“The Progress Report” – Dedicated Fascists
I know that we all try to avoid using certain analogies when we talk about important and relevant political topics. There is a tendency to completely disregard someone the moment they compare anything to Hitler or Nazi Germany or use the word, “Fascism” because those are such commonly misused words that are thrown around like dirty socks in a laudromat.
But, that does not mean we should FORGET what those concepts mean or what they resulted in. And to be clear – those 3 things did result in the Holocaust. But they resulted in a LOT of other things as well. I am afraid that sometimes we get chastised into being silent about the consequeces of Nazi Germany because we are told to respect the uniqueness of the Holocaust and not intermingle it with other concepts. That is not quite fair. The concept of Fascism is not solely related to that horrible tragedy. Fascism is something that didn’t just get eliminated with the end of World War II.
Fascism wasn’t defeated in World War II. That is worth repeating. Many times. We may never see another Holocaust. But we WILL SEE another Fascist Regime. We need to relearn that Fascism alone did not cause the Holocaust. And that Fascism can appear in a society completely tolerant of Judaism. Fascism, ultimately, has nothing do with Religion, Ethnicity, or Race. Fascism is an Economic system, first and foremost. Religious and Ethnic hatreds caused the Holocaust. Fascism was the Economic System that accompanied that religious and ethnic hatred.
Having said this, I want to share with the FDL community an email I received from The Progress Report that came out to defend the Democrats’ health insurance legislation, “The Affordable Care Act” and that denounced and vilified the Federal Judge in Virginia that ruled against the Individual Mandate.
Here is a portion of the relevant text:
The Affordable Care Act eliminates one of the insurance industry’s most abhorrent practices — denying coverage to patients with preexisting conditions — but this ban cannot function if patients are free to enter and exit the insurance market at will. If patients can wait until they get sick to buy insurance, they will drain all the money out of an insurance plan that they have not paid into, leaving nothing left for the rest of the plan’s consumers and causing their premiums to spiral out of control. Because the Act’s protections for patients with preexisting conditions cannot function without a requirement that almost everyone carry insurance, even ultra-conservative Justice Antonin Scalia has indicated that the law must be constitutional. In Scalia’s words, “where Congress has the author ity to enact a regulation of interstate commerce, it possesses every power needed to make that regulation effective.” Judge Hudson, however, waved this rule away with a cryptic statement that the Affordable Care Act doesn’t fit within “the letter and spirit of the Constitution.” This utter failure to even explain why he was ignoring the Constitution’s clear command led several conservative commentators to dismiss Hudson’s amateurish legal reasoning.
One of the key arguments the defenders of this legislation make is that the Tax Code must be used to force us all to purchase at the same time so that the system can’t be gamed to the detriment of those who pay in while healthy for the benefit of those who pay in only when they are sick. And since the Government is using its twin monopolies of violence and tax-collection to effectuate a social policy (making sure everybody has health INSURANCE), the defenders of this act claim the government must not be stripped of the POWER of those twin monopolies to enforce this law.
Well, I know we all know that there was a simpler way to do this. TAX EVERYBODY directly, use the tax revenue to create a trust fund, and then use the revenue from that trust fund to pay for everybody’s health care needs. This was called “single payer” in pejorative terms, but it is also the way that Social Security and Medicare work. Everybody is taxed, and everybody draws a benefit. If you refuse to pay your taxes, then the Government gets to use its monopolies of violence and tax-collecting to enforce the law. Simple, tried, proven, and effective. So why wasn’t it passed that way?
Because the INSURANCE INDUSTRY, a private, for-profit, investor driven sector DID NOT WANT THAT SOLUTION. Insurance Companies can’t make as big a profit under that fair and proven solution. So, Insurance Companies do what they do best. They got Democrat Max Baucus from Montana to hire one of their own lobbyists, Liz Fowler, to write the Affordable Care Act, and then they threw lots of money at people like Bart Stupak, Joe Lieberman, Max Baucus, Nancy Pelosi, and President Obama (and dozens of others) to make sure that Liz Fowler’s drafted legislation was passed. And it did.
That legislation may have a few “good” things in it. Everything has good things. But the devil is in the details, and the road to hell is paved with good intentions. This bill has a single underlying premise that The Progress Report and the Obama Administration do not want you to understand.
