Monthly Archives: February 2013

We could have bought what?

The next time RepubliCons say we can’t afford “entitlements” our answer should be oh, yes we can!

If we can spend four trillion on military miss-adventures (see Iraq war) and essentially be the world’s police force, then certainly we can take care of our unemployed, poor, and elderly and educate our own people, I’m talking GI-bilL type higher-education and vo-tech funding for the general public here. And the next time RepubliCons tell you “we” can’t afford to do these things tell them “we’re” not broke because “we” have too much untaxed offshore money for which corporations are unjustifiably seeking tax amnesty. And we need to change or industrial policies so that they favor home-based production and work. It makes no sense to give any advantage to off-shoring and outsourcing as it is depleting “our” accessible resource base and degrading “our” ability to contribute to the programs we love at home while giving big corporations the ability to evade contributions to those same programs including education and retirement funding. The RepubliCons are religiously committed to their god (the supposedly “free-market” with its invisible hand) and the granting of amnesty to unproductive capital, the production and accumulation of which was made possible by American protections and laws, while denying it to undocumented workers who have made life better and cheaper for Americans here in America. How’s that for patriotism from the RepubliCons, who don’t believe in evolution but love social-Darwinism.

Scrambled Religion for Breakfast?

Just watched Dr. Carson’s speech at the recent National Prayer Breakfast. Never knew he was a spokesman for FreedomWorks and the Heritage Foundation with all that talk about Health Savings Accounts(at 21:10 in the video). In his deified “free-enterprise” system (a system that has never existed when you considered how big players routinely combined to bar entry and restrict competition see McCarran–Ferguson Act) how many “85 year-olds” with “six diseases” are going to have anything in a HSA to pay medical bills? When you consider the crack about not having to worry about a “Dealth Panel” because you have an HSA that may be the idea behind the practice basically to make sure that survival of the economic fitness is given a chance to fully flower. Who needs any stinking end of life counseling? Just let the money run, end of conversation. Isn’t that so much more humane?
(Listen to Dr. Carson’s example about the diabetic “choosing” to go the clinic instead of the emergency room because of the amount of money he has in his HSA at about 21:40 in the video)

In this “free-enterprise” system who is the “we” who will put money into the HSA’s (would they be like a Goldman-Sachs account) of the indigent instead of some implied “Medicare-like bureaucracy” as you propose? What is amazing is how American-styled capitalism (it’s not the only type of capitalism that exists) how American-style capitalism has left us a nation where doctors who have Jesus as a role model (see video about 17:58), I don’t recall Jesus charging the paralytic for healing or the lepers filing bankruptcy because they couldn’t pay for their cure, are supporting a health system which is put to shame by the Buddhist in Japan :).

Lee Atwater’s dog whistle may kill Mississippi’s Insects

The silence of a significant portion of Mississippian Republicans illustrates how responsive they are to the smaller-government and free-market dog whistles. They should be howling at the obstruction of Medicaid expansion. Smaller government should be anathema to Mississippians when you consider the state’s median income ($$36,919 vs. $50,054 U.S.), and per capita income ($28,845 vs. $38,611 for the country), when you consider the number of people who supplement their income by joining the national guard, when you consider the state’s farm subsidies, when you consider the boon to ship building the government has been for Mississippi (Ingalls Shipbuilding is the state’s largest private employer). And then there is the irreconcilable differences between the call for free markets and all of the afore-mentioned government intervention. We won’t get into the godsend that the government programs Medicare and Social Security have been to Mississippi and how the “free market” god couldn’t have cared less no matter what it’s disciples claim. You began to understand how the dog whistle works when despite the reference to voters and some of their constituents as bugs (coming out of the woodwork to receive government subsidized healthcare) RepubliCons still get so much support from the poor in Mississippi many of whom count themselves as Republicans. You see Lee Atwater summed it up best: Make sure you’re “talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.” In light of the fact that not everyone who would get access to healthcare under Medicaid expansion is black, that Atwater dog whistle may prove deadly to some of the people responding to it.

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You can’t have that because it’s good for you.

“Since when did the federal government ever give free money without asking for something in return,” comes the heckling from the Mississippi RepubliCons, in rejecting Medicaid expansion, in a state which receives $2.47(typical of Red states) for every dollar it sends to Washington. All of a sudden when a Democratic Administration passes the ACA, RepubliCons have a problem with receiving federal aid. And Mississippi which hasn’t had a problem with receiving special federal help joins the revolt against helping people in need. This has got to be the Twilight Zone considering Mississippi’s per capita income and poverty level. Even with earmarks, Mississippi (at $147) was one of only seven states which “received more than $100 per person in 2010

Laughably, RepubliCons complain that Mississippi can’t afford the corresponding share of state money it will have to put up to add hundreds of thousands of people to the government health insurance program for the poor.

