Thursday, February 25, 2010

USA: The Uncaring State of America.

The disgraceful saga that is the debate on health care reform in the USA trundles on interminably. To someone like myself who lived for many, many decades in a country where socialised (not socialist) health care is the norm, the debate appears ridiculous - the result ought to have been a foregone conclusion. How can a country, priding itself as a world leader, allow hundreds of thousands of its citizens to live without access to adequate levels of healthcare ? How can the population have been sitting idly by for so long when even those citizens who have dutifully paid their health insurance premiums for years are told, when serious illness befalls them, or a family member, that "you are not covered for that", and either bankruptcy or further suffering - or death - must ensue?

Is there something inherently immoral in the American citizenry, that they have not long ago - decades ago - demanded that something be done about this parlous state of affairs? It can only be that a large proportion of the population does not care about their fellow-men and women - and children. Simple as that. And this is a country which prides itself as being A Christian Nation. Please.

People of the USA would like to think of themselves as compassionate, friendly and forward-looking, and tend to advertise themselves as such. This isn't always the picture onlookers see. Although I'm now an American citizen myself, I'm still really an outsider, an observer of much that's alien. Some attitudes I notice here are more foreign to me than those I suspect I'd encounter among the inhabitants of of some lost tropical jungle.

If I'm feeling kindly, I could put it all down to the fact that the USA is a very young country, as compared with the countries of Europe. Some western states, in particular, are not much more than a century from the days of The Wild West, when it really was every man for himself. How long will it take for the minds, and hearts, of people in the United States to catch up? Too long.

Insurance Corporations have a stranglehold on things now, the country is being run by what may as well be termed mercenaries, verging on sociopathic, but the people, over time, have allowed this to happen. Their votes have been sending successive lawmakers to Congress and to the White House. Successive administrations have in their turn allowed the disgraceful situation to continue and worsen. At root, the people themselves are to blame - for their carelessness.

This post originally ended at that point - but then I read something at Think Progress which lifted my spirits a bit. New York Rep. Anthony Weiner spoke up clearly on the side of the people yesterday, when the House of Representatives debated the Health Insurance Industry Fair Competition Act, legislation that would repeal the 65 year exemption health insurance companies have from anti-trust regulations.

Speaking on the House floor, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) lambasted Republicans for being “a wholly owned subsidiary of an insurance industry,” prompting an offended Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA) to lodge a complaint:

WEINER: You guys have chutzpah. The Republican Party is the wholly owned subsidiary of the insurance industry. They say this isn’t going to do enough, but when we propose an alternative to provide competition, they’re against it. They say we want to strengthen state insurance commissioners and they’ll do the job. But when we did that in our national health care bill, they said we’re against it. They said we want to have competition but when we proposed requiring competition they’re against it. They’re a wholly owned subsidiary of the insurance industry. That’s the fact!

LUNGREN: Mr. Speaker I ask that the gentleman’s words be taken down.

WEINER: You really don’t want to go there, Mr. Lungren. [...] Make no mistake about it. Every single Republican I have ever met in my entire life is wholly owned subsidiary of the insurance industry. That is why —

LUNGREN: Mr. Speaker I ask that the gentleman’s words be taken down once more.

WEINER: Look, the point is very simple, there are inequities in the present way we distribute insurance. There are winners and there are losers. The winners are the insurance industry. [...] There is not bipartisanship on this particular issue. The people who sit on this side, at the risk of offending anyone, generally support the idea of standing up for the American people in their battle against big insurance. And the people generally speaking who sit on this side of the chamber and specifically speaking as well in a lot of cases, simply won’t permit that to happen and haven’t for a generation. Well, that is going to end now. [...] Enough of the phonyness. We are gonna solve this problem because for years our Republican friends have been unable to and unwilling to. Deal with it!” (applause).

Bravo Mr. Weiner!

A quick look at his natal chart reveals that he has rebellious Uranus conjunct Sun, Mercury and Pluto all in discerning Virgo.

This is what the USA desperately needs more of!


Wisewebwoman said...

Brilliant post, T. Brava!
I'm increasingly pulled away from following this insane debate as I find it far too surreal and it literally gives me a headache to see the most downtrodden of US citizens be so brainwashed as to think the pinkos (and who are they anyway?) are coming if they get universal health care.
Good for Weiner, a lone voice in the wilderness.

Anonymous said...