This Act dictates that all Americans MUST BUY a privately-controlled product, an INSURANCE POLICY, and that the state-monopolized powers of VIOLENCE and TAX COLLECTION will be used to FORCE AMERICANS to buy those privately controlled INSURANCE POLICIES.
That is what this law does. It forces us to purchase private products to the benefit of private corporations or we will be taxed and then imprisoned for failure to pay those taxes. But the “taxes” are not being collected to the benefit of everybody. They are being used as a PUNITIVE incentive to force a SOCIAL POLICY. That is, first and foremost, an abusive use of the Tax Code. To force social and economic behaviors through Tax Penalties. Manywould argue that the Marriage Tax Penalty was no different an abuse. But it was not designed or made to specifically prohibit people from being married. That was an unintended side effect. Very few tax policies can be found that are designed to PUNISH people for failure to purchase something.
This post is not intended to be an exhaustive review of the Affordable Care Act or the smattering of “good things” that it sprinkled on top of the toxic underlying premise of the act. But I want to address a couple of misconceptions that are used to defend this act. Firstly, this act does NOT guarantee ACCESS to Health CARE. It only guarantees ACCESS to INSURANCE POLICIES. That is not the same thing. Insurance Companies decide ACCESS to Health CARE. You pay them a premium of $300 or $400 a month (or maybe $600 or $800 a month). That is about $3600 to $9600 per year, minimum (more for families of 4).
Insurance Companies then sell you a Private Product called an Insurance Policy. Those policies are not going to be regulated by the Federal Government (which is forcing you to buy them). Those Policies (and the companies that write them) are exempt from the Antitrust Laws that the Federal Government uses to ensure fairness and competitiveness in our markets. Those policies are going to be governed by the STATE Governments. The State Insurance Commissions. Highly captive to lobbying efforts by the Insurance Industry. So, there is the first problem with a Federal Law forcing us to purchase State-regulated privately made products. There are no corresponding Federal Laws to regulate those products.
Second, neither the Federal Government nor ANY State Governments have regulated demonstrated the ability to keep the price of those products under control. If those products’ annual increase in cost were computed as part of the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index for Inflation, the number would be astronomical, and Official Inflation would be closer to 10% year over year instead of the paltry 2%. Maybe even 14% in some regions. Which would have a domino effect on every single Federal program that has a COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment) based on the BLS Consumer Price Index.
These policies routinely state that people must pay a deductible on their health care before the policy kicks in. Those policies will usually require an individual to pay $2000 each year or families to pay $5000 each year before the Insurance Company has to pay dime on your behalf. Lets add that to the amount you are already going to pay for premiums. $3600 + $2000 for an individual will be $5600 per year. At the higher end, we see $9600 + $5000 for a family of four comes to $14,600 per year.
So, a Family of Four will have to pay potentially as much a $14,600 per year out of pocket (or even more in some places) just to avoid being TAXED and IMPRISONED by the Federal Government. They will have to pay that money to a PRIVATE CORPORATION which will, in turn, DO NOTHING BENEFICIAL for the Family until that money has been paid. Okay, sounds like the same thing as Protection Money to me. Racketeering, extortion, etc. Mafias work this way. Organized Crime operates this way. They bang on the door, demand a monthly payment, and your business is therefore “protected” by the Mafia that runs this territory in exchange. And if they choose to INCREASE the amount due each month? Either you pay or you lose the protection. But in addition, you also get punished. The Mafia would beat your face in (or kill you) for failure to pay. But the Government will just tax you and imprison you for failure to pay.
The Insurance Company, under the current pre-Affordable Care Act regime, would simply lose your business if you stopped paying. Now, under the post-Affordable Care Act regime, the Insurance Company simply sends a notice to the Federal Government, and the taxpayer funded resources of the Federal Government will be brought to bear upon YOU, the VIOLATOR of FEDERAL LAW and you will be PUNISHED by the Federal Government, TAXED PUNITIVELY, and then the Treasury Department will send Special Agents and Auditors to enforce that punishment on you. Taxpayer funded goon squad to punish you for purchasing a product that may never yield a benefit to you.
