The Difference Between Icing And Cake

Icing: “Both sides have decent people on them!” Cake: one side is racist, violent and reactionary, the other isn’t. The whole trick to getting propaganda to work is convincing as many people as possible that icing is what matters. If the outside is pretty, sparkly and distracting enough, hopefully no one will notice that the cake underneath the icing is rotten. And yet, some people have no idea that the cake even exists. All they perceive is the icing. Those people are called “journalists” here in America. Back when this all started, one day they’d get whipsawed in one direction by “Mexicans are rapists” colored icing, then whipsawed inn the complete other direction by “pussy-grabbing” colored icing. Then, suddenly, it was some other colored icing and the news media could hardly keep up with it. Of course, if they’d been able to forget about the icing and look directly at the cake — as Fusion GPS did when they were hired to do oppo research on Donald Trump for the conservative, Marco Rubio-backing Washington Free Beacon — they would have seen with their own eyes that every bit of the Donald Trump cake mix was vile, pernicious, corrupt, compromised and (likely) treasonous.

Icing: “Donald Trump is our nominee for POTUS”. Cake: “There are two people I think Putin pays, Rohrbacher and Trump… swear to God!”

A month before the GOP nominated Trump to be their presidential candidate, current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walked into a meeting of Republican muckety-mucks and said the above. The room did not erupt in chaos with people angrily demanding how Kevin got such an outrageous idea into his head. No one said, “Hey, if that’s even remotely possible, we need to get the FBI on the phone right NOW!” On the contrary, then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan — one of the most powerful Republicans in office at the time — made it emphatically clear that what Kevin had just said was not going to be discussed outside that “room”. That little secret — no one questioned that Trump (and Rohrbacher) were taking money from Moscow — was going to stay “in the family”. That’s cake right there — Treason Cake. How can it not be if 1) you know or suspect that your PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE is already compromised (or easily compromise-able) by a hostile foreign power and 2) you accept that fact as “who he is” and therefore “who YOU are”?

Cake is the aggregated reality we all live in. It’s four years of watching Donald Trump and everyone in his orbit take corruption to bold new heights even corruption never thought it could attain. The Republican Party — seeing demographic extinction in their future — deliberately hitched their wagon to Trump despite knowing he was owned outright by Russia. They’d set themselves on a course toward permanent minority rule years before. The Kochs and the Mercers (and the other big RW donors) directed Mitch McConnell to seize the judiciary and use it as the basis for the soft coup d’etat that started during the 2016 election. The whole point of denying Merrick Garland so much as a hearing was to hijack the Supreme Court. That’s some serious cake.

Cake is the racism underlying the Republican Party’s bottom line. The former “Party Of Lincoln” is now the “pro-slavery party”. If they could bring slavery back, the GOP most assuredly would. Keep in mind — first and foremost, slavery is stolen labor. The slaver will eat the cost of clothing, housing and feeding a slave because the slaver knows he’ll make way more money from the slave’s work output. While Republicans know they can’t be that blatant anymore, the desire for slavery (free labor) drives their resistance to a livable minimum wage. People who can pay their bills and thrive economically (and therefore politically) can’t be enslaved. But, if one compromises their ability to pay their bills and thrive economically — and then make it impossible for them to ever acquire the wealth required to really thrive in America — one can “enslave them” without actually seeming to.

The restaurant business in America survives on the icing that diners should pay a significant portion of their servers’ wages. The cake is “no, the economic success of people in the food service industry should not rely on the kindness of strangers.”

Icing: America has the best health care in the world Cake: America doesn’t have a health CARE system, it has a health INSURANCE system — not the same thing. Whenever anyone walks in the door of our health system, the first question we ask isn’t “How can we fix you” — the proper question — it’s “How’re you gonna pay for this?” That’s unconscionable. It’s barbaric. It’s wrong.

Beware the icing eaters! They have a way of getting things really, really wrong…

America Has A Health INSURANCE System, Not A Health CARE System; They’re NOT The Same Thing

Repeat: America does not have a health CARE system. What we have is a health INSURANCE system. They are not the same thing. The first question we ask anyone who walks in the health system’s door isn’t “How can we fix you?”, it’s “How’re you gonna pay for this?” That’s deplorable. It’s disgusting. We are the only civilized country on earth where that happens. Correction — because that happens here? There is no way we can claim to be “civilized”. Civilized people don’t put profit incentive at the core of their health CARE system

It’s a testament to how thoroughly the insurance companies have bamboozled Americans that most Americans don’t even realize what they’re fighting for when they insist they want to keep the health insurance they have no matter what. Insurance companies don’t provide health care. They provide “GATEKEEPING” services. That’s it. Their job is to stand between us and our health care providers, deciding whether to let us see them or not. A “good health insurance plan” will let us see the health care providers we want — provided they’re “in-network”. A crap plan doesn’t cover anything so why bother figuring out which doctors you like; you aren’t seeing them regardless.