Yes, good post. For years, I've had to purchase my own policy which is INSANELY expensive and doesn't cover much of anything. When I needed my insurance, they wouldn't pay. Another incident,(severe burn accident), landed me in the emergency room. The hospital charged the insurance $400 for tape and gauze bandages that I had to pay 50%. Crazy! considering I could have purchased an entire box of gauze bandages at CVS for $10!
I have always voted for health care reform initiatives but the people who get insurance through their work (paid by the employer) don't think reform is needed because they aren't the ones shelling out $4000 a year (in LA) in premimums for crap insurance when I am a healthy, thin person who exercises every day. If Congress members don't want to reform healthcare then cancel their current plan and let them try to purchase their own. I bet the health care system would be priority #1.
I roll my eyes when I hear the seniors complain about socialized healthcare. Medicare is Socialized Healthcare and seniors get far better coverage on Medicare than anyone who has to pay for private insurance. I don't understand why I hear the wingnuts talk about socialized insurance and death panels. Hell, private insurance companies play that role already by dictating your providers and the treatments they cover and don't cover. Give me a break! Medical savings accounts are a complete joke. Congress must think all Americans live like they do and have plenty of money laying around to fund these things. They are just tax shelters for the well to do.
The biggest problem with our healthcare system is its foundation. What idiot decided that it was a good idea to base healthcare for its citizens on a for profit industry model? How does that serve the public health? They are in the business of trying to make a profit. If anything, it gives incentives to insurance and healthcare providers to deny coverage for those desperately in need of it because they represent too much of a financial liability. They also don't have an incentive to keep its customers healthy because if they were, they wouldn't need to go to the doctor as much.

I certainly agree with you when you wrote that people don't care about the greater good in this country--they don't, especially the poor.

Twilight said...

WWW ~~~ Thank you.
I try to stay away from TV and blog discussion of this topic, but sometimes it gets just too ridiculous and I have to write something to let off steam.

Twilight said...

Anonymous ~~ Hi! Thank you for your input. I'm with you all the way on this. As long as health care is treated as a profit-making industry things will not change.

It's hard to see much chance of improvement in the near future.
I suppose minor changes in the status quo will be better than nothing - but nowhere near what's truly needed. What's truly needed is a revolution - but that ain't going to happen - and really we wouldn't like it if it did!

mrslilypond said...

Not everyone who has employer based healthcare is happy, we have it and we pay more and more every year for less and less.

As for the idiot who helped usher in the health care profit industry model, the one and only Tricky Dick,
Yes good ole' Richard Nixon.

Sigh, some days I really think I moving to Canada.

Twilight said...

mrslilypond ~~~ Thank you for that link - that's an excellent piece, and does go some way to explaining how the current situation has become so....well...crappy! Good site too - I'll Favourite it.

Yes, I realise the the difficulties are widespread and not just among the uninsured.
Also, this same scenario of the right blocking the left's attempt to do stuff will continue into other areas - e.g. the environmental proposals.

Not much we can do except vow to vote some of the ba.....s out in Nov mid-term elections. I guess I won't get far in OK, where right-wing attitudes are entrenched - but voters in more reasonable states might have a chance of getting rid of some bad apples.

anthonynorth said...

Thisa is a brilliant, heartfelt post, and I totally agree.
As a non-American looking in, I think there are two major points wrong with the American system. Government - any government - is too close to Big Biz, so they always win over the people. And second, the people still have this mistaken notion that their politicians automatically deserve respect. They see the President, in particular, as the State. He is not! He is always a career man who borrows the Office. The State is above him. If Americans could get over this attitude towards their politicians, things could change very quickly.

Twilight said...

anthonynorth ~~~ Thanks, AN. :-)
I do feel very strongly on this.

The link between politicians and Big Biz (the corporations) in the US
is far, far stronger than in the UK, getting stronger too with the recent decidsion of the Supreme Court which loosens things up even further for corporations to provide money in elections, thus giving them more sway than ever.

President Obama is obviously tied too, to some extent. Any president who could have got himself elected would have been in the same boat. It's a corrupted system.

I'm not sure whether your assessment is exactly right though, AN. It's a muddled situation here, defies analysys really. I wish the politicians WERE the type of people we COULD respect - and expect them to do what their job description demands - instead of lining their pockets to the detriment of their constituents. ;-(

R J Adams said...

Aha! A rant worthy of Sparrow Chat! Well said, young Twilight. I caught the Weiner tirade on Rachel Maddows. Sadly, some of his own party are also in cahoots with the insurance companies. As a fellow ex-pat Brit I understand your frustration. Couldn't you just bang their thick heads against a brick wall?

Twilight said...

RJ Adams ~~~ high praise indeed!
:-) Ta!

Yes, some Democrats (probably most - or all) are in cahoots with the corporations/insurance companies. That is the fundamental problem with US politics in general. But when it seriously affects the sick and needy - it really gets my hackles up. And it has been affecting the sick and needy for a long, long time - and people have been sitting by, quite unconcerned - because They were "alright Jack!" :-(

Twilight said...
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