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Healthcare Fiasco

The sad fact is that these sick people without a voice may simply disappear. Many people will die without medication, counseling, or methadone. This is already happening. It is important that we gather together with friends and neighbors to pressure our government to take care of those that cannot care for themselves.
Portland Survival

Healthcare Fiasco

By Marianne Hall

April 15, 2003

When this war is over Americans will crawl out from the death and destruction we've committed in Iraq, and we will see that crimes have also been perpetrated right here. Our social services are defunct and people are unemployed. Our right to a free public education is in jeopardy. The idea that this government is capable of creating democracy abroad, in Iraq, and providing food and healthcare to the people there is insane. The Bush administration has proven that they are unwilling to create jobs, provide health services, or educational opportunities here.

To make matters worse, we are hated and targeted by much of the world because of our undemocratic, aggressive crusade for power. So,now our lives are dangerous in other ways. Many people of the United States are deluded because their information comes through the corporate owned media which blots out dissenting views. It is important that we be vigilant and devote our activist energy to two fronts: (1) the antiwar movement and (2) local issues such as lack of adequate healthcare. These two issues are undeniably linked. It is fortunate that many talented and outraged individuals, some of whom are laid off from social services jobs, are working together to find solutions to these problems.

Jack Cox is an example of one who is suffering here in our own country. Jack is a 63 year-old HIV patient. In January he suffered through pneumonia, congestive heart failure and subsequent surgery. The procedure was $100,000. He now needs $9000 in heart medication. His total drugs are $26,000 a year. He is living on Social Security, which is $600 a month. He is typical of the many senior citizens in our country who suffer from poverty and illness.

The state legislature, when preparing to make cuts, assumed that the drug companies would take care of the individuals with HIV and transplants. This was their solution to the cuts that were set to occur in February. Many, many people testified and it became apparent that the drug companies were willing to take on a few cases for short periods of time, and on an individual basis. They certainly were not willing to take on the 100,000 people that would be left without. So the most vocal, 400 HIV and transplant patients, were given assistance until June.

Jack stated, "With a life threatening illness like HIV it is important to keep an attitude that says to the world, 'I am well.'" This is your defense against falling prey to sickness or death. Medication is part of this scenario. Constantly having to fight for your right to have medical care puts stress on the immune system and Jack feels that it may result in what the Legislature seems to want, that these people will not be here to voice their opposition. The sick will be dead. He worries about what happened to the thousands of people that did not have their medication restored. He worries about the ongoing struggle to find medication as we move into the summer.

Jack lamented, "At the governor's conference Bush was asked for federal assistance. Every state is in this crisis, but Bush did not give any aid. The hundreds of billions of dollars needed for war is taking priority. The sick here are collateral damage. The long term solution is universal health care, similar to what every post industrial state has. Without this form of health coverage, staying alive becomes a class issue. It is also important to socialize people to live well and eat right, exercise. We must take care of the environment and stop polluting."

The sad fact is that these sick people without a voice may simply disappear. Many people will die without medication, counseling, or methadone. This is already happening. It is important that we gather together with friends and neighbors to pressure our government to take care of those that cannot care for themselves. This is the very definition of a civilization. Jack and others have worked on "Cover the Uninsured Week", and other lobbying activities to advocate for the medically needy. Many people are working together to take action to improve the current situation in healthcare. If you've been affected by these cuts, please get in touch at  inresponse@yahoo.com. If you are a worker in the social services industry, there are socials being held at 6 to 8 p.m. at The Cafe (614 East Burnside) April 18th, May 2nd, 16th and 30th.

homepage: homepage: http://www.portlandsurvival.org/
phone: phone: 503-235-8492

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Cry, the unhealed sick 29.Apr.2003 13:41

James

Our right to a free public education is in jeopardy.

Really? We have a right to a free public education? Is that written in the constitution somewhere? No, no it's not. Because it's a privilege. Not a right.

I don't mean to impugn the benefits of free public education. I find it sickening that many states seem so inept at running this core, critical program. But it's certainly not a right (Though some state consitutions may provide for it as a right).

The Bush administration has proven that they are unwilling to create jobs, provide health services, or educational opportunities here.

