We lost a little bit of Democracy in Green Bay

Town Hall meetings are likely now dead, and we can only blame the special interests.

By Jack E. Lohman

What was once the little guy’s only direct access to congressional members will shortly become a thing of the past. This time it was the right-wingers disrupting Steve Kagen’s Green Bay meeting, but the Dems will not sit this out. And they have twice the number, so say goodbye to a small part of our democracy.

To claim this as spontaneous without industry coordination would be disingenuous. Memos from these groups have already surfaced and are clearly funded by the insurance industry.

But the protesters have not thought this through. They are only concerned with “taxes,” and they fail to connect the dots to the special interests that own our politicians.

Instead, these folks have allowed themselves to be used, even against their own best interests. To believe that the insurance (or whatever) industry gives a damn about them would be naive. These CEOs believe only in profits and higher salaries, and the process of transferring the people’s wealth to them is working quite well. They send their thanks.

Understand this: Taxes increase because government spending increases… and that increases because the people who fund the political elections (special interests) want and receive government giveaways. Money is doing the job it was intended to do; it buys politicians and laws. Your politicians and your laws.

That requires new taxes, some of which come from business and some from personal taxes. If we want companies and jobs to return to Wisconsin, there is but one answer. We MUST eliminate corporate taxes and we must eliminate the corporate burden for health care costs. Immediately, to ZERO!

But oh, that will increase personal taxes!

Not necessarily, but so what if it did? We are paying these costs anyway when manufacturers add their taxes and health care premiums to the cost of their product and we reimburse them at the cash register. Plus, when they add their attorney’s tax avoidance charges we reimburse those too.

Only when we move these expenditures to our national infrastructure can we see an economic recovery! And if politicians eliminate the unnecessary giveaways to corporations, we would have $300 billion to pay for a single-payer system. So instead of paying for health care through higher product and service prices, lost jobs and a trashed economy, we are paying through taxes but at a lower overall cost. We’ll save $400 billion as a nation.

Do I count on this happening? Not without the public’s help.

Politicians need cash for their campaigns and there are only two forms of money; public and private. And the current system demands that they take private money, and that demands that they roll over to the contributing industry giving the money. But they don’t mind this political game because it discourages challengers without money, and it unlevels the playing field, which they prefer.

Public funding of elections would cost $5 per taxpayer per year, a bargain at 100 times the price.  But remember what Winston Churchill said: “America will always do the right thing, but only after everything else fails.”

 Tidbits

— See As Health Care Issue Heats Up, Congressmen Turn to Tele-Townhall Meetings

— And The corporate ties between insurers and media companies

— For the record, I support the tea party protests, but I fear they are going to get nasty. I do not support the mob mentality, which in this case may just backfire in favor of reformers. Or worse, will lead to violence.

Paul Krugman described one angry mob that opposed government-run health care, but half of them were already on Medicare (a government run program).

— My congressman, Jim Sensenbrenner, isn’t so dumb after all. He apparently didn’t want to get hammered by the pro-healthcare reform folks so he took August off. Would it surprise me if it were another lobbyist-paid trip to Liechtenstein? Probably not.

66 Responses to We lost a little bit of Democracy in Green Bay

  1. Tom Sladek says:

    Sorry, Jack, but you’re wrong about Kagen’s visit to Green Bay. It was not the product of “industry coordination”. I was there, and not because I’d received any encouragement from any industry group. I was there because I’m concerned and angry over the federal government’s power expansion and Congress’ unwillingness to listen to the people. Most interesting, I ran into at least five people there who I know from previous work association, none of whom I had ever, ever seen before at gatherings that were public policy or political in nature. No, Jack, if you think the people at the Green Bay session were some group of activists manipulated by “industry”, you are missing the mark (and the message).

  2. Tom, I don’t doubt that you and most people were there legitimately because of concerns over government mismanagement, but I’ve seen memos from groups obviously funded by the insurance industry.

    The House plan is indeed BAD and I don’t even support it. But it was written by the middle-man insurance industry to lock themselves into the system… into your pocket. I support a single payer system for all the reasons I’ve given.

    In any event it should have consisted of dialog, not mob rule. I think the protesters lost ground as a result.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I attended a town hall meeting for a Republican yesterday and the crowd was generally anti-health care reform and got themselves all angry about it. It was like children who had seen something on TV that they don’t really understand but wanted to imitate. There was no need for them to get worked up – the legislator was on their side. Many comments didn’t make sense as they contradicted themselves. Others were woefully uninformed (though some carried books but health care experts like Michelle Malkin). And the saddest thing of all was those who were already themselves insured (many on Medicare) but could not find it in their self-proclaimed Christian hearts to support a plan to end the suffering of millions. The legislator was worthless. He never challenged anyone’s false claims or even anyone’s claims that the government (of which he is a part) is incompetent and corrupt. I left with a heavy heart.

  4. Stewie (IP: 75.106.115.161) says:

    Jack, I am confused at your title, “We lost a little bit of Democracy in Green Bay.” Seems to most that there has been a restoration of sensible balance to the political equation. Unfortunately [for you and your ilk], what you view as “lost democracy” is actually lost democrat influence in the political process of our democratic republic. A major difference with hugely different “realities.” Why so socialist?

  5. Not surprisingly, Stewie, I disagree. No democracy occured in Green Bay, just a shouting match. A mob. I think the right wing (which on some issues I count myself) lost big time. But we’ll see.

