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The false dichotomy

If we watch the mainstream media, we are completely led astray. The above clip is one of the best examples that I’ve seen in a little while. The new census/poverty numbers came out yesterday. It should be no surprise to anyone that poverty increased in this country. The increase in poverty is a result of multiple different factors, not the least of which is our ongoing recession (technically it’s an economic slowdown , but it feels like a recession to me). Because of an unemployment rate of 9.1% and the huge burden of chronic unemployment, the number of Americans who are uninsured in the United States has risen to approximately 50 million.

CBS, in their infinite wisdom, decided talk about healthcare reform with Sen. Orrin Hatch, who believes that health care reform should be addressed by the states, and Sen. Bernie Sanders, who believes that we should have a single-payer system. They approach the subject as if there are only two sides to the story. CBS does not give you the prerequisite background about the healthcare reform debate and subsequent legislation’s getting derailed early and never really getting back on track. The final piece of legislation was a watered-down piece of used tissue, little more than insurance reform.

There are several things to fault about this piece but I’ll focus on the fact that the moderator never asked Sen. Hatch how states that are strapped for cash can take on the additional burden of healthcare. That would seem to be a simple question which would directly address Sen. Hatch’s “plan.” A second and follow-up question, which was never asked, would be whether or not you should have the same benefits if you moved from one state to another. Why should moving from Texas to North Carolina change what is covered? If the answer is that your healthcare benefits should not change and your healthcare benefits should be able to move with you anywhere throughout these wonderful 50 United States, then the state solution is not possible. This is a simple nonconfrontational question which could easily been asked and then we could have seen how Sen. Hatch answered it.

Finally, one of the big problems I have is over the last 20 years all of these politicians have been schooled on how to “answer” questions on TV. I’ve been to these classes. The bottom line is you don’t ever answer the question. You walk into the interview with three things that you want to say. No matter what you are asked, you ignore the question and steer the answer back to one of your three points. This is one of the major problems with politics today. Nobody directly addresses the question that is asked. Instead, the politician throws out some gobbledygook before he/she can get back to one of the three points that they want to make. This has to stop. If we are ever going to get meaningful legislation out of Washington, our state capitals or anywhere else, we’re going to have to have a meaningful debate. We can never have a meaningful debate if we are simply talking past each other and racing towards our talking points.

By |2011-09-14T11:16:58-04:00September 14th, 2011|Economy, Healthcare|Comments Off on The false dichotomy

How the health insurance industry killed health reform

From TP:

This morning, Bloomberg reporter Drew Armstrong broke an incredible story revealing that health insurance companies, like UnitedHealth and CIGNA, funneled $86.2 million into the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 2009 to pay for the Chamber’s multifaceted campaign to kill President Obama’s health reform legislation. In January of this year, the National Journal’s Peter Stone reported that insurers had pumped $20 million into the Chamber for its anti-health reform campaign. Armstrong’s report exposes the true extent to which insurers worked to fool the public and defeat health reform. However, the report also poses new questions about the role of insurance companies in the health reform debate.

Why did insurance companies try to hide their donations to the Chamber’s anti-health reform campaign? Given their own unpopularity and Obama’s pledge to be the first leader to successfully reform America’s broken health system, the health insurance industry hatched a plan to fundamentally deceive the public, the press, and politicians. Instead of fighting reform tooth and nail, the insurance industry worked to manipulate the process and ultimately kill reforms by adopting what ThinkProgress termed “The Duplicitous Campaign.” In public, health insurance lobbyists and executives promised to support reform and work closely with reform advocates. The top health insurance lobbyist, Karen Ignagni, went to the White House early in the reform debate and promised Obama, “You have our commitment to play, to contribute and to help pass health-care reform this year.”

In private, the health insurance industry worked with conservative think tanks and media, right-wing front groups, and highly ideological trade associations like the National Association of Manufacturers and the Chamber to kill the bill. By using third party groups and ideological cover, the health insurance industry sought to trick Americans into hating reform. In September of 2009, while many in the media still believed insurance executives were honestly supporting reform, ThinkProgress released a report detailing the ways in which the health insurance industry secretly worked to undermine the process and poison public opinion (read it here). We also produced a video with health insurance whistle-blower Wendell Potter, who explained how insurers control the debate to defeat reform:

By |2010-11-17T14:29:12-04:00November 17th, 2010|Healthcare|Comments Off on How the health insurance industry killed health reform

America has changed

I don’t think that the tea party is going to be able to take America back to the 50’s, too much as changed. A friend of mine sent me an e-mail which really illustrates this point. He wrote:

Amid all the clamor in public debate —every now and then a snapshot speaks volumes about our culture –as does people’s reaction to the photo.

Look at the next photo in the attached photo gallery. For some reason it touched my heart about America —and I couldn’t stop gazing at it. Black and Brown Presidents walking in front of an incredibly diverse crowd of school children and a few adults. Compare it w White House lawn photos of 50’s , 60s and even 70’s.

Click on photo for larger image

The wide eyed joy and wonderment on the kids faces. A few other adults who are more sanguine either due to maturity or detachment. The seriousness of the task that Secret Service agents bring to their jobs at all times.

How America has and is changing.

What’s more—this is the type of photo that probably elicits very different reactions—particularly on the eve of an anticipated divisive immigration reform debate—based on the viewer’s life perspective. It touched me very deeply.

It reminds me of 2 other photos that offer similar commentary on different world views.

The famous 1965 photo of Cassius Clay standing triumphantly over a fallen Sonny Liston (click on photo to see enlarged image) while the background was full of “objective “ journalists and photographers with looks of disgust and amazement on their faces.

The 1974 photo of Ali’s knockout of George Foreman in Zaire with a background picture of unanimous unadulterated ectasy amongst the Black Africans.

This one is similarly etched in my mind as an updated snapshot of where we are in history.

By |2010-05-20T15:38:49-04:00May 20th, 2010|Domestic Issues, Race|Comments Off on America has changed
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