Sunday, May 31, 2009

Human Nature, vol. 189

by Rich Miles

Today, Sunday May 31, my friend Yellow Dog over at Blue in the Bluegrass got his teeth into this week's Frank Rich column ahead of me (he gets up earlier than I do most days). I was in the process of writing a comment to his take on Rich's column when I realized I had a bit more to say about it than that. So here I am, over here on my side of the 'Net, and here's what I have to say. Frank Rich is to be found at Who is to Blame for the Next Attack?, Yellow Dog is at Blue in the Bluegrass, and my take on all of that is...ummm...right here.

Ya know, though I agree with the main thrust of your argument in this piece, I want to point out a truism that, I think, relates to it:

A crowd is a dicey critter. You never know what it's going to do, what's going to appease it, what's going to set it off.

And when you have a crowd of 300 million, you have a whole new set of imperatives to deal with when addressing that beast.

This concept is, in my opinion, the genius of the Obama approach so far: Obama knows this, and is so far handling the crowd pretty well. Or so I think.

(I think I'm going to pop over to my blog and discuss this topic a bit further. See you at )

OK, now, as I was saying:

It's my opinion, based on observation of Preznit Obama in action and in speeches, that he knows that, when addressing the self-same issues, you say different things to a crowd of 100 than you do to the nation at large on national TV. You don't say things that diametrically oppose each other, so that you end up lying to one or the other or both groups. But you do temper your message to the size of the group.

F'rinstance: let's say it's 1942, you're president, and you tell the nation, on a national radio hookup, that "the only thing we need to fear is fear itself."

And then you go speak to the combined houses of Congress, and you say much the same thing, except that you alter the words slightly to make it clear that you know you're addressing a room full of more or less adults. Some of whom actually know what the Japanese and Germans are capable of, and apparently bent on.

And then you speak to the leadership of both houses - the smallest crowd so far - and you tell them what's REALLY up - all that stuff about how the Germans and Japanese are determined to kick our asses and eventually rule the world. And that we have to go to war with them to prevent this.

See how it works? Nothing really dishonest in any of the three levels of discourse. It's just that the larger the group, the less detail one offers.

And Obama knows this. Whereas Bush simply bullshitted us all, no matter what level he was speaking to. And even the most obdurately stupid and oblivious of us - well, not THE most etc., those are the hardcore Republicans - but nearly the most, started after a time to notice that Bush was talking down to them, and trying to scare them into line. And the one thing you must NEVER do with stupid people is let them KNOW you're talking down to them. So he, and his fellow repugnicans, fell out of favor in large part. And the opposition filled the vacuum. Which brings us up to November of 2008, and thence to today.

To wrap up this little exercise in human nature, let me relate something that Mitt Romney had to say on Chris Wallace's Sunday morning program today, the name of which program escapes me because usually I'd rather have my nipples ripped off than watch such a program: Ol' Mitt said, and I paraphrase since I can't remember the precise words, that when a political party has reached too high a level of power, and has been in power too long, they start to "think too highly of themselves", and they start to take things for granted, and to - in essence - screw up on a regular basis. And that, he thought, was what had happened to the Republicans in recent years.

This little piece of unintentional honesty - for I am convinced that Mitt had no idea how honest he was being - is an object lesson for the repugs, but more than that, it is a warning to the Dems. If only they will heed it. That's why we've heard so much in recent years about the political power cycle - First repugs have power, then Dems, then repugs, and etc. etc. etc. But is there any way to stop the swing of the cycle? If anyone (or any party) ever discovers it, we will have 200-year political power cycles, instead of about 20 or so as we do now.

That's all for today. Except this one final thought: political parties will never take real power until they learn to serve the needs of the people. Thoroughly, and consistently, conscientiously and well. When they stop treating us like obstacles to be gotten around on their ways to power and wealth, and start realizing that, if they treat us well and serve us well, the power and wealth will come, THEN and only then will we have leaders who follow us. The people.

Boy, that went on far longer than I thought it would. Comments?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Why the healthcare system is sick (and you don't look so great either)

by Rich Miles


OK, morons. Pay attention. I'm only gonna say this once. I get so TIRED of having to clue you people in to the most obvious shit sometimes.

