Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Health Care, Corporate Personhood, Campaign Finance - the Unholy Trinity

Yes, yes, I know that there's "no way we can get the public option in there, much less single payer." We are up against, not the ridiculous tea-baggers and right-wing fundie nutballs, but the mightiest corporations in the land - and in the world. Make no mistake - this is no 'grass-roots uprising by the little people' - this is a massively funded Astro-turf operation, financed by the limitless coffers of the corporations who have made that money off of the backs of the sick and the poor. and they are not about to watch their cash cow just wander out of the pasture.

As we have seen by the lackluster efforts of the Democrats in Congress and even the President, this is not only a Republican issue (except for the fact that those corporations favor Republicans, which is traditionally and proudly the party of Big Business) - everyone in Congress has been paid scads and scads to grant these corporations a favorable ear. And until we find a way to get that kind of money out of Congress - the kind of money that is being called "First Amendment Free Speech Rights" by the insurance corporations, drug corporations, and health-management-for-profit organizations, and "bribery" by anyone else with a brain cell rolling around in their head - we will not be able to allow the people's voice to be heard - and the American people want health care!

Health care that will not send you to the poorhouse after a single catastrophic illness.

Health care that will not be doled out to you by people who stand to lose money by giving it to you, and stand to make money by denying it to you.

Health care that will lower overall costs by allowing everyone preventive care and practical treatment that keeps them from getting so sick before they get care that they end up in the emergency room, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars for something that could have been taken care of earlier for 50-100 dollars.

Health care that will that will help us all stay healthier and therefore more productive, taking less sick days.

Health care that will save us all money by keeping families out of bankruptcy and destitution, and off of the public welfare rolls, beause of an illness.

Lisa over at That's Why has a great post on health care and why there's no real debate - check it out!

Insurance has its place - for cosmetic or elective surgery, perhaps; for boutique care. If some rich yahoo wants a fancy hospital suite to get their facelifts and boob jobs in, by all means - get insurance for that! Pet insurance - sure! Pet medical care is expensive, and if we have pets, we want them to have good care and can pool our risk for that. I am consdering that myself, if I can get to where I can afford it. Insure your house, your car, your valuables. That's free-market.

But not profit-making off of life and death.

Every other civilized nation in the world makes it illegal to sell for-profit insurance for primary, necessary care. There are places (Switzerland, I think) that allow private insurance but it must be not-for-profit.

We cannot allow the necessities of life to become hostage to a private, for-profit model that is accountable not to the people, but to its shareholders only. Water, electricity, clean and breathable air, infrastructure (including basic communication) - these are things that fall under the category of 'life' in the phrase 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness'. Freedom does not mean freedom to monopolize and steal. That original phrase was going to be 'life, liberty and property', and it was rightly changed.

'Government' is not a dirty word - unless you make it one!

So, to really be able to attack this problem in a way that we can win, there are two thing that we must look at - corporate personhood and campaign finance.

'Corporate personhood' was bought and paid for in the 1880s. Before then, there were restrictions by the states on how corporations could operate, and they could be dissolved by their state if they broke those laws. Of course, that was incredibly grating to the corporations, and they began lawyering up and devising legal strategies for many years before, waiting for just the right case and right justices to make a case for corporate personhood, which arrived in the case of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad in 1886.

Once that was established (using the Fourteenth Amendment - same amendment that installed George W. Bush in the White House without being elected), corporations were not 'artificial legal constructs', like churches, unions, unincorporated businesses, civic clubs, and even governments. Corporations had the same rights as human beings - including freedom of speech - with none of the attendant vulnerabilities. They have an infinite 'lifespan'; no medical needs; no need for food, water or air; no families to protect and provide for. They can dissolve and re-form at any time. In a legal battle between a person and a corporation, the corporation can simply stall until that person dies. There is no way to have a fair contest between a person and a corporation - yet we are to consider them on the same legal footing as human beings?