  6. Bill Maher: At a recent town-hall meeting in South Carolina, a man stood up and told his Congressman to “keep your government hands off my Medicare,” which is kind of like driving cross country to protest highways.

  7. For those interested see: Right-wing turncoat gives the inside scoop on why conservatives are rampaging town halls http://www.alternet.org/story/141833/

    Sample: “[Dick] Armey’s FreedomWorks is organizing against health care reform. Armey’s lobbying firm represents pharmaceutical companies including Bristol-Myers Squibb. Armey’s lobbying firm also represents the trade group for the life insurance industry. FreedomWorks is supporting the status quo at all costs.”

    and…

    The lobbyist-run groups “Americans for Prosperity” and “FreedomWorks/ Dick Armey-orchestrated memo:

    Here is a leaked excerpt from the folks organizing the intimidation campaign:

    – Artificially Inflate Your Numbers: “Spread out in the hall and try to be in the front half. The objective is to put the Rep on the defensive with your questions and follow-up. The Rep should be made to feel that a majority, and if not, a significant portion of at least the audience, opposes the socialist agenda of Washington.”

    – Be Disruptive Early And Often: “You need to rock-the-boat early in the Rep’s presentation, Watch for an opportunity to yell out and challenge the Rep’s statements early.”

    – Try To “Rattle Him,” Not Have An Intelligent Debate: “The goal is to rattle him, get him off his prepared script and agenda. If he says something outrageous, stand up and shout out and sit right back down. Look for these opportunities before he even takes questions.”

    This has clearly been manipulated by industry, and though I don’t feel they’ve thought through the full issues of health and political corruption, people can and should protest, but responsibly.

  8. Stewie (IP: 75.106.115.161) says:

    These are the same tactics used by the ACORN red-shirts and SEIU thugs. Interesting how jealous the libs get when any conservative takes lessons out of the Rathke Brothers’ playbook on community organizing to further the opposing view. Particularly when their own “dear leader” utilized the same tactics in his own self-proclaimed “community organizer” position which he also proclaimed [with unmitigated/undebated liberal media endorsement] qualified him to hold the position as POTUS.

    When the shoe’s on the other foot, you realize the need for odor-eaters by the odorous fragrance of the bare one.

  9. These “tactics” are as despicable when used by left wing wackos as right wing wackos, whether ACORN or unions or whomever. They are designed to intimidate, not to promote democracy, or to allow those with opposing views to express them.

    And for the record I voted for McCain and have spoken out against Obama for rolling over to the insurance industry. See my last post at Obama must bite the bullet on health care. Yea, you don’t agree with my preference for single payer, but we BOTH don’t agree with how Obama is dealing with this and the bailouts.

    And if you don’t believe this issue is owned by the insurance industry, please read this by an industry insider published in the “left wing” 🙂 Business Week: The health insurers have already won. Or the really left wing AlterNet.

    Stewie, if you and I sat down to design a truly workable and fair and humane health care system, I suspect that it would not include the for-profit insurance bureaucracy.

  10. And incidentally, that “liberal stalwart” CNN is also refusing to air anything about the single payer option which has 70 co-sponsors and 70% public approval. But they are also virtually owned by the insurance and pharmaceutical industries. So much for “fair and balanced.”

    And for those who really bought the right’s BS take a look at PleaseCutTheCrap. I repeat that I do not support HR3200. It is a terrible bill. But I also don’t believe the crap being dispersed by the insurance industry. Some of my friends do.

  11. Stewie (IP: 75.106.115.161) says:

    Unfortunately, any form of government controlled/administered healthcare will turn out to be no less [and certainly no more] than what our nation’s veterans must endure through the Veteran’s Health Administration under the Secretary of Veteran’s Affairs. If you have no first-hand experience with that government healthcare system, you should get to know someone who has; particularly a soldier, marine, sailor or airman who has service-connected disabilities; and more specifically a veteran of the recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    The best analog we have of what the government healthcare system would be is the United States Postal System; we will have to pay for the entire bureacracy through fees and additionaly through tax dollars. It will end up being fat with beareaucrats and functionaries who, on top of it all, will be unionized.

    There is NO governmement solution to healthcare that will ot result in a monstraocity the likes I have personally witnessed in other countries like Britain, Holland and Canada. My own brother recently waited 5-months to be treated for debilitating hemerroids under the Netherlands’ national healthcare system.

    And if you have never experienced foreign national healthcare youself, the foreign national postal systems are even worse!

    The system we currently have can be improved upon; but you don’t demolish your house to remodel your kitchen.

  12. Stewie, I’ll go you one better than that. I have 40 years in the healthcare industry and the last 25 years with this country’s number one government healthcare system: Medicare. I get sick, I get care and the caregiver gets paid. I see the same doctor I always have, and I have never had the government step between me and my doctor. And when I was billing Medicare I was not stiffed even once.

    THAT is the best analog we can use, because THAT is what everybody is referring to as a single-payer system. As bad as it is, it is the most efficient system we have in the US. Except for the VA system which has become overwhelmed recently with troops returning from Iraq.

    We don’t have to compare with any other country. It doesn’t matter what Canada or Holland or Britain does. We spend at least twice the per-capita dollars as they, and we will continue to do so. The politicians have already found out what would happen if they screwed with Medicare.

    Contrast that with these 1st four items. ALL are common with private insurance and ALL are unheard of with Medicare. Listen to this doctor and read just chapter 1 of this free book.