Get off your Papa Joseph statue and come back to reality. Criticise the Bushies when they truly do harm (Iraq war, etc). But don't critisise for the sake of hearing your own voice. The Bushies have been trying to create jobs - just not the way you might have liked (At gunpoint, apparently). Health care is available to every American - at cost. And educational opportunities abound - at the K-12 level and higher, thanks to the numerous state-funded higher education organizations.

Just because you don't understand the method by which tax cuts create jobs does not mean they don't. Put down your John Maynard Keynes book and take a look at things logically - More money in the hands of people == More money spent. More money spent == More jobs. Things like the Bush Dividend Tax Cut *will* create jobs - But it will create them in the 10-20 year timeframe. I have no idea why Bush is so intent on lying to the public about his tax cuts. They're a good idea, and he should sell it on that. (instead he insists they're meant to revitalize the economy in the shortterm).

Jack Cox is an example of one who is suffering here in our own country. Jack is a 63 year-old HIV patient. In January he suffered through pneumonia, congestive heart failure and subsequent surgery. The procedure was $100,000. He now needs $9000 in heart medication. His total drugs are $26,000 a year. He is living on Social Security, which is $600 a month. He is typical of the many senior citizens in our country who suffer from poverty and illness. Well Jack should have invested in a basic, run-of-the-mill $200/month health care plan before he went and got HIV. It's a matter of priorities. He didn't think health care should have been one of his higher priorities (perhaps food was higher - I don't know how much he made before he retired). But that's an argument for improving the wages of the working class. Not an argument for state-administered health care. Socialized healthcare would destroy this country, just as it has Brtain. Ever try and get surgery in Britain for a hernia? (An elective hernia surgery that is, not a life-threatening about-to-burst hernia). It's impossible. It takes at least 6 months. Furthermore, once you get it scheduled the hospitals are concerned much more with the number of patients they're able to push through than they are with the quality of care provided.

Universal Healthcare sucks. I don't want it, I'm extremely happy with my Blue Croos/Blue Shield plan, thank you very much.

James 29.Apr.2003 14:28

.

Who gives a rat's ass what you want? Advocating for public money to be spent on public good is a far cry from Stalinism, if you're not brainwashed by the o'really factor or whatever bullshit you're hypnotizing yourself with these days. These tax cuts will benefit the same people Reagan's and Bush Daddy's did: the rich.

It's just so sad seeing you strain yourself trying to make sense.

Budget crises unnecessarily castrating state’ 29.Apr.2003 15:44

J.B.

Oregon's noble experiment with socialized health insurance has failed due to the disparity between the legislature's agenda concerning the wealthy and the agenda concerning the poor. Illegal subsidies to corporations made at the expense of liver transplant recipients. Tax loopholes for second-home owners instead of basic medical coverage for 150,000 Oregonians. Millions of federal dollars spent on bioterrorism defense while AIDS patients begin rationing protease inhibitors. It's ridiculous. But enough ranting. The disenfranchised are going to have to scurry like rats from a sinking ship if they're going to survive the lugubrious process of statewide and federal policy change. I can only offer a few pieces of advice. First, if the state is abandoning your diseased or broken body to die in a gutter, you might as well lie to get what you need. The worst that can happen is that you do some time and get medical services in jail. Get your hand on your niece's or nephew's social security card and claim that you're 17 years old. You can at least pick up a few months of prescription drugs before being booted off. Second, the major crunch is not happening until June. Next month, hustle to get your hands on as many drugs as you'll need and also sign yourself up for as much medical treatment as you can. If you have an abscess from shooting junk, get it looked at next month and don't put it off. Third, start looking now for charitable organizations that can help you out. If you are relying on OHP for AZT or other HIV meds, talk to somebody about the Ryan White foundation. As far as I know, it hasn't closed its doors yet. If you have a support group that takes heart or liver medication, pool cash and buy from Canada. Drugs (and everything else, for that matter) are cheaper in bulk. And fourth, for all of you young, healthy, able-bodied people, stop being jerks and help out. If you have a neighbor that's dying of renal failure, get the neighborhood together to buy meds for that person. Take a friend as a "living partner" on your boss's health insurance package. Keep sending letters, pictures, and videocassettes to Salem. And never forget that this system we're being victimized by has an auto-destruct button called "free speech".

And if you're interested, the proposed budgets for 2003-2005 are at the following web addresses (there's three, but only two are on the web, and they're both bad):
Governor's:  http://www.bam.das.state.or.us/
Co-chairs's:  http://www.leg.state.or.us/comm/lfo/Co_Chair_Budget_Ver1.pdf

In Reply 29.Apr.2003 16:05

James

I'm continually surprised by the arguments posted to this board.

