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On Health Care, War, And Football

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Perhaps nothings gives us a better picture of how both our media and
two political parties try to control our views of the issues of the day
than football. Here, I am specifically referring to the placekicker as
he attempts to make an extra point or field goal. If his kick is long
enough, then the only kicks that count are those that go through the
uprights. Kicks that are either wide left or wide right are considered
to be no good. This illustration gives us a glimpse of the media and our 2
political parties are coaching us to settle for what views to have
and what views to bypass.


An example of the narrow range of choices we are given can be seen in
the most recent presidential campaign as the candidates addressed the
Iraq War. The view of the the "antiwar" candidate Barack Obama
challenged the validity of the invasion and war by using business
criteria. He claimed, and rightfully so, that the war was neither an
efficient use of American resources nor was it effective in our fight
against global terrorism. Thus, Barack claimed that invading Iraq was a
foolish decision. Meanwhile, his opponent had only challenged the way
in which our country was fighting the war. According to McCain, the
invasion was a wise and even necessary choice, he felt that we just
needed to change how we were fighting the war. So we the people were
offered a very narrow range of options by our viable Presidential
candidates regarding the war. Views that were waved off as being wide
left were those that challenged both the morality and legality of the
war while conservative isolationist views were counted as being wide
right. And those who held such views, Democrats Kucinich and Gravel and
Republican Paul, were marginalized during their parties' primaries.
Nader's views were largely ignored because he has, in retribution for
2000, been considered to be irrelevant. Even non-Presidential
candidate, Reverend Wright, received scorn from much of the liberal
media for his criticisms of America's use of violence. With both
Presidential candidates and the media placing the goal post in front of
us, we were coached into accepting legitimate views.


Unfortunately for us, similar narrow ranges of solutions are being
presented to the American people on other issues as well. Our latest
national effort to kick the ball through the uprights can be seen in
our national debate on health care where the most radical option being
presented to us is one that funnels more and more potential customers
to the ones causing us so much trouble, our health care insurers. Those
opposing President Obama's Health Care Plan want fewer regulations and
even more reliance on the free market than what we currently have.
Those who advocate a single payer system paid for by the government are
said to be wide left and so they don't count even by their own
political party. The putting of the free market and private sector on a
pedestal by both sides, though the size of the pedestals are different,
is despite the fact that they have seriously failed. Not only does
America pay more money for health care per capita, a recent study
conducted by researchers at Harvard Medical School reported that
approximately 45,000 Americans died in the last year because of either
a lack of insurance or care. Simple arithmetic will tell us that 45,000
is over 15 times the number of people who were brutally murdered on
September 11. But will these 45,000 people matter to us when a system,
which many of us depend on is what killed them?


A few observations can be made regarding what has become a public
compulsion to kick the ball through the uprights on the important
issues of the day. First, there is the same beneficiary to what has
been deemed as an acceptable set of views. That beneficiary is
business. That our wars benefit the corporate world has been documented
as far back as the early 20th century by people like Helen Keller and
former Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler. Keller noted how war
benefits business when, in 1916, she spoke out against the US entering
WWI. She noted that the motive for all of our previous wars was to help
business. Smedley Butler said the same regarding the action he saw
while in the Marines. Historian William Blum has noted that since WWII,
we have participated in the attempted regime change at least 50 times.
Some of these regime changes involved replacing democracies with
dictatorships. In many cases, the motive for our actions was to protect
vital American interests (a.k.a., business interests).


With regards to health care, it is not difficult to see that regardless
of which view wins out, business wins again. Even with health insurance
companies' worst case scenario known as Obama's Health Care reforms, a
significant number of new customers are being generated for health
insurance companies.


Second, we should also note that there is an ever increasing conflict
of interest for those who shape our views of the world. The media faces
this conflict because there is an ever decreasing number of
corporations that owns them and this limited ownership makes us more
vulnerable to manipulation and control. In addition, corporations are
often our political leaders' leading campaign contributors. Thus our
political leaders face a conflict of interest just in trying to meet
the demands of their job. On the one hand, they are charged with
representing the people. But on the other hand, these leaders must
receive corporate donations to run for reelection. The result of
business's funding our politicians is that these politicians return the
favor by passing legislation that requires the purchase of goods and
services provided by their benefactors.



Third, if we put the first two observations together, we see that
business-state co-ops have formed. The purpose of these co-ops is to
ensure each other's existence. Business ensures the election of
desirable candidates both through contributions and through control of
what the American public perceives as acceptable. In return, these
candidates, once elected ensure the survivability and even success of
their favorite business by directing more customers their way through
domestic and foreign policies. In the meantime, the American public has
been relegated to that of a hurdle that must be cleared to continue
the race.


Fourth, while we the people could show righteous indignation at that
the business-state co-op that works to our detriment, we need to reserve
some loathing for ourselves as well. We enable this partnership by
settling for a lazy bipolar democracy. We can call our democracy lazy
because our only participation in the democratic process occurs every x
number of years as we knowingly elect officials who strongly support
and participate in the previously mentioned business-state co-op. We can
call our democracy bipolar because, in most cases, we have allowed
ourselves to become a blip in a game of pong between our two major
political parties. All to often, the differences between our two
political parties consist of deciding which set of corporate interests
will benefit from the election and/or which party will receive the
honor of serving the corporate world.


Our last election, as most past elections have, offered to bring change
to America. But, for the most part, what we have seen thus far is
business as usual because what we demanded from our candidates was a
changeless change. Sure we wanted our politicians to offer something
new, we demanded no such change from ourselves. What followed, then,
were the same conditions that have prevented our two political parties
from changing. For as long as we the people settle for the same old
same our ourselves as well as from our leaders, how can we possibly
expect change? Though we have some time to wait until the next election
to vote someone new in, we can change the lazy component of our
democracy right now. The question becomes, do we want change? If so,
perhaps the change has to start with us.

 

Curt Day is a religious flaming fundamentalist and a political extreme moderate. Curt's blogs are at http://flamingfundamentalist.blogspot.com/ and http://violenceorsurvival.blogspot.com/
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