Category Archives: health

Boon for Biz: Healthcare Mandate Upheld

“Chief Justice Roberts sides with the left”   says the liveblog of the SCOTUS from HuffingtonPost. They’ve upheld the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act. It is being treated as a tax by the courts – that is the interpretation. There is a provision of a sort of state’s rights caveat, but conservatives may be disappointed and shocked, especially with Roberts. What is being parsed here is one of the factions of the conservative movement.

The Official Opinion on the ACA Act:http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/11pdf/11-393c3a2.pdf

“The Left” liked the mandate because they are empathetic to all, Roberts liked it – more likely – because it goes a long way in marrying private interests with government requirements in which the values responsible are questionable.

The values of the ACA supporters are up for debate, but the values behind for profit health care are not. If the legislature and court are going to uphold the idea that the government can tax and require Americans to buy a product or service, the least they could do is insure that service has Americans best interest in mind – not theirs. This decision is a victory for empathy among the people but also for Big Business related to the the health care industry. It’s a blow for individual choice but a victory for a sense of a shared human (American) condition.

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Let Them Eat Cake – After They Mow

Severe scarcity is a harsh reality for more and more Americans. The stories from the depression don’t seem so far away anymore. Folks without healthcare have been coping without – and suffering the lack of care. Jobs available, if they can be attained, are often in very low paying positions with tough physical demands and no health insurance. Someone with a known health condition has to be very careful about the balance of exhaustion/physical ailments and the cost of attending to those ailments while trying to keep the job. It is a vicious cruel cycle that did not happen by accident, it is all part of the Republican plan to disempower American workers so that they will grovel and beg to simply keep their families alive. Mitt Romney is a big fan of this sort of slash and burn method that leaves workers jobless and on the edge of survival.

Denise Morrison, a resident of Tulsa, Oklahoma is one of these Americans. She has health conditions and has been unemployed. In order to eat and have some medicine, she planted her yard full of edible plants. She read the rules governing the shape of a yard and followed them – anything over 12″ high must be edible – every plant is producing something edible (more on lawns in a bit). For those international readers that aren’t familiar with the lawn police, in America, if the city or neighborhood does not like how tall you’ve allowed the grass to grow around your house, you can be fined and the local govt. may decide to cut your lawn for you then send you a (ridiculously expensive) bill. Denise checked the rules before she bought the house, and then proceeded to create an edible garden all the way around the property including medicinal plants for her health issues, produce, fruit and nut trees, herbs for cooking. She had over 100 varieties of plants she was using. Denise’s story and video is here.

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Listen…A Giant Sucking Sound

Ross was right. Ross Perot was right.

1992 was my first presidential election as an eligible voter. I was engaged and trying to figure out where my value system fell and what I believed in. I was already tired of the two party system and could not understand why we continued to have one. I was excited that Ross Perot was running as a somewhat viable third party candidate even though I didn’t know a lot about him. I voted for him.

Today, I am not sure that I would do anything differently knowing what I do. He certainly had one part right, the “giant sucking sound”. He explains:

Economics is not my forté, but Perot put’s things in a frame I can understand. When we take away the levies that keep our wages high, we are going to find a lowest common denominator of a wage along with the rest of the globe. American business is motivated by money to forget about everything but the bottom line – no worker considerations, no health and safety practices, no carbon counting. If Americans want those bothersome things to be considered – fine – but then industry will simply no longer be American.

The 1% and the global corporations that prop them up are taking American workers down a few notches. We (the masses) got a little full of ourselves, kind of empowered, and had a bit too much extra spending money for their comfort. We’ve had our heydey (hope you were alive/enjoyed the 1950s), and now it’s time to return to serfdom (that’s mid-evil speak for a life of servitude to another).

The 1% would prefer it if you were born into poverty, were desperate for the most basic survival essentials (we are so much less mouthy about government when we are focused on being cold and hungry), and weren’t aware of opportunities for expression or liberty (they take up too much time in which you could have been making a profit for them).