Now, I know President Obama and his defenders will use the “Automobile Insurance” argument. But they misunderstand that argument. Auto Insurance comes in TWO COMPONENTS and only ONE is required by law. There is the LIABILITY component, which is required, that states that “if you CHOOSE to drive a vehicle, you must have insurace that covers THIRD PARTIES when or if you are at fault in an accident.” That is absolutely NOTHING similar to the Health Insurance concept. Health Insurance is not purchased “if you choose to live, so that you can pay for health care costs incurred by third parties if you are at fault in making them need that medical care.” Is it? No. Its purchased so that YOU, the PURCHASER can have YOURSELF taken care if you need it or want it. That is only similar to the SECOND component of Auto Insurance (which is NOT REQUIRED by LAW). That is the Comprehensive Collision Coverage component. People purchase that so that the insurance company will pay for THEIR OWN vehicle in various situations. The only time you are REQUIRED to purchase that is if your car is still being financed by a LENDER.
Please tell me – are we as human beings and citizens of this nation being FINANCED by a LENDER that has a COLLATERAL INTEREST in us as secured assets? Unless that is the case, and it is argued as such, then there is no reason we should be required to INSURE OURSELVES. And as far as making sure we are liable to third parties in the event of causing harm to them – well that is what CRIMINAL LAWS and CIVIL LAWSUITS are for. They ensure that harmed parties can recover from the harmer and that the harmer can be punished for the harm.
So, what is going on here? Why are we being forced to purchase PRIVATE INSURANCE PRODUCTS that are largely unregulated (that also are notorious for stiffing the care providers as well) and that will require tremendous outputs on the part of people who will not benefit from them on a regular basis?
Why is the STATE (Federal Goverment) being used to FORCE US (the individuals) to purchase PRIVATE PRODUCTS (Insurance Policies) that will benefit PRIVATE CORPORATE ACTORS (Insurance Companies)?
From Wikipedia (but you can verify all of this as being accurate from a host of other sources):
Fascism (pronounced /?fæ??z?m/) is a radical and authoritarian nationalist political ideology. Fascists seek to organize a nation according to corporatist perspectives, values, and systems, including the political system and the economy.
Fascists believe that a nation is an organic community that requires strong leadership, singular collective identity, and the will and ability to commit violence and wage war in order to keep the nation strong. They claim that culture is created by the collective national society and its state, that cultural ideas are what give individuals identity, and thus they reject individualism. Viewing the nation as an integrated collective community, they see pluralism as a dysfunctional aspect of society, and justify a totalitarian state as a means to represent the nation in its entirety.
They advocate the creation of a single-party state. Fascist governments forbid and suppress opposition to the fascist state and the fascist movement. They identify violence and war as actions that create national regeneration, spirit and vitality.
Italian Fascism’s economy was based on corporatism, and a number of other fascist movements similarly promoted corporatism. Oswald Mosley of the British Union of Fascists, describing fascist corporatism, said that “it means a nation organized as the human body, with each organ performing its individual function but working in harmony with the whole”.
I want to make the point that many in the Wikipedia Article make repeated distinctions between the various forms of Fascism and even go so far as to say that Nazism was itself something much more than just Fascism because it involved racial and religious components that are not unique or required of Fascist policies. That is important, because it reminds us that Fascism can arise again in places that appear to be religiously tolerant and ethnically diverse. Places like the USA, for example.
Here is another way to define Fascism:
Hungarian communist Djula Sas in 1923 made a more detailed critique of fascism, in which he noted that, six months after rising to power, Italian Fascists had dismantled working-class organizations, significantly reduced wages in certain areas, abolished taxes on inheritance and war profits, and emphasized the need for “national production”. According to Sas, these actions clearly indicated that fascism was in the service of industrial capitalism.
Dismantled working-class organizations (Unions), abolished inheritance (Estate) taxes and WAR PROFITS. Fascism is the state being in the service of INDUSTRIAL CAPITALISM.
Another term that has been used to mask the word “Fascism” is the term, “state capitalism” or “State monopoly capitalism”. Murray Rothbard had this to say about it:
Murray Rothbard, a laissez-faire capitalist thinker, uses the term interchangeably with the term state monopoly capitalism, and uses it to describe a partnership of government and big business where the state is intervening on behalf of large capitalists against the interests of consumers. He distinguishes this from laissez-faire capitalism where big business is not protected from market forces.