The health insurance companies — like for profit hospitals — are not in the business of curing patients so much as they are in the business of charging them maximum dollars for minimum services. For profit health insurance companies LOSE money every time they have to pay for an insured’s medical expenses. In their ideal world, everyone’s paranoid about their health — paying in — but incredibly healthy — requiring no paying out. Keep in mind, a publicly traded company has a fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders, not to any “patients”. Patients (that cost money) and profits are mutually exclusive propositions.

That’s why Americans have to worry every time they get sick even IF they have decent insurance. The insurance might not cover what they need — and they won’t know about it or know how desperately they need it until it’s already happening. And that’s IF they have insurance. Without the insurance, they’d be completely at the system’s mercy — and our health insurance system has zero mercy.

How the hell did we get into this mess? To a degree, it started during WW Two. In order to direct as much money as possible to the war effort, we made it verboten for big companies to give good employees raises or to raise the salary being paid to new, skilled hires. Big companies still wanted to incentivize their best employees to stay or to motivate new, quality employees to hire on, so they started offering “hospital insurance”. The new hires seemed to like it.

In time, the war ended. So did the moratorium on raises. But, the employer-provided health insurance didn’t end. In fact, it became the “state of the art”. Though the logic behind employers providing their employees health INSURANCE (not the actual care) no longer held, the idea flourished. That was the beginning of our national health care nightmare.

While more big, medium and (now) smaller companies were forced to offer health INSURANCE to their employees, they didn’t have the ability or desire to administer the policies and their implementation. They turned to the newly burgeoning “health insurance business” to do that. The insurance companies, once empowered, were not going to give up that power easily — because that power (to decide what they’d pay for and what they wouldn’t) was the source of their money. The unions — as they should have — took full advantage of their negotiating power to carve out the best health insurance plans with the most coverage for the least out of pocket for their members. Of course they don’t want to lose that!

But even so — what the unions have isn’t the health CARE, it’s the commitment of the insurance company to cover more care. To be a “good gatekeeper” instead of a “mean one”. That is, after all, what insurance companies are: GATEKEEPERS — standing BETWEEN Americans and their actual health CARE. The reason some Americans got angry about Obamacare is because their gatekeepers refused to play along — and deliberately kept Americans from the health care providers they preferred.

I’ve joked here about the kind of health “care” coverage Republicans would create if they were honest about their intentions. I called it “TrumpCare Pick-An-Organ” because the concept was why insure organs that might never go bad on you? Why not gamble a little and save some money. You’ve got two lungs, two kidneys, two kinds of intestines — who needs it all? More to the point, who needs to waste money insuring it all? Why, nobody, of course! It went something like this…

Ask yourself — why are Republicans so opposed to universal health coverage — where every American, as their right, receives excellent health CARE. Who pays for it is never a question because WE DO. Through out tax dollars.

One of the problems Americans have with paying taxes is that we see all that money as wasted — like it was deliberately shoveled down a black hole. Throw waste atop that and the whole idea of paying taxes feels like theft. But, what if every citizen was given an itemized statement every year that showed to the penny where THEIR tax dollars went, what they were spent on and what they bought FOR that taxpayer.

We’d see clearly where our money was being wasted, for sure! But we also could point to things that our tax dollars bought for us — that we wanted — that our tax dollars could provide far more economically than via the private sector? Health CARE, for instance… Every other civilized country on earth does this more cheaply than we do and with far better outcomes.

That’s because socialized medicine is better medicine. Yes, profit incentive creates an environment conducive to innovation. One could get rich. But, in the health care environment, getting rich is counter productive. The need for profits and the need for good patient outcomes are not natural allies. In our insurance-based system, the profits always win out. The people almost always lose.

Or end up with medical bills that, ultimately, will kill them.

Universal single payer is the only answer. Personally, I’m with Bernie Sanders here — to keep the health insurance companies around is to invite abuse and just more stratification of services. Money will attract those more interested in greed than health care. The promise of health care is merely the bait in the “bait and switch”.

Breaking News: Trump HAS Been Working On A Health Plan: It’s called “TrumpCare PICK-AN-ORGAN”

Finally – a health “care” plan that thinks like Donald Trump does — and “takes care” of people the same way.

The problem with normal health insurance is you end up paying to insure stuff that probably didn’t need insuring. Take your gall bladder. What are the odds that’s going to go bad on you. Hell, you probably don’t even know what your gall bladder does. So, how could you miss it?

With “Trump-Care ‘PICK-AN-ORGAN”, you’re in “full control” of which organs you insure and which you’re willing to gamble on. C’mon — when was the last time you gave a crap about your spleen? Hey — better question: when was the last time your spleen gave a crap about you?

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Who wants to pay for health care YOU won’t ever get — or “might not” ever need?  Only a schmuck pays for other peoples’ healthcare, amiright?

Think of it THIS WAY:  You have lots of organs.  What are the chances any will ‘go south’ on you during your lifetime?  Your lungs?  Probably not — unless you smoke.  Your kidneys — You have two — you’re playing with house money.  Your heart?  Well, okay — that one could be a problem but at TrumpCare, we assume you don’t have a heart so what are we even talking about?

