April 25, 2012
Kevin Drum, Like Obama, Ignores the Existence of Poverty

On his blog at Mother Jones, Kevin Drum compares Obama’s requirement that everyone buy health care to the law that requires car owners to buy airbags and insurance. He writes:

When I bought my last car, for example, I was forced by federal law to also buy seat belts and air bags — and as far as I know, no court has ever suggested the federal government lacks this power. Why?
Technically, of course, the government isn’t forcing me to buy these things. I could, if I wanted, forego the purchase of a car. This isn’t very practical where I live, serviced as I am by a single bus line that comes by once an hour, but I could do it. I could also move someplace with better transit. I’m not absolutely mandated to own seat belts and airbags.
But in real life, the fact is that most of us need a car. It’s only an option in the most hyperlegalistic sense, which means that for all practical purposes the federal government has mandated that I buy seat belts and airbags. And they’ve done that on the theory that even if I don’t care about my own safety, other people might ride in my car and they deserve protection. What’s more, taxpayers could end up on the hook for medical care if I injure myself and my passengers. So seat belts and airbags are the law.
Practically speaking, then, what’s the difference between this and an insurance mandate? In both cases the federal government is forcing me to buy something I might not want. The cost of complying with both mandates is substantial. You can be fined for disabling airbags or removing seat belts, just as Obamacare fines you for not buying health insurance. They’re pretty damn similar.

I suggest that Drum’s argument comes from the same unthinking assumption of privilege that Obama’s health care law does. Drum doesn’t mention the many people in the U.S. who don’t have cars because they can’t afford to buy one. Would requiring them by law to buy cars work? Similarly, if a person doesn’t have the money to buy health insurance, where will they find the money to pay a fine?

Obama’s law makes about as much sense as it would make to legally require homeless people to rent apartments, and to try to fine them if they don’t.

February 9, 2012
Is It Legal for Doctors to Lie to Patients?

Time reports that 55 percent of doctors admit to lying to patients.

It doesn’t mention another kind of lying by doctors that used to be routine, and perhaps still is. I remember in the late 1980s, a woman I knew in Scotland had stomach cancer - and never knew about it. The doctor told her husband and other members of her family, who decided not to tell her, so the doctor lied to her and told her she had something minor. She underwent surgery for the cancer without knowing what it was.

I can think of several people who were terminally ill but were not told about it. Their families were told, and they made the decision to keep it from them. I wonder if this is still common, in the U.S. or in Scotland, and if it is legal.

August 12, 2011
Court of Appeals Strikes Down Obama’s Health Care Grift

I don’t expect to agree with AZ Governor Jan Brewer about many things, but, like her, I applaud the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision that Obama’s health care “reform” - forcing people to buy the product that the insurance companies are selling - is illegal.

I think Obama’s plan makes about as much sense as planning to end homelessness by forcing people to rent houses. What are they supposed to pay with?

July 11, 2011
"Freedom" = Government Selling Power Over Health and Education to Private Business

The Guardian reports that David Cameron is vowing to “end the state’s monopoly over public services,” i.e. hand over the National Health Service and the education system to private business. He calls this “putting power in the hands of the people.”

This is the same idiocy that the U.S. embraces. Few seem to wonder how putting healthcare under the control of insurance companies - whose only concern is profit, and so their goal is to deny services wherever possible - gives people more of a “right to choose” than when services are nonprofit and government-run.

April 21, 2011
Let Them Eat Cake, Says Obama

Anytime I write that Obama is George W. Bush with a better vocabulary, I get angry emails from his supporters, who I think have battered spouse syndrome. They usually tell me how he’s brought “meaningful health care reform.”

How is it “health care reform” to simply force people to buy health insurance? More importantly, what are they supposed to buy it with?

January 31, 2011
Obamacare Ruled Unconstitutional When It’s Actually Just Unworkable

The Guardian reports: “Barack Obama’s efforts to end the iniquity that leaves millions of Americans without healthcare insurance suffered a blow today when a federal judge ruled the entire reform package unconstitutional.”

It’s unlikely to make much difference to the new law going into effect, but the law is going to be unworkable. Legally requiring people to buy health insurance presupposes that they have the money to pay for it. Obama’s so-called “reform” is a craven avoidance of what is really needed: the provision of health care for everyone without regard to their finances.