Let me start by stating the obvious: There are extremes to politics. A simple left-to-right analogy does not work. There're leftist positions and rightist positions. but there are also authoritarian positions and libertarian positions. What you are espousing is basically authoritarian liberal hogwash -- Sometimes known as Stalinism.

I'm not straining at all to make this argument.

If the "public" had some money - from a state run enterprise, for example - I would very much, enthusiastically even, welcome universal healthcare. But the fact of the matter is that there is no public money. What you call "public," I call "mine."

If everyone could afford healthcare on their own, there would be no reason for universal healthcare. Right? So what you're saying is that since everyone cannot afford healthcare, those with more money should be made to pay more in taxes to pay for the healthcare of those with less.

Is that really moral? It's certainly noble of people to voluntarily give up their money to help another. Personally, I give a few hundred dollars every year to numerous such charities - Medicines Sans Fronieres, Amnesty International, etc. Whatever I can afford. But is it really morally acceptable to force people to do that?

Take the following example: There is a group of 10 friends. Two friends each have $20. Six friends each have $60. And two friends each have $180. Health care costs $10. Food costs $10. And shelter costs $10. The six middle income friends all have food, health care and shelter and about half their money left over for other thins, like entertainment. The two wealthier friends all have food, health care and shelter - and a lot left over. So they bought bigger houses, more food, perhaps better health care, and more entertainment. But the two poorer friends can only afford food and shelter - They have nothing left over for health care, let alone entertainment.

This is certainly a sad situation. The two poorer friends need healthcare; indeed they may die without it. But the two wealthier friends do not want to give up any of their extra entertainment to help our their poorer friends. Would it really be right for the 8 other friends -- The poorer and middle-of-the-road friends -- To gang up on the 2 wealthier friends and force them, under pain of life and limb, to pay for the healthcare of the poorer two?

I would argue that no, it's not moral, and would never be acceptable.

That of course is a huge simplification. Because there are larger issues at work here.

Universal healthcare sucks. It invariably costs more and delivers less. Innovation is slower, and care is less. (Some socialist countries like Sweeden have very good public health care. That is certainly quite an accomplishment, and if the people are happy with it, more power to them. But I would argue that without the medical innovations coming out of the United States' private health care system, Swedes would not be doing nearly as well as they are. But that's another argument).

Furthermore, why should everyone have to pay higher taxes *just in case* they want healthcare. I, for one, don't want any. The only time I would want health care is if I were to contract a terrible, chronic disease (HIV) or were to be involved in a bad accident. So I purchased a medical plan with a $1500 deductible. The most I'll ever have to pay in a single year is $2500. But I only pay $50/month.

Also, have you considered the hindering effects that taxes have on an economy? We already pay a real tax rate close to 50% (If you consider Federal Income Tax, State Income Taxes, Business excise taxes, corporate taxes (which raise product prices), sales taxes, gasoline taxes, property taxes, etc). We get many benefits by paying these taxes - An extraordinary highway system, an unsurpassed common national defense, (mediocre) health care for the elderly and disabled, public education, etc. But we should realize that high tax levels raise unemployment levels artifically high and lower total national economic output (Which in turn hurts everyone - from the lowly worker to the fat-cat CEOs).

I'm not against universal healthcare because I think the CEOs should get more money at the expense of the lives of low-income families. I'm against universal health care because I genuinely believe it would hurt our country - low-income families and CEO's alike. The health care would be mismanaged (as is medicare), it would be congested (like every socialized healthcare system), and the taxes required to fund such an initiative (probably 10%) would be an extraordinary drag on the economy (Which, obviously, hurts us all very much - as we can see here in Portland, where it's been very hard for many to find any jobs).

I didn't get this position watching the O'Reilly Factor. I hate Fox News as much as the next liberal. (I happen to hate CNN, too). I got this opinion (and many others - I'm full of 'em) after a couple years of studying economics.

There's a quote (I forget the source) that goes something like this:

Those who are not liberal at age 20 do not have a heart; Those who are still liberal at age 50 do not have a mind;

Conscience of a Conservative 29.Apr.2003 18:59

uh huh. try breaking out of your box.