    And remember the 17-year-old girl that was denied a kidney transplant, and DIED in her parent’s arms? That was Cigna that denied the care, one of the largest private insurers in the country. It was NOT Medicare!

    And until FedEx or UPS can deliver a letter across the country for 50 cents, I wouldn’t rag on the post office. They are running in the red because of electronic billing and letters, and will very likely have to cut back to three delivery days. Until recently they have been inefficient but still less costly than private delivery services.

  13. Jack:

    What do you know about Tricare? It is run by the DOD for civilian military workers and dependents. The CEO of Mayo Clinic, Denis Cortese. Here he is on Charlie Rose: http://healthpolicyblog.mayoclinic.org/

    Cortese says expanded Medicare would be a disaster if it remains fee for service. Cost containment has failed because they just do more services.

    Unlike Medicare, Tricare negotiates with the drug companies. I never heard of Tricare, but millions of Americans have it.

  14. Stewie (IP: 75.106.115.161) says:

    FedEx and UPS cannot compete with the USPS because the domestic air carriers and the CRAF are obligated by statute to the USPS to carry their mail at noncompetitive rates; as well as federal contract freight carriers. FedEx and UPS are also prohibited from carrying bulk letter-carrier mail. That’s how the USPS “competes” in their market. The postal rates keep rising because they are inable to adjust their capacity (infrastucture and manpower) to match their volume because of the unions. The postal rates must also be raised to pay for the retirements for former employees. These are all indicators of what government healthcare will be.

    Medicare is not government healthcare, per se; it is contracted care. HR3200 is designed to gradually and progressively displace private health insurance and replace it with government healthcare that is CONTROLLED by the central commission in every detail. Don’t fool yourself about the sanctity of Medicare. The danger is taking that first step…which some of us see as the catalyst that cannot be stopped from running its full course once it has been given its initiators have been mixed to critical mass.

  15. Thanks for that link, John. I haven’t heard of Tricare either (or at least, the details), and that should be studied as an alternative to the fee-for-service system we now have. As overwhelmed as the VA system is today, at least it pays its docs via a salary, as do the university systems. And by and large VA patients rank their system higher than do private care patients.

    The unfettered fee-for-service system is bad for Medicare and bad for the privates because over-utilization results. But the opposite (flat rate per patient) is bad because it encourages skimping on care. We must find a happy medium.

  16. Stewie (IP: 75.106.115.161) says:

    John,

    TRICARE is for active duty and retired military and their dependents (as well as some selected reserve component members)…not DoD civilians and their dependents. DoD civilians and their dependents are covered under FEHB.

  17. Stewie (IP: 75.106.115.161) says:

    Jack,

    That interview John provided the link to touches on the fundamental question none of the members of Congress want to touch: Why do they [Congress] enjoy the benefits of the FEHB and yet won’t suggest such a program structure to replace Medicare? Hmmm?

    FEHB is the National Cadillac Healthcare Plan…but you will not see it touched or even mentioned in HR3200. Yet they specifically mention TRICARE and VA Healthcare in HR3200.

    What do you suppose will happen to FEHB under Obamacare?

    http://www.opm.gov/INSURE/HEALTH/INDEX.ASP

  18. Stewie, let’s not confuse Medicare with the USPS. They are two different animals, run two different ways and with two completely different goals and roadblocks. It is apples and oranges.

    And you are right that Medicare is not government healthcare. It is a public/private contractor system that runs not flawlessly, but better than the private system itself. And once again, HR3200 stinks, because it was bought and paid for by the very insurance industry that has been paying for all of the false attacks.

    And you shouldn’t be fooled by Medicare either. It has a private component (“Advantage”) that is run by private insurers that 20% of Medicare patients have opted into. But that system costs taxpayers 17% more than traditional Medicare, so “private” has not proven to be more efficient than “government” in this case.

  19. I agree that we should have ONE healthcare system and ALL citizens (including congressmen) should be in it. Period! (Unless they opt out, of course.)

    Eliminate Medicaid, BadgerCare, Tricare, the VA, and all other government systems and include them in the one final system that is selected as the best for the country. Maybe it’s Tricare, maybe Medicare or VA or some combination. But we can no longer let healthcare divide the nation.

  20. Stewie (IP: 75.106.115.161) says:

    Unfortunately, under HR3200, Medicare and the USPS do become quite similar in fundamental ways…a very sobering reality of this Congress’ and this administration’s unlimate intent.

    Again, FEHB should be the model for Obamacare [as Obama mentioned it should be during his campaigning as a Senator who was already covered by FEHB] but it’s not even subject to the language of HR3200 nor is it used or suggested as a template to improve the national healthcare insurance systems. Even if FEHB were to be used as a model to improve Medicare, we would be making huge headway at necessary reform without demolishing the entire houshold in submission.

  21. Stewie (IP: 75.106.115.161) says:

    Health care has only divided the nation once the politicians and the activists made it a divisive issue.

    It is not a right to have healthcare; however, it should be a right to have the healthcare you want, work hard to afford, and choose to participate in.

    Those who choose to not be insured should not be punished nor should they be treated as if they are neglected.

    Those who are truly in need and unable to have any type of healthcare should be offered what their local and/or national government can afford to offer them.

    Fee-for-service is as corrupting to providers as free healthcare is corrupting to the citizens.

