to evening talking head shows. The news department seems pretty much standard mainstream (center-right/center-center/center-left) TV news.
It seems to me that the real problem with healthcare is the cost. Many of those who have filed bankruptcy due to their medical bills had insurance. Throwing money at the problem does not solve the problem. It is the easy fix that doesn't fix. It does not address the problem of the pharmaceutical and the for profit hospitals and their cash cow.
I wanted to follow up on the caller who talked about the people at the post office with the picture of Hitler and Obama.
I also ran into those guys in Washington state they go to ferry docks and post offices. They are working for Lyndon LaRouche, Could you talk about him?
Who is he? They said he wis a Roosevelt Democratic is he a crazy lefty or a crazy righty?
Hedges’ article paints a bleak picture for the United States, but the situation may be worse than that. I’m no economist, historian or anything that would impress anyone, but I see the possibility of a “big picture” that might entail a collapse of the world’s economy and modern society itself.
Hedges’ article talks about the problems of America’s economy and moves of several other nations to exploit the American economic crisis to throw off American economic and military domination. One problem I see is that even if the leaders of these countries have the best intentions and plot out the most brilliant strategies to save their countries, the world economy is so entwined that there’s no telling what the worldwide consequences of the collapse of the American economy might be. And it’s not just the American economy that’s in crisis. Economies around the world are in crisis. The country of Iceland went bankrupt last year, and China has been experiencing a huge drop in exports, in large part due to the crisis in the American economy.
And Hedge’s article doesn’t even factor in affects of global climate disruptions which even a CIA analysis pointed to as one of the major dangers we face. This will cause shifts in climates that will disrupt ecosystems worldwide. The implications of this are as frightening, if not more frightening, than the economic crisis. I believe there will be a kind of feedback loop between the economic and ecological crisis. Environmental changes will create economic problems and the collapsed economy will limit our ability to respond to the environmental changes.
It always amazes me how the petite bourgeois identify with the mega rich (as if they are really one of them).
we can pay doctors, nurses and health workers better than our current situation under a public system... has anyone noticed that when the ruling class money pools talk about health care it is how will we pay for this...what a laugh...
should our taxes we the people pay help provide something back that benefits individual people, or our families??? maybe helps small business live and not die. but a defense contract, corporate subsidies or cost plus no bid contractual scams....no problem...SUPER CAPITALISM IS A SAD JOKE ON ALL OF US!
Republicans and some sell out Dem's...love the public paid private insurance they enjoy. SICK ON THEM!
Here's a link to some information about Lyndon LaRouche. It's at the website of Political Research Associates and most of the articles are by Chip Berlet. I used to hear Berlet with some frequency on Pacifica Radio. If I recall, some "progressives" became upset with him when he questioned the validity of many of the claims the 9/11 Truth Movement.
Here's the link. They have several articles about LaRouche there.
To save tons of money, best practices must include general knowledge of basic herbal medicine. Our victory gardens also need to include growing ten to twenty herbs specific to our own individual health care needs. Bicycle loans, classes in herbalism, gardening, and ayurvedic cooking should be part of our medicare plan!
(I'm trying to make my rent:-) Please buy your greeting and note cards from me
If the results of the Iranian election stay as they are now being reported, the United States should have no trouble recognizing Ahmadinejad as the winner. After all, we officially accepted two illegitimate presidential election results in our own country in 2000 and 2004. In fact, most of the world accepted those reported results. It should not be surprising that Germany, one of the countries that did not blindly follow Bush's march into Iraq is willing to question the outcome of the election in Iran.
I think we need to frame the health care issue the following way:
when they use the words "government controled healthcare", we should respond by using the phrase
"government control of the ACCESS to healthcare".
in other words we dont need a third party private company making profits of off our right to access or even worse, we dont need a company making profits by denying us access.
rick from savannah ga.
Why would the US Chamber NOT want to support US (Local) Business?
US Chamber of Commerce pushes to end ‘Buy American’ rules
the heathcare will be what it already is. it WILL NOT be government healthcare.
just the access will be socialized. and thats a good thing.
'Love the passion of the last caller! Health care is an issue worth fighting for!
