OF CLIFFS AND CEILINGS: A NATIONAL DENIALOGUE

13 01 2013

There’s lots of talk in the Hot Air Media and the Hot Air Congress about “entitlement reform,” which is a code word for “cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits, as well as everything else that’s not defense related” (except veteran’s benefits, which are considered an “entitlement” and are on the table.)

The Evil Republicans are pushing hard to cut spending on these things.  The Brave Democrats are promising to negotiate and find a compromise solution. “But where I live the game they play is compromise solution”–thank you Mick Jagger, that’s one of your best lines. Hey, the Dumbocrats are such great enablers!  Barack O’bumbler!  If he can’t find a way to lose it, nobody can!

The mainstream media seem to have unquestioningly accepted that the best place to prune the U.S. budget is in cutting benefits to the poor and middle class.  This is a complete hoax and flim-flam, and anybody who swallows it should have their stomach pumped.  And everybody that’s putting it out?  Wash their mouths out with soap?  A good dose of castor oil?  Spanked and sent to bed without supper?  There doesn’t seem to be any voting them out of office, or any chance to put them on trial for their lies, so we may as well get fanciful, eh?  In another era, tar and feathers , beheading, or a dance at the end of a rope could have been their fate.  Our leaders should thank their lucky stars that they were born in such genteel times, although, with the climate change storm gathering on the horizon, things could change in the blink of an overheated eye.  But I digress…

Here’s what Jack Lew, who’s about to be our country’s Treasury Secretary, has to say about how Social Security is funded:

“Social Security benefits are entirely self-financing.  They are paid for with payroll taxes collected from workers and their employers throughout their careers.  These taxes are placed in a trust fund dedicated to paying benefits owed to current and future beneficiaries. … Even though Social Security began collecting less in taxes than it paid in benefits in 2010, the trust fund will continue to accrue interest and grow until 2025, and will have adequate resources to pay full benefits for the next 26 years.”

The only problem is that the government has borrowed most of the money that’s supposed to be in the benefit pool, and now they seem to be thinking, “Gee, if we just cut Social Security benefits, we won’t have to pay it back!”  In other words, the Republicans, the party of Firm Morals and Family Values, want to welch on their debt to the aged and infirm (what a wonderful congregation of Christians!), and the only fight the Democrats are willing to make about it is how much and how fast to do this, not whether it’s OK to do it.  When anybody less than the Federal Government takes money that’s dedicated to one purpose and spends it on something else, with no intent to pay it back, it’s called  embezzlement, and there are lots of people in jail for it.  Why should our government not be treated equally under the law?

The issue of cutting Medicare and Medicaid is a little more complex, because the U.S. has the most expensive health care system in the world, and not because it’s the best, either, but because its costs are driven by the companies who make money from it.  If we paid these hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and doctors what they were worth, for doing what’s actually necessary, we could save a lot of money on health care, and probably be healthier in the bargain.

Just for openers, the Republicans who are now agitating to cut Medicare and Medicaid are the same folks who, when they passed the “Drug Benefit” package that was so widely heralded as one of the most magnanimous achievements of the Cheney administration, forbade the government from negotiating with pharmaceutical companies over their prices and closed the door to Americans buying prescription medications from Canada, where prices are lower because the Canadian health care system is, in spite of the Harper government’s attempts to wreck it, saner than ours when it comes to keeping costs down.And then there’s the famous scorpion antivenom sting.  An Arizona hospital charged a woman $43K per vial for two doses of the life-saving product–which they imported from Mexico, where it’s an over-the-counter product that retails for….$100  a vial.  After a huge public outcry, the hospital lowered its price….to $8,000 a vial.   Sheesh, you can’t make that kind of money smuggling illegal drugs in from Mexico!

And I could talk about my own case, in which a hospital that generally handles Medicaid patients essentially warehoused me for 6 days at a cost to me, an uninsured person, of about $40,000, for something that, my current cardiologist tells me, should have been handled as an outpatient procedure for about a tenth of that cost.  The point is, our health care establishment sees the insurance business/federal government, those who pay for most of our health care, as cash cows to be milked for all they’re worth, and the companies and the government, rather than be milked less by big businesses with lots of clout in Congress, find it easier to provide fewer services to fewer people.

So that’s what they’re talking about cutting, and why their approach, for all the populist rhetoric the Demopublicans sling around, is basically intended to preserve what big business feels it’s entitled to.  Let’s turn now to what they’re not talking about.

Well, actually, they did talk about it some.  One of the chief horrors of “the fiscal cliff” was supposed to be the fact that, oh sacrilegious horror of horrors, the defense budget would be cut.  The U.S. defense budget, as agreed to by Democrats and Republicans alike during the Cheney administration, is one of the main reasons the government is having a hard time with its finances right now.  Our elected representatives agreed to spend trillions on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and pay for it manana, and manana has arrived.  The two parties also agreed to eliminate the firewall between banking and speculation, AKA the Glass-Steagal Act, and to cut taxes on the corporations and individuals who make the most money.  This has resulted in a financial crash that primarily affected the poor and the middle class, and an unprecedented transfer of wealth from the middle and lower classes of this country to the upper class.  And, again, for all the populist rhetoric, this has been a “bipartisan” effort from the get go.