  22. There is one major problem with FEHB and that’s the 31% waste going to the insurance middleman to cover things like high CEO and Executive salaries and bonuses, high shareholder profits, actuarial fees, gatekeeper costs, marketing costs and broker commissions, and even the lobbying costs and campaign contributions that they must pass on to the patient.

    When buying Cadillacs for government employees, costs are not an object. But there is no legitimate reason why taxpayers should pick of that tab for a universal system. Unless you are in the insurance business I expect that you’d agree. Well, maybe you are and that’s why we’ve been disagreeing.

  23. Stewie, you sound more like an insurance employee every time you post.

    You are right that health care is not in the constitution as a “right.” A lot of things aren’t, like fire and police and roads and such.

    But it IS a common good that would help not just patients but also businesses and the economy. But I say that as a pragmatist, not bent on ideological theory.

  24. Tom C. says:

    I have read carefully the conversation between John and Stevie Wonder. I am a Vet, retied army have Tri Care and use the VA. I trained in and have been a patient at the VA and a member of a Retired Army Association which supports and has lobbied for TRiCare.I am almost embarrassed to mention that I have TriCare and use the VA at little or no cost other than the taxes I have enjoyed paying and expect to enjoy paying for at least an additional ten years. It should be evident to everyone that uses a computer why the PO is in the red. When the mail arrives six days/week I worry about the carriers and all the postal employees that have served this nation since the inception of the Postal Service. I am more concerned that in the two local papers I read this morning absolutely nothing was mentioned about Iraq or Afghanistan. There were abut 42 KIAs in Afghanistan last month and more in August. As usual, nothing was mentioned about those WIA, usually ten to one KIA. Medical personnel are overwhelmed with work and repeated tours in both areas as in the VA, all tax funded with your dollars. Those medics are doing outstanding service at all levels from the corpsmen through nursing personnel to the PAs, NCs nurses and docs on the line, in the Mash, at Landstuhl where I served some years past and in the variety of military hospitals and VAMCs in the US. Medical care we provide now for those unholy wars include also the necessary research that supports “private care” through the NIH, CDC, PHS, IHS all in addition to Medicare and Medicaid.

    The administrative costs of the private system are accurate, available to all, and indicate which system is the less expensive. “Quality care” is rather difficult to measure across the broad spectrum of what has become a medical business rather than a profession, grossly indicated by the increasinly ubiquitous billboards and print adds.

    The average cost for a MD degree is part of this business. At one of the schools in Wisconsin I calculated the cost of eight years at $360,000. Those who finish at the Military Med School at Bethesda, where tuition, board,room and books are subsidized by the taxpayers is unknown to me. The MDs have an obligation to serve several more years on active duty. I do not know how many finally retire with a pension like the pension I receive which like congress, we all pay for.

    Reading blogs is time consuming and more difficult but the print media is moribund and controlled or out of control like the aberrant so called “democratic town meetings” this blog provoked. And I never learned to type properly, nor did I have a course in business or economics. I just read the books by Loyd C Douglas and tried to care for all my patients in that spirit, private or public. They belong to all of us and the common good is my credo. Two question: What is the current cost of having a baby in Wisconsin? Why is that important to this Capitalism some worship?

  25. I don’t have the answers to your last two questions, Tom, the first I am sure is available and the second is in the eye of the beholder. But overall the cost of war includes the medical costs and all should be paid by our national taxes.

    My view is that all military personnel should have the best care available, as should every American. And we could provide that at the same dollars we are spending today to cover just 85% of the people. But that requires eliminating the 31% of insurance industry waste, and our politicians don’t want to go there.

  26. Stewie (IP: 75.106.115.161) says:

    Jack,

    I doesn’t mean someone is a member of the insurance industry for them to be well-aware of the dangerous course our country is currently on with legislation such as HR3200 and Cap & Tax.

    As a progmatist, you should also realize that our economy would have been better served, overall, by $hitcanning the stimulus bill and starting over with marginal tax rate reductions, retail tax holidays, property tax restrictions [utilization & accountability standards], local transportation tax revenue accountability standards [fencing funds for proper use], IRS code revisions [flat tax], capital gains and estate tax reform, tort reform and, finally, congressional term limits.

  27. Stewie (IP: 75.106.115.161) says:

    Tom,

    Hiden in your response is a tender piece of logical observation that shines a brillliant light on the most significant causal factor to our nation’s current woes.

    The largest percentage of “professionals” in our country have allowed themselves to become business people and politicians instead of professionals. From teachers to lawyers to doctors and even legislators; they have all sold themselves out to their own self-interest and to the interest of their political representation in unions, PACs and lobbying groups. They have all, each and every one of the former “noble professions”, sold themselves out and left the citizen high-and-dry. It is a damn shame and we citizens must do the right thing to put things back on the right track…use our right to vote, exercise our liberty to gather and organize, and demonstrate our freedom to speak our minds in a public forum!

  28. No, it doesn’t “mean” that, Stewie, but that was a typical non-answer. I don’t mind talking to the “other side,” but I do like disclosure.

    That said, I agree with you on HR3200. It is a bad bill as I have mentioned above. But you don’t like my solution either (single-payer).

    And I don’t support Cap and Trade because it is going to drive even more companies out of the US, nor do I support card check (open voting for unions). I am pro-business at heart, except when businesses get ridiculous. But all of that is why I support single-payer and zero corporate taxes (but a more progressive personal tax system). And No, I don’t support another tax break for the wealthy. This country is paying dearly for the last one.