The point is, Trumpanistas are too smart to INSURE organs they don’t need to — or are worth the risk NOT to insure.  And that’s why they (and everyone! will love “TrumpCare PICK-AN-ORGAN”!

LUNGS

07_Organs_Lungs_Front.pdf_1600x

Odds are nothing will happen to either of em.  But you want to play it safe — so we offer options to allow YOU to decide:  Insure Neither Lung, One Lung or Both Lungs!

See?  Easy!  Now, of course, the trick is, if you insure just one?  Ya better hope like hell you insured the correct Lung — the one that’s gonna be needing insurance…

LET’S TALK INTESTINES!

human-intestines-sciepro

If you’re like the average Joe, you have LOTS of this stuff inside ya.  You have intestines to spare.  In fact, you have so much intestine you even have two kinds (I know — weird, huh?)   But do you really need to insure both?  Do you really need to insure ‘ALL’ of it?

And what about your APPENDIX?  You don’t even use it — hell you haven’t used it in millions of years.  Only an idiot insures something he can’t use — amiright?

I KNOW THAT’S MY LIVER BUT WHAT THE HELL IS THAT ‘GREEN’ THING?

cartoon-of-human-liver-and-gallbladder-vector-7563173

The Truth is — Outside of your heart and lungs, your stomach and your anus, you haven’t a clue how any of your plumbing works.  You know you HAVE a Liver and you remember somebody lecturing you once about alcoholism while you were passed out in a drunken stupor but that was so long ago.

Be that as it may — This is probably you:  “What in hell’s name is that green thing — and please don’t say I have one…!”

Yeah, you have one all right — and it costs a BOMB to insure it — IF you insure it…

YOUR SPLEEN — 1-2-3-ANSWER QUICKLY:  ‘WHAT’S IT DO?‘

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Not a goddamned clue, amiright (and “The spleen ‘spleens’ ain’t it”)?

Here – we’ll even show you a spleen and point out all its bits.  Does THAT help?  No?

And you want to insure this WHY?

AND THEN THERE’S THIS ORGAN…

cerebro-humano

Insuring brains is expensive.  In fact, it’s SO expensive, you’d have to be crazy to pay the freight.  So why bother.

TrumpCare ‘PICK-AN-ORGAN’: ‘Hey — look at all the money YOU just saved!’

So, What If — In This Transformational Moment — We “Could” Get It Right? What Would “Getting It Right” Look Like?

America’s dirtiest secret is out: we have never lived up to the ideals on which our country was founded. In part, that’s because the European men who founded America couldn’t themselves live up to the ideals. Some compromises should never be made. After all, how can you compromise with evil? What’s the outcome — semi-evil?

We “compromised” with slavery. But slavery never compromised with us. Evil never does.

Another compromise at the start — women were not granted equal rights. I guess the founders were being literal by “All MEN are created equal”.

Getting great ideas to the finish line in one piece is tough. And, democracy, as we’ve learned, has a lot of “sausage-making” to it. That’s compromise for you. And that’s making compromises with ideas that deserve to be compromised with. They’re not evil like, say, slavery.

We’ve now come face to face with our most original sin — the racism that compromises all men being created equal. Equal people cannot own each other.

But it’s not just racism that’s bedeviled us. Greed has had a go at us too. Greed and racism rut like demonic weasels. Here in America it’s produced a value system that’s completely ass backwards. We pay social influencers a ton while paying teachers so little that some have to take second jobs to pay their bills.

We think a high school “education” is so essential that we automatically pay for it. But try to add four more years — where we begin to refine those minds so as to make them genuinely useful? Suddenly it’s “socialism”. I guess it’s just a coincidence that — to pay for that part of our childrens’ educations — we’ve set up a whole for-profit business of lending kids money to pay for those educations. Corporate socialism is okey-dokey, as always. That’s greed talking.

Blue sky here. We don’t need to sledgehammer our system, we need to re-focus it — away from “me” and toward “we”.

That means we need to completely and forever disabuse ourselves of the notion that any one person can fix anything by themselves. To fix anything — or raise a child — it DOES take a village. And that village needs to be well-funded and well-organized. We want everyone to be the best and most individual “they” that they can be. But never, ever at the expense of the “we”. No “me” can ever have more weight before the law than any other “me” or the whole collection of “me’s” that produce “we”.

We need to win every argument with me. If we start from there, it’s almost assured that we’ll get it right because our focus and framing will be correct. Part of my blue sky here takes into consideration the fact that more and more women (and women of color) are pouring into American politics. If there’s any salvation to be had — that’s where it will come from. It would not be a terrible thing if just about every white male got out of politics for an election cycle or two.

We would do the following things: we would value education and educators over just about anyone and anything.

We would value health CARE over health INSURANCE (they are not the same thing).