This being the U.S., many people will respond, “But how can that be paid for?” (Unsurprisingly, most of those who object to universal health care for that reason are lucky enough to have health insurance themselves - and, yes, it is about luck.) The actuality is that there is more than enough money to pay for it; the problem is that the majority of the money is in the hands of a small minority.

December 22, 2010
Jon Talton On Jan Brewer’s Latest Brainwave

Gov. Jan Brewer has a solution to the state’s Medicaid shortfall. Eliminate the program.

Read the rest.

December 15, 2010
Arizona: An International Scandal

A friend in Scotland emailed me: The Governer of Arizona made Channel Four News last night about the 100 people who might die from lack of organ transplants for the sake of $5 million.

I guess we’ve gone from being a national and international laughing stock to being a horror show. In Scotland, and everywhere else I can think of outside of the U.S., Jan Brewer not only wouldn’t be a viable candidate for election - she’d be unemployable.

November 18, 2010
Life Is Too Expensive In Arizona

M.V. Moorhead writes: “An Arizona man has been denied a liver transplant, even though a liver had been donated to him by a dying friend, because Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System wouldn’t cover it. Read more here, but don’t read the comments if you don’t want to feel sick yourself.”

November 5, 2010
Democratic Left Could Learn From The Tea Party

Last week, The Washington Post reported that 53 percent of Americans are worried about whether they’ll be able to pay their rent or mortgage next month. Obama’s administration bailed out the banks, but did not impose a moratorium on housing foreclosures.

So it should be no surprise that Democrats took a “shellacking” (Obama’s word), and that angry, hateful Tea Party candidates did so well. The far right of the Republican Party has been successful in forcing its party to listen to it. Left-wing Democrats have allowed their party to become another Republican Party.

When George W. Bush was first elected, it was common for liberals to blame Ralph Nader, saying that he had taken votes from Gore and so had cost Democrats the election. I hope he did, and I think the only hope for the Democratic Party is for the same thing to keep happening. Progressives should not vote for Obama at the next election - unless he somehow manages to start keeping his promises. The Democrats should be taught that they will lose office, and remain out of office, for as long as they function as nothing other than the accomplices of Republicans. A vote for the lesser evil is still a vote for evil.

Obama’s supporters, who seem to have battered wife syndrome, will blame everyone and everything except Obama for his cravenness and incompetence. As my friend Nick Hentoff reminds us in this blog post, for the past two years the Obama administration has:
  • continued the most draconian Bush Administration privacy and soul destroying “war on terror” policies including the renewal of the Patriot Act and the shifting of the unholy rendition program from outsourced torture by foreign countries to the Iraqi and Afghani governments’ torture chambers;
  • increased the use of unmanned predator drones to commit extra-judicial assassinations, causing unprecedented collateral civilian casualties.
  • continued to fight tooth and nail in the Federal courts to preserve the military’s discriminatory “don’t ask don’t tell policy” barring gays from service in the armed forces;
  • shelved any meaningful effort at comprehensive immigration reform and abdicated the immigration reform debate to kooks and racists;
  • continued prosecuting State law sanctioned dispensaries and individual users of medical marijuana under Federal drug laws;
  • failed to even initiate the promised closing of the Guantanamo Bay concentration camp;
  • allowed the greedy one-percenter bastards from the major financial services companies - who were allowed to run amok during the Bush Administration - to gang rape small business and the American middle class and repeatedly pillage the public treasury;
  • delegated the writing of his “signature” health care legislation to Congressional Democrats and then abandoned the “public option” at the drop of a hat, thereby abandoning Americans to the whims of the insurance companies.
  • engaged on a regular basis in the same unethical cronyism that has corrupted American politics for generations (including the targeting of Republican-owned auto dealerships for closure during the bailout of the auto industry, and the granting of numerous exceptions to the strict new anti-lobbyist policy on Executive Branch appointments)
Hentoff adds, “And on and on and on with example after example after example of the inconvenient truth that President Obama has broken nearly every major campaign promise that was supposed to set his Administration apart from the mistakes of the Bush Administration. There has been a lot of hope and very little change.”

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