In William Greider’s new book "Come Home America", he makes a main point with which I agree. It’s not just the blue dogs or moderate Democrats who are the problem. It’s that the entire Democratic Party is now also the party of capital along with the regular but unhinged party of capital, the Republicans. The two parties fight over smaller issues but when it comes to shoveling money to corporations and Wall Street, they collude with each other to pass a "bipartisan compromise" that Greider says means "the people are about to be screwed."
Greider is a trained reporter and for years wrote for Rolling Stone. Matt Taibbi is following in his footsteps with great reportage there. They talk to lots of people everywhere and not just the same old D.C. cocktail weenie crowd. Taibbi as well as the economic blogs nailed the "cap and trade" bipartisan compromise for what it is; a big scam that is going to make traders over $10 Trillion and won’t do much for the environment. Top Obama contributor Exelon bragged about making $1 billion a year because of this bill.
Same thing will happen with this so-called health care reform. The sickness industry will make lots more money with those 50 million uninsured back in their clutches and the rest of us having to buy more supplemental insurance to cover the continuing doughnut holes, co-pays and deductibles. As it is many Americans have to give these leaches their homes in exchange for treatment.
The media has fallen down on the job again. So rather than reading the same old same old (and especially columnists at the Washington Post now that Dan Froomkin is gone), read Trudy Lieberman’s piece for the Columbia Journalism Review
Groundhog Day: Why this year’s health care debate sounds like the one in 1993
Lieberman was in the 1993 health care battle and so this is the kind of journalism I like. It has historical perspective and she interviews all kinds of interesting people that we’ve never heard of but should. She says that all we get is reportage on the sausage making of Washington politics, but no reportage of the substance of the issue. I was at a health care town hall last week in Montana. I wanted to talk about substance, but my suggestion that we ask the Senate committees what other countries’ health care plans they were studying was brushed aside. Instead the facilitator was more interested in some sort of elementary school project of writing to Max on a yellow paper cut outs of Montana. He believed that if Max saw all these cutouts it would make some sort of impression. "It will put a face to the issue", said the young man. Oh it put a face on it, all right, a clown face. I bet the Max staffers are still laughing at the idea of some Saul Alinsky wannabe forcing grown men and women to participate in some kindergarten project to impress their Senator. "Oh please, Mr. Baucus, please give us single payer, Love, Dee Dee from Big Fork." (I put a little star where Big Fork is on the map).
Maybe that kind of dog and pony show works for some people. Fine, go for it. But I’m more interested in inflicting the comfortable with discomfort by asking hard questions. Like reporter John Adams asking Max a simple follow up question of "Which single payer people are you meeting with in Montana?" By the way, what was the answer? I thought I knew all the single payer people here and I haven’t heard of a meeting.
The American people have been cheated of many things like a good national health care plan, immigration reform, a living wage, an end to poverty all because we are trapped in an outdated and brutish two party system that works together to screw us and confine us to a neo feudal sharecropper existence.
The way to fight this oppression is by finding our voices again apart from the two parties. We must demand discussion of what rights and services we deserve as citizens of this country. Our discussions must be frank and open and have multiple viewpoints in clubs or, an idea I floated here in my county, a citizens’ brigade. And they should not be "managed" by professional marketers and managers who gather our ideas and present them to the politicos. No more pollsters who tell congress critters to say "reliable and affordable and quality health care is our goal". We must demand that no one speak in these inane cliches and weasel words.
As much as you may feel comfortable with the same columnist or reporter, go outside of that coop and go free range. And do some digging yourself. I discovered from Trudy Lieberman’s piece that I need to look more closely at The Netherlands health care system and not lump "single payer" systems together. I need to find out how many people in my town know what single payer means. What are the people in my town most concerned about with health care reform? Do they think it’s a right or a commodity to be marketed?
We must put people and communities at the front of this discussion rather than endlessly examine the innards of the sausage-making machine. And we have to call the bipartisan compromise what it is; a whole lot of manure. (I got that definition from the New Oxford Dictionary of Weasel Words, Middle Manger Mush, and Cliches ).