Just goes to show, when you choose to vote for “the lesser of two evils,” you still end up with evil.  Any questions?

music:  Buffy Ste. Marie, “No, No Keshagesh

Eliza Gilkyson:  “Milk and Honey”

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12 responses

14 01 2013
Caz

You’re a politician so I’m going to give it to you in political terms:
“Since I entered politics, I have chiefly had mens views confided to me privately. Some of the biggest men in the United States, in the field of commerce and manufacture, are afraid of somebody, are afraid of something. They know that there is a power somewhere so organized, so subtle, so watchful, so interlocked, so complete, so pervasive, that they had better not speak above their breath when they speak in condemnation of it. They know that America is not a place of which it can be said, as it used to be, that a man may choose his own calling and pursue it just as far as his abilities enable him to pursue it; because to-day, if he enters certain fields, there are organizations which will use means against him that will prevent his building up a business which they do not want to have built up; organizations that will see to it that the ground is cut from under him and the markets shut against him. For if he begins to sell to certain retail dealers, to any retail dealers, the monopoly will refuse to sell to those dealers, and those dealers, afraid, will not buy the new man’s wares.” Woodrow Wilson

14 01 2013
brothermartin

And your point is?

14 01 2013
Caz

The underbelly, man, the underbelly. Get off the surface. The rabbit hole goes much further down.

15 01 2013
brothermartin

One of the corollary’s of Occam’s razor is, “there is no need to attribute to malice and conspiracy what can be explained by greed and stupidity.”

15 01 2013
Caz

Much deeper than greed and stupidity. I like malice and conspiracy better.

15 01 2013
brothermartin

whaddya, some kinda perv? :-)

16 01 2013
Caz

Sometimes you just have to call a spade a spade.

16 01 2013
brothermartin

…unless he prefers to be called an African-American? :-) Look, I have been roaming this territory for decades and I have yet to see any convincing proof of an overarching conspiracy that has its act together. I DO see a lot of half-assed conspiracies that don’t quite have their acts together…well, OK, the crew that took down the WTC has done a remarkable job of keeping quiet, and likewise the Kennedy assasins. But there’s a chance that’s because there’s nobody there. Just a chance, and there’s no telling what tomorrow will reveal.

16 01 2013
Caz

I’m glad you mentioned 9/11 and Kennedy assassination and you might as well add RFK, MLK to the list of assassinations. You might as well throw in the bogus Osama Bin Laden assassination.And if a government would kill 3K of their own people to advance and agenda, what else might they be capable of? Good place to start. But let’s add the UFO cover up; throw all the financial gobely gook into one pile: banks and bank bail outs, the Fed, Wall Street, etc.; then add poisonous foods, drugs and flouride and GMO’s and Monsanto’s takeover of the food chain, all approved by the FDA; how about the military and their preposterous wars and now there are troops on the ground in Somalia, Yemen and Syria. Who knows and who voted for that? And then there’ the whole twisted Israel debacle; the fantasy research in the Arctic, radiation misinformation, chemtrails, HAARP, the Bible and religions in general, the dumbing down by the educational system, a corrupted political system. Gee, is that enough to get you started? If you don’t think there’s any malice behind this, you better look again.

17 01 2013
brothermartin

Your mix of genuine ugly human behavior and urban myths is a bit overwhelming. I’m not up for writing a book, or even a chapter of a book, to sort all that out this morning. But, in general, I see greed, ignorance, and anger behind pretty much every item in your list, one way or another, not some cabal of malicious humans, much less superhumans, as some allege–cf., “the lizard people.” Lizard-brained people, yes, but not malicious mutants from outer space! Ignorant people will go to extremes to protect their turf and privileges, and may well succeed in keeping some of their machinations secret, but they are incapable of exerting the degree of control you allege. They’re just too stupid, emotionally and intellectually. That’s my opinion, anyway.

17 01 2013
Caz

Well, just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist so keep an open mind at least. I think you underestimate the forces that are against us.
And most of those things I mentioned ARE conspiracies even though you’re not calling them that. The dictionary defines conspiracy as “Planning and acting together “SECRETLY,” especially for an unlawful or harmful purpose.” Isn’t that what’s going on or do you think this is a totally honest world and everybody is telling the truth? Aren’t the decisions made about these issues above done in secret or are they calling you on the phone for your opinion?
And to take it one step further, there are other dimensions to this reality. Something to think about. Thanks for letting me rant.

17 01 2013
brothermartin

Just because some things happen due to conspiracy doesn’t mean everything is due to conspiracy. No, I don’t “think this is a totally honest world and everybody’s telling the truth”! As far as “other dimensions” being involved, I remain an agnostic. I’d love to see that, “flying saucers,” or what have you, have felt that way all my life, haven’t seen anything extraordinary in that line yet. Not that I haven’t had some extraordinary experiences, but they’re not relevant to this discussion!

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