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Health Care Reform and Its Discontents

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Late on Sunday the U.S. House of Representatives voted on a partisan basis to approve the Senate version of Health Care Reform. It was a very long time coming and the blogs and media are buzzing with congratulations, dispair, and the whole spectrum of opinion about why it took so long and what the political consequences might be.

First, let me say, that the notion that the United States federal government does not have the authority under the Constitution to embark on this attempt at reform and constraint of the medical insurance industry is pure poppycock. If it were the least bit true there would be no Medicare or Medicade ... both enthusiastically popular programs among Americans of various cultural-political biases. Nevertheless, however, at this writing eleven states' attorney generals have declared that they will sue to overturn the Reform as soon as possible. I do not wish them luck, and if I were a resident of such a state, I would be hopping mad. I am hopping mad! They are wasting tax-payers' money and we are up to our ear lobes in financial trouble as it is. Same with the rest of the states taking this route.

Michelle Bachman of Minnesota says she will introduce legislation to repeal the Reform. Others in the lunatic fringe of the GOP have said they will do the same. Good! They can rant and rave about the Reform as much as they want, but they are overlooking one very important piece of information. The vast majority of the population wants to include 23 million Americans inside responsible and affordable and well-regulated health care systems. The ranters and ravers are going to look awfully stupid.

But, the issue is does not stop with futile efforts to overthrow the majority will. (And, please, remember that the majority of Americans elected a Democratic Congress with significant margins with which to finally enact legislation that reverses the hold of corporations on our lives.) The issue is now the GOP itself, the rampant anger and hatred mongering going on by the Fox "noise" Network, by Limbaugh, Colter, Beck, and scores of demagogues making themselves rich on the discomfort of many Americans with the state of our culture and of our government.

The anger out there is real enough, the demagogues' fabrications and disregard for facts and the majority sentiment will, however, inevitably lead to a disaster of some kind, an assassination, a riot, a hair-trigger pulled, and these hate-mongers will deny they had anything to do with it. The ugly fact is that the contemporary GOP is a hate machine, racist (anti-Black and anti-Hispanic) to its core, virulently homophobic, and frankly scared to death that their illusion of a a Currier & Ives America is soon dead. Well, folks, it was never real to begin with. This was 19th century GOP propaganda and the 20th century fools fell for it. But, more to the point, the idea that there is no "commonwealth" doctrine in our Constitution is pure baloney. The notion that the twenty-three million Americans without any or adequate medical insurance are Black welfare queens is (a) not true and (b) racist to the core.

How we deal with the GOP is of paramount importance now. There are people, some of them well-educated and some not, who see the federal government over-reaching its intended mandate to provide for the common defense and insure domestic tranquility. They have already resorted to violence. They forget that public health is a very real issue in even the most conservatively imagined republics, that public health is the reason we have done what we did. We need to have healthy people for the sake not just of individuals, but for the sake of all of us. The GOP can rant about "powers reserved to the states" but germs know no such boundaries and therein lies the fundamental stupidity of the GOP position.

But is is not just stupidity; it is much more than the axis of wanton ignorance and moral free Social Darwinism practiced by Mitch McConnell or Michelle Bachman. It is cupidity. The GOP has since the time of President Grant been the party of big business, bought and sold by the mega-corporations, all in the tragically wrong-headed belief that we all benefit from just about anything corporations do ... the less regulated the better. These people are just blind to historical fact and contemporary practice.

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Corporations are not people, they are run by people who use the structure of corporations to benefit themselves and shareholders to the legally confined end of profit. Corporations have no morals; they have no public agendas. Corporations are essentially ficticious constructs that operate within legal matrices to leverage capital. The Supreme Court is utterly wrong that corporations have civil rights. They should be impeached for ruling this way recently. But, we were not surprised. The GOP appointed five of the nine and that is what you get when the GOP is in charge. Destruction of common sense!

The answer to the question is this: we will take the worst elements of the GOP and, because they vote as a solid and unified block, tar the whole Republican Congressional caucus with that brush.

JB

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James R. Brett, Ph.D. taught Russian History before (and during) long stint as an academic administrator in faculty research administration. His academic interests are the modern period of Russian History since Peter the Great, Chinese History, (more...)
 

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