Here's why the repugnicans are against health care reform. It really is this simple:

If the government insists that every American is covered under a (at least) government-ADMINISTERED plan, if not a totally government-RUN plan, the major profit centers of the medical-health care industry will lose money. Perhaps large amounts of money.

And repugnicans always, and I mean ALWAYS, are supportive of the wealthy taking money away from the not so wealthy by fair means or foul, preferably foul if it can be managed. This is how they maintain their class system: Upper class, upper upper class, and the rest of us, who can, in the opinion of the wealthy, go fuck ourselves.

It's just that simple - as in so many things in life, one must follow the money.

It's nothing to do with you, as an American or a legal resident of America, receiving adequate health care at an affordable price - though that is unquestionably how the Enemy will frame their resistance to the reforms.

For those over the age of about 45 or so, you will probably be old enough to remember a time when health care was NOT something that routinely bankrupted average people. But at some point between your childhood and now, certain segments of society decided to apply the Law of Supply and Demand to the area of personal health, and the result was that health care costs rose DRAMATICALLY and OBSCENELY every single year thereafter, until today we have a health care system that costs, on average, more than 2600% of what it cost in 1970. That's an increase of about 66% a year across the board. NOTHING else in the world, neither service nor product (with the possible exception of French wine), rose at a comparable rate in that same period. Not even gold and diamonds rose in price so much and so fast.

But see, the bean counters and paper pushers of the medical profession came to realize, as arguably they should have done years earlier, that everyone needs health care at some time or other in life, and therefore everyone will pay whatever it costs to receive that health care when they need it.

In other words, greed drove the market. Drove it fast and well, and left the horses snorting and sweating in the dooryard. Nowt to do with the actual COST of providing health care, though that rose, too - it was greed, pure and simple, and in the main, it was not the doctors and nurses who were demonstrating the greed, but the administrators and accountants and OWNERS of hospitals and clinics and so on.

OWNERS. By and large, not medical practitioners but administrators of health care. The profession of health care administrator, the degree programs, the professional associations, popped up all over America, and lots and lots of money became necessary to sustain them all.

And where was that money coming from? Regardless of whether it was filtered through the kidneys of health insurance companies or not, it was coming from people like you and me.

And that, in a nutshell, is how the average cost of healthcare rose 2600% in a mere 39 years. People like you and me allowed it to happen on our backs. And now, here we are with a health care "system" that is, at best, bloated beyond any recognition, with profit more important - FAR more important - than healing.

And to conclude the history lesson, here we are today with the same - the SAME, mind you - demand for health care - the same percentage of the population, approximately, get sick and need health care, but it's a much larger number of actual people because the size of the population is greater. More money flows out of our pockets and into those of the health care industry. And more and more of us are financially gutted by the phenomenon (while our Congress passes new laws making it harder for those of us who are gripped by this monster to get out from under it, but that's a story for another time.)

And the realization of all this - specifically, the realization of how much money can be made from sick people - has led us to where we are today, which is to say in a situation where it is far more likely than not that, if we become seriously ill, we are going to find ourselves in an extremely difficult financial situation. At best.

So this is why the Swift Boaters of health care are going to try to defeat the forces of health care reform - because to allow it, to permit the government to administer the national health care system, is to allow the diversion of huuuuuuge amounts of cash to some other locale.

And we can't have THAT, now can we?

Seriously, kids - we're getting fucked here, and if there were ever a political cause one might take part in or advocate for, this one is IT.

Trust me.

And I'm sorry I called you names at the beginning of this essay. It's just that I get afraid sometimes that you haven't logicked this out, that you think that those who oppose nationalized health care really ARE doing it for your benefit. To keep you from suffering the depredations of "socialized medicine".

(Seriously, if you were dying of a curable disease, do you think you'd really give a shit if the cure were provided by "socialized medicine" or not? I'll leave the answer open for you.)

Anyway, when you hear, as you will, the opponents of health-care reform tell you all the reasons why you should oppose it yourself, just remember this one relevant fact:

They're lying.