    On congressional term limits I’m at the point of agreeing with you. These bastards are corrupt as hell and must be ousted, and that may be the only way of getting them out. But the one thing you eliminated was public funding of elections, which would go a long way to cleaning up the political system and ultimately eliminating unnecessary taxes.

  29. And I also don’t agree with Obama’s (or even Bush’s) bailouts. I would rather that we use the infrastructures that we took over (Freddie, Fannie and the banks) and used the taxpayer bailout funds to make affordable loans to avoid repossessions and buy vehicles. But that was all dictated by the campaign contributions our politicians have lived on for years.

  30. Tom C.:

    Do you think TriCare is a model that would work for the civilian population, as massive public option we could opt into?

  31. Tom (IP: 65.219.110.180) says:

    TRICARE is already modeled after Medicare and Medicare Advantage; but neither should be foisted on the general population in the form of a “public option” as a cure for the problems our nation currently faces because of the VERY enormous tax effect. It is an industry problem shared by employers and government which should be fixed within th structure of the existing system of the free-enterprise system. Tricare is simply another type of employer sponsored health insurance plan which delivers contracted healthcare to its beneficiaries; which means the government is sharing the cost of government employee health benefits. Now if the government also shares the cost of provate employee health care, we will be creating a socialist monster that will open the veritable pandora’s box for social wielfare in the private sector (the likes of which the bank- and auto-bailouts will pale in comparison to). Private industry needs to be held to account for creating their own employee healthcare insurance system. Funny how Microsoft and Walmart can hold suppliers to maintain low prices but don’t raise a finger to pressure their employee health insurance companies to maintain reasonable rates…collusion?

  32. Glenn Koenig says:

    Ok, my (perhaps radical) opinion is that we are not looking at losing a piece of democracy itself. We are looking at the erosion of all power at the federal level. Not from the top, but up from the bottom, egged on from the business interests, this time aka the “medical industrial complex.” Yes, it’s messy and it’s unfair, and it’s industry funded, but mark my words, this ‘crisis of health care’ is actually the start of a revolution here in the United States that is much, much bigger than that. We are seeing history being made on a grand scale. Fasten you seatbelts! As went the Soviet Union, so eventually will go we, but in a slightly different way. With luck, the principles of our constitution will prevail, but the federal government, now beholden to corporations with more power than government itself (aka, the banks, the automakers, etc., which have held us hostage and extracted ransom from us all via taxes) will increasingly be unable to hold the center together as a structure.

    We already know that the medical industrial complex cannot continue on its current path. That path is characterized by the extensive use of fear and manipulation to maintain and increase profits while the rest of the economy is to be damned. But the strain on the economy as a whole is becoming significant, reaching into every aspect of our lives, from business, to government (at all levels), to families and down to individuals. The system is riddled with ‘make work’ jobs – people being paid to do things that are no longer necessary. That cannot continue for much longer. It is on the verge of collapse because the economy cannot sustain it. And it’s a ‘positive feedback loop’ kind of collapse. That is, the more people lose their jobs, the more income is cut off from the medical industrial complex (because it’s so heavily employer funded), then the more people within the medical industry will lose their jobs, and so on. Once it starts, it will snowball; there will be no stopping it.

    So, right now, when push comes to shove, what happens? The result is about to be an utter failure of any significant ‘reform’ on the federal level. That is my prediction. Fight it if you want, but the United States today is much to big and diverse a place for any ‘one size fits all’ plan, whether it be single payer or anything else, to fly. The result will be, no matter what they enact, that vast segments of the population will be extremely unhappy with the result, and will eventually turn uncooperative (and there are just not enough police and courts to enforce it). This pushes the entire country toward throwing up its hands and seeking other solutions to the problems we face today.

  33. Excellent comments, Glenn. And the hell of it is that the solution is right in front of our face.

    Our basic problem is political corruption. For-profit corporations seek even more profits and they are willing to share them with the politicians that make it all happen. Thus laws and regulations are written or repealed to benefit the contributors to the detriment of the voters and taxpayers.

    And the corporations are further willing to spend part of their profits riling up the citizenry to do their work for them, to appear in mobs at town hall meetings.

    Thus our democracy is in the hands of the corporations and corrupt politicians, and that can only lead to rebellion. At 72 I won’t be here to see it but I fear for my kids and grandkids. And those who are currently part of the problem had best understand what’s going on, or sit this issue out.

    The solution is full public funding of campaigns. If we want politicians to vote for the benefit of the taxpayers, their campaigns must also be funded by them. If you looked at it you’d see that we are already paying for the campaigns — through the back door — so we might just as well own the politicians directly.

  34. Squiggy (IP: 65.219.110.180) says:

    So if I read these past two comments correctly, the only way to save our nation is whenever one of our industry sectors falters, becomes over-extended, or loses a major portion of it’s revenue base (customers), then the federal government should come to the rescue and bail them out or federalize them. Is this correct? Are you out of your communist minds?

    Perhaps YOU are the real problem!

  35. Squiggy (IP: 65.219.110.180) says:

    The problem is evident if you look carefully [or just beyond your collective noses]: How many medical institutions or medical insurance conglomerates have collapsed financially because of the financial disaster of the past 10 months? Right…none. And when everyone else is downsizing, how else do the medical giants maintain their corporate existence…by raising their rates across the board…or by convincing politicians to create a new funding mechanism that has endless payout potential. Cha-Ching!