We would teach our young people not how to memorize (so as to pass tests) but how to think analytically. We’d teach them how to write and express themselves articulately. We would teach them how to communicate — both directly and honestly. We would teach them to be respectful of everyone.

We would teach them how America works and that freedom is not “free” — it comes with huge responsibilities and obligations. Voting, for example.

We would give every single child the same benefits and advantages, the same access to health care and opportunity. We need to be almost maniacal about this — getting every kid the same chances. America has a remarkable brain trust that no other nation has because no other country is the product of every other country on earth creating it, in essence.

America isn’t a perfect melting pot. Parts of the pot never get the same heat as other parts do. And the different elements don’t melt together into a homogenized end product of indeterminate origin. America and Americans are a hybrid. Nothing like us has ever existed before.

That really should be our goal — to recognize 1) that America IS exceptional though 2) not for the reasons we’ve told ourselves but 3) now that we understand what makes us exceptional, we intend to do everything we can to nurture every last drop of our exceptionalism.

If we can pull that off, the sky’s the limit.

Capitalism Doesn’t Have To Crush People — Only CRONY Capitalism Does That

Like all ideas, capitalism itself is neither good nor bad. It’s just an idea — a foundational notion of how a society might live, using capital as a motivator for innovation. Capitalism, by its nature, looks to the future. It depends on tomorrow being better than today — it needs new ideas, new inventions, new ways of doing things constantly churning in order to succeed. Money chases ideas because a good idea can make someone rich but also benefit a wide swath of humanity because capitalism has also innovated how to mass produce, market and distribute that good idea.

The trick, as always, is who is at the helm of the idea. Who’s driving it?

Capitalism plus greed — unfortunately the easiest combination of all — produces chaos and corruption and blight. Greed — the compulsive getting of money (or anything) for its own sake — though it seems to run alongside capitalism — actually is an impediment to it. Greed kills innovation. It’s rarely the greedy people who do any of the actual innovating. But damn if they’re not first in line when the money starts flowing. And damn if they don’t refuse to budge when it happens.

We associate capitalism with conservatism — the getting of huge piles of money seems like something old people, landed people, already-wealthy people, greedy people would associate with happiness. But conservatism never thinks about the future. Conservatism wants to conserve — just like it’s name says. It wants to conserve the past (what else?) and the present (because the present still contains elements of the past). Innovation poses a direct threat to that way of thinking. How could it not? Innovation innovates because it sees problems in how we do things now. How can we improve upon past ways? How can change them?

See the problem for conservatives?

The truth is, capitalism and progressivism have far more common purpose than capitalism and conservatism. Crony capitalism is greed perverting markets. It isn’t actually a form of capitalism, it’s a distortion of it.

The more fair capitalism is, the better it is — because it gives more people the chance to both innovate and benefit. That means regulating it. Over-regulation can stifle capitalism as much as corruption does — there is a fine balance. Ain’t nothing perfect in this world — not if humans are involved. Let’s stop thinking it exists.

Social democracies resting upon the Rule Of law (so that everyone is indeed treated equally before the law) and a reasonably regulated capitalism would give more people the chance to live better, happier, healthier lives.

Regulated capitalism puts more money into peoples’ hands. When more people have money — a healthy, functioning middle class — they spend that money on goods and services — the basis for a consumer driven market economy. They may even save a buck or two. Our version of capitalism here in America hasn’t done that. As we know — it’s done the opposite. The rich have gotten way richer, the poor can’t even afford to go to a hospital if they have Covid-19.

And — ironically? That fact is what makes the pandemic so much worse here in America. Our health system is a giant billboard advertising everything wrong with crony capitalism. It’s not a health CARE system, it’s a health INSURANCE system. The first question we ask anyone walking in the door isn’t “How can we fix you?”, it’s “How’re you gonna pay for this?” That’s wrong every which way you look at it.

Think of all the people who lose their houses, go bankrupt, destroy their family’s finances for generations all because they got sick. That doesn’t happen anywhere else but here. It’s because capitalism sits inside our health “care” system — where it does not belong. Capitalism can innovate myriad ways to do health CARE better, more efficiently, more effectively.

That’s if we use capitalism — this idea — as a tool. To help as many human beings around the globe as possible. Capitalism has been good for mankind. It has made life better for us as a species. We’ve prospered under it. That’s just historical fact speaking.

It’s caused profound misery too.

But — if we’re fair — little of that was capitalism’s fault.

Dear Conservatives: Thank You For Making Democratic Socialism Inevitable

A thousand years of great explainer videos couldn’t have done what a couple of months in Coronavirus World did: compellingly and undeniably make the case for democratic socialism over crony capitalism.

Make no mistake: crony capitalism brought us here. Conservatism brought us here. The two are flip sides of the same corrupt coin. We have only just begun to feel the hurt coronavirus and covid-19 are going to put on us. We’re the Whack-A-Mole who’s just stuck his head out. We haven’t gotten hit yet so we must be good, right?

