We Are About To Enter A Laboratory — Our Lives Are About To Prove That Socialized Democracy Is Better For People Than Crony Capitalism

I can’t help being an optimist — even in the worst of times ( like now).

What’s about to slam into us… I fear we’re not doing it justice. We’re still underselling how hard it’s going to hit us and how.

But that’s where I see silver lining. For starters — we can actually see what having human

How To Put This Nicely… “Hey, Everyone — Life As We Know It Just Changed COMPLETELY — For Real”

Think of how hard it was to convince the world that Donald Trump was elected POTUS because Russia interceded in our election on his behalf. Think of how hard it was just to get “serious people” to view any Russian involvement in Trump’s election as a possibility. Hell — there are STILL lots of “fair-minded people” who insist it’s impossible to change an election’s outcome EVEN IF TONS OF PROOF shouts that the outcome doesn’t actually reflect how We The People actually voted.

The idea of a treasonous POTUS is monstrous. It’s hard to wrap one’s mind around. It’s too far outside our concept of “normal” for us to process it as possible. That doesn’t mean it’s not possible.

I bet an HOUR before the first plane hit the Twin Towers that most Americans would have said that wasn’t possible. I bet the residents of Pearl Harbor — as they slept soundly in their beds the morning of December 7, 1941 — would have said it was impossible for their Sunday to be ruined by a surprise attack by Japan.

And yet…

World War II changed the course of human events. One way or another, it touched every human life. This will do the same thing.

Countries don’t shut down out of ordinary fear. This isn’t a political conversation, it’s a biological one. As good as we’ve gotten at dealing with pathogens, pathogens still have it over us. Even the pathogens we have wiped out might not stay wiped out because anti-vaxxers connect dots that simply do not connect. Pathogens like polio and measles don’t give a shit why a human DOESN’T protect themselves from them. To a pathogen, we’re meat. They need us to be. Viruses, for instance, lacking DNA, use our cells like cheap-assed sex motels in order to reproduce.

If anti-vaxxers could SEE the pathogens, perhaps they’d feel differently. If all those young people refusing to “buy in” to the seriousness of Covid-19’s threat could themselves experience the virus’s worst effects (or watch a loved one struggle for breath, their lung function compromised by the virus), maybe THEN they’d get it. Live how we used to live and lots of us could not just die but suffer long-term effects that THEMSELVES change our lives going forwards.

Social distancing isn’t an affect. It’s the one tool in our collective belt to stop coronavirus from spreading. We can’t help ourselves in any meaningful way until we STOP the virus from infecting new people and vectoring off into the unknown. We can’t do that until we’re monitoring ourselves relentlessly just so we know who has it and who doesn’t. Being as that won’t happen any time soon, all that’s left to us is personal isolation.

This may be the hardest thing for Americans to adapt to — thinking of the group — though it’s there in our makeup. We need to put down the ludicrous notion of the “rugged individual”. He doesn’t really exist anyway. In a pandemic? He’s utterly useless. He alone can’t fix anything — and he never could. Chances are it’s HIS selfishness that’s helping spread the virus far and wide.

Unless you KNOW for a fact that you’re virus free, you need to assume that you’re infected and could infect others. We are obligated to each other to do everything possible to NOT infect each other — to NOT be the cause of them getting sick or worse.

Doing the right thing is easy when the choices are easy. Not abusing a puppy because it’s horribly wrong is an easy moral choice to make. Knowing your neighbor and friend is abusing a puppy — and someone needs to intercede — THAT’S when doing the right thing gets hard. And real.

The fact is we don’t know what happens next because no one’s been here before. We don’t know how much this will impact the world’s economy because the circumstances that got us here have never happened before. The Spanish Flu was bad but, in 1918, people still couldn’t travel around the world like they do now — spreading a pathogen far and wide without even knowing it. Kinda like what probably happened last night in Chicago’s O’Hare and Dallas’s Love Field when all those Americans returning from Europe (cos of possible coronavirus exposure) were subjected to hours of waiting in packed lines while waiting (after they’d got their bags) to be “screened” for coronavirus.

Stupid doesn’t get more stupid than that.

https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/coronavirus-airport-screening-sunday/index.html

We will — in the coming weeks — look back on certain interactions that we used to take for granted (like shaking hands) with a start. Whoa — touching another person’s hand like that — never again! The longer the coronavirus endures, the longer a safer alternative to hand-shaking will have to set in and become the new norm.