This misguided judgment has set the tone for the declining quality of life for human beings as a whole, and a concentration of power, wealth and comfort to those few humans who reap the benefits of association with big corporations. And one of the biggest scams they have going is the 'health insurance' scam. And since a corporation's only obligation is to its bottom line - by law - the real-life-human-being effects of its money-making model do not figure into its calculations.

It can't.

We must understand that if a corporation were to put human well-being before profit, it would be breaking the law - violating the legal conditions of its obligations to its stockholders. It's not wrong to put profits first for a for-profit corporation.

What is wrong is placing the life and death of human beings into the hands of a for-profit corporation.

The government, on the other hand, was specifically designed to put the welfare of 'we the people' first. And the government is also accountable to us, unlike a corporation. That is why these life-and-death issues need to be in the hands of 'we the people'.

No, the government is not perfect. Yes, there are many things that could and should be changed to ensure accountability - but as citizens we do have that power. With corporations we do not. And do not give me that hoo-haw about 'competition and free market and the consumer making the choice and influencing the corporation that way'. That is malarkey and everyone knows it - even those who spout it like the Holy Gospel.

Which brings me to the next point about campaign finance.

As long as politicians are dependent upon huge sums of money to get elected and stay in office, almost half their time is involved in fundraising. And the massive amounts of money necessary to buy the television ads and other costs of campaigning are only available in three ways: one's own money - in which case you are merely purchasing an election; small donations from individuals - which is like trying to build a sand castle one grain of sand at a time; and corporate donations. Each one comes with a cost that does not belong in public elections and the running of our country to the benefit of all, not the privileged few.

And the cost of corporate donations, of course, is an obligation to give that donor your ear. The response to that is always. "I only listen; just like I'd listen to any citizen - that doesn't mean that I will legislate the way the corporations want me to."

Bull. Shit. On a stick.

The pressure to deliver is tremendous. Corporate donations include both a carrot and a stick. The carrot is, of course, the big donations, which frees up the time that a congressperson has to spend fundraising, and ostensibly 'tend to the people's business'.

But there is also the stick, that rarely gets spoken about on TV and the media.

The stick involves financing a more cooperative opponent for your seat - either the seat you seek, or the seat you hold. Tom "Dancing With the Stars" DeLay (and stay tuned for some more Tommi revelry when I get half a minute to put it together) ruled the House with that bludgeon. And that is another excuse that even the best-intentioned politicians can use to kid themselves and justify toeing the corporate line - "Well, if I don't go along, then I'll lose my seat to someone who may be worse - at least I can try to mitigate it and do some damage control. The person who takes my seat might be a 100% corporate tool all the way, but (insert rationalization here)". This is what we are seeing now with the Dems and Obama.

We need to overhaul the way our campaigns are financed - it's by the public; for the public; and it has to be with public money. The same with election and voting machines - these cannot be run on private proprietary software! How the hell can we even allow that to happen? Proprietary voting machine software owned by a corporation with a political agenda? Who the fuck thought that was OK?

So, we need to understand at a basic, gut level why these two issues - corporate personhood and campaign finance - must be addressed to get any kind of change enacted. Otherwise, we're spinning our wheels in a muddy ditch - and wondering why we're not moving forward.


Fran said...

What an amazing post - reading it as I listen to Obama.

What will happen?

opit said...