At the end of the day, the “joke” will be on conservatism. There is literally no “conservative” way out of this mess. None.

If we force everyone back to work in some ignorant stab at “herd immunity”, we’ll sacrifice millions of people with no guarantee that, as the virus mutates (viruses are very good at mutating and quickly), that herd immunity will carry on. We don’t even know for sure whether people who survive covid-19 and develop covid-19 antibodies become genuinely immune. We think they might. But we don’t have a whole lot of data yet.

But then, conservatism doesn’t put much stock in data. Too much data equals too much information and too much information undermines the credibility of all their bullshit — which was never based on data. Conservatism wants to live in the past. Not a real past, but an idealized past where everything was good for them and less good for everyone else. The playing field conservatism dreams of is tilted horribly in their favor.

That is why conservatives always look askance at too many facts & figures. Climate science is good example. It’s expensive to deal with. It’ll be more expensive if we don’t, says science. Day traders that they are, conservatives will point at the bottom line as if it were a person. We can’t hurt money’s feelings, they say. What they mean is THEIR money. We can’t impact THEIR money — even if THEIR money is killing everyone else.

Conservatives don’t care if millions of Americans get sick and die with no real access to health care. Their in it for the for-profit insurance companies and the for-profit hospitals and the for-profit pharmaceutical companies. While we’re here — no one (repeat NO ONE) loves their “health insurance”. Health INSURANCE is not health CARE. Insurance companies have inserted themselves into our relationships with our health care providers as GATE KEEPERS. We don’t need any stinking gate keepers.

The gate keeper here has segmented the world of health care providers into people we’re allowed to see (cos they have a contract with them that pays an agreed upon price) vs providers we’re NOT allowed to see (unless we want to pay retail-retail entirely out-of-pocket). Other countries don’t have this problem. They don’t have doctors they can see and doctors they can’t — because the gate keeper says so.

Other countries don’t pay premiums (the cost of their health care is built into their taxes — they will absolutely pay more in taxes but the peace of mind alone in knowing you can never go bankrupt and lose everything just because you get sick more than makes up for the difference. In fact, socialized medicine is less expensive overall — by a lot — with far, far better outcomes.

In America, we pay more to get far less and think we’re effin’ brilliant. No, we are not.

But, again, that’s how conservatives “think”. They can’t back up “ours is the best health care system in the world” with data, so they go with “cos I said” instead. They think it therefore it must be.

There’s no conservative way out of here. Good thing there are Progressive ways out. If we had Progressive leadership at the start of this fiasco, the response would have been entirely different (Bill De Blasio’s lead-from-behind “leadership” notwithstanding). We would have followed the science wherever it took and whatever it advised us to do.

That would have put us in lockdown sooner — with all the same economic issues. But, Progressive leadership would have made staying at home a no-brainer by giving everyone a UNIVERSAL BASIC INCOME for the duration of their inability to make a living. We would have already been well on the road to socialized medicine — a single payer, medicare for all environment where everyone gets solid health care regardless of who they are, what they earn or who they love. That would have prevented the hesitation anyone had to USE the health CARE part of the system (the non-insurance part).

Progressives recognize that we are only as healthy as the least healthy person among us. I know — pretty Jesus-y. Do unto others and everything.

Progressives also would have federalized our response to the virus — using the federal government the way its supposed to be used — organize our various strengths into a unified strength, not like a mob boss keeping his underlings guessing.

Though we didn’t start out solving this progressively, we will, in the end. Or we won’t survive at all.

We’re ALL Greedy In One Way Or Another; Our Obligation — Keep “Our” Greed In Check

[NOTE: This blog post is being shared with our sister site “The Faitheism Project“]

Not everyone is greedy for money.  Some people are greedy for love and couldn’t care less about money.

Some of us are greedy for credit.  We’ll take ownership of work and labor that we did not do.

Some are greedy for other peoples’ joy.  They can’t bear to see any one else experiencing pleasure when they’re not.

Some people are greedy for power.

We still live in the shadow of the movie “Wall Street”‘s Gordon Gekko.  “Greed is good”.  Funny thing, for a while there, America believed him.  The Republican Party still does.   I won’t get political here; that’s what my “How To Live Bullshit Free Blog” is all about.  But greed is the bottom line in America right now.  We now know that the Trump Administration made a “trade deal” with China that 1) lets them off the hook for covering up the fact that the coronavirus was achieving pandemic status inside China (that virus broke into humans is a whole other question), 2) gives Trump much more favorable terms on the rents the Chinese pay him in his various real estate ventures (this is so corrupt it’s breath-taking!), 3) gives Trump leverage on the giant balloon payment he personally owes the Chinese shortly (our foreign policy is based on who Trump owes money to!) and 4) had Trump sending all our PPE’s to CHINA in February & March — while OUR front line health care workers begged for them AND DIED because they DIDN’T have them.

Greed is literally lethal.