  36. Squiggy, you have obviously not read my other comments. I AM NOT supportive of bailing out the banks, whether by Bush or Obama. Or GM, and I’ve written so. And I don’t consider myself a communist.

    But that said, I am a pragmatist rather than ideologist. There are some things we are better off doing collectively as a nation rather than individually, and health care is one of them. I’m not willing to trash my country for ideological reasons.

    But there is a simple solution: get the bribes out of the political system and let our board of directors lead our country without being on the take. THEN we’ll see proper health care reform.

  37. Squiggy (IP: 65.219.110.180) says:

    And why should they [medical treatment/insurance industries] mind being painted as the villain during the process? It diverts the sheep from seeing the real wolf…and they will still get fed their mutton at the end of the herding! YUMMM!!!!!

    Baaaah! Here sheep!

  38. Squiggy (IP: 65.219.110.180) says:

    I love your innocuous use of the word COLLECTIVE in your response, commrade!

  39. Well, we could turn to those “compassionate” conservatives that would rather give the finger than a helping hand, but I prefer not.

    I don’t condone welfare for lazy people, but I also don’t condone rip-off CEOs that would rob these same people blind all so they can die with a billion rather than a million.

  40. Stewie (IP: 75.106.115.161) says:

    And your solution is to legislate ethics in the business world? Hmmm…and how much might you have squirreled away in your freezer Mr. Legislator? Oh where did you go? Did you just fly away in your taxpayer-funded GV “executive” jet? This further smells of Chicago revenge (rotten fish). What’s next? Compensate the taxpayer for your letting Gitmo detainees into U.S. prisons by granting parole to the Manson family? How rich! Don’t forget to offer them cash-for-clunkers for that bus they still have parked in the desert!

  41. Stewie (IP: 75.106.115.161) says:

    And don’t forget to kick a stage-4 Medicare cancer patient out of her bed to make room for poor Sadie.

  42. Stewie, just where in the hell are you getting your talking points? Are you making them up on the fly?

  43. And no, I don’t propose that we legislate ethics in the business world. But I would legislate that the owners — the shareholders — have the sole responsibility of (a) approving the level of executive compensation, and (b) actually selecting the board of directors. Right now the CEOs and board have a very incestuous relationship, with CEOs from several companies all sitting on each other’s board and awarding high salaries in a quid pro quo arrangement. All to the detriment of the legal owners.

  44. Squiggy (IP: 65.219.110.180) says:

    And you would propose legislating this concept of business morales from a legislative body that votes upon their own pay adjustments without the input or review of their constituents (shareholders) who selected them? The country’s legislators are sometimes huge nvestors themselves and often groups of them, together, hold quite large controlling interest in several corporate entities or have lobbied for many of them. Do you see where the root of the problem lies?

  45. Stewie (IP: 65.219.110.180) says:

    This subject is so rife with moral potholes that it takes little effort to find dark satire and sick analogies in any of it…which brings the disturbing observation of how disgustingly few in the public domain are making those links in the realities of the issue. And those that have, and are raising their voices in opposition, are being colored as unamerican and even racist, simply because the president is colored. Your argument, though you try to involve hues of conservative relativity, continues to shine obvious as a socialist agenda…you, too, cannot fool those who see this entire effort as an attempt to lock our nation’s healthcare system into a death spiral of socialistic wealth resdisribution and rationing in order to make everyone EQUAL (except for those who are obviously more equal [congress]).

  46. First, yes, I would propose legislating protections for shareholders and eliminating conflicts of interest on corporate boards.

    Secondly, I support the following:

    a) Optional public funding of campaigns so politicians can be elected without relying on special interest bribes.

    b) Strengthening the FEC to remove political appointees and in essence making it an ethics oversight commission that establishes rules for congressional behavior.

    c) An earlier bill by Bernie Sanders that would have mandated that all congressmen put their wealth into blind trusts so they couldn’t vote for legislation that benefited their holdings. Jim Sensenbrenner, for example, voted for the $780 billion drug giveaway program all while owning $5 million in pharmaceutical stock. (He obviously opposed that bill.)

    d) And I have recently converted from opposing to supporting term limits. Our esteemed congressmen must be shown the door after they’ve gotten stale. Nothing else seems to work.

    e) And I support instant run-off voting and None of the Above ballot choice.

    And yes, the root of the problem will be solved by all of the above.

  47. >>> “… are raising their voices in opposition, are being colored as unamerican”

    So, Green Bay was democratic? I don’t think so.

    >>> “… lock our nation’s healthcare system into a death spiral of socialistic wealth redistribution”

    Wow. And redistribution hasn’t been taking place? From the bottom up?

    >>> “…and rationing”

    And rationing hasn’t been taking place?

  48. Stewie (IP: 65.219.110.180) says:

    Green Bay was more domocratic than the Democrats want to admit; particularly because they didn’t have the uppper-hand in the fray.

    Government’s taking away or marginalizing someone’s healthcare benefit in order to provide for someone else’s is dead wrong and will not survive.

    Rationing has been in the form of business managment, with the customer’s freedom to choose a new provider. Government rationing will bar the customer from making choices so as to ensure all are playing the game at the same level, regardless of ability/willingness to purchase aditional benefit.