The AMA (whom I call the American Murderer's Association) was started as a Conservative political group and consists of the Doctors most incented by the Insurance Companies and Big Pharma. They are the ones who for money put their names on dangerous drug "research" and promotions and letters to medical journals. (That practice has been limited now to I think $2000 per letter). They are the ones who would only prescribe Premarin, the dangerous horse pee HRT to menopausal women because they got paid so much by Wyeth Aherst, etc. They are not the Doctors Obama can "count on to do the right thing."
Of course Sen. Conrad can't support public health insurance, because then the Republicans would call him "Kent Comrade".
Regarding blog comments in the last couple of weeks:
Interesting interview with (75-year-old!) Gloria Steinem on MN Public Radio today. Steinem talks about activism, women/minorities in society, etc. I tuned in thinking it would be a bit boring. I was pleasantly surprised.
Now for something completely different:
The article you pasted is certainly chilling. I have to think about it a little at a time. It's too scary to take in completely...
Whenever a malpractice suit goes before a jury, most of the jurors think back to all the negative financial dealings they’ve had in all the doctors’ offices they’ve ever been in or the negative financial dealings they’ve had with insurance companies. Then they think about how the poor guy in the wheel chair is going to have to deal with the medical sharks for the rest of his life.
Does anyone wonder why malpractice settlements are so high.
If you want to cut the amount of malpractice settlements, make necessary medical care easily accessible and affordable for all.
Why is it that Unions are evil but groups like the AMA are not? The AMA is pursuing policies for its own narrow interest and not in the interest of the public. They push to limit the members in their "guild" by controlling the number of medical students and qualifications.
American Medicine / Self-Preservation
As someone who practices a little health care law, here are four tips improving the odds for a good (non-negligent) outcome for a major (non-emergency) medical procedure
1. Retain a lawyer, and have him get in touch with your surgeon and the hospital before the operation. If you feel self-conscious, tell them its for implementing powers of attorney and "death with dignity" measures. He's really there to save your life if the hospital tries to dump you ("premature discharge") before your condition is stable.
2. Give the hospital formal written notice that , if you die under their care, you want an autopsy and that they should hold your body for the pathologist.
3. DEMAND BASIC INFECTION CONTROLS, ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE CATHETERIZED, ESPECIALLY.ESPECIALLY IF YOU HAVE A URINARY CATHETER. THIS INCLUDES GLOVES AND GOWNS - EVERY TIIME, FOR EVERYBODY, INC. VISTIORS BUT ESP. CARE PROVIDERS. (THIS SHOULD BE FEDERAL LAW FOR CATHETHERIZED MEDICARE PATIENTS).
4. EVERYONE SHOULD KNOW THE WORD "IATROGENIIC" AND USE IT (LOOK IT UP).
Actually, I guess there are five tips - #5 is -- make sure you have enough friends and family that someone will be with you at least during the daytime.
This is off topic, but you frequently mention having celiac disease and eating a gluten free diet. Here is a good article on a new flour blend.
My daughter and I are gluten intolerant. She took the plunge first, and because she felt so much better, I tried it too, and feel a lot better. I use a coffee grinder to grind up all of the different grains which makes the flour fresher and I can make my own crackers in a toaster oven on a pizza stone but it takes a bit of time.
I was glad to learn that buckwheat is okay.
Millet often refuses to cook and one trick my daughter taught me was to soak the millet in water overnight first. It also works to cook millet in a small crockpot overnight for breakfast cereal the next morning. I think I'll try adding some buckwheat and polenta, too, and see how that tastes all together.
Is there any chance you could do a gluten-free segment? Perhaps you have and i missed it, but I would love to hear you talk more about this.
Everyone repeats the talking point: "Obama said he would be in favor of single payer (health insurance) if we were starting from scratch." But then they act like it is a dismissive statement rather than pointing to the fact that must mean Obama thinks it is the best option available. Why don't people talk about a road map TO single payer, since it has now been identified as the "best" system, since that's what we'd go with if we were starting from scratch--the best!
It is as if we are now saying, our current system is all screwed up, but since we can't change it, we should just be happy with the status quo: after all it's not really that bad, right? Changing it would just make it WORSE, right?
So the answer is we are trapped?