Conscience of a Conservative
By: Ernest Partridge, LiberalSlant.com, 04/29/03

After a year and a half of writing and publishing some fifty or so political articles for various progressive websites, I have come to the startling conclusion that I am a Conservative! Now hold on a moment - don't touch that mouse! Hear me out! This insight comes into focus as I explore the full implications of Websters' definition of "Conservatism" -- "preserving what is established" and the "disposition to oppose change in established institutions and methods."

According to this definition: A Conservative cherishes and defends the founding documents of the American Republic - the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Accordingly, a Conservative defends free expression - in speech, the press, assembly - as guaranteed by the First Amendment to the Constitution.

Additionally, a Conservative insists upon due process and protection of the individual from excesses and abuses of law enforcement. In particular, the Conservative opposes "unreasonable searches and seizures" (Fourth Amendment), double jeopardy, and self incrimination (Fifth Amendment), and "cruel and unusual punishment (Eighth Amendment). In addition, the Conservative affirms "the right to a speedy and public trial" and the right to confront accusers and "to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation" (Sixth Amendment).

While respecting the doctrinal differences amongst religions, the Conservative endorses "traditional values" that are taught by all the great world religions: tolerance, mercy, charity, compassion, moderation, peacemaking.

Conservatism vs. "conservatism"

I suspect that the reader might sense where all this is leading. There seems to be a disconnect between the Conservatism here described (in part), and the program of a political faction that chooses to call itself "conservative," but which I prefer to call "right-wing" and "regressive." For example, the Founders might look somewhat askance upon the restriction of free expression evident today in the corporate media, and upon the retaliation upon individuals who exercise this right - individuals such as Phil Donahue, Tim Robbins, Bill Maher, the Dixie Chicks, and other citizens who choose to ignore Ari Fleischer's warning to "watch what they say."

Nor would the Founders be pleased to learn of the "Justice Department's" violation of the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendment rights of several American citizens - violations upheld by "conservative" appellate judges. About these clear and explicit violations of the founding principles of our Republic, the (so-called) "conservatives" are generally unperturbed. Moreover, the aforementioned "traditional values" - tolerance, mercy, charity, compassion, moderation, peacemaking - are not conspicuous in the behavior of many self-described "conservative" individuals, nor in the policies of the allegedly "compassionately conservative" Bush Administration.

But there is more, as we continue our list:

A Conservative believes in free markets and free enterprise, and thus upholds anti-trust laws and various government regulations designed to maintain free and open competition. The right wing (self-described "conservatives"), on the other hand, have no use whatever for "government interference" in big business activity. Do they prefer "free enterprise" over monopolies? Ask the founders of Netscape. Or ask the more than forty broadcast corporations that have either been "absorbed" or forced out of business by the remaining ten media mega-corporations. (See Robert McChesney, The Global Media Giants, FAIR, also Media Channel). Unfortunately, as history testifies, "free enterprise," unregulated and unconstrained, tends naturally toward monopolies -- in other words, "the free market" contains within itself the seeds of its own destruction.

A Conservative believes in maximum personal liberty, consistent with "like liberty" for all. (John Stuart Mill). The right wing fails to appreciate that "maximum liberty" for the wealthy, privileged and powerful, often infringes upon the liberties of the less fortunate. Once again, "like liberty" is protected by the rule of law, the right to vote ("consent of the governed"), and by legitimate popular government.

A Conservative is suspicious of "big government," and thus insists upon a separation of powers, a legislature that represents the interests of the public rather than campaign contributors, and restraint of government assaults upon personal liberties along the lines prescribed by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Accordingly, a Conservative insists that it is not the business of government to promote particular religions, or to interfere in the private lives of citizens.

A Conservative demands responsibility and accountability - of persons, of corporations, of institutions, and of government. There are no exceptions allowed for "well-placed individuals" (e.g., Ken Lay, Dick Cheney), or firms (Enron and Global Crossing), or governing administrations (regarding, for example, access to information, fiscal responsibility, etc).

A Conservative opposes offensive and "pre-emptive" wars - a sentiment unequivocally endorsed by George Washington, who counseled against "unusual antipathies" toward other nations. This is a sentiment fully endorsed by Jefferson, and Madison, among other founders.

A Conservative is time-conscious - of history and its bestowals, and of responsibility to future generations. Thus a Conservative will not, through budgetary deficits and through unsustainable environmental policies, mortgage and despoil the future for the generations that follow.

