Saturday, October 17, 2009

Capitalism, Human Welfare, and the Healthcare Debate: Death--American Style


To the Editor,

Among the most disturbing features of our current political landscape, exemplified by the tea-baggers, the birthers, the secessionists, the H1N1 vaccine-as-mind-control conspiracy-mongers, and other “patriots,” is the extent to which craving short-term gain—Obama-out-of-office-at-any-cost—drives the willingness to adopt beliefs that are not merely wrong-headed, but profoundly self-defeating.

The healthcare debate could not illustrate this any more clearly: we’re not merely willing to sell out our un/underinsured fellows to disease and death, we’re apparently willing to take the risk that we could end up among them just for the sake of opposing a public option.

The same “patriots” who condemn Obama for “cutting” their Medicare would apparently let their neighbor’s children die for lack of access to the care these “patriots” take as entitled. This isn’t merely hypocrisy; it’s perversity. Cynically exploiting the rhetoric of “free choice,” the “health” insurance industry has so successfully suckered the tea-partiers that they can be counted on to attend fake grassroots events and rally against their own interests—even their interest in living. Every placard heralding “freedom” may as well be heralding suffering and death, every endorsement of the “free market” a pitch for rationing-healthcare-by-the-mega-profits-of-Cigna-and-company. Why? Because the defeat of the public option is a win for an industry whose profits have increased by 416% over the last decade by denying coverage, refusing to pay claims, and by dropping sick people from their roles—after raping them of their hard-earned dollars.

What the tea-partiers don’t get is that the same tactics they’ve so effectively deployed against those who’d resist their ideological swill is now—through ignorance-exploiting-stealth—being deployed to insure that they, many of whom are among the most economically vulnerable, stand on the side of the super-wealthy. Quite the coup. All the “health” insurance promotion arms had to do was use the magic words “socialism,” “communism,” or “government controlled,” through their Republican Party propaganda channel—FOX—and the paranoid “patriot”-sheeple fall in lock-step—behind their pied pipers, Beck, Hannity, Malkin, O’Reilly, right off the cliff. Death is apparently OK with them so long as we get rid of a black democratic president.

Unconvinced? Offended? Think the “free market” is on your side? Check out Rendell’s Republican budget. He cuts funding for the Department of Public Welfare, discards a possible severance tax on natural gas drilling, cuts the Department of Environmental Protection 27%, and opens state park land to drilling. Who benefits? The “health” insurance analogues in the energy industry, corporations like Cabot whose suspension for environmental violations has been lifted, and White Pines who has “the state’s go-ahead to accept radioactive sludge” from natural gas drilling.

However willfully blind we are to the connection between environmental destruction and human health, the writing’s on the wall: capitalist enterprise cares nothing whatever for human welfare. Indeed, the very corporations who exercise the most power over life and death—HEALTH insurance—actively work to deny the services PAID FOR by the people who hold their policies. This IS insurance—an insurance of death. Corporations like Cabot, Cigna, Aetna, Humana, White Pines, Exxon, AIG, Citibank, and on and on have so effectively exploited the fear of “socialism” and the racist hatred of Obama that we’re willing to sacrifice our health and the environment it depends on in order to realize what? The freedom to die from untreated disease? The freedom to watch others reap the profits of environmental obliteration?

So long as Obama’s not reelected, and we get to go down waving the flag, I guess so.

Wendy Lynne Lee
580 words.