Republicans Have the Same Problem with the Health Care Time Bomb that Hitler had with the nuclear Bomb.
by Rob Kall
Fortune recently ran two must-read articles:Socialized Medicine? From Republicans? and How the Retiree Health-Care Crunch Will Affect You. These articles report that the costs of corporately funded health care is killing corporations. For example, each car that GM builds includes a $1500 price tag for health insurance. Other countries carry that cost.
fortune comments: " GM's recent profit warning proves its business is reeling; one reason is the $5 billion-plus a year it spends on health care, or $1,500 a car. Automakers in countries where governments fund all health spending don't lug around that ball and chain. "
This is a deadly factor for US manufacturers competing with those countries' auto manufacturers. The US's failure to provide universal health care is not only a disaster for the 50 million uninsured, it is a disaster in the making for US corporations.
At a state, county and municipal government level there's a huge problem-- a health care time bomb that has been long avoided that will show up on accounting books in 2006-- the cost of paying for retirees health care. These costs have been ignored ostrich-style by these public entities and finally, in 2006, they will be forced by new accounting requirements to acknowledge them. When this change in accounting hit corporations, the reaction was a massive cutting of health care services and cutting of availability to health care. That's one of the reasons for the growth in the number of uninsured people nationwide. When this governmental time bomb hits, it will send millions of more people onto the uninsured rolls, and millions more into a situation where their coverage is drastically cut.
The answer is nationalized health care. Now the Fortune article says that this is something that Republicans can and should do-- amazing, this coming from a capitalist, right wing bastion. But I don't believe it's possible. The Republicans are in the same situation Hitler was in, during WWII, when it was clear that many of the scientists who were leading the nuclear bomb race were Jewish. Hitler couldn't acknowledge that their brains were necessary to win his war. His politics kept him from being able to tap the solution that could have enable him to win the war.
The Republicans, to espouse nationalized health care, would have to governmentalize it. Fortune tries to dance around it, but that's what it would have to be. They even call it socialized medicine. But Republicans will not be able to pull it off. Their aversion to government is too strong. Now, this is only partially true, as we've seen by the Bush administration's expansion of military and security functions of government. If the Republicans can figure out how to turn "socialized medicine" into a cash cow that rewards pharmaceutical and other health care corporations with billions in government handouts, they might go for it.
The problem is, this will actually increase the cost of health care, just like the Republican approach to Social Security would really increase the cost and worsen the problem.
We need a truly nationalized health care plan. Sure, there are a massive array of details to be worked out, but avoiding it is killing people and killing our future as a viable competitor in the world market.
The right wingers of our nation have short-sightedly fought an approach that will benefit the majority of corporations. These right wing politicians have sold out our nation's future so they could pander to health care industry lobbyists who will understandably do everything they can to prevent this necessary evolutionary step from happening. When you stop evolution, you create a dead end that results in the death of a species or, worse, a larger limb of the evolutional tree. In this case, these right wing sell-outs are threatening to end the USA's viability.
That leaves progressives-- democrats and greens, primarily-- to advocate for nationalized health care. The problem is, basing the advocacy on compassion and the value of life has not resonated with right wingers or with hypocritical religious conservatives. The alternative is to push for nationalized health care as a way to save jobs, as a way to make our corporations more competitive. If we can get corporations on the side of progressives, then they'll fund progressive media-- print, talk radio, news shows, documentaries.... and they'll support progressive platforms, PACs and candidates.
The right wing has not only hypnotized right wing religious conservatives but also big business into thinking it is the only party that has big business's interests at heart. But this has led to a horrible situation. Big businesses have in many ways become like rogue stallions in a domestic herd. They have become psychotic and sociopathic-- advocating a combination of deregulations of some laws and institution of new laws that end up allowing them to, with impunity, ravish the nation and, through action and inaction, kill and harm millions. Corporation's immense financial power and immortality allow them to influence legislation so much that tens of millions of Americans and billions of internationals suffer at their corporate, disembodied hands. The ironic thing is that this kind of behavior does not really serve the corporations well, at least in the long run.
These rogues are out of control and for their own good and the good of the nation and planet, they must be reined in. Because of their enormous power, we must use bait to attract them and keep them reined in of their own volition.
We can do it with creative problem solving that includes taking the burden of private health care off their backs. Ideally, we can make a trade with them, so they voluntarily chose to give up some rights they've grabbed and stolen, such as the right of corporate personhood-- that enables them to claim the same rights that humans have. We can offer automakers tax-break rewards for building cars that save energy, so people don't break their wallets. We can offer energy companies rewards for developing renewable energy resource technologies that we can license to other nations.
But these rewards won't help the US unless they are only targeted for US companies. We must, as we move towards nationalized health care, and other corporation friendly progressive policies, (See my previous article on this: What If We Had A Progressive Vision That Offered Corporations Big Profits?) be sure to fine tune them so they do NOT support transnational corporations, particularly those who that were formerly US companies which moved offshore to avoid taxes. Let's treat them as the disloyal turncoats that they are, but be willing to forgive and forget if they re-establish themselves as US companies. We also have to deal with the companies that over-use use part-time workers to avoid paying health care. Actually, my small business, with four part timers fits in this category, because the company would go under if it had to pay health insurance for all employees. Probably, part of the way that nationalized health care will be paid for will be with a corporate tax. Since I'm paying a bloody fortune for my family's health care, this will end up helping me and my small business, and I think it will help businesses like GM. But I hope the corporate health tax will cause big companies like Walmart and fast food companies to "feel the pain." (David Sirota comments in his blog today, "A November 2004 New York Times article cites a study in Georgia that found 10,000 children of Wal-Mart employees were in the state's low-income healthcare program at a cost to taxpayers of $10 million a year. " )
How do progressives translate this idea into action? At all levels, progressives should start pointing out the problems health care is producing for all levels of government. They should begin advocating nationalized health care to make business more competitive. Start talking to local small businesses and local branches and subsidiaries of big business about wanting to help them by taking the health care burden off their backs.
The right wing, conservative "strict father" (ala Lakoff)approach to health care-- that leaves tens of millions uninsured-- is not working. It is killing our economic future. The liberal/ progressive nurturing approach, taking care of everyone, can rescue American business. We need to make it happen and do it soon, or the US will become a footnote in 21st century economic history, as India and China come to dominate the world. The timer on the health care time bomb is ticking. Just as the US took advantage of Hitler's inability to use the Nuclear option, progressives should embrace the National health care option as a rescue plan for business, NOW.