And we’re all guilty of it — in one way or another.  The trick is — most of us learn how to keep our greed (whatever it’s for) in check.  At least, we keep it in check enough so that our loved ones don’t strangle us.  Still — it’s our obligation.  And it starts with recognizing that we’re “guilty as charged”.

Greed, at its root, is a survival strategy.  If you don’t know what tomorrow brings and you may never eat again — that whole woolly mammoth carcass is staying right here, pal!  But we know, most of us, where our next meal is coming from.  Those at the top have the least cause to be greedy.  And yet — they always seem to be the greediest.

Our coronavirus pandemic experience will change us profoundly.  There’s no way around it.  The only way out, going forward, is “progressive” in nature.  America will have to become more socialized.  As we now know — it only takes ONE sick individual to infect the whole world.  And if no one knows that it’s happening — because the sick person can’t afford health care?  We’re off to the pandemic races again.

And — don’t forget — the damage we’ve already done to the environment via climate change will itself introduce pathogens into the human environment that humans have never encountered — those pathogens having been frozen into the permaforst for tens of millions of years.  It will be like Jurassic Park — except the prehistoric creatures rampaging will be microscopic and the place they’ll be raging through will be our bodies.   We need to plan for pandemics being a “way of life”.  That flat out demands a socialized medical system.

America, right now, doesn’t have a health CARE system.  We have a health INSURANCE system.  It’s not the same thing.  When anyone walks in the door, needing help, our first question isn’t “How can we fix you?”, it’s “How’re you gonna pay for this?”  That’s because we have profit incentive at the heart of our “health care system” and profit incentive & health care are mutually exclusive propositions.  There are reasons no other civilized country has profit incentive in its health care system.  Covid-19 is the reason.

The reason WE still have profit incentive in our health care system?

Let’s all say it together: GREED.

Dear Pundit Class — You Don’t Get Why Bernie Is Succeeding Because You Still Think Everything’s “Politics”

Say what you will about Bernie Sanders, one thing he is — consistent. I think of myself as a socialist — well, a social democrat in the European sense. That’s what Bernie Sanders is, too. A social democrat who believes government’s biggest responsibility (outside of defending us from outside harm) is to level the playing field so that as many citizens as possible can realize their full potential — which will benefit us all in myriad ways.

Democratic socialism is very aspirational. It wants something better than what is. Will it cost more than what we’re doing now? It depends on how you total it all up.

The average middle class American — even with a half-way decent employee-provided health INSURANCE plan — still spends a small fortune out of pocket to get the actual health CARE they need. And nothing in their insurance will save them if they get really, REALLY sick and blow past the insurance coverage’s caps. Hello, bankruptcy. When that average middle class American’s kid gets out of college or university (they’ll need a degree still to compete both here and abroad), they’ve got a whole mountain range of debt to get past before their lives can really begin.

Those are two examples of what we currently think is “acceptable”. Funny thing? Most other modern, industrialized, democratic countries? They don’t agree.

One of the things that never gets mentioned in the apples to kumquats comparisons we get of democratic socialism vs what we have now is that although Europeans pay more in taxes than we do, they GET a whole lot of things that they WANT & NEED in return. Things they can point at. Things that they know make their lives better.

Reminder — no one in a country with that boogeyman “socialized medicine” ever goes bankrupt or loses their family home because they or someone they love dared to get sick.

My opposition to that isn’t “political”, it’s moral. Our system is flat out IMMORAL. Fight me on that — I double dog dare ya.

The idea of giving every one of our children either a (public) college education or technical training “for free” (it’s paid for by tax dollars) isn’t a political idea, it’s a philosophy: we educate our children because it makes US better & smarter as a society. Billing ourselves exorbitantly to accomplish that is stupid on steroids.

That’s why other countries don’t do it. That’s why other countries are competing better than we are. We think it’s all about money and politics.

For us, it is. For all those European Democratic Socialists? It’s a philosophy.

The notion of the “rugged individual” is a fabulous fiction. A very MALE fiction at that. Rugged individuals “alone can fix it”, right?

Bullshit. Even as a philosophy — that’s bullshit. But, ironically, in order to make that philosophy a reality “I alone can fix it” — you have to get political. Because THAT’S a philosophy no one believes and no one (with a brain) will buy. So you have to turn to politics — manipulation (that’s the goal of politics — to manipulate towards an end) — in order to have your way.

Our pundit class still thinks the House Democrats impeached Donald Trump because of politics. That was not the case. Though the Democrats are, indeed, a different political party — and were acting as a group — what motivated them was NOT politics. Yes, Democrats oppose Trump on political grounds, but the actions the Democrats were citing were violations of the law and the Constitution. They weren’t reacting politically, they were reacting patriotically. Not the same things.

Keep in mind — if it’s so that Russia impacted the OUTCOME of election 2016 in in any way (and we KNOW that Republicans not only accepted MILLIONS from Russia into their campaign accounts but handed Russia proprietary polling data on top of it all) then we have to ask — for real — whether we can accept the outcome of an election that was neither free nor fair. Worse — the election’s outcome was Russia’s desired outcome. They put their choice into the White House and have had full control of him ever since.

