A Call to Action

There has been a great deal of commotion on both sides of the political aisle regarding healthcare in the United States, especially the Affordable Health Care act passed a couple of years ago which is euphemistically referred to as Obamacare. Trouble is, calling it Obamacare is a misnomer. The final form of that act as passed by Congress is a far cry from what then Pres. Obama and the Democrats in Congress wanted. What we got with that bill was a compromise between the Democrats and those relatively moderate Republicans, a compromise that could be passed in Congress. 20 million people who were previously uninsured could get healthcare coverage. So, I think it is time that the Republicans took their share of responsibility for what both sides consider a relatively bad bill. The conservative Republicans think it smacks too much of socialism and they want to eliminate any signs of socialism in this country. That would include Social Security, Medicare, labor unions, and just about all regulation of large corporations. The Republicans want unbridled capitalism. That may sound like a good thing, but I suggest you read the novels of Charles Dickens to get an idea of what life under unbridled capitalism would really be like. The conservative Republicans tried to paint a rosy picture of the benefits of unbridled capitalism. They are either absolute fools or absolute liars. Either one should preclude them from making the laws that govern this country.

The more radical Democrats want more socialism beyond what we already have. Specifically, they want universal healthcare with a single-payer system. In and its more radical form, that would mean something along the lines of the British or Canadian systems: a national government-sponsored healthcare system, where doctors and hospitals are not free to charge whatever they feel like. In fact, hospitals are government owned and doctors and nurses are government employees. Everyone in the country has access to the same healthcare. Legislators like our Congressman would not have special healthcare paid for by our tax dollars. They would get the same healthcare everyone else gets. You think we have the best healthcare system in the world now? I think the quality of healthcare under a national system that includes Congressman would see some serious increases in government funding for health research. Maybe we would even actually find a cure for the common cold or cancer! Those cures will not be forthcoming under any kind of capitalistic healthcare system, where that healthcare providers, the pharmaceutical companies, and the medical researchers make lucrative incomes off of the misery and suffering of the rest of us. Nor would most Congressman support a national healthcare system as long as healthcare is capitalistic. Between that NRA and the AMA, the two most powerful special interest groups in this country, most representing a minority of the US population, just about every Congressman and state legislature is bought and paid for.

 

Back in my 20s (more than 40 years ago), I was much more optimistic about the direction that this country was headed. My generation, those around 70 years old now, were optimistic and idealistic, perhaps to a fault. We had grown up in the 50’s and 60’s, decades of American prosperity. The labor unions were powerful, although some of them unfortunately were corrupted by capitalism, and the unions still had the power to force employers to provide health and insurance, disability insurance, life insurance and other employee benefits. That pretty much continued until about 1980 when Ronald Reagan was elected President of the United States. Reaganomics, or trickle down capitalism, believed that corporations making more money and the people at the top of the economic ladder(the 1% cures) would create a downward cash flow that would benefit everyone. Yeah, right! And the tooth fairy pays you for your lost teeth! Those of us who lived through the 80s and into the 90s remember how well trickle down economics worked. Try not at all! Yet, there are still conservatives in this country that believe that Reagan had it right all along. Talk about a pile of manure!

 

I know what a lot of you conservative “historians” are thinking. The New Deal of the 1930s, when many social programs like Social Security were first instituted, was not what brought us out of the Great Depression and probably never would have. Maybe. Maybe not. What the New Deal did do was see to it that a lot of people did not go hungry and had at least a minimal healthcare. I would hate to imagine what would have happened had Franklin Delano Roosevelt never been elected President. Go read up on the Weimar Republic that was Germany before the Nazis. The German people were never given a New Deal. Instead, the socio-economic climate of Germany in the 20s led to the rise to power of the Nazi party. That ultimately brought us to World War II.

 

I agree it was not the New Deal that fueled the recovery of the American economy that led to the prosperity that my generation enjoyed growing up. The programs instituted in United States during the FDR administration were not socialist enough. Yes, they did provide some measure of stability for the people of this country, but it would have taken a lot more socialism than even FDR was willing to support to get us out of the depression without benefiting the capitalists of this country. It was our entry, both officially and unofficially, into World War II in 1940 and 41 that led to the economic recovery. You want to know why that is? War is good for capitalists!!

 

First, because of that Land-lease program that supplied ships, tanks, planes and other military hardware to Great Britain and its allies, and then when we went on to a full-time war economy, manufacturing in this country boomed. And I mean boomed! Many of the men of this country joined the military, receiving income from the United States government. That income was supplemented immensely by their wives, sisters, daughters, and mothers going to work in the factories to meet the labor shortfall that resulted from the men going to war. The US government, and especially the US military, became the single greatest consumer of American manufactured goods, providing jobs and income for millions and millions and millions of people. That continued even after the war was over because of our foreign aid policies in helping countries overseas recover from the wars get the station. Also, we have been fighting wars overseas pretty much ever since 1950. Korea, the Cold War, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.

 

We Americans tend to believe our government propaganda that we are fighting in all these places to preserve democracy, to protect our national interest. Right! More like the profits of the American oil company. Or the profits of the companies that manufacture military hardware. Or the profits of the chemical companies that make things like napalm and Agent Orange, which killed or maimed not only enemy troops but our own young men. You’ll have to forgive me for sounding so cynical, but the actions of this government over the last 50 years have made cynicism a national pastime. How many of you actually believe all that the government tells you are the reasons for what they do, especially in the area of foreign relations?

 

It is ironic that in January 1961, Dwight David Eisenhower, the outgoing President of the United States and former Supreme Commander of the Allied forces during World War II, in his farewell speech to the American people warned us against giving too much power to the military-industrial complex in this country. That warning was from a five-star general in the United States Army. Too bad we did not heed his warning. Today, the military-industrial complex is more powerful than ever, especially if you include those supposedly “civilian” intelligence agencies and the “private” government contractors that make millions of dollars provided by American taxpayers. We can spend billions of dollars funding these contractors, yet veterans coming home from combat duty have to depend on the charity of others for services that the government really should be supplying them, especially high-quality healthcare. Although I do not support war or military intervention as an instrument of foreign policy, I do support the individuals who serve in the military. Unlike back during the Vietnam war, the men and women serving now are doing it voluntarily, not because the alternative would be a jail sentence or fleeing the country, these men and women serve in the military because they choose to and therefore deserve the best we can give them, even if we do not agree with the policies that put them in harm’s way.

 

I am afraid that, if the Republicans and President Trump have their way, the military-industrial complex in this country will become even more powerful. Maybe Trump has dreams of becoming the Sith Emperor! XD It is time we Americans woke up and smell the coffee that is burning! No, I am not advocating any kind of armed rebellion or other forms of violence. What I am advocating is that we use the powers granted the American people by the Constitution of the United States to change the direction of this country: peaceful demonstrations, petitioning the government, recall elections, and using the ballot box instead of sitting at home in front of the television. I must admit I have been somewhat lax myself in voting the last couple of elections. I intend to take my own advice and hope you do too!

 

Peace and love! Power to the people!

John

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