A Conservative cherishes the legacy of the past - in science, literature, the arts, and communal institutions -- and seeks to preserve them through education accessible to all, and through public facilities such as museums, concerts, libraries, and media. Thus a Conservative does not dismiss science and learning when "inconvenient" to special interests, or contrary to uninformed "gut feeling." Moreover, a Conservative regards the burrning of library records and the looting of museum collections as catastrophic losses to civilization, and not merely "stuff" that "happens."

A Conservative respects language, as a means of encoding knowledge and conveying information, and thus refrains from distorting language in order to employ its as a tool of manipulation, mendacity and evasion.

From this, and much more, it follows that the right wing in general, and the Bush Administrations in particular, accord themselves undeserved merit when they describe themselves as "conservatives." In a word, most self-described "conservatives" aren't..

Is the Conservatism described above just another name for libertarianism? I would suggest that this Conservatism is, so to speak, a "semi-libertarianism." This Conservative endorses the libertarians' insistence upon personal autonomy, privacy, liberty and responsibility. However, when it comes to economic and social applications, this Conservative parts company with the libertarian. While the libertarian may claim endorsement of "the like liberty principle," he fails to appreciate that his program of radical personal autonomy and an unconstrained "free market" leads to severe restrictions on the liberty of others. In addition, the libertarian falsely regards a well-ordered society, with shared values, civil peace and with an educated work force, as a free gift to which nothing is owed in return for its health and maintenance. (For a defense and elaboration of these points, see my "The New Alchemy," "With Liberty for Some," "Perilous Optimism," and "In Search of Sustainable Values").

As many readers will have noticed, I have borrowed this title "Conscience of a Conservative" from a book by (more accurately, ghost-written for) the late Senator Barry Goldwater. Shortly before his death, Goldwater commented to his successor, John McCain, that today his views would be to the left of the mainstream of the Republican party. In fact, I have many disagreements with the political views that Goldwater held during his active political life, though I much respected his honesty and integrity. Goldwater's position could generally be characterized as "libertarian," and thus my agreements and disagreements with him are generally parallel to those remarked above, concerning libertarianism. If his views, and even more his character, were reflected in the Republican party today, the political debates would be lively and productive, but much more important, we would once again enjoy the civility and sense of public service and responsibility that are essential to good government.

What then of "Liberalism?" If this account of Conservatism is essentially correct, then the polar opposition of Liberalism-Conservatism is no longer tenable. By and large, both Liberals and Conservatives (properly so-called, as above) are natural allies, as Conservatives defend the historical, institutional and moral basis upon which the Liberals might seek to improve conditions today, and aspire to a better tomorrow.

That being so, authentic Conservatives and liberals can and must join together in common opposition to "the far right" - that malignant political ideology that dishonors the past, despoils the present. and leaves a ruined and bankrupt wasteland for the future.

Breaking out of my box 30.Apr.2003 01:57

James

I agree entirely with Patridge's "Conscience of a Conservative" -- except with regards to libertarianism.

What Patridge fails to notice is the difference between libertarianism and Libertarianism (with a lower-case 'l', or an upper-case 'L').

Libertarianism with an upper-case 'L' is the politics of the Libertarian Party. Libertarianism with a lower-case 'l', however, is the extreme of leaving all choices which do not directly infringe upon the rights of others to the individual himself. (In contrast to the extreme of authoritarianism, in which most important choices are left to the State).

In practice of course, the terms "liberal" and "conservative" in the United States tend to be blurred by the current landscape of politics. Literally, the words mean "progressive" and "static" respectively. But today, "conservative" tends to be associated with the politics of the Republican Party, while "liberal" is associated with the politics of the Democratic Party.

Indeed, conservatives in Canada are quite leftist, while progressives are more moderate.

So Patridge can use whatever label he likes -- Conservative, Libertarian, Liberal, Progressive, Classical-liberal -- It doesn't really matter. What matters is his politics. (And the crux of my earlier argument was not with regard to Stalinism, authoritarianism or what have you; that was just a reply to a comment a previous poster had made. My main point was one of the morality and benefit of universal healthcare. And I certainly take note that noone has argued those points.)

- James

Going after James 30.Apr.2003 17:38

George

Since James is unwilling to pay taxes to support a just society, I suggest we all get together and take away his money.