Health Care – East and West

Vermont Governor Shumlin was on Diane Rehm on April 27 talking about the universal health care system bill he is going to sign into law.  Cato Institute sent a talking head to spew disinformation on behalf of health care capitalism and insurance CEO salaries.  To understand these folks you really have to watch Thank You for Smoking.  Great movie.

Anyway, Vermont is storming ahead toward a single payer universal health care system that will pay on basis of healthy outcomes instead of fee for service.  Managed care and managed cost?  Well, we will have to wait and see, but it looks good to me.

Meanwhile, in Olympia, the Washington Governor and legislators don’t know how to close tax loopholes to generate revenue to keep the doors open, so Washington’s limited program Basic Health is on the chopping block along with all sorts of critical services.

If you want to lean on the legislators to close the loopholes, here are the bills in the Special Session currently underway.  Passing these bills generates revenue and funds education and health care.

  • SB 5944 – Existing tax exemptions should be put to a vote of the people
  • SB 5945 – Modifies excise taxes and raises revenue
  • SB 5946 – Strengthen compliance measures for collection of excise taxes
  • SB 5947 – Eliminates certain non-essential tax exemptions

Call your legislators, or better yet, come to Olympia and mobilize under the rotunda.  The class war is on, are you sitting on your hands?

Tim DeChristopher Keynote Speech at Power Shift

Mary at The Left Coaster is right about the methane hydrate feedback loop. Mary posted about that on Tuesday, April 26th if you are searching back.

I have been talking about methane release from thawing permafrost and icesheet melting for several years.   The release of methane is a deadly tipping point that we are approaching.

I got an email from Jack Zeiger in Olympia with a link to Tim DeChristopher’s speech at Power Shift.  I think Tim is also seeing the tipping points approaching and passed and concluding as I do that we are in for some rough times ahead. We still have the choice that no one can take away from us (thank you, Viktor Frankl) to choose how we seek meaning in our lives.

A couple of Frankl quotes for the day:

“The one thing you can’t take away from me is the way I choose to respond to what you do to me. The last of one’s freedoms is to choose ones attitude in any given circumstance.”

“When we are no longer able to change a situation – we are challenged to change ourselves.”

so thanks to Jack for sending the following:

So did you hear about the Power Shift conference that was going on in Washington, DC? Sounded pretty amazing. In addition to the bill McKibben speech below, make sure to check out Tim DeChristopher’s speech (Tim is the student who disrupted an auction of oil and gas drilling leases by posing as a bidder in 2008). Here’s his speech:

Will the Circle Be Unbroken?

Some thoughts on the apparently cyclical nature of human endeavor.  A hundred years ago some of our really brave grandmothers stood and fought for their rights.  Their efforts were not appreciated by the powerful men who controlled the economy and the nation.

Iron Jawed Angels if you are interested.

These women were successful and the right to vote was extended to women.  Breath-taking in it’s success, this movement did not dislodge or change the power structure of the US significantly.  The first two decades of the last century was an era of robber barons and wild speculation.  Anarchists, wobblies and other ne’er-do-wells were less successful with their campaigns against the ruling class.

The era of rampant speculation, deregulated economies (glass-steagall anyone?)  ended with the crash of Wall Street in 1929 and a long period of economic stagnation followed.  Sound familiar? Maybe it should sound familiar.

The country started to come out of the Great Depression with the Keynsian government policy embraced by FDR, but the push-back of the moneyed interests against the deficit spending slowed the recovery.  Luckily (!?) Germany came out of its economic depression post-Versailles World War I treaty and provided an opportunity to really ramp up the world economy by roaring through neighboring countries and launching World War II.

Those with an interest in history will remember the era of American superpower dominance in the 50s and 60s.  An era when steeply progressive tax rates and a regulated economy model produced prosperity, Medicare, LBJ’s War on Poverty and more.  The country was so far left back in those days that it was a Republican – Richard Nixon – who established the Environmental Protection Agency, signed the Clean Air Act.  Of course he did that good work a little later and in the shadow of carpet bombing countries who posed no danger to the US, but by that time a permanent war economy had established itself and needed Korea, Vietnam, Russia, China, and an endless chain of scary others that have included such lackluster characters as Manuel Noriega, Sandinista Daniel Ortega, Arbenz and whoever the threat was when we invaded Grenada in 1983. A lovely little war, that one.

We might have thought harder about how we were blowing through trust funds for Social Security and cooking the books to support war and the permanent war economy, but Ronald Reagan brought a new morning to the country with a plan to unleash the US economy by flattening tax rates and regulatory agencies.  Reagan certainly had an amiable persona, he eclipsed earlier american icons like FDR, Walter Cronkite and others who inspired trust and led us to a return of the era of robber barons.

We have burned through all of the speculative economic power that could be managed by flattening blue collar wages, by exporting industry to countries with cheaper labor and non-existent or unenforced environmental rules, by revolutionizing the Ozzie and Harriet model american family by forcing families to have Harriet find a job outside the home paying 59 cents of the dollar for that job done by a human with a pair of testicles.

The speculative economy has run its course.  We have blown through the illusion of wealth of the dot com economy, we have eroded the infrastructure of the country to pay for war and at the end of the day, it turns out that there are some limits to what can be gained by stimulating the economy with a tax cut approach.  That approach worked to a certain extent when JFK proposed it against the backdrop of a really steeply progressive tax rate, but now that we have flattened the tax rates so dramatically, it just produced deficits, cuts in services, and a return to the feudal model of America.