I don’t remember a whole lot about that campaign season but I do remember this quip about the giant sucking sound and the point about NAFTA. Ross was right. He may or may not have been a decent President, but he predicted what is happening now. The value of human life and livelihood is nil to the 1%ers. American values of freedom, democracy, expression, and the idea of the commons are being squeezed out in favor of the value of capitalism. What’s the big deal about values? They’re everything. Without American values, we are just a bunch of people at the mercy of those that can bully us.

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Life Begins When?

Abortion is such a polarizing issue and hard to talk about with those that disagree. Leave it to the funny people with John Stewart to add some levity while making a point. At issue is the recent bill in the Oklahoma state senate that passed declaring that life begins at conception. The implications of this bill obviously would relate to abortion and birth control laws. Most women don’t know the moment that they become pregnant, so this bill covers something happening inside of women’s bodies that a woman is likely still unaware of. Several female state lawmakers have proposed bills in response to this far reaching legislation and the imposition it means for women. In Oklahoma a bill was put forth that got some men a little miffed.

Check out the video: Bro-Choice.

Go ahead, I’ll wait (the video is not compatible with this format, so I couldn’t provide it here, but it’s really funny so take a few minutes to watch).

It is funny hearing a Republican representative making the argument for men that is made for women when talking about personal liberty and privacy. The “investigative” comedian is hilarious and gives us a chance to laugh at ourselves.

Truly the jesters are the only ones who can tell the truth, point out the obvious, and mock the stalwarts and get away with it.  One unspoken value of America is our comedy. We’ve got all varieties and a whole lot of it isn’t funny, but it takes all kinds. Laughing together, at ourselves is one link to our shared humanity. Thanks to the Daily Show, the Colbert Report, SNL, and lots of others for bringing us together for a giggle. Long live the jesters!

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Greed is not Good (or God)

Graphic of socialism's "takeover" of the market by The Atlantic.

In America, the cheerleaders of capitalism are happy with the socialist measures and regulations that protect them – like the police that protects their property, the legal system that supports their contracts, the infrastructure that educates their employees, the roads that allow their products to be shipped, the water quality they process with, the airwaves that deliver their commercials, the subsidization of business, the inspections that protect their goods from tainted goods, the military that (literally) fights for them, the public clean up of their pollution, the people dealing with health complications from their poisons, the fire departments that will assist them – then any measures that smack of socialism that do not further their money making or power status are demonized. “Socialist!”, is the current red scare tactic.

Mortgage companies, banks, retailers, service businesses, Wall Street, Ayn Rand, Republicans and conservatives all line up behind the same idea – the idea that the consumer will protect their own interest in financial matters. This principle is pretty much the only imposed moral in the capitalist system – that everyone looks out for themselves and it is a dog eat dog world. It follows a supposed economic law that matches the natural law “of the jungle” – which is kill or be killed (for a visual illustration you can see a video here in a post). If everyone started with the same opportunities, this principle would work better – and everyone will never have the same opportunities – but there is a more serious failure of logic in this basic principle. Gaining money is not the same as surviving, humanity does not figure into the capitalist equation.

In true natural law, some very basic animalistic impulses are in operation – fight or flight insticts, the need for food and water, the need to rear and protect our young, the need for shelter, and conserving energy to insure completion of all of the above before any other activities. Every mammal on the planet acts on these survival principles, humans included. While money may be one method to secure basic survival, it is not always the most efficient means. All of the above survival needs can be met in ways that do not involve money. As we are seeing in the recent upsurge of homesteading and wilderness survival skills popularity, food, shelter and water can be gained without monetary transactions taking place. Bartering can figure in to many goods and services. Co-operatives can be formed that may be comprised of many resources in which money is only one of them. Capitalists cheerleaders operate on the principle that our desire to accumulate money will provide all the regulation needed to keep our capitalist system honest. Obviously they are wrong.

