Public Health, Public Good

There is rarely genuine public debate about almost any important issue in American society. Listening to healthcare reform on the corporate media, I was reminded of this. It didn’t slip past my notice that the entire frame of discussion is seeking corporatist solutions to corporatist problems in a corporatist political and economic system. The fact of the matter is that there is no way to provide better and cheaper healthcare to more citizens, as other countries do, through the capitalist system. In particular, the last thing in the world we need is further aligning big business with big government.

Here is what is rarely brought up. Consider the simple fact that 40% of the deaths worldwide are caused by pollution. And that is one small part of externalized costs, externalized often by corporations that make immense profits from that externalization that goes hand in hand with internalizing benefits. Most of the people harmed by these externalized costs are the lower classes who are the least able to seek healthcare to treat health conditions caused by wealthy and powerful interests. First of all, we should stop these corporations from externalizing costs. But to the extent that isn’t always possible, we should tax these corporations to pay for those externalized costs, which is to say those who benefit the most from the system should pay the most to offset the costs of the system.

This is common sense. Only a sociopath could argue against it, but sadly we have a system that promotes the sociopathic mindset and gives a platform to the sociopathic rhetoric that justifies it. The plutocrats who are harming others for their own self-interest have the morally depraved sense of privilege to complain that taxes are theft. These are the same plutocrats who have spent their lives stealing from the commons, stealing from the public good. They internalize  and privatize the benefit from resources taken from public lands, from their dominant use of the public infrastructure, from highly profitable government contracts (often crony no bid contracts), from control of the government (through lobbying, revolving door, regulatory capture, legalized bribery, etc), from free trade agreements written in their favor to help them dominate global markets, from a military that serves to protect their interests (maintaining international relations, keeping open trade routes, ensuring access to natural resources on foreign public lands, etc), and on and on. All paid for with public wealth and resources. This gives the appearance of legitimacy to the illegitimate.

There is an important point that gets lost here. The plutocrats are half right about one thing. We shouldn’t rely on taxes of plutocrats to fund the public good. Rather, we simply shouldn’t allow plutocrats to steal from the public good in the first place, such that taxation becomes necessary. Once that theft has happened, the plutocrats will treat this theft as their right and privilege. As they see it, everything that is public is theirs to take, even the government itself. It’s all theirs and so if we don’t let them rape and pillage freely across the world, we are stealing from them just as the starving peasant was stealing from the lord when he gathered some food for his family from what once was feudal commons. They accuse others of theft out of bad conscience, knowing that their entire way of life is theft.

The reality is that the US is the wealthiest country in the world. In global capitalism, the public wealth and resources regularly given away and wasted for private interests is easily in the trillions of dollars on a yearly basis. It might be trillions in just considering the direct benefits corporations have on US land and waters. The precise amount has never been calculated because the corporatist don’t want to know or rather don’t want the rest of us to know, although I’m sure they have a good sense of the approximate amount of what is being sucked out of the system. Whatever the exact amount, it’s guaranteed that it could pay for healthcare for every US citizen, along with so much else.

There is the basic problem that healthcare can’t operate as a free market for many reasons, the most basic of which is that sick and injured people aren’t in the mindset to be able to make rational choices, even if we had a system that offered real choices. The problem goes so much deeper than that, though. It’s the entire system that has failed and so no solution can be found within the system. In fact, this system is designed to fail according to the standard of public good for the simple reason that the interests it is designed to serve are not we the people.

This is what is never stated in a straightforward manner. There is no lack of public wealth and resources. The question is where is it going, when it is redirected away from the public good and siphoned off into the private sector. This question is not allowed to be fairly and fully discussed in the corporate media and corporatist politics that the plutocracy controls. The final proof that we live in a banana republic is that we the public are effectively silenced in public debate about our own public good, such that the majority has yet to realize it is a majority. The public majority demanding public healthcare reform that benefits most Americans should be heeded by the political system claiming to represent we the people.

“A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”
~ Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”
~ President Dwight D. Eisenhower

“Every time they raise your tuition you are paying for the cost of empire. Every time they cut funds to the state of Wisconsin you have to make up the difference. Everywhere I go… and, when I pick up the local newspapers, it often seems like the same paper and every paper has the same story for a while, factoring when the fiscal year was ending, it would say: ‘State facing huge deficits’, ‘City council voting cuts in budget’…
“That is the cost of empire. What happens then is our economic democracy is under attack.
“Not everyone, as they say, pays the costs. Some people profit immensely.”
~ Michael Parenti, Ph.D.