Mussolini also used the phrases of “State Capitalism” and “Fascism” interchangeably, but the concepts were still the same.
Italian Fascism presented the economic system of corporatism as the solution that would preserve private enterprise and property while allowing the state to intervene in the economy when private enterprise failed.
Finally, let me quote a prominent anti-Fascist Italian activist, Gaetano Salvemini, from his book “Under the Axe of Fascism”:
“In actual fact, it is the State, the taxpayer, who has become responsible to private enterprise. In Fascist Italy the State pays for the blunders of private enterprise. As long as business was good, profit remained to private initiative. When the depression came, the Government added the loss to the tax-payer’s burden. Profit is private and individual. Loss is public and social.”
In terms of economic practice, this meant promoting the interests of successful businessmen while destroying trade unions and other organizations of the working class. Historian Gaetano Salvemini argued in 1936 that fascism makes taxpayers responsible to private enterprise, because “the State pays for the blunders of private enterprise… Profit is private and individual. Loss is public and social.” Fascist governments encouraged the pursuit of private profit and offered many benefits to large businesses, but they demanded in return that all economic activity should serve the national interest.
So, having identified numerous definitions and analyses of Fascism, and the economics of Fascism, lets return to the discussion of the Affordable Care Act.
Progressives wanted this solution:
The Taxation of all Citizens. The creation of a Trust Fund with that tax revenue. The income from that Trust Fund would pay for all Health Care costs incurred by all the citizens, payable directly to the Health Care PROVIDERS (doctors, hospitals, drug-makers, device-makers) when such services were rendered to the CITIZEN (everybody pays the tax). The CARE PROVIDER and the PATIENT would be in full control of the CARE DECISION MAKING PROCESS and would allow complete professional autonomy to the CARE PROVIDER (a private party) in recommending appropriate remedial or preventive care, while maintain the complete authority of the INDIVIDUAL (individualism is the enemy of Fascism) in CONSENTING to that professionally advised care. The government would be strictly involved in the collection of tax receipts and the disbursement of payments to care providers. It would not be the arbiter of care making decisions and it would not be the arbiter of individual consents.
Instead, the Administration created this paradigm:
The MANDATE that individuals MUST PURCHASE private Financial Products (Insurance). The decision NOT to regulate those Financial Products but to allow the states to continue to ineffectively oversee those products. Many states have since announced a refusal to change how they regulate those products. Therefore, a STATUS QUO in how the Insurance Industry is regulated, and merely a new TAX AND PENALTY regime in forcing Individual consumers to purchase Corporate Financial Products.
This has nothing to do with increased access to healthcare. This only has to do with increased profits to Insuance Companies, which are classified as FINANCIAL SERVICES COMPANIES that operate in the FINANCIAL SERVICES SECTOR. They have nothing to do with HEALTH CARE or delivery of Health Care. They also have the power to dictate what TYPES of health care you have access to and they can dictate to health care providers (doctors, hospitals) how much they can charge and what types of care can be administered.
This is perfectly in line with the Obama Administrations’ other FASCIST policies. The TARP bailout (a Bush fascist idea that was carried out by democrats without a fuss) allowed FAILED financial institutions that lost trillions of dollars in other people’s money (us, the individual depositors) to be bailed out with taxpayer funds (us, the taxpayers). These same financial institutions have taken that money (from us, the taxpayer) and have used it to pay for the rampant foreclosure of millions of homes (from us, the Americans who live in those homes) using abusive and illegal practices that the Administration has said it will not regulate or stop.
This administration has done nothing to distinguish itself from other Fascist regimes, and its defense of the Affordable Care Act’s Individual Mandate is proof on its face of the fascist nature of this administration. It has resorted to becoming the street thug for the Corporate financial services industry. It will use (abuse) the Tax Code to enforce a Market-based decision. It will abuse the concept of the Commerce Clause to now enforce individual market-based choices that have no greater effect on society or the “greater good” than to line the pockets of the Insurance Companies (the beneficiaries of this law).
The constant refrain that “Now Insurance Companies cannot deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions” is a lame and thin argument. Why? Because while that is true, it means nothing. All that it means is “Now, Insurance Companies HAVE TO SELL YOU A POLICY if you try to buy one.”