We have no idea how long countries will be down. We don’t know if a summer reprieve will lead to an even more ferocious second wave in the fall (like the Spanish flu did). If our outcome is anything like Italy’s? There’s a huge shock coming our way.

The PTSD alone will cause us troubles.

The quicker we adapt and self-isolate when necessary while socially-distancing ourselves as “ordinary behavior”, the quicker we’ll all get our “ordinary lives back”. The truth is, we may never get our “ordinary lives” back.

The quicker we adapt to that fact, the better.

Who Is Directly Responsible For The Shit-Show We’re In? THESE Guys…

While the whole world is now laser-focused on surviving Covid-19, it’s important to remember that this pandemic isn’t isolated. Yes, the original vector — whether from a live animal market in China or from bat guano that migrated from shoes to hands in a Chinese cave — would have presented regardless. But what happened afterwards — THAT would have been entirely different if, say, Hillary Clinton (or Barack Obama) was president rather than Donald Trump.

Trump’s reaction — as early as January, he was sacrificing rapid response for political appearances — was just Trump’s next step in dismantling the American government at the behest of Russia and his own raging ego. But the fact that Trump is in place — that he’s president to begin with — that, too, is part of our coronavirus problem. This really has been a perfect storm of authoritarian fuckery.

Authoritarians are great at wielding power, not so good at governing. And governing really isn’t about the good times — when things are running smoothly — governing is about the hard times — when citizens need help because of a natural disaster, a war — or a pandemic. And, one thing we know for a fact about republicans — when the hard times come, they won’t be the ones governing, they’ll be the ones profiteering.

So — why is coronavirus kicking the world’s ass? Because Donald Trump is president of the United States. And Donald Trump is POTUS because of himself of course but also because of THESE scumbags…

VLAD PUTIN

In Vlad Putin’s defense, he’s doing what we expect him to do. He’s a Russian nationalist, suckled by the dying Soviet intelligence state, a spymaster who also runs a criminal enterprise masquerading as a government. He has actively plotted against the West while dreaming of the return of a Greater Russia. Problem is, Vlad’s Greater Russia has a crap economy based entirely on oil. Sanctions are killing him — that’s why he needs them lifted. Putin recruited & nurtured Trump as early as the 80’s. Considering what his cyber war has cost him — pennies compared to a shooting war — Putin has succeeded beyond his wildest dreams and for virtually no money.

THE KOCHS/MERCERS/RW MONEY

While Putin was doing what Putin was doing, the Big Republican Money machine was busy too. As Reaganism peaked, the RW money saw something terrifying in the nation’s demographics — no them. America’s diversification (the source of our exceptionalism) was moving more rapidly. White people are going to become a minority. That’s just a fact. The Big Money Republicans (the Koch Brothers, David & Rebekah Mercer) saw that handwriting and resolved to DO something about it.

What the RW Money got was this: the presidency was pretty much out of reach for Republicans (take away Bush v Gore and Russia and there’d be a straight run of Democratic presidents). The House of Representatives is too mercurial to control — it is the Peoples’ House after all. Instead, Republicans focused on holding the Senate forever and using the power of confirming judges to control the most important part of their gambit: hijacking the judiciary.

That is the point of the exercise — lifetime appointments at the federal level especially SCOTUS seats. The goal — lock down the courts for another generation at least — making it hard for a Progressive House to get anything done or enact anything.

The ultimate goal, of course: Permanent Minority Rule.

MITCH MCCONNELL

One of the most corrupt people to ever serve in Congress. A weakling’s weakling who’s at his happiest abusing power for his patrons — the RW Money. And Russia.

Mitch’s greatest hits are well known — He’s taken gobs of Russian money into his PAC… he refused to let Obama tell We The People in September 20167 that Russia was actively attacking our election for the benefit of Donald Trump… He has enabled every anti-Democratic, un-American, pro-Russian move Trump has made… He got rid of the sactions on Oleg Deripaska (“former” Russian intelligence to whom Paul Manafort handed proprietary polling data on Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota before election 2016 — data which Deripaska weaponized and turned back on America as individualized propaganda appearing in individual Democratic voters’ Facebook pages. That most of those Democratic voters were people of color — and the ads were accusing Hillary Clinton of racism (in an environment where she was constantly under assault?) Oleg Deripaska is engaged in an info/cyber war against us.

