It’s the: Same as it Ever Was – Health Care Debate Contest. With Nifty Prizes!

I was browsing a Funny Times magazine yesterday and came across a cartoon on the Health Care Debate. I thought it might be fun for them that’s interested to guess the Month and Year this cartoon was published in the Funny Times.

Submit an entry in the comments section and the first entry with the correct information will win their choice of the following prizes (what’s laying around the house that I can post to you cheaply):

A packet of mixed heirloom and non-hybridized open pollinated seeds for next years garden: tomatoes, okra, squash, cantaloupe, green-beans, purple peas and green peas. Or a packet of 3 blank note cards bearing images of the flower series by artist Karen Parker. I want thank Lloyd Dangle, cartoonist and let him know that I removed the copyright date for the purposes of this contest. But acknowledge that the copyrights to this work lie with him.

Have fun and always remember: And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack. And you may find yourself in another part of the world. And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile. And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful Wife. And you may ask yourself-well…how did I get here?

Link to Larger Image

Same as it ever was.

Same as it ever was.

The Lie Machine: Rolling Stone Report on the Health Care Debate

The story here.

On the first day of August, a mob of 200 right-wing Texans stormed the parking lot of a Randalls grocery store in southwest Austin. They were united in a single goal: Disrupt the “office hours” that Rep. Lloyd Doggett, the district’s congressman, had scheduled for his constituents. The protesters targeted Doggett for his role in crafting the House’s bill to reform health care, brandishing signs that read “No Government Health Care” and “No Government Counselor in My Home!!!” But their anger seemed to encompass a universe of conservative fears: higher taxes, illegal immigration, socialism. The threat of violence was thinly veiled: One agitator held aloft a tombstone with the name Doggett. Screaming, “Just say no!” the mob chased Doggett through the parking lot to an aide’s car — roaring with approval as he fled the scene.

Conservatives were quick to insist that the near-riot — the first of many town-hall mobs that would dominate the headlines in August — was completely spontaneous. The protesters didn’t show up “because of some organized group,” Rick Scott, the head of Conservatives for Patients’ Rights, told reporters. “They’re mad about the stimulus bill, the bailout, the economy. Now they see that their health care is about to be taken over by the government.”

In fact, Scott’s own group had played an integral role in mobilizing the protesters. According to internal documents obtained by Rolling Stone, Conservatives for Patients’ Rights had been working closely for weeks as a “coalition partner” with three other right-wing groups in a plot to unleash irate mobs at town-hall meetings just like Doggett’s. Far from representing a spontaneous upwelling of populist rage, the protests were tightly orchestrated from the top down by corporate-funded front groups as well as top lobbyists for the health care industry. Call it the return of the Karl Rove playbook: The effort to mobilize the angriest fringe of the Republican base was guided by a conservative dream team that included the same GOP henchmen who Swift-boated John Kerry in 2004, smeared John McCain in 2000, wrote the script for Republican obstructionism on global warming, and harpooned the health care reform effort led by Hillary Clinton in 1993.

Rolling Stone: Sick and Wrong

How Washington is Screwing Up Health Care Reform

Let’s start with the obvious: America has not only the worst but the dumbest health care system in the developed world. It’s become a black leprosy eating away at the American experiment — a bureaucracy so insipid and mean and illogical that even our darkest criminal minds wouldn’t be equal to dreaming it up on purpose.

A Poker Run for Danny, 10 am Saturday as a form of Socialized Medical Care.

The name has been intentionally altered.

The name has been intentionally altered.

There seems to be a number of  willfully misinformed people who continue to insist that Socialism is solely a political system. A system imposed by an Authoritarian structure. Well, in its most complex incarnation that is a completely factual assessment.

But socialism (small “s”) fundamentally, is a group in which each person contributes what they can, so that all are supported as necessary.

By way of example: When Widder Walkins needs a barn raised, because her man was crushed dead felling trees for lumber; her neighbors get together and do the job for her. They don’t do it because they benefit directly. Some might. But most do it because it is the human and humane thing to do.

And as part of the social contract (which is the part that seems to be getting lost in the shuffle, so to speak) the good Widder will do her part in the future, when Gladys Mays needs help with that new baby’s teethin’ or Macon Tally comes down with the influenza and needs some chicken soup delivered to his bedside.

If these people don’t help each other, by neglect or by refusal, eventually they will all stumble and fall. Some, if not all, will perish. They will fail to thrive individually and as a community, because there are too many hardships for each to bear alone. Without a loose communal or tribal support structure to help them in times of need, they will, without question or exception, come up short somewhere along the line.

So lately, to satisfy my own morbid curiosity, I have been taking a loose count of the number of local requests for help with medical expenses through individual and community actions. These would include: Poker Runs, Cycle Runs, Bar-B-Que Dinners, Church fundraisers, Bake Sales, plastic jars on the counters of locally owned gas stations, posters on store windows and so on. This, by the way, does not include formally organized requests (i.e. recognized charities or non-profits) or those found in the newspaper or on the Internet.

In my very small range of territory (20 miles or so) I estimate that there is at least one fundraiser every 2 miles in any direction within a 360 degree radius. Now granted we are not talking an infinite number of points leading outward from me. (See, I’ll even admit I’m not the absolute center of the universe). But yesterday I took note of two local stores, a church, a fire station and a fruit stand all within 4 miles of me. There were 6 requests. That’s on 2 roads. I live in a very rural area, in one of the least populated parts of this county.