Hi, Alicia: long time no quip.
I've thrown a few readers your way because of your effort to throw some light on the disinformation rampant in politics. If I'm reading things correctly, to attribute initiatives to Soviets and Communism may well itself be naive disinformation. I have always been more singularly impressed by the Authoritarian genesis of our society and its links to the structure of Royal Houses back in the openly Feudal era: including the Cosa Nostra. It is likely that my section
is partly 'old hat' to you because of your past research ( I followed 'After Downing Street' less than you did - but enough to 'get the drift' ).
Remembering the activity of Nazis in America in the 30's and later coming upon a lot of the info coming out of Progressives - especially the Ron Paul crowd and YouTube posts - I had a healthy respect for the ability of spin ops to divert suspicion in the wrong direction in a left-right axis...usually Communist or anthropological research...rather than to simple Authoritarianism in all its guises.
Obama's arrival and the New World Order awareness doesn't correlate with any real change in power structure...just economic breakdown and worldwide catastrophe in water and food related subjects ( my End of an Era is a bit hard to digest : perhaps a view of 'Home - by the Home Project' on YouTube would be more succinct. )
I have a bit too much going on in regards to systemic horrors in society to be easy to follow much of the time...but a theme I had run into before was surfacing in another guise.
I don't at all agree with the surmises and representations made as to who is responsible in the American Thinker - but I think the methodology sound.
This was in respect to
I'd like to know if I seem coherent! Some of the stuff I'm following is awfully WFO!

lisahgolden said...

Wow! You do such a good job of laying it out in detail! Thank you for the link. I have despaired lately. Trying to talk sense to frightened, irrational people will wear you down.

Thank you for the link. I'm honored to part of such a dynamite post!

Alicia Morgan said...

Fran - I didn't get a chance to hear Obama today - long workday - but I just got home and I'm going to read the speech and commentary. I'm curious myself to see how this came out!

Alicia Morgan said...

Opit! Wow! Now that's what I call serious-ass linkage! But tht American 'Thinker' article is a hum-dinger. I don't suppose the author was making those Commie comparisons while Bush was in office.

But, yes - I think the authoritarian personality is always linked to the elements in society which seek to claim and possess that authority. In times of peace and prosperity, and with a reasonably decent government in power, they do not constitute much of a danger. In fact, they contribute a lot to the stability of society. The danger happens when you have a bad authority in power; tht 23-25% will support them no matter what, and that's when we're really in trouble.

It will take me some time to try and get through all those links, but I'm bookmarking your page - there are a lot of fascinating ideas there. Thanks for the hookup!

Alicia Morgan said...

Thanks, Lisa! I loved your post - you just tell it like it is, always; I invariably get insight and a laugh reading your blog - our situations are so similar in many ways; I can truly relate. And your fearlessness and honesty just leave me awestruck.

I'm so glad you liked the post. I think that my place in this blogging/writing/progressive activism arena is to attempt to connect the dots that the real thinkers and movers and shakers have laid out for us, and filter the information in a way that hopefully people who aren't die-hard political junkies can make sense of.

I'm not a Naomi Klein or a Barry Lynn or an Amy Goodman, but I hope I can - in broad strokes - show our friends and family who are progressive-minded but not particularly informed why it's important to know about what those kind of writers and thinkers are talking about and doing, and why it's imperative that all of us participate - because you can be damn sure the sheep on the other side are.

Comrade Kevin said...

And there are so many conservatives who still believe that a staunchly pro-business agenda is in their own best interest. That's what makes it so difficult.

Alisa Rosenbaum said...

Ah, yes, I see. Pro-business, profit oriented capitalist society is the thorn in all our sides, is it?

"So you think that money is the root of all evil?...Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is a tool of exchange, which can't exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them [e.g. 'corporations'].

Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value. Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears, or of the looters [e.g. 'government'], who take it from you by force. Money is made possible only by the men who produce [e.g. 'corporations].

Is this what you consider evil?..."

Capitalists wince at being slandered as evil by the powerful who have the moochers & the looters in the palms of their hand.

You, fine lady & 'comarades', have quite a lot to learn.

Alicia Morgan said...

and thank you, Ms. Rand, for seizing the out-of-context opportunity you have been searching for to unleash your indignation on behalf of the poor, put-upon, unappreciated business interests!

Alisa Rosenbaum said...

"...for seizing the out-of-context opportunity you have been searching for..."

One does not need to search with much tenacity to find such an opportunity.