That makes what Mitch did TREASON.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, listens during a news conference after a weekly GOP luncheon meeting at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, July 11, 2017. McConnell said he’s delaying the Senate’s August recess by two weeks after divided lawmakers have been unable to agree on how to revise health-care legislation he proposed to replace Obamacare. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

BILL BARR

Trump wanted a Roy Cohn and he got one. Every Democrat who said yes to Barr has some ‘splainin’ to do. Barr’s lies about the Mueller Report weren’t his first time at the Bullshit Rodeo. Barr did that once before during Iran-Contra. Barr is a rabid Christo-Fascist who wouldn’t know Jesus if he stopped mid-way through nailing Jesus to a cross to spit in Jesus’s eye. Bar lied about the Mueller Report — completely mischaracterizing its conclusions. He tried to do the same thing with impeachment.

If Bill Barr were out of the equation? Donald Trump would already be facing prosecution for high crimes, misemeanors, low crimes, rape, election fraud and treason.

DONALD TRUMP

Every time the bloated orange jackal turd opens his anus mouth, he literally tells us how guilty he is.

If only we’d believe him…

Looming Lessons From A Pandemic — Money Won’t Save You; Community However Will

It’s definitely premature to say “here’s what we’ve learned from living through a pandemic…”. But a few lessons are already crystal clear. They’ll only get crystal clearer.

For starters: in a real crisis — like a pandemic — the flow of accurate information is essential. Screw with that? You just made the pandemic exponentially worse. People can’t judge how best to protect themselves, their families and their communities when the information coming at them is bogus or worse. It’s like we’re all trapped inside a building that’s on fire. One exit leads to safety. The other doesn’t — and our current leaders keep insisting that 1) there’s no fire but 2) if there is, run to toward that “other” door — the one that leads AWAY from safety.

Government should not be some foreign, faceless nemesis. In essence, it’s US. We are our own government — that’s the whole point of democracy. It has been a deeply cynical right wing talking point that government is to blame for all our ills. No, actually, GREED is to blame for most of our ills. Ignorance, racism, bigotry and (especially) misogyny account for the rest.

As the coronavirus keeps proving to us, pathogens couldn’t care less how famous we are, how rich we are, how special we are. Viruses need human cells in order to reproduce. They use us like a cheap sex hotel — only to take over the whole hotel once they start having sex in it. Throwing money at it won’t stop it.

Ironically — community will stop it. Provided we keep our distance from our community for a while. But the point of the exercise is to keep the community safe — which means we have to acknowledge that our community is automatically more important than any one individual in it. That’s an important distinction to make — especially going forward.

The Pandemic of 2020 has brought the human world to a virtual stand-still. Our economies — tied together as they are — are about to experience something unprecedented. We’re about to become cash-starved as our incomes stop while our expenses don’t. To survive this — we’re going to have to look each other in the eye and say “people matter more than money does”.

Because Trump’s crony-capitalism has gutted so much of the government we built to protect us — or, at least, create a structured framework in which we can work — we’ll HAVE TO rely on ourselves to survive this. We won’t be able to do what China did — live in our homes like prison cells until we’re told we can go out again. It’s just not in our nature. But — as China is proving — it’s the only way to stop Kovid-19 from spreading.

And until we stop the coronavirus from spreading, we can’t do anything to stop it. Good thing China’s now offering test kits. We need em.

The other Big Lesson we should already be taking from Pandemic 2020 — a for-profit health “care” system will fail everyone using it. Because not everyone can afford to be in the system, a huge chunk of us are unhealthy. Pathogens fly past expensive walls. A pathogen that takes root in a homeless encampment on Spring Street in Downtown Los Angeles can take out whole blocks of rich Beverly Hills residents just like “that”.

We don’t, at present, have a health CARE system, we have a health INSURANCE system. Not the same thing. When anyone walks in the door, our system’s first question isn’t “How can we fix you?”, it’s “How’re you gonna pay for this?”

There’s a reason no other industrialized country does it our way: it’s stupid. It’s inhumane. And, in the face of a pandemic — it’s actually self-destructive.

Humans will see the Pandemic of 2020 as one of those epic events that took over the planet — like a world war. Ironically, the pandemic will have to share space with the OTHER epic event taking over our planet right now — the successful cyber war Russia has waged and still IS waging against America.