  49. Stewie (IP: 65.219.110.180) says:

    You are, with every additional response, showing your true colors and demonstrating the incidiousness through which socialism has risen to the fore in our nation. Fortunately, the sun is shining the brightest light on you so-called “moderates” and “independents” who try to sway others into your way of thinking, and revealing your innermost political bent for Orwellian quest for a structure meant to support the “common good.” Socialism is what it is and will always reveal its true colors when allowed to stretch its wings; unfortunately, it has recently gained the most formidable position in our governement, to-date. But, without the absolute powers of the Chavez’s of this world, defeat is readily at-hand in the next election. Only when our constitution is, once and for all, burned and obliterated from our citizens minds will you be able to actually gain the power you so desire to achieve.

  50. Squiggy (IP: 65.219.110.180) says:

    Good call Stewie, I couldn’t agree with you more.

  51. Tom (IP: 65.219.110.180) says:

    Go get him Stewie!

  52. Great reading people who don’t know what they are talking about.

    First off, the proprietor of this blog who you claim is supporting a “socialist” health care plan happens to be a conservative Republican with perhaps ten times the business experience to you all put together, running successful companies.

    So he knows what a detriment the current system has been. All of you howling socialism are defending a group of companies that has been one the biggest detriment to people getting into business and growing a business.

    It is just amazing that anyone would be so clueless as to defend something that has made all of our lives so difficult.

    Freedom. My ass. What kind of freedom is it top be stuck in a job or even a marriage because the fear of losing health insurance? What kind of freedom is it to find yourself financially bound and bound to die because your claim for a cancer treatment has been denied? Talk about your death panels.

    With freedom comes responsibility. If you are going to go to a town hall and make a damned fool out of yourself you’d better read up on what you are talking about, not take your information spoon fed from some insurance company lobbyist or a right wing media buffoon like Beck or Limbaugh.

    You might feel soooo cool stepping up to the mike or shouting down a Congress member. But these people are human with a terrific sense of self and the last thing they will do is allow themselves to be bullied by hooting morons.

    All of you who think that someday you too will be a millionaire appear to be totally unaware what a drag your company’s health insurance costs are on your pay.

    Big, bellowing men. You all are puppets for profit.

    Your homework. Explain how this plan is socialism.

    Your second assignment. Explain actually how “tort reform” will reduce costs? So what are you proposing? Not paying someone who was the victim of a botched procedure?

  53. Glenn Koenig says:

    Fascinating discussion. I do not think a public option, much less single payer medical coverage will be enacted in this round. So please do not color me a socialist. And I don’t think publicly funded political campaigns will do enough to solve our problems, either, so I disagree with my esteemed colleague, Moneyed Politicians. Neither do I believe that the so-called “private sector” as it is currently constructed holds the keys to any great solutions, either. So don’t call me a capitalist, either. I happen to think that the “free market” is ruinous to quality medical care, actually. So on the argument you seem to have been having, I think I stand on a third side, not on either of the two so far espoused.
    I believe that the influence of money in government is a systemic problem, not one of personal corruption, necessitated by campaign costs to be covered for re-election. It is the very SIZE and COMPLEXITY of our large organizations and government institutions that are the problem that is not being discussed here or, nay, in very many places at all at the moment. I think it is absurd to expect any congressional representative to represent 3/4 of a million people! I think it is foolish to call a bank that is “too big to fail” a private institution. Hogwash. It is a PUBLIC institution, not in the way that we vote it into power, but in how much power it now possesses over us, the public, due to its sheer size and influence. It effectively controls the public coffers based on the threat that our economy will be ruined if we don’t provide for it from tax revenue.
    This has elevated the big banks and big medical insurance companies to a status practically equivalent to government itself.
    I do not see more laws as an effective way out of this mess. In the long run, morality cannot be legislated. It is up to we, the people, to devote ourselves to the support of smaller institutions in every aspect of our lives, whether you call it socialist or capitalist or what you call it. Please, bank at the smallest local bank you can find. Or join a credit union. Shop at the Farmer’s Market if there is one near you. Buy locally made merchandise whenever possible. As much as you can, deal as directly with others, face to face, if possible.
    I predict that such behavior will begin to pull the rug our from under the largest of institutions and begin to sap their power.
    If you don’t want the government in Washington to have so much power, show them that you don’t need them. You can manage your affairs, for the most part (of course not completely) at the local level.

  54. Glenn Koenig says:

    My most recent post does not reference (and therefore should not be construed to be critical of) the latest post by Keith Schmitz, as it was not yet present on this site when I began to write my comments.

  55. Thanks Keith. I guess I’ll always raise shackles as I put more weight on the pragmatic affects of policies on the nation (ie, American families, including my own), as opposed to being hung up on ideology. I suppose that’s why my left wing friends call me a right wing wacko and the righties call me a left winger.

    But you are absolutely correct. I see many right wingers listen to and blindly believe the lies of Limbaugh and Palin, even when the espoused solution is not in their own best interest and in some cases are very detrimental to their own families. I can’t put ideology ahead of that, and I’m sure you can’t either.

    But on the plan being socialism, it isn’t, as you know. But who in the hell would even care if it benefited the entire nation, as a single-payer system would. But we won’t convince conservatives and we won’t unconvince liberals. Why the right is even battling this is beyond me, because the folks with the $46 million in campaign contributions is doing battle for them.

    And I agree Glenn. I don’t think the public option is going to make it either, or even the single payer, all because of the $46 million in bribes. (But the right wingers think these options stand a chance or they wouldn’t be bellowing. Go figure.)