* * *

An Invisible Debt Made Visible
True Costs are ‘Punitive
Losses Outweighing Gains
Costs Must Be Paid: Social Darwinism As Public Good
Socialized Medicine & Externalized Costs
On Welfare: Poverty, Unemployment, Health, Etc
Athens is starved so that Sparta can be fed.
On Infrastructure and Injustice
Investing in Violence and Death
Government Efficiency: Public’s Lack of Knowledge
Public Opinion on Tax Cuts for the Rich
Most Oppose Cutting Social Security (data)
Public Opinion On Government & Tea Party
Democracy and Propaganda
Public Intellectuals As Thought Leaders
The Establishement: NPR, Obama, Corporatism, Parties
Corporate Bias of ‘Mainstream’ Media
What Does Liberal Bias Mean?
The Golden Rule and Reality
Homelessness and Mental Illness
A Sense of Urgency
A System of Unhappiness
Capitalism as Social Control
It’s All Your Fault, You Fat Loser!
Social Disorder, Mental Disorder
Social Conditions of an Individual’s Condition
Rationalizing the Rat Race, Imagining the Rat Park
Not Funny At All
Protecting Elections From Democracy
Of Dreamers and Sleepwalkers
“We have met the enemy and he is us.”
By What Right?
But Then It Was Too Late
Then What?

32 thoughts on “Public Health, Public Good

  1. After I wrote this, I thought back over time. I’m in my 40s now. So, I’ve had a fairly long and wide experience of corporate media at this point. In particular, I’ve closely watched what corporate media has become since the 1990s when I entered adulthood.

    I can honestly say I’ve never seen this topic (i.e., healthcare reform put into a larger context) seriously discussed to any great extent in any of the corporate media, specifically not in terms of the most troubling issues and most hard-hitting questions. That is quite amazing. Some discussions are beginning to appear, though. Sanders’ campaign did force many issues to the surface like nothing was able to do previously.

    We are getting close to where a fuller public debate will finally happen. I’m not sure even Chomsky has been successful in ever getting this seriously discussed in the corporate media, even though he occasionally gets on some shows.

    Maybe some good debates have happened on corporate media and I missed them. That is possible. But even then, it means it is such a rare occurrence that it could happen without too many people noticing. Obviously, if it did happen, it was brief and the political impact was minimal.

    • Even Sanders rarely offers a direct challenge to the corporatist system, not in the way a radical left-winger would do so. Sanders mostly talks around the deeper issue by sticking to more narrow issues. He is a politician, not a revolutionary. And so what he talks about is policy change, not revolutionary change.

      But corporatism won’t be changed through improved policies. The thing is that Sanders is an FDR Progressive and the fact of the matter is that the New Deal was corporatist in nature, even if it was a friendlier form of corporatism. Sanders doesn’t wants to work within the system, as he still believes in it. I’ve grown more cynical.

      A deeper dialogue is hard to have.

  2. Even the mainstream media is admitting this one:

    Since losing the presidency to a Cheeto-hued reality TV host, the Democratic party’s leadership has made it clear that it would rather keep losing than entertain even the slightest whiff of New Deal style social democracy.

    The Bernie Sanders wing might bring grassroots energy and – if the polls are to be believed – popular ideas, but their redistributive policies pose too much of a threat to the party’s big donors to ever be allowed on the agenda.

    The Democrats demonstrated this once more this week when, in a special election triggered by Trump’s tapping of Mike Pompeo for CIA director, a Berniecrat named James Thompson came painfully close to winning a Kansas Congressional seat that had been red for over two decades, and his party didn’t even try to help him.

    They later relented and gave him $3,000. (According to the FEC, the Party had about $145,000 on hand.) The national Democratic Party gave him nothing until the day before the election, when it graced him with some live calls and robo-calls. He lost by seven percentage points.

    One person the party does not think will be hurt by their help is Jon Ossoff, who is running in a similarly red, but much wealthier, district in Georgia. To date, the DNC has raised some $8.3m for him and has committed to sending nine field staffers to organize on-the-ground efforts.

    Although he is young, he’s an acolyte of the Democratic establishment, having worked for Representatives John Lewis and Hank Johnson, and he endorsed Hillary Clinton in the primary. He went to Georgetown followed by the London School of Economics and speaks fluent French. He has the support of several Hollywood celebrities.

    Yeah … it’s pretty obvious what is going on here.

    • Oh and the conclusion:

      By refusing to fund the campaigns of anyone but centrist, establishment shills, the Democratic Party aims to make the Berniecrats’ lack of political viability a self-fulfilling prophecy: starve their campaigns of resources so they can’t win, then point to said losses as examples of why they can’t win.

      If that means a few more red seats in Congress, so be it. The more they do this, though, the less of Bernie’s “political revolution” will be absorbed by the Democratic Party and the more will go shooting off into third parties and direct action.

      Yep. Why should anyone but party shills support them in 2018 or 2020?

    • Maybe progress is being made, however slowly. But it sure is an uphill battle. It’s hard to see how to go forward from here. The best we can hope for is some kind of major disaster/conflict/destabilization that severely undermines or at least temporarily disrupts the normal functioning of the power structure. The political left needs to be in permanent preparation mode to take advantage of any moment of weakness or other opportunity.

    • I’d make two points about the second article.