The reason the Pandemic of 2020 will be so extraordinarily terrible for the United States is because Donald Trump is president. And Donald Trump is president because Vladimir Putin MADE him president.

Just like in HG Wells’ “War Of The Worlds” — where a humble pathogen takes out the Martians that none of earth’s armies can put a dent in — a germ (okay — a virus) will take down the monster — in our case, Donald Trump. Covid-19 will do what the Truth could not.

Here’s a prediction — and it’s based on the lessons the Pandemic has already taught us — in the Pandemic’s aftermath, America will head to the left. Health care in America will come socialized — made a fact of life by the pandemic. To pay for that health care, Americans will have to rethink their taxes — how much they pay, yes, but more importantly, how much they GET for their taxes.

Social democracy is coming to America — riding on the back of the coronavirus. The rich won’t like it much — until they realize how, when all boats rise on the tide, theirs rises even higher. The rest of us? Well, our boats will be rising on the tide, right? That tide is our community. The one that’s always been there for us.

The one we’ll need to be there for us now.

Of Course Trump’s Not Prepared To Deal With Coronavirus — He Never Planned To Be President!

Painful as it may be, let’s revisit election night 2016.

What made a shocking night all the more perplexing was that even Trump and his campaign were so utterly surprised by the results — in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan — and then the Electoral College. 77,000 votes across three states.

Let’s stick a pin in some facts for the moment. Paul Manafort notoriously handed Oleg Deripaska proprietary polling data for 4 states: Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. That act, in and of itself, was illegal — in part because it was part of a larger illegal action: the receiving of something of value from a foreign interest in an American election. The fact that that foreign interest was Russia — and Russia was actively engaged in a cyber war against us — and success to them meant 1) corrupting our election and 2) corrupting our election enough to actually make Trump president.

Russia was open to either versions of success. Clever them — they got both.

The truth is we don’t know yet how profoundly Manafort’s gift impacted the outcomes in PA/WI/MI. We don’t know for a fact how many African American voters were dissuaded by the personalized Facebook ads that turned up on their Facebook pages every day — ads based on that proprietary polling data that was now weaponized into propaganda, misinformation and disinformation.

If the Rule Of Law was back in force, we’d have to draw the line at Zero Tolerance. In other words, if just ONE African American voter stayed home because of what Paul Manafort did? That’s election fraud — right there. As we know, one vote can change an election’s outcome. If we don’t know how many other African American voters were similarly dissuaded from carrying out their right to vote, then we cannot say how much voter fraud occurred other than “it happened”.

The Rule Of Law says it can’t happen. Therefore any and all voter fraud has the same meaning. It’s illegal. Now let’s be real. It wasn’t just one African American voter. It was lots. And those Facebook ads weren’t the only game being played. Let’s be really real: the Trump campaign wasn’t just in bed with Russia, the Trump campaign was Russia’s sex slave — chained to a wall in the Kremlin basement — and loving it.

Lots of people bitched about Michael Wolff and his book “Fire and Fury: Inside Trump’s White House”, but no one’s contradicted what Wolff wrote. Per Newsweek: “A week before the election, Trump was sure he would lose the presidency. But still, according to Wolff’s book, he told Ailes that it was “bigger than I ever dreamed of. I don’t think about losing, because it isn’t losing. We’ve totally won.”

This is from New York Magazine’s excerpt of Wolff’s book (in their Intelligencer section):

“Not only would Trump not be president, almost everyone in the campaign agreed, he should probably not be. Conveniently, the former conviction meant nobody had to deal with the latter issue.”

It was as simple as THIS —

“Not only did Trump disregard the potential conflicts of his own business deals and real-estate holdings, he audaciously refused to release his tax returns. Why should he? Once he lost, Trump would be both insanely famous and a martyr to Crooked Hillary. His daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared would be international celebrities. Steve Bannon would become the de facto head of the tea-party movement. Kellyanne Conway would be a cable-news star. Melania Trump, who had been assured by her husband that he wouldn’t become president, could return to inconspicuously lunching. Losing would work out for everybody. Losing was winning.”

Which is why THIS —

Shortly after 8 p.m. on Election Night, when the unexpected trend — Trump might actually win — seemed confirmed, Don Jr. told a friend that his father, or DJT, as he calls him, looked as if he had seen a ghost. Melania was in tears — and not of joy.

