Thom Hartmann: Anyhow, what is socialism? Harry Reid, I get this email from Harry Reid. Actually Michael, who’s our video director got it, he must have contributed to Harry’s, Michael used to live in Vegas and he must have contributed to Harry’s campaign at some point. And Harry says, “Dear Michael, I wasn’t there but I’m told there were speeches, some signage featuring questionable assertions and a lot of calling democrats socialists. I guess it’s better not to let the facts get in the way of a good rally sign.” And he’s calling for a $20 donation as politicians are wont to do to “buy a dictionary for a tea partier” because the definition in the dictionary of socialism is a political philosophy that advocates government ownership of private industry. He says, “Needless to say, not a view I agree with in the least.” So, he’s calling for dictionaries for right wingers.
Peter Ferrara is with us, he’s with the American Civil Rights Union, the right wing, or the conservative let’s say, I think that’s a little less pejorative although I don’t know, maybe you like them both, Peter, analog of the American Civil Liberties Union. Peter, welcome to the show.
Peter Ferrara: Glad to be here.
Thom Hartmann: TheACRU.org, by the way your website. Peter, this whole, this use of the word socialism as an epithet, as a curse, a curse word to be hurled against democrats, strikes me as bizarre. Aren’t there areas where you and I would agree that we want government to do things like we want government to have a military, we want government to be funding our police departments. I mean isn’t there a certain level of consensus at one end of the spectrum anyway?
Peter Ferrara: Well I definitely believe in safety nets. And one of the, the real work of my life has been to argue that we could have better more comprehensive safety nets which actually cost the government far less if we’d modernize, get away from the old tax and redistribution, Bismarckian model of the current system, which is really developed…
Thom Hartmann: You mean the George Washington Model?
Peter Ferrara: Well the current welfare safety net programs really are based on a sort of tax and redistribution model that was pioneered by Otto Von Bismarck late in the 19th century. And what I’m arguing, what I’ve been arguing…
Thom Hartmann: Right, I think you could take that back to the Roman Republic quite effectively, Peter.
Peter Ferrara: What I’m arguing is that all these programs can be reformed to actually provide better safety nets at far less cost if we’d modernize and bring into account capital and labor markets, to rely on them more, and to take …
Thom Hartmann: In other words, you want to privatize even the military and the police, is that what you’re saying?
Peter Ferrara: No, no. Military and police are not safety net programs. But I’m talking about social security, Medicare, Medicaid, welfare and now Obamacare.
Thom Hartmann: I would say the military and the police are safety net programs, they’re the things that keep us safe.
Peter Ferrara: Well by safety net I mean things that prevent people from falling below certain levels. And the …
Thom Hartmann: So how is some guy whose only goal like Stephen Hemsley who runs United Healthcare, sitting on his 744 million dollars worth of stock options, how, who in their right mind would want to put their financial future in this guy’s hands?
Peter Ferrara: Well I’m not sure what you mean by put their financial future in this guy’s hands.
Thom Hartmann: Well you’re talking about taking social safety net programs and turning them over to predators in the private economy, I’m guessing.
Peter Ferrara: What I would do is take the social safety net programs out of government hands and into individual workers hands. It’s the deems are like patient power, personal empowerment, control. So they have personal control.
Thom Hartmann: Let us all save up enough money that if we get cancer we can pay for it, let us all save a bunch of money so that when we get old we can retire on it.
Peter Ferrara: No, no, no, you have catastrophic insurance to back you up. For example a classic idea along these lines is health savings accounts. Under health savings accounts instead of all the money going to the insurance company and the insurance company paying for everything, the money goes for catastrophic health insurance paying for everything over a high deductible. And the rest of the money goes to you in your own savings account and you pay for health care below the deductible out of that savings account.
Thom Hartmann: And if you get cancer, what, Peter? Because the HCA is 7500 bucks right now.
Peter Ferrara: Then the insurance company pays for it if you get cancer. That’s, I don’t believe in…
Thom Hartmann: But what about those people who choose not to have health insurance?
Peter Ferrara: Under, well actually under the system way I designed it that’s okay because there’s a safety net even for them. There’s an uninsurable risk pool so that if you don’t buy health insurance, under this safety net system, you get government assistance if you’re too poor to buy it, you get government assistance to help you go buy it. But so if you don’t and then you get cancer or heart disease and now you can’t really get private insurance because you’re too sick, there’s still an uninsurable risk pool that you can go to where the government subsidizes it and you go sign up there and you get your healthcare…
Thom Hartmann: I think you’re describing the Obama healthcare plan, Peter.
Peter Ferrara: No, actually, this is the patient power John Goodman approach.
Thom Hartmann: It’s kind of Romney. Well but regardless of that. I want to get back to this original point which is that people on your side of the aisle, the people on the right, are constantly accusing democrats of socialism and there’s a broad consensus in this country that none of us want the government making our computers, we don’t want the government making our clothes although it would be nice to have clothes made in the United States again, it would be nice to have computers made in the United States again.
But we don’t even want the government doing that even if it means bringing manufacturing jobs back home. We would really, on the other hand there are things that we do want the government to do. We do want the government to keep us safe and frankly I put healthcare into that category, you don’t. And I think that what we’re arguing about is where that middle point is.
You’re saying healthcare isn’t a right it’s a responsibility or a privilege, that it is not part of the commons. Let me back up a little. Would you agree that the, in the minute we have left Peter, for, that the essential purpose of government is to protect the commons, the thing that, those things that are essential to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that we all share?
Peter Ferrara: Really under my patient power approach the healthcare is more of a right…
Thom Hartmann: Well let’s, ... yes or no.
Peter Ferrara: Yes. Then under my patient power approach government healthcare is more of a right than it is under Obamacare. Because in Obamacare, if a government bureaucrat tells you no we’re not gonna pay for that and you take the painkiller and go home, where’s your right? Whereas under the patient power approach…
Thom Hartmann: Well your right is to stand out in front of your congressman’s office and raise hell. Whereas if you try doing that in front of Stephen J. Hemsley’s office or his home you will be arrested.
Peter Ferrara: I’m in favor of insurance where you send them the bill if the doctor tells you need this healthcare you send the bill and their only power is to pay it. That’s really how the, I want the catastrophic health insurance to work.
Thom Hartmann: Then you’ve never been seriously ill Peter.
Peter Ferrara: No, when they, I don’t understand that comment at all. But I want to tell you the …
Thom Hartmann: Because when people get seriously ill, there’s this thing called rescission where their health insurance company tells them to go bleep themselves.
Peter Ferrara: No, no, no, that’s prohibited, that’s not allowed under this patient power approach. In fact that’s been illegal in the United States for a long long time. It has nothing to do really with Obamacare.
Thom Hartmann: I see. Okay.
Peter Ferrara: But the democrat party is the democrat socialist party. They should change their name to that.
Thom Hartmann: Democratic.
Peter Ferrara: You look at the Swedish socialism with the government pays the…
Thom Hartmann: In my dreams, Peter. In my dreams. Peter Ferrara, TheACRU.org is the website. Thanks Peter.
Peter Ferrara: Thanks.
Transcribed by Suzanne Roberts, Portland Psychology Clinic.