Between now and the election, Trump’s Russia problem will not go away — no matter what Bill Barr does or tries to do. There will never be a day when Trump gets good news on that front — unless it’s Bill Barr successfully obstructing justice. The PR horse is out of that barn and it’s not coming back.

Our pundit class — like the news media that feeds them — still can’t get the idea that Trump isn’t a normal POTUS out of their heads. They can’t get it INTO their heads that lies and truth don’t have equal weight. When a person lies to you, you IGNORE what they say. You don’t ask “But, what if that’s true…?” because it ISN’T true. It was NEVER true.

You’ve just wasted your time — and our time — running down a rabbit hole you should have avoided. Because it was complete bullshit. A person (a reporter even) who calls out a lie in real time, isn’t acting politically. They’re calling a lie a lie.

Can Bernie accomplish everything he says he wants for America? Probably not. But aspirationally, it’s a far better direction than where Donald Trump and the Republican Party want to take us — permanent minority rule. At least Bernie’s version of America doesn’t divide the way Trump’s America does.

At the end of the day, what Bernie’s really selling — it’s what Obama sold — is HOPE. Hope for something better than what is (and aiming for the middle of the road is aiming for a slightly better version of what is). Bernie’s not selling “Hope Adjacent”, he’s selling full on Hope — while Trump sells the diametric opposite.

Ya see, Pundits — it ain’t about politics. It IS about philosophy, And it is about darkness vs light.

If you don’t think even the dumbest Democrat on the planet can sell that? You’re blinded by politics.

You CANNOT Have Profit Incentive At The Core Of A Health CARE System

Some ideas are so stupid, you have to marvel how they don’t die at their inception. Example — having profit incentive inside a health care system.

Of course we want people to “make money” doing their jobs in a health care system. That’s not the same thing however as having corporations step in as gatekeepers between Americans and their health CARE. Our system is screwed up foundationally. We’ve let the inmates run the asylum — literally.

The reason America’s system is so different than everyone else’s goes back to World War Two. Once America entered the war, every available dollar in the economy was directed toward sustaining America’s war effort. Large companies weren’t allowed to offer employees raises. If a competitor could offer skilled workers more money (because they paid more to start with), the competitor was going to get all the talent.

To counter this freeze on wages, American companies offered to pay for employees’ health care. More precisely, they offered to pay for their health insurance (not the same thing). Most major American companies did this. And then the war ended. But this practice did not.

In the abstract perhaps keeping this idea going wasn’t a terrible idea. But it was a terrible idea. Example — a big, big company like Boeing pays for the health insurance (not care) of a huge number of people (Boeing employed about 161,000 people in 2015). Airbus Group — Boeing’s largest (and main) competitor (though it employs around 136,600 (as in 2014) — by comparison paid ZERO for their employees’ health insurance.

That’s because all the countries that help build Airbus products have socialized medicine systems where tax dollars pay for everyone’s health CARE. Everyone can walk in the door at a universal single payer system. We know already who’s paying for it — we are. As we should.

In a universal single payer system? No one loses their house or goes broke (for a generation or so) because you or someone in your family got sick. Where Airbus is concerned, unlike Boeing, they DON’T have to add the cost of all that health insurance to the bottom line cost of each and every Boeing aircraft.

Consequently Boeing enters every competition with one hand tied behind its back. Our insurance driven system makes that a fact of life. It makes America less competitive. It hurts us — and then makes it hard to get healthy again.

Oh, the irony…

Insurance companies — being publicly traded — have a fiduciary responsibility not to any “patients” (those are cogs in a much larger wheel from an insurance company’s perspective) but to their shareholders. And not to the common class of stock shareholders either (yes, there’s a theoretical fiduciary responsibility) but to the PREFERRED CLASS of shareholder.

Ya know how Facebook users mistakenly think they’re Mark Zuckerberg’s customers? They’re not (of course), they’re the thing Zuckerberg’s SELLING — to the people who advertise on Facebook (aka ACTUAL customers). Same deal. Americans have it in their heads that they’d be screwed without their private insurance.

No, your insurance company is just a gatekeeper actually. Different insurance companies try to carve off different doctors as part of their “network”. Go outside their “network” & pay lots more. The people in the network have agreed to whatever fees the insurance company has decided to pay. The insurance company, if you notice, is ALWAYS in the driver’s seat.

Keep in mind — from the insurance company’s point of view (and fiduciary responsibility), they are OBLIGATED to deny and refuse as much coverage as the can get away with because that makes the company more profitable and being more profitable makes their shareholders happy and the company more financially healthy. Money — not health CARE — runs everything.

It’s not just money, remember — it’s PROFITABLE money. It’s profit INCENTIVE.

It’s completely antithetical to what a health care system is supposed to do — if anyone inside it has ever taken a Hippocratic Oath.

You can’t “But first do no harm” by asking “How’re ya gonna pay for this, Sparky?” These two things are mutually exclusive propositions.