And then THIS —

There was, in the space of little more than an hour, in Steve Bannon’s not unamused observation, a befuddled Trump morphing into a disbelieving Trump and then into a horrified Trump.

Becoming POTUS was not the point of the exercise. Creating Trump TV & more, bigger, better branding opportunities were.

But, once Trump won — once he realized what Vladimir Putin had done for him — he assumed the mantle of tin pot dictator. That’s tin pot dictator on a very short leash — about the length of that tin pot dictator’s ugly, badly-made, badly-tied tie.

Repeat — no one’s ever contradicted anything Michael Wolff said in his book. Liars denying a thing happened carries zero weight.

Every second that we refuse to put this on the table — own it all right goddamned now because pathogens like coronavirus don’t care about politics. We need full transparency right now. And once transparency begins for coronavirus? There’ll be no stopping it.

Suddenly all the other secrets Trump World has managed to hold onto will begin exploding into the light.

I blogged here about the similarities between HG Wells’ “War Of The Worlds” and our current situation — where a lowly pathogen could be the thing to take out a monster we mere Earthlings couldn’t lay a glove on. Even pundits who always get things wrong got this one right: at some point, a crisis will happen that Trump is ill-prepared to deal with.

All Trump’s other chaos has started with Trump and his innate corruption. He’s always been able to moderate the amount of insanity. He’s always been able to switch us to another outrage just as our outrage from the previous nonsense was waning. But, like a natural disaster, Trump can’t control coronavirus.

He got away with botching our response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. After all, Puerto Rico’s off shore. And it’s mostly brown people.

Coronavirus could come for any one of us. We’ll have as much skin in the game as we do coronavirus in our lungs and nasal passages. And if Donald Trump’s ineptitude, incompetence & corruption had anything to do with that (spoiler alert — it DID!), he may yet hold onto his most hard core devotees, but their numbers will be smaller than ever — and shrinking probably because they’re too damned stupid to protect themselves.

Trump may indeed have been able to shoot people on Fifth Avenue and not lose a single voter. He may NOT be able to infect people with coronavirus on Fifth Avenue and get away with that.

Do Americans Love False Narratives More Than They Love Democracy?

We’ve all had a friend — maybe it’s been us — who loved the wrong person too much. Everyone else but that friend could see from every angle how disastrous their love was and was going to be. But that friend persisted. They had created a false narrative inside their heads that love — theirs in particular — would overcome all obstacles and solve all problems.

They were wrong, weren’t they? That’s how false narratives work. You buy, they fail to deliver. But you keep buying regardless…

Elizabeth Warren — it’s pretty much agreed upon — was the best Democratic candidate still running when she dropped out of the race this week. She was the most complete. That’s after running alongside a host of strong women candidates (that does not include Tulsi Gabbard). But, we’re telling ourselves, voters were afraid of Warren’s “electability”. They feared that a woman couldn’t stand up to mean old Donald Trump.

There’s a shit-ton wrong with that. And every last bit of it flows from the fact that it’s a completely false narrative.

FALSE NARRATIVE #1: A WOMAN CANNOT BEAT DONALD TRUMP

Hillary Clinton got – at a minimum – 3 million more popular votes than Donald Trump got. That doesn’t include all the Democratic votes Republican efforts successfully suppressed. It doesn’t include all the Democratic voters (many African American) whose Facebook pages were barraged with weaponized ads created by Russia’s GRU (its Defense Intelligence Agency) based on proprietary polling data Paul Manafort gave Oleg Deripaska. It doesn’t include any possible corruption of voting machines and altered results.

As we’re learning the hard way, connecting a voting machine to the internet is an invitation to that machine getting hacked. And hacking them is simple. The companies who make voting machines are almost entirely “Republican” owned. They have resisted hand-marked paper ballots in favor of electronic voting systems with no possible way to check them for accuracy — while being entirely open to hacking.

A woman has already beaten Donald Trump at the polls. Hillary Clinton, I betcha we realize, was literally ROBBED of her presidency. We The People were robbed of it too. It’s an entirely false narrative to say election 2016 was “free & fair”. It’s an entirely false narrative to say Russia didn’t impact the election’s result.