The disasters that capitalism create, especially as legalese and complexities of format escalate, are massive. The mortgage crisis, the banking bailouts, the World Bank, the IMF, oil speculation, Wall Street bonuses rewarding failure, massive layoffs – these are all examples of how capitalism fails humanity (and the list could go on).

Exercise is needed for all of us to survive, if we don’t move around, we atropy and get sick (not to mention that we would then need help getting sustenance). Some of us humans are excellent at exercising: we may be natural athletes, choose to train, have an active lifestyle, or become fit as a by product of a life of survival. Some of us humans are very bad at getting exercise: we may have a sedentary lifestyle, have a poor diet which hinders energy/movement, hate exercise, or be injured/ill. Imagine for a moment if physical fitness was substituted for economic fitness, and Wall Street bonuses were distributed according to physical fitness tests, how unfair that might seem to those with extra poundage, or asthma, or disabilities. Ironically physical fitness is actually much more tied to our literal survival than accumulating numbers in an account.

Very few of us have trained to be elite economists or have the natural ability to be masterful with our finances. Most of us have only taken high school level consumer education (if that) and almost none of us are educated in the legal acrobatics involved in “creative” mortgages or finances. Like the exercise metaphor, most of us do the minimum amount of effort required to keep things running smoothly – that actually applies to pretty much everything that isn’t a personal passion. Only those with a passion for capitalism do well in a capitalist system.

Lots of folks would apparently rather gaze lovingly at a pile of cash than go to a little league game, they’d rather count their coins than help a friend in need, they don’t see the point of having a rich life when they could simply be rich – they’re the Hoarding Horde. For them, greed is good, greed is God. There is no calling in life above making money and they have no sympathy for those of us that have to prioritize things – like the survival of our family – to be more important than figuring out the latest tricks of the marketplace. They have convinced themselves and been supported with the likes of Ayn Rand, Ronald Reagan, and the Republican leadership that holds up economic Darwinism as a model. If they can’t see or accept that a purely capitalist system is extremely cold hearted (foolish babies would rather eat a quarter than spend it), they might need to join the ranks of the other sociopaths that are screwing the world up for the rest of us (which I wrote about here).

America is already a mix of socialism and capitalism. It is American to regulate, it is American to tax, it is American to care about those around us, it is American to succeed through your own work – all of these ideas can live together in harmony. We can tolerate those bits that aren’t our favorites – like paying taxes or keeping social programs we don’t use – because they come in the parcel that is America and it means we have the freedom and liberty to do some other things we really like. When one idea gains too much power and acts as an authoritarian force, we stop acting like America. Right now the capitalist forces are in power – Republicans are proud of it, Dems try to hide their ties, but the capitalists are winning. Because capitalists are on top, they use their position to cry “socialist!” at the slightest suggestion of collective negotiating power.

It’s time to stop. Socialism is not a bad word, democratic socialism means putting policies in place due to the wishes of the people, not a dictator. As George W. Bush lamented several times, the Presidency is not a dictatorship, and even if the President wanted to command us to implement socialism, our political system does not work that way. Governing policies must make their way through Congress which implies a tacit approval from the people.

Some of us have better things to do than fuss over money; we just need to make sure the bills are paid so that we may continue with what really counts for us. A different economic class of people choose to manipulate other people’s money and the rules surrounding them so that they can rake in more for themselves. The people in group A don’t want to be like the people of group B and it is pretty callous to insist that they should rearrange their priorities in order to “make it”, that is in order to have a decent job, shelter, and a nurturant environment for our families.  That is why the concept of the living wage was developed, so we could have an understanding of what is decent in our capitalist society, because “the market” doesn’t care about hunger, shelter, sickness, or families. Money in the bank is not the same as a full, rich and virtuous life; choosing a life that does not focus on money does not make you unAmerican or immoral; it makes you human.

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