Monday, March 29, 2010


Carl Parker sez:

The Boston Tea Party was about taxation by a foreign government with no representation.  Today’s Tea Party movement bears no resemblance to that.  Tea party participants of today appear to be based on irrational beliefs that our government is the same as a foreign power which is trying to enslave us all.

Adhering to the rules of conduct is what separates civilized societies from mobs of prehistoric troglodytes.  Protests sponsored by the Tea Party movement seem to abandon all trappings of civility and sometimes rationality.  Signs appearing at Tea Party Rallies to the effect of, “Keep you hands off my Medicare” demonstrate the level of knowledge of members of this group and just how far out they are.

The level of discourse by the Republicans has obviously inspired the Tea Party protests.  Republicans persist with inflammatory messages such as, “Healthcare will ruin America.  It’s a government takeover of all medical treatment.  The bill contains death panels to make people die when they past 75--It is the beginning of a socialist state in America,” on and on to ad nauseam.  It clearly demonstrates Republican thought has not changed since the late 1920's in America.  The same arguments being raised now that we are headed for socialism and that government involvement in medical benefits will ruin our health care system are the arguments made in protest against social security and Medicare.

This week on the eve of a congressional vote on the medical reform measure, members of Congress were spat on and the group protesting hurled racial and personal insults at members of Congress as they attempted to enter the Capitol.  On Sunday talk shows the Republican leaders denounced the conduct being as abhorrent and reprehensible.  The leadership of the Republican Caucus acted as though they were shocked protestors would conduct themselves in such a way.  It is vaguely reminiscent of Pontius Pilot washing his hands before the crucifixion of Christ.  Denials by Republicans that they had inflamed and encouraged such conduct is almost like a person who keeps a vicious dog and sets him free in a community and then denies any responsibility for the injuries and damage caused.

While most of us are disappointed at the lack of civility and bi-partisanism in our Congress, it must be pointed out it is almost impossible to cooperate with a group whose basic plan is to stonewall any cooperation and whose objective is not to produce reform but to embarrass the president.  It must be remembered only a short time ago it was revealed by major news sources that Republican leaders and others such as Rush Limbaugh predicted that if we could kill health care reform, you could kill Obama politically.  A recent New York Times article revealed that the Republican leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, meeting with 40 Republican Senators prior to Obama’s inauguration concocted a scheme to bring about gridlock in Congress.  A scheme which demanded that no Republican should appear to cooperate with any Democratic effort and then decry the fact there is no bi-partisanship in Congress.  Another revealing set of facts emerged recently when it was discovered that at a Republican retreat on how to raise funds and keep supporters on board, one of the major tactics was fear.  Fear of socialism, fear of high taxes; fear that you would have health care rationing in the United States.  In short, fear appeared to be the number one weapon of Republican fundraisers.

Stung by appropriate criticism that the Republican strategy was once again to do nothing, Republicans have begun a blitz of reciting so-called Republican proposals for health care.  They include tort reform, allowing transfer of insurance policies across state lines and prohibiting pre-existing conditions from disqualifying individuals from having health care.  Republicans seem to ignore the fact that no Republican during the Bush era sought to introduce any of these measures and press them to passage.

On close examination none of the main proposals of Republicans would do much for the average person in need of health care coverage.  Texas has made it nearly impossible to successfully recover damages against the doctor or hospital no matter how egregious their negligence or malpractice may be.  It appears to have only helped insurance carriers and a few doctors.   There is little, if any, savings to the average bill payer for medical procedures in Texas.  Pre-condition disqualifications could easily be handled at the state level because states regulate insurance carriers currently.  To my knowledge no Republican has ever introduced a bill, at least in Texas, dealing with disqualification of persons from their insurance coverage because they became sick or had a pre-existing condition.

The Republican proposal of allowing insurance companies to cross state lines to peddle insurance as a reform measure is almost laughable.  Surely they know that. Currently regulation of insurance companies by rules requiring them to remain solvent and provisions to compensate carriers of insurance whose companies go broke are all tied up in state regulation.  If they oppose federal regulations, how could we have any assurance of stability in the insurance industry if we allowed them to operate automatically in all states with no federal regulation?  The insurance industry would rapidly make the recent Wall Street calamity look like child’s play.

Republicans may be right that the recent debate over health care might be a potent weapon for them in the coming elections.  If voters, however, will just take a look at past practice, history and how things have gone with similar legislation, Republicans will not be successful.  Ask yourself whether or not you could find one Republican today in office who would advocate the repeal of Medicare

Friday, March 5, 2010


Carl Parker sez:

The founders of the United States of America were extremely wise in listing as number one the right of free speech. Despots like Hitler's propaganda ministers realized that if you could control the source of information to a population, you could control the majority of political thought.  The Nazi propaganda ministers understood full well if you tell a lie often enough and continually, it will generally be accepted as the truth.

Lobbyists receiving billions of dollars to control the direction of our government have learned the same lessons well.  Unfortunately, telling the big lie with a straight face time after time without adequate rebuttal can convince too many people the big lie is the truth.  The health industry has honed this technique to a fine art.  Unfortunately, too many people believe clichés of this particular special interest that on close examination will not pass examination for the truth.

One of the first and biggest myths propagated on the American people is that we have the best health system in the world.  Numerous studies have debunked this myth.  While it is probably true we have better educated doctors and better technology in our medical system than any nation on earth, it is not true we have the best health care delivery system in the world.  If you don’t believe this, go to an emergency room and tell them you have a serious heart problem and ask them to refer you to a specialist.  By telling them you do not have insurance or thousands of dollars in the bank, you will not get to see specialists, you will only be sent home with their best wishes for continued bad health.

Cuba, a communist nation, provides medical care for a greater percentage of its citizens than does the United States.  Numerous countries throughout the world have a better survival rate for newborns.  Study after study reveals better health care delivery systems in numerous countries throughout the world than exist in America. 

The second big myth propagated by conservatives through the use of special interest money is that if we would insulate doctors, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies from being held responsible for their errors and negligence in courts of law, everything concerning America’s health care system would be “hunky dory.”  The theory is that if doctors were not fearful of being sued for their mistakes, and if hospitals could proceed with assurance they were immune from being held responsible, the cost of medical care in America would plummet.  Texas has basically tried this experiment.  Except in rare instance it is virtually impossible to hold doctors and hospitals responsible for injuries done while employing negligent or “shoddy” medical procedures.  The Legislature has artificially set the limit for damages.  The average person cannot afford to employ legal counsel, experts or wage a fight to seek recompense.  For example, if a hospital were to leave you totally blind, remove the wrong kidney or cut off the wrong limb, damages for loss of quality of life is limited at $250,000. A retired person could receive virtually nothing for having been robbed of the quality of life in their senior years; all based on Austin politicians’ judgment, not that of 12 peers in a jury box. 

What’s worse, so-called tort reform and limitation of damages apparently has saved ordinary citizens minute amounts on their health care costs so as not be measurable.  Health care providers on the other hand are reaping a windfall.  Company financial reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission health insurers, for example, have enhanced their profits 56% during the year 2009 and have insured fewer people.  For example, Cigna Corporation, Aetna and Humana covered 2.7 million fewer people than they did the year before and racked up combined profits of over $12.2 billion.  While coverage for sick people shrunk and became more expensive, salaries, bonuses and administrative expenses went up, along with profits.

The most recent big lie which some are attempting to sell to the public is that by allowing corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence political elections, it will make no difference and is in the public interest protecting free speech.  One only has to contemplate how many political ads $12.2 billion profits of the health industry could buy to influence an election against a public servant who dared to put the people ahead of special interest big money.