It’s an entirely false narrative to say Donald Trump is a “legitimate potus”…

FALSE NARRATIVE #2: DONALD TRUMP IS THE LEGITIMATE POTUS

If the Rule Of Law had been fully functional in 2016, Donald Trump would not be president today. The Rule Of Law says pretty explicitly: you are not allowed to ask a foreign power to help you win the presidency. You aren’t allowed to accept help if they offer it. You aren’t allowed to accept foreign money into your campaign coffers.

And you aren’t allowed to conspire wtih a hostile foreign country who’s declared a cyber war on us.

Do any of those things — so says the Rule Of Law — and you cannot be president. Donald Trump & the Republican Party did ALL OF THOSE THINGS to help Trump become POTUS. Recognizing the demographic dead end staring them in the face, the Republican money cynically threw their lot in with Trump & Russia. They saw a direct route to permanent minority rule and they took it.

The Republican money has always known what it was doing — and why. Mitch McConnell knows better than anyone how illegitimate Trump’s presidency is.

Being illegitimate means Trump has never had the actual authority to do anything legitimate POTUSes do — suggest legislation, hire a cabinet, nominate lifetime judges to lifetime seats. Being illegitimate means Trump’s agenda is equally illegitimate — We The People did not vote for it; in fact, we voted for the exact opposite.

Let’s be real — what the Republicans pulled off in 2016 (with Russia’s direct assistance) was a soft coup d’etat. They deliberately conspired to change the outcome of the election for their own political benefit — never mind that their benefit and agenda were the diametric opposite of what The American Electorate actually voted for.

The Republican Party has busted a cap in the Rule Of Law’s head. They aren’t just ignoring it, they’re pissing on the corpse just to be assholes.

FALSE NARRATIVE #3: THERE’S NOTHING WE CAN DO TO STOP WHAT THE REPUBLICANS ARE DOING

This is the craziest part of the false narrative — the normalization of illegal, immoral behavior to such an extent that we believe it IS the new normal. For starters, regular Americans would have a better shot at standing up to the Trumpian false narrative if the damned news media would stand up to it.

Ordinary people like us don’t have any sort of megaphone beyond social media and blogs like this. We don’t invent the narrative and we certainly don’t broadcast it. If the news media had added information about Donald Trump instead of returning every day to a kind of “square one” where they shrug off the latest Trumpian outrages as a new “new normal”. We should have been at “hair on fire” status on the day Trump both took his oath of office and blatantly violated it at the very same instant.

That wasn’t a good sign.

But our press sold us a false narrative: this is normal now. This is how it is. Get used to it…

America’s always had a thing for false narratives. Think of all the wacky, new-fangled religions that have been invented in America, by Americans. Mormonism & Scientology both demand that their believers buy into some pretty ridiculous stuff. That’s how all religion works. Want to be in the club? Here’s the list of false narratives you need to accept first.

Americans are perfectly happy to vote for a woman as POTUS. We’ve already done it. It’s a false narrative to say that we haven’t.

America’s Tax Problem Isn’t That Taxes Are Too High, It’s That We Don’t Think We GET Anything For Them…

Americans have always hated paying taxes. “No taxation without representation” was one of our first great marketing triumphs as a young nation. Wanna know who WE are? We’re the “We ain’t paying no stinking taxes” guys.

The colonists saw their tax dollars going out and nothing coming back in return.

What made it worse — the things they could point to that their tax dollars were funding included the British soldiers who, the Americans increasingly believed, were oppressing them. Americans, it turns out, HATE paying to be oppressed.

We resisted any sort of federal income tax for 140 years (caveat — the federal govt briefly imposed an income tax during the Civil War) until the 16th amendment was ratified in 1913 — that’s the one that made a federal income tax legal. Just for information’s sake, the first federally imposed tax was an inheritance tax. We knew even back then that the rich were hoarding cash.

When someone holds out their hand to you — expecting YOU to put cash in it — you kinda want to know what you’re getting for it. Even if all you’re responding to a threat with a bribe or a payoff, you KNOW what you’re getting — a few moments of relative peace until the next time they come with their hand out. You may not like what you’re getting, but at least you can identify it. Most Americans couldn’t tell you what they get for their tax dollars — other than the military and “the federal government” in all its polymorphous splendor. The problem is, aside from the military (which is mostly other people doing what they do far, far away), Americans see their tax dollars as paying for nothing.