Can We PLEASE Get This Straight? NO ONE Loves Their Health INSURANCE…

Somewhere, an evil genius is smiling so hard his face hurts. It might be the same evil genius who came up with a “Mission Accomplished” banner for the background of a speech by George W. Bush — on an aircraft carrier — during a war he started for no reason.

Yeah, I know the banner SAYS “mission accomplished” but I doubt BushCo could have actually pointed to what mission they meant and what, if anything, had actually been accomplished. “Americans love their private health insurance” comes from the same wellspring of evil-genius-strength bullshit.

The core problem with American healthcare is that its emphasis is immediately on the wrong syllable. When anyone walks in the door of the American Healthcare System, the first question isn’t “How can we help you?”, it’s “How are you gonna pay for this?”. If you can’t answer that question satisfactorily, you might just be screwed. But, hey — even if you DO have insurance? Between the co-pays, the deductibles and all the other out-of-pocket bullshit, you could STILL be screwed.

No other civilized healthcare system anywhere on the planet has profit incentive at the core of its healthcare. There’s a reason. Profit incentive and human well-being are completely incompatible when they’re both dependent on the same dollar. A corporation has a fiduciary responsibility to do the very best it possibly can for its investors. That means a choice between an expensive but uncertain procedure that might save a customer’s life (that’s what they are to the insurance company after all — customers) and a happy board of directors able to announce a bigger dividend at the next shareholder’s meeting. Guess who the corporation’s gonna choose?

Like I said — it’s their responsibility to do that. It’s not their fault exactly — it’s history’s. Ever wonder why it is that only in America does anyone’s employer pay for their health insurance? For real. This doesn’t happen anywhere else. And there’s a reason. It’s bad for business.

FDR toyed with making universal healthcare part of social security but the AMA didn’t want doctor’s fees limited by the government (cost controls, in other words). FDR made the political decision not to risk losing on both social security AND universal healthcare. He put all the chips on social security alone. Then WWII happened — and history caused American healthcare to zig when maybe we should have zagged.

Because all available money needed to go to the war, employers were not allowed to give good employees raises. Those same frozen wages made it hard to lure new talent (who could go elsewhere to an employer whose wages were frozen at a higher level). Thinking outside the box — what other benefits could be offered that would feel like salary? — produced the first direct employee sponsored healthcare.

The idea spread. People liked the benefit. In their minds, it was saving them money and providing them comfort. What’s not to love? Then the war ended.

With the war over, companies were free again to offer whatever salaries or bonuses or raises they wanted. They also were free to end the war-time benefit (replacing it with salary). They didn’t. Hell, instead of ending these programs, the big companies held onto it. This was back at a time when your average middle class American (remember them?) entered the work force at 18 or 22 (if they went to college) and whatever employer they started with? That was likely to be the employer who’d be handing them a gold watch upon their retirement 40 years hence. Your employment relationship was supposed to be as durable as your marriage.

While the big companies (who’d done a shitload of the hiring during the war) held onto providing healthcare to their employees, they farmed out the work of administering this employee benefit — and the healthcare insurance industry was born. Didn’t take long before the baby took over the nursery. Then the whole house.

Ask a company like Boeing what having to provide healthcare insurance to its tens of thousands of employees does to its bottom line and its competitiveness. The cost of that healthcare is massive and it gets reflected in the cost of each airplane.

Airbus, by contrast, doesn’t have to pay for its employees’ healthcare. In Europe, the government takes care of it, paying for it with tax dollars. That gives Airbus an advantage because they don’t have to build that cost into what they charge for an airplane. See? Employer-based healthcare is bad for American business because it makes them less competitive.

As for the healthcare itself — all the employer is providing is the insurance coverage. What that coverage is? That’s up to the insurance company.

The insurance companies can make up any rules they want. And they do. The most important rules of all — to them — is who they contract with and therefore who their customers will be allowed (by their made up rules) to see. Every last bit of this, remember, is made up. By a company put there to administer this thing.

To gate-keep.

Insurance companies are gatekeepers. Border guards that — so long as we pay our premiums and stay employed by the same bosses — will smile at us benignly each time we pass by. But we fear them. We dread them. What if they don’t smile next time?

What if, next time — when we’re really sick — they turn us away? What if they point to language in their dense boiler plate (something on page 58) that says our particular situation (as they’re interpreting it) means they don’t have to cover the procedure we need. We’re free however to pay for it retail-retail out of pocket.

Hey — we charge hundreds of dollars for insulin that costs relative pennies in Canada. Every last penny of that difference is profit. Let me repeat: PROFIT. People are dying cos they can’t afford their insulin. Retail-retail in American healthcare means the cost of a procedure and the procedure’s actual cost have nothing to do with each other. It’s like being charged a million bucks to go three blocks in a taxi.

What’s wrong with America’s healthcare system isn’t that the inmates are running the asylum. It’s that insurance companies are. And they couldn’t give a rat’s ass what happens to any of us.