It is a national scandal that well over two million Americans are in prison, with millions more in jails and on parole. Progressives have long decried the prison-industrial complex and demanded that it be reformed.
I predict that at some point the question will be taken up by Congress. Hearings will be held on the prison industry. Of course, the hearings will be open to the industry. How can you have hearings without the people who know about the problem? Prisoners won't be heard from, of course. They're locked in cages far from Congress.
I predict that prison reform advocates will only be heard shouting demands and slogans as they are dragged from the hearings and thrown into jail themselves (ironically).
The focus of the hearings will turn from reform to discussing ways to increase the prison population in order to create jobs. Prison guards will testify that the jobs pay well. Senators and congressmen will tell their constituents that the way to prosperity will be to have a prison in every town.
The final bill will propose that 3/4 of all American citizens should be put into prison, with the other 1/4 guarding them.
Progressives will scream! No, we demand that only 1/2 of Americans be put into prison.
Congress will argue for weeks. The Democrats will offer amendments with different percentages, each time giving way to more and more.
Eventually, it will come down to the wire. A few really radical people will argue that no bill would be better than the one that puts 3/4 of all Americans in prison. The rest of the "progressives" will argue that any bill is better than no bill and we really need prison reform now! Let's go with the existing bill and not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. We can tweak it later.
Over the top? I don't think so.
We are watching two precursors now.
If a country decides that their health care system is inadequate, its people need to decide what should be done. Obama states that we can't throw our system away, we should build on it. Okay. We have public health centers. We have a program that trains doctors in return for them serving underserved communities. Let's expand it. Let's have our health centers do more than vaccinations and STD care. Let's train more doctors to work in primary care in the centers.
At the very least, we could expand Medicare to cover everyone.
But no, we're going to expand the other system. The one in which people pay health insurance companies to pay their doctors. The one in which 30% of all the money they pay goes to processing claims, denying care and paying inflated salaries to executives. That system.
For the first time, every American will be forced to pay tribute to private corporations - a major change from any previous law.
And we get "progressives" telling us to support this insurance company giveaway because it's better than nothing! Just force by law subsidies to private insurance corporations and we'll tweak it later.
Meanwhile, the destruction of our planet by fossil fuel burning is being addressed this week by a United Nation conference in Copenhagen. National representatives of 182 countries showed up hoping for a cooperative agreement to face a global problem.
Instead, they are being faced with a demand that the UN structure be bypassed, that national sovereignty be overturned, and that corporate dominance over the planet be finalized in political as well as economic treaties.
And what do progressives say? Gee, isn't any agreement better than nothing? Can't we just start with a WTO arranged corporate giveaway of our atmosphere and tweak it later?
This is American politics played out to its most ridiculous ends. Meekly accustomed to voting for one of two corporate sponsored candidates, unable to imagine any better world, Americans take the "lesser of two evils" mantra to heart, no matter where it takes them.
While we in the US may be screwed by the health care industry, others in the world are not so blind. I am hopeful that the developing countries will stand firm and reject what the rich countries are offering them, even when the superstar politicians fly in for their cameos on Friday.
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