As I see it, allowing someone a little more savvy and organized than Henry Lee down at the Stop and Shop to manage and distribute that money allows for a number of positive things to occur:

  • Henry Lee can go back to shilling for the Stop and Shop instead of working for Suzie’s parents, keeping track of the money bucket, taking phone calls, answering questions and the like. He can work for himself as a shop keeper, rather than working for every underinsured or uninsured family in crisis.
  • Suzie’s parents can go to one place to request help. They don’t have to rely on the generosity of their neighbors who may be in worse shape than they are. They won’t have to worry that Henry Lee won’t keep an eye on the till so that drunken lout George Sacks, can’t pilfer through it and drink away the last hope for their daughter’s treatment.

There are some who are so set against any entity larger than a gas station collecting and using their money for the common good that they would rather cut off their noses to spite their faces.

Following this masochistic path to its logical conclusion, let’s say if these folks don’t want to participate they should be allowed to opt out. They will pay no more monies (taxes, surcharges, user’s fees) that are collected and utilized for a collective good. (read also as: lower costs for everyone participating because greater participation lowers costs)  In doing so, most will opt out of use of systems and lifestyles that utilize:

Fire departments

Water and sewer use and maintenance

Trash collection

Postal delivery

Police protection

Clean air

Clean water

Meat inspection

Paved roads

Traffic signage and signals

Structurally sound buildings with safety features like emergency egress and fire suppression, along with handicap access.

Public education

Elevator safety and inspection

Driver’s licenses

Public libraries

Public hospitals that treat everyone, regardless of ability to pay

So in the end, these folks suggest, by logical extension, that they can live in a poorly built shack with no lights, air conditioning, refrigeration, or running water. They will use an outhouse, heat and cook with wood, walk to get food from their garden or the nearby woods (as available), hunt their meat, burn or bury their waste, never travel on paved roads to any towns or cities and be utterly illiterate, uneducated and unemployable.

I can see that working out for them.

Interestingly some of the people I hear howling the loudest about creeping socialism are Medicaid recipients or have parents on Medicaid or Medicare and who literally could not survive without government assisted prescription coverage. Some work for state, local or county governments or the postal service, have cushy jobs and sponsored benefits like health insurance. Benefits and jobs that my taxes pay for. Go figure.

Some folks will say that they will gladly chip in and help others in need; so it’s not the collectivistic aspect that bothers them. They claim the problem is having a government run program. All the while failing to consider that our government is made up of people who elect representation to develop, run and maintain these very programs.

As long as we are a Democratic Republic we are a collective of people who run the country through representation. If we were simply a Democracy, them with the most votes would get their way. But we are not a democracy. Our system is designed to consider those who are so weak and so powerless that their voices get lost in the crowd. Like Suzie’s parents, who need help paying for her medical treatments. Or like Margaret in Hospice or Wanda with lymphoma or the half a dozen folks whose names, faces and personal tragedies are plastered on plastic buckets in the Stop and Shop or on a 5 foot sign in front of the local volunteer fire department that reads: Poker Run for Danny, starting at 10 a.m. this Saturday.

From the Independent: The Brutal Truth about American Healthcare

This link to the Independent follows a makeshift medical center set up in an arena.

Thousands of people lined up for basic healthcare services. Maybe all the folks disrupting town hall meetings have health care they are happy with. They should consider themselves lucky. And consider that not everyone has the advantages they take for granted.

I often wonder where their sense of Christian goodness fits in with their views on helping those among the least of them.

Matthew 25:40 And the King will make answer and say to them, Truly I say to you, Because you did it to the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.

2004 Study Shows Universal Coverage Could Save Enough to Pay for All (and then some).

Link to PDF

“A study by researchers at Harvard Medical School and
Public Citizen published in the January issue of the International
Journal of Health Services finds that health care bureaucracy last year cost
the United States $399.4 billion. The study estimates that national health
insurance (NHI) could save at least $286 billion annually on paperwork,
enough to cover all of the uninsured and to provide full prescription drug
coverage for everyone in the United States.

The study was based on the most comprehensive analysis to date of
health administration spending, including data on the administrative
costs of health insurers, employers’ health benefit programs, hospitals,
nursing homes, home care agencies, physicians and other practitioners in
the United States and Canada. The authors found that bureaucracy
accounts for at least 31 percent of total U.S. health spending compared
to 16.7 percent in Canada. They also found that administration has
grown far faster in the United States than in Canada.”

From the Guardian: Whistleblower tells of America’s hidden nightmare for its sick poor

Insurance vs. Health Care in America


Wendell Potter can remember exactly when he took the first steps on his journey to becoming a whistleblower and turning against one of the most powerful industries in America.

It was July 2007 and Potter, a senior executive at giant US healthcare firm Cigna, was visiting relatives in the poverty-ridden mountain districts of northeast Tennessee. He saw an advert in a local paper for a touring free medical clinic at a fairground just across the state border in Wise County, Virginia.

Potter, who had worked at Cigna for 15 years, decided to check it out. What he saw appalled him. Hundreds of desperate people, most without any medical insurance, descended on the clinic from out of the hills. People queued in long lines to have the most basic medical procedures carried out free of charge. Some had driven more than 200 miles from Georgia. Many were treated in the open air. Potter took pictures of patients lying on trolleys on rain-soaked pavements.

For Potter it was a dreadful realisation that healthcare in America had failed millions of poor, sick people and that he, and the industry he worked for, did not care about the human cost of their relentless search for profits. “It was over-powering. It was just more than I could possibly have imagined could be happening in America,” he told the Observer