No Pre-Existing Conditions Argument = Insurance Companies MUST SELL YOU a policy if you try to buy one.
Therefore, if we are going to require that they HAVE TO SELL YOU A POLICY, then we have to simulataneously require that EVERYBODY HAS TO BUY A POLICY!!!
Wow. Does that make sense? In order to force them to sell everyone a policy, the government has to require everyone to BUY a policy!
1st – that is like saying “Every restaurant must cater to all races, no matter what, therefore, we will require that EVERYBODY must now eat out, or else we will tax you and imprison you for failure to pay those taxes.”
That’s how we solved the social policy of racial discrimination, right? By forcing all restaurants to serve everyone, we had to MANDATE that all INDIVIDUALS must EAT OUT AT RESTAURANTS. Or else, as the Administration would argue,
“People would just wait to eat out when they are hungry, forcing Restaurants to operate on razor thin margins and engage in REAL BUSINESS practices to stay solvent!” (here’s a clue – Restaurants DO operate on razor-thin margins, but they also are governed by anti-trust laws, and bya host of other laws, including food safety and consumer protection laws, which means that only reputable, compliant ones that engage in customer-friendly practices get to stay in business, while the deceptive, customer-hostile, noncompliant ones lose their shirts).
But the Administration and its defenders would argue that “Insurance Companies are not like restaurants. They are too big to fail, and they are running on razor-thin margins of several billion dollars a year salaries to their CEOS and Executives. We can’t allow them to lose any of that money, because then who would pay for the campaign contributions (bribes) that Democrats need to defeat Republicans in each election!”
News Flash – those campaign contributions didn’t show up in 2010, now did they? Nope. They went straight to Murdoch-sponsored Koch-funded REPUBLICANS and TEABAGGERS. Not to Democrats. So, the “we need corporate bribes” argument didn’t work so well either.
What about the argument that everybody needs Insurance? Well, that’s a Mitt Romney Republican Argument that we could have elected Mitt Romney to provide us with. But we didn’t. How many Hillary Clinton supporters out there, right now, realized that their candidate was going to be PRIMARIED by Mitt Romney?
How many Obama supporters realized that he was Mitt Romney in disguise? Just curious. Had his opponents known that, they would have avoided the silly “he’s a Muslim!” arguments and instead engaged in the equally silly, “he’s a Mormon!” arguments. In fact, that would have been more effective, considering the success it had on Mitt’s campaign!
So, back on topic – the Affordable Care Act now forces Insurance Companies to SELL THEIR PRODUCT TO EVERYBODY.
Did anyone notice how useless a product it can be, though? It is the middleman between Patient and Doctor. It is the DEATH PANEL that is so widely feared and hated. It is the decider of WHO GETS CARE and WHO DOES NOT. Does the Affordable Care Act actually have anything to do with EVERBODY GETTING HEALTH CARE?!? No, it omits the CARE part of the equation. Instead, it only mandates the INSURANCE part of the equation. YOU MUST BUY IT. AND INSURERS MUST SELL IT. Period.
What are they selling? Whatever they want. They can choose to cover cancer screenings. Or they can choose not to. Thats a State issue. They can choose to pay for chemotherapy, or they can choose not to. They can choose to pay for a Physical Fitness test, or they can choose not to. They can choose to pay for a Diabetes test, or they can choose not to. They can decide that your deductible has to increase to $5,000 or $10,000 before they will pay only 80% of your costs. They can decide to pay only 70% or 60% of your costs after you have paid them $5,000 and you have paid $5,000 out of pocket.
And there is one more DETAIL that is oft overlooked by those who angrily defend this law. The defenders will erroneously claim that “this law requires the Insurance Company to pay for all your medical bills! They can’t deny payment now!”
Wrong. They can. And they will. Why? Because an Insurance Policy is broken down into a few different sections.