Some say, “We have to fix Social Security!”  I say, Hey, fix the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, then get back to me.

I hear we have we have to fix Medicare!  It is going to blow up the entire federal budget.   Give me a break.  You want to fix Medicare?  Start with a single payer system that rewards health care systems that produce healthy outcomes for human beings instead of treating illness as a profit opportunity.

We have entered an era of frank and open class war. Which side are you on?

A lot of folks are in a transition state this week.

I got word through the Olympia grapevine that Bix, Father William Bichsel, is being moved to Tennessee now to face prosecution for one of his earlier peace actions. Bix is one of the Plowshares defendants who are being jailed for their peace action against the nuclear weapons stored at Bangor.

here’s a short message from Bix:

“I know I’m getting weaker – it takes all my strength and breath to make my bunk. I have to sit down a few times in the process. It takes all I have now to do one or two slow shuffles around the common area.

I don’t feel panicked or upset about my condition. I know I can keel over at any time; but I feel very much at peace with this condition and understand and accept it – thankfully – as part of my journey.”

Strange world.  Bix is in jail and Cheney/Rumsfeld/Bush are out and about.

Meanwhile, in Egypt, the Mubarak clan is reported to be under arrest and investigation for corruption.  I can’t figure out why/how the Mubaraks were unable to see that this was going to happen.  They fled Egypt and hid in Sharm Al Sheikh.  Not too smart.  Come on, you stashed money abroad, you have real estate in London, take it on the lam.   I lost my wager from a few months back about when Hosni would fly out of Egypt, but I was not the big loser, Hosni was.  Hosni is 82, about the same age as Bix.  One is a hero, the other is a fool.  You can sort it out.

In Gaza, Italian peace activist Vittorio Arrigoni was killed by extremists this past week. It’s another case of fools punishing the wrong person, in the wrong way.   It’s a case of a person paying the ultimate price for staying and engaging in the struggle for human rights, for peace and justice, even when they knew that mayhem and death were around the next corner.  But in contrast to the foolishness of Hosni fleeing to the resort town of Sharm al Sheikh, Vittorio chose the selfless path of staying in Gaza to work with the Gazan people.  To share their suffering and their struggle for the right to live free from oppression.

I am working on video editing.  It’s taking a lot of my spare waking hours, so my blogging is down a bit.  Fight the good fight with love and courage.  Lay down your arms.

Demonstrations for Fair Budget in Olympia, Washington

Wensday Media has a bunch of hours of video coverage of the week at the Capitol in Olympia. We are working on editing at this point. Looking for an informative, entertaining video project at the end of the process. Here is a couple of minutes of the project to date.

Hope you enjoy. Danny Kelly, the musician in this piece, is simply great.

Cross-posted at The Left Coaster and at Washington Liberals.

Washington Uprising! Demonstrators Occupy the Capitol Rotunda in Olympia

Folks are coming to Olympia in droves this week to demand a fair State budget.  This is a week of action based on demands for a fair budget that were delivered to thCourtesy US Uncut Olympiae lawmakers on March 17Courtesy Devin CP at Flickerth.  The Olympia Coalition for a Fair Budget put on a bang-up day of speech and music and entertainment on Tuesday, April 5th.  Washington Can took up the action on Wednesday, April 6th.  US Uncut joined OLY Fair Budget and Washington CAN and by Wednesday night, hundreds of people had occupied the rotunda, chanting and singing for a fair budget.

SEIU, AFSME, and health care unions are expected to take up the baton today and tomorrow.  If you are in the area, come to Olympia.  The march today begins downtown at Sylvester Park at 11:00 am and heads to the Capitol.  Bundle up, it’s a little chilly this morning, but it’s going to burn off and be a beautiful day to be at the State Capitol.

Hope to have video up soon.

Devin CP at Flicker has a good set of photos up from the action yesterday.   Sorry about the blurry pics, I am still working on grabbing video of the actions and trying to find the hours needed to capture the video from digital tape and render it to something that plays on the web.

GOP Wants to Cut 4 Trillion in the Next Decade

The Wall Street Journal (radicals? socialists?) is running an article that says in paragraph 4:

The plan would essentially end Medicare, which now pays most of the health-care bills for 48 million elderly and disabled Americans, as a program that directly pays those bills. Mr. Ryan and other conservatives say this is necessary because of the program’s soaring costs. Medicare cost $396.5 billion in 2010 and is projected to rise to $502.8 billion in 2016. At that pace, spending on the program would have doubled between 2002 and 2016.

So, how do we communicate with the Tea Partiers who love their Medicare?  Are we just talking about that part of the Tea Party who are already on Medicare or do younger tea partiers like the idea of a primary health care system for their old age?

It would be great to see the Democrats get on message about the path that the country is on with any resurgence of the GOP and turn the 2012 election into a referendum on the GOP plans to privatize everything.  But…   are the dems committed to any goals other than being GOP Lite?  Now would be a good time to sort that out.

How about jobs, manufacturing jobs aimed at creating a clean energy grid that reduces our dependence on foreign oil.  Once we are on that track, we can start reducing our defense and global empire budget and bringing the troops home from bases around the globe.  Maybe we can persuade the military industrial complex to shift focus to building a green energy infrastructure?

It’s good to have a dream.  Thanks, MLK, we have not forgotten you.