    We don’t fully agree on the effects of the dollars, but you are right that the problem is systemic. There are only two kinds of money, public and private, and the system demands the latter.

    My only concern with dealing with the smallest bank is they have limited services. But overall I agree. I stay away from BofA, mainly because they are part of the problem.

  56. In my last newsletter I proposed that congress demand of all 501(c)(3) corporations that they disclose the top 20 people or organizations that are funding them. I want to know who this so-called free speech is coming from if I am to believe or act on their rhetoric.

    I truly believe that if the protesters knew they were inadvertently supporting, say, the plans of the for-profit insurance industry, that many of them would realize that they are being led to slaughter and start acting on their own.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with respectful protest, and I support that and would participate as well. But I want to know who I am in bed with, why they are in bed, and whether I am going to get screwed before I get out of it.

  57. Letter from NYTimes

    What’s wrong with our health care system? The profit margin. Take it out and it’s possible to compare us favorably with other industrialized countries.

    Health care isn’t too expensive; insurance is. A single-payer, nonprofit system would lower the cost, allowing insurance for all.

    The insurance companies, drug companies and the medical-industrial complex are all fighting for their very lives in fear of a better, cheaper option. Do politicians have the guts to stand up to the special interests?

    Definitely not, as both sides of the aisle receive huge contributions intended as bribes to maintain the status quo. If only those entrusted with this responsibility had the courage to do the right thing.

    What’s the solution? Medicare for all. The cost savings would allow for full coverage for all Americans at reasonable rates and would allow adequate rates for doctors and hospitals.
    America would join the modern world.

    Steven Kahn
    Princeton, N.J., Aug. 10, 2009

  58. Stewie (IP: 65.219.110.180) says:

    I could not have predicted this, but maybe I did. Mr Obama himself made the direct analog of his helthcare proposal to the USPS yesterday at his townhall meeting, how rich!:

    Obama:“UPS and FedEx are doing just fine, It’s the post office that’s always having problems.”

    Whaoaa…back-up the camel Husssein!

    Lets hear that Obama quote on more time:: “UPS and FedEx are doing just fine, It’s the post office that’s always having problems.”

  59. Don’t confuse technology changes with government inadequacy. UPS and FedEx are package delivery services, and the USPS package delivery is doing just fine. Their private mail system is in trouble because of the Internet and email and electronic billing. And they should indeed cut delivery to 3-days a week. Remember when Fax replaced much of UPS and FedEx overnight deliveries? Remember when we once had pay phones?

    Oh, that must have also affected health care? Give me a break.

  60. And incidentally, Stewie or Squiggie or Tom or James, or whatever name you chose to use at the moment, understand that blogs log the IP addresses of the commenters, so changing your name to increase your exposure only works if you are not found out. The original Stewie was from Colorado, not Marquette County.

    Stewie (IP: 65.219.110.180 , fw.co.marquette.wi.us)
    Squiggy (IP: 65.219.110.180 , fw.co.marquette.wi.us)
    Tom (IP: 65.219.110.180 , fw.co.marquette.wi.us)
    James Madison (IP: 65.219.110.180 , fw.co.marquette.wi.us)

    If you ever want to know your IP go to WhatIsMyip.com

  61. Stewie — you’re a busy little man, and a racist one as well:

    “And those that have, and are raising their voices in opposition, are being colored as unamerican and even racist, simply because the president is colored.”

    Wow. And…

    “Whaoaa…back-up the camel Husssein!.”

  62. No Keith, I think you have (the Marquette) Stewie wrong. He’s a “compassionate” conservative from the “values” crowd.

  63. Stewie (IP: 75.106.115.161) says:

    I honestly think “Stewie” had it right…and I formally condone his use of my moniker is declaring Obama complicit and a charlitan. The rest of you are all washed up and colluding with the socialist effort to convert us all to a single-payer system that will throw our elderly into the streets and our young people into a future of hopless government oppression.

    The only businessperson who would agree to such a plan is someone who already cares not one wit for the employee and cares only to increase their profit margin and consume the labor pool like the nazis and their forced labor camps. Compassion? Values? You businesspeople ought to collude to provide a value-added product that is marketable…oh yeah, you’ll wait ’til the government helps you…and then blame the government for what becomes of that union of the minds.

    Why so socialist?

  64. Stewie (IP: 75.106.115.161) says:

    Mr Madison also had it right and he’s likely rolling in his grave to the tune of significant seismic activity in the Pacific Rim.

  65. Stewie (IP: 75.106.115.161) says:

    And Mr Obama obviously doesn’t have a clue about the difference between apples (FedX, UPPS) and oranges (USPS); but he sure know something about lemons.

  66. Stewie, you can indeed condone the other Stewie’s misrepresentation and use of your moniker, though most of us prefer not lying. But so be it, this issue has brought a lot of that to the forefront.

    And while I didn’t vote for Obama, I don’t blame him for anything other than rolling over to his corrupt congress. He has the veto pen and let’s hope he uses it if we don’t get a good public option. And remember I said “option,” which means that right-wingers can opt out.

    But you are wrong about a single-payer system. We are already paying the costs for one, we just aren’t getting it because the insurance industry is skimming off 31% of our current healthcare costs. And greedy corporate CEOs are outsourcing their jobs to countries that already have universal health care.

    Isn’t unfettered capitalism great?