Taxes are a black hole that mocks us relentlessly. Only a sucker pays taxes. Isn’t that what we’re taught?

We laugh at Europeans because they pay such high taxes — Just above 60% in Denmark, for instance. The sub headline from this article (from US News & World Report, 2016) says it all: “People in the European country see taxes as an investment in their quality of life”. They’re laughing at us a lot harder than we ever laughed at them. By virtually every metric — other than self-delusion — Northern Europeans like the Danes (the ones paying the highest taxes) are far, far, FAR happier than we are.

They’re far healthier than we are. As is said — they work to live. Americans, OTOH, live to work. Yeah — the ones paying the higher taxes are far happier than the ones begrudging every tax dollar spent.

But then, Europeans like the Danes can point to things they GET for their tax dollars. They GET health CARE from cradle to grave.

That’s especially foreign to Americans because we think in terms of health INSURANCE, not health CARE. That’s because our system evolved out of an historical anomaly that arose during WW II. The first employersponsored hospitalization plan was created by teachers in Dallas, Texas in 1929. These were small, very localized health plans that were meant to deal with catastrophic situations. Hospitalization. In the absence of any sort of “national health system”, every locality did what it did in its own way.

During WW II, the federal government directed every possible tax dollar its way. It was illegal, during the war, to give employees raises (or to raise a salary so as to attract talent to a job). But fringe benefits like, say, “health insurance” didn’t count as salary. Big companies (they could afford to) offered “health plans” instead.

Then the war ended — and these health plans should have ended right along with it. From Wikipedia: In his November 19, 1945 address to the nation, President Harry Truman proposed “…a national system that would be open to all Americans, but would remain optional. Participants would pay monthly fees into the plan, which would cover the cost of any and all medical expenses that arose in a time of need. The government would pay for the cost of services rendered by any doctor who chose to join the program. In addition, the insurance plan would give cash to the policy holder to replace wages lost because of illness or injury.”

Americans liked the idea — a lot. But the AMA hated it. So did the Chamber of Commerce and The American Hospital Association. They denounced it as “socialism”.

And that is where America’s shot at Universal Single Payer Health CARE died.

The people who opposed it did not oppose it on medical grounds, they opposed it for monetary reasons. Greed mattered more than medicine. FACT.

If Truman had done what Obama did — muscled his way past the greed as best he could — we wouldn’t be laughing AT the Danes and the Swedes and the British and the Germans and the French and the Canadians. We’d be laughing with them.

These systems aren’t perfect. Not by a long shot. Nothing is — can we please accept that fact? But — the data’s pretty conclusive — if you want to measure a health care system by its successful health care outcomes? We’ve got it all wrong. We pay far more and get far less.

Ah, but — what if we payed less (our individual piles of money are the same pile whether we pay taxes with it or out-of-pocket health care costs like deductibles & co-pays) and got a whole lot more for those very same dollars? What if — in addition to cradle to grave health CARE — we got the knowledge that we could NEVER go broke or lose our houses because we or someone we love got sick?

What if Americans — instead of merely seeing a deduction already taken from their paycheck or a check written to the US Treasury in blood — got an itemized bill that showed 1) what they themselves owed but (more importantly), 2) also gave them a detailed breakdown of where every single penny went. And what if some of those things their every tax dollar funded was good health care with the doctors they like?

Caveat — it’s not just the tax system that needs overhauling. It’s the whole nature of the health CARE system. In a universal single-payer system, every physician who wants to have a license to practice medicine will have to take part. Part of our “you know what you’re paying for system” would now include your education. Want to be a doctor? We’ll pay for it — you’ll pay for it (via your taxes). But then you won’t leave college/university hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. You will have to spend your early years as a doctor inside the National Health CARE System. You’ll learn a ton. You’ll be well compensated — but you won’t be overly compensated.

Health care cannot be a wild, wild west of greed. It simply can’t be run that way — otherwise you get what WE have where people get billed $3200 cos they caught coronavirus. That should be a joke that we all laugh at because it’s so incomprehensible.

That’s our reality. It’s why people like the Danes laugh their asses off at us.

There’s no such thing as a “rugged individual”. That’s a bullshit myth “rugged individuals” (men — almost exclusively men) tell themselves to justify their greed.

They’re the ones benefiting from our tax system.