      First, I don’t consider Clinton to be a Democrat. She is a plutocrat and a kleptocrat. If it served her interests and ambitions, she’d join any party or any other organization that would give her wealth and power.

      Second, it’s not like parties are based on ideological belief systems. Democrats have always been a big tent party that includes diverse, ideological and demographic. Republicans used to be the same way, until the Southern Strategy.

      There is no particular qualification necessary for joining a party. Anyone can join any party for any reason or for no particular reason at all.

      When Sanders began his political career, he wasn’t a Democrat. But when Sanders was running as a Democratic candidate, he was a Democrat. And now that the election season is over, Sanders can chose not to be a Democrat again.

      It really doesn’t matter. The parties are irrelevant. The two-party system is the same entrenched power and rigged game. The only use there was in Sanders running as a Democrat was that it helped promote public debate, forcing important issues to the surface.

    • There has been a more vocal push to start a third party. And if possible, to draft Sanders.

      What I might prefer is for the Sanders’ social democrats keep on fighting in the Democratic Party, even if only to make life difficult for the GOP lite corporatists. Meanwhile, I want some radical left-wing voices to organize a third party, take Sanders’ rhetoric and push it even further left.

      In the end, Sanders’ is simply an old school New Dealer and moderate progressive. I don’t think he has it in him because, if he did, he never would have backed Clinton. He is damaged goods, as far as a third party is concerned.

      Sanders had an opportunity as did Obama, but he threw it away. Once it became clear that the Democratic Party was corrupt and the nomination rigged, Sanders’ owed Clinton absolutely nothing. Clinton and her cronies betrayed the democratic process. Any promises Sanders’ made were null and void.

      He knew that, but he didn’t have the moral courage to stand up for an all out fight, not even during the campaign. Maybe he could have done it when he was younger, but now he is an old man and maybe has grown too comfortable in his position within Washington.

      • Yeah I don’t think he’s going to take up the opportunity.

        I think that even if a left wing president gets in, he will be sabotaged by both the GOP and Democrats.

    • There has been more leaks about Clinton than I can recall ever happening before. And they all must have been leaks from insiders.

      I assume that Clinton is such an authoritarian and abusive asshole that she has pissed off many people. And with everyone realizing how weak and inept she is, there is blood in the water. If anything, we’ll likely keep seeing leaks until there is nothing left to leak. That has to put immense fear in Clinton’s mind. I’m certain she has some dark secrets that would make everything else look petty in comparison. There are plenty of people who’d love to kick Clinton while she goes down.

      We might even start to see people dying of mysterious causes and being suicided. This will turn even more ugly. A family dynasty isn’t deposed without a bloody fight. But if Clinton starts lashing out at shadows in a fit of paranoia, she could turn even more people against her, even old close allies. Consider Trump himself. He used to be a close family friend of the Clintons, attending each other’s social events. And he supported and funded the Clintons in their political aspirations. But he ended up destroying her last opportunity to gain ultimate power.

      Clinton probably feels like the whole world is against her. And that might be close to a correct appraisal. Maybe not quite the whole world, but more against her than for her. With the Clinton Foundation shut down, the Clinton’s are useless. And now they are becoming a liability. If the ruling elite or deep state decide that the Clintons are becoming too problematic, there are ways their lives can be destroyed. The FBI can still reopen some of the cases they closed, as they are still within the time period of allowable prosecution.

    • This has been obvious for a long time. But it’s way beyond the point of even debate. We either do something about it immediately or suffer the results. Continuing in this direction can end in various ways but none happy: worse authoritarianism such as rigid police state, most of the population turned into a ghettoized and incarcerated permanent underclass, eugenic final solutions. environmental disasters, mass starvation, societal collapse, refugee crises, world war, revolution, etc. Considering the fate of the US is tied into the fate of the entire world, the future that is being faced won’t be merely a set of local problems.

      • I can’t see how it won’t spread. We are in a political drought. All it would take is someone to throw a single match on the ground and a wildfire could engulf American society. It takes a single trigger at the right place and time. Unpredictable and uncontrollable events would follow: a social movement could organize millions of Americans into an unstoppable force, a new party could become dominant and win the next presidential election, a constitutional convention could remake society, social unrest could lead to revolt, fear-mongering among the elite could shut down the last vestiges of democracy, or who knows what else.

    • I don’t know if I’ve come across that particular research. But I’ve seen research like that.

      We’ve known for a long that stress, mal-/undernutrition, toxins, lack of resources, underfunded schools, etc have a negative impact on the development of neurocognition and human potential. Poor Americans today have higher average IQ than did wealthier Americans earlier last century, and the research shows the reasons for that change is primarily the improvement of conditions for the poor.

      We’ve known for a long time that the poor experience more of these kinds of conditions that have harmful effect. Such research merely further substantiates what we already knew. But that is a good thing. It must become so obvious that even the stupidest politicians and pundits can’t dismiss it without being laughed at.

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