1. Issuance of Policy – Insurance companies were deciding WHO got a policy and HOW MUCH to charge for it. Under the Affordable Care Act, Insurance Companies now MUST SELL to everyone. But at whatever prices they still choose to. The price part doesn’t change (despite being called the AFFORDABLE care act, this law has nothing to do with Affordabilty or even with CARE. It has to do with making sure the Insurance industry has a guaranteed market supply of about 350 million customers year after year)
2. Exclusions of Policy Coverage – Not affected by the Affordable Care Act. These are the items I mentioned above. These are the medical services NOT COVERED by the policy. See – they HAVE TO SELL YOU a policy. But that policy can be as useless as toilet paper, covering only the items they choose to cover. Not the items your doctor says you need, or the items you choose to have. Only the items the INSURANCE COMPANY chooses to pay for. The rest is ON YOU (which is already true and isn’t changed under the Affordable Care Act).
3. Exceptions of Policy Coverage – Not affected by the Affordable Care Act. These are the situations where the Policy may say, “we will pay for Cancer screening and $100,000 of medical care” but the EXCEPTION says, “unless you were a smoker, were exposed to second hand smoke growing up, or worked in environments that produced second-hand smoke and the diagnosis is lung cancer or other smoking-related conditions.” THAT is called an Exception. THAT IS STILL ALLOWED under the Affordable Care Act. And THAT is something that you will come to hate after paying decades into this policy. You were forced to buy it (because they were forced to sell it, see), but they weren’t forced to make it worthwhile.
That is where the fallacy of this entire legislation and the hooplah and defense of it lays. This law does nothing to dictate to the Insurance Companies how they must handle EXCEPTIONS and EXCLUSIONS in the writing of these policies.
But, but, but that would involve Government telling PRivate Corporations what they can do! We don’t want no stinking government control of private corporations! They can’t dictate to Insurance Companies HOW to write their policies!
Of course not. That is why we, Progressives, argued for SINGLE PAYER. We don’t want government telling Private Insurance Companies how to write their policies. Let them write whatever garbage they want. We don’t want goverment telling us to purchase that garbage. We don’t want Government telling the insurance companies who they have to sell that garbage to. We want the government to treat the insurance companies completely laissez-faire – just like the reason we don’t regulate them with antitrust laws. For the same reason. Let them do what they want. What the Progressives always wanted, and still want, is for government to help Americans get access to HEALTH CARE! Help us pay for Medical exams, doctor visits, preventive care, prenatal care, emergency care. Help Americans to afford the costs of staying healthy. It has nothing to do with regulating the INSURANCE industry! Leave them out of it. Just expand Medicare from 65 up to EVERYBODY! That’s all. Take an existing, SOLVENT, program and EXPAND IT TO EVERYONE. THEN, use the tax code to make that possible. Mitt Romey’s Mittcare was not able to do that because he was a GOVERNOR of a STATE and GOVERNORS of STATES cannot expand Medicare to everyone. In fact, Governors of States can do pretty much NOTHING with Medicare, since its a FEDERAL PROGRAM.
We wanted Obama and the Democrats to be smart enough to actually craft a FEDERAL PROGRAM with the tools they had, not to copycat a failed Republican Governor’s STATE based plan!!! Gee whiz. Did they REALIZE that Mittcare was based on Massachussets STATE law and STATE resources!? OR did they think that the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT could just mimick a STATE program and all would be well?
But when you ask Liz Fowler of the Insurance Industry to draft a law, do you expect her to do anything other than draft one that does the least amount of impact on the Insurance Industry and the maximum amount of gain for them? They now have to SELL TO EVERBODY! Darn. And EVERBODY has to buy it!!!
I bet every industry in America would love to have that kind of law passed. No requirements on WHAT they sell, how they sell it, or whether its worth anything. Just a requiremnt that Burger King HAS TO SELL its whoppers to everyone and EVERBODY must buy a whopper everyday. Or maybe we should mandate that EVERYBODY has to purchase a car once every 3 years, that way we can guarantee that EVERYBODY has a car! Or even better – Here’s the debate between HRC and BHO on this very issue:
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(one note: Hillary uses Social Security and Medicare to explain her plan. What is important to remember is that Social Securityand Medicare don’t involve third party PRIVATE corporate actors. They the Single Payer Concept – everybody pays into Medicare via taxation directly, and everybody is paid out of Medicare via a SINGLE Payer – Government. Mixing private insurance companies into this mix creates the arguments against over-regulating them and exposes any Democrat to Rush Limbaugh style attacks of “Socialist!” whereas leaving those private parties alone but including them in the solution creates the fascist outcome we have now before us).
As Bill would say, the floor is yours…