But Mississippi can afford to have people show up at the emergency room to receive the most expensive care. And there is a strong probability that the reason they waited so long to get medical attention, affordability, inability to pay, will result in the cost being shifted to and shared by premium payers in higher premiums and co-pays. In the Twilight Zone which is Mississippi you began to get the picture why Mississippi ranks near the bottom in so many categories. When your representative government rejects a deal that would see your state get “$9.9 billion in federal money for Medicaid expansion, while the state would pay $429 million, (that’s $1 from the state for every $23 from Uncle Sam)” you may be looking at a situation that can only be described as sadistically neo-feudal. Picture if you will a place where Medicaid expansion increases the number of Americans who are healthy and more productive because they have access to affordable health care. But if you can picture it, you won’t be picturing Mississippi; our representatives have told us that no matter how good for us Medicaid expansion is, we can’t have it.

Et tu, Federal Government?

Thus comes the cry from Mississippi’s Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney. Claiming somehow that he expected approval for a plan he submitted to the Department of HHS without the Governor’s signature he ridiculously cries betrayal(A State’s Declaration Letter must be signed by the State’s Governor). Futhermore Mr. Chaney chose to ignore the fact that the Affordable Care Act “says that the exchanges have to be one-stop shops for both private insurance and Medicaid.”
How can Chaney get away with such blatant misinformation? He is basically running interference for big insurance companies while pretending to be for the average working Mississippian. He and other Mississippi RepubliCons talk of free-market approaches as a remedy for rising health care costs when they know full well that the health insurance industry has the McCarran–Ferguson Act and lack of regulation, which saddles Americans with billions of dollars a year in excess costs, in place to maintain the existing order and to harden the stratification and widen the wealth gap.

This is understandable in Mississippi, where some are not entitled to freedom from want of health care. Mississippians, owing to a basic fear of change and obeisance to crypto-fascist “leadership,” are destined to remain last in so many categories. When you consider farm subsidies and military installations and the boon to ship building provided by the federal government and, historically, earmarks, the Federal government to Mississippi is not betrayer, Mr. Chaney, but the love which dare not speak its name.

Oops! They said it again!

Mississippi State Senate Speaker Philip Gun admits he agrees with Tip O’Neill, “all politics is local.” Why else would Speaker Gunn lead the State House in avoding a plan that “would save the state millions in lease payments” and “make government more efficient?” Let the Speaker speak: “I represent the people of Clinton, and they sent me here to look out for their interests. We believe it’s in the best interests of my constituents for it to be in Clinton, for those jobs to stay in the area,” Speaker Gunn says. You read it correctly so you don’t need reading glasses. And forget the hearing aides because there is no rising din of discontent from the Mississippi Teabaggers. Don’t expect them to champion a plan that shows the state “would save almost $30 million dollars over 20 years” by purchasing the Landmark Center in the state capitol, Jackson, and relocating DOR and other agencies there. You see Republicans are only fiscal conservative when someone else benefits from government (Hurricane Sandy vs. Deep Water Horizon or Katrina). When conservatives say we are all on a diet, that we have a spending prorblem, watch carefully and you’ll see them double back to the kitchen and steal the $30 million cake.

Bricks without straw!

Mississippi Republicans in a veiled effort to give their charter (cherry-picking) school plans more momentum came up with another oppressive scheme convinced that if they kill it, they will come. In a bricks-without-straw tale, conservatives suggest: deduct the funds for remediation of college students from their high school district. Starting with Brown vs. Topeka advancing through the massive flight from public schools with 1969’s Alexander v. Holmes County Board of Education, conservative Mississippians have maintained a long assault on quality public education of minorities. Segregation academies exist to this day in Mississippi with very little minority enrollment. Not properly funding the public schools has been one way of lessening the expense of maintaing two education systems with many of the affluent and middle-class diverting their attention and resources to the private (Seg) academies. We won’t get into what this has meant in terms of networking and wealth and societal development. In a manner befitting a neo-feudal state maintaining a rear position, “the mid-20th century per pupil spending in Mississippi was a mere 37 percent of the national average and only 57 percent of the southern states’ average.” And now this conservative legislative majority in Mississippi knows that “[m]ississippi has never adequately funded its public schools on a sustained basis – even after it passed the Mississippi Adequate Education Program 15 years ago.” And now the response to the cry for equity is to give the district from which students needing remedial education come less funding. That thing about the arch of the moral universe bending looks a little dim at times and makes you wonder like Fannie Lou Hamer, “is this America?” But I am still keeping the faith because the Lord has promised good and a King went to the mountain top and told us we will get to the Promised Land.

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What is clarity to the blind?

Sid Salter, columnist for a Mississippi paper, is right when he says “Worker benefits of unionizing Nissan Plant (Mississippi) remain unclear, especially to an anti-labor columnist. Of course anti-labor people with neo-feudal sympathies in a place where wages have routinely trailed the country wouldn’t, to quote a piece I wrote to the local paper, “remind the public of the benefits of labor solidarity (Labor Day, child labor laws, minimum wage, and workman compensation statues). No, that’s the unfilled role of comatose organized Labor in the U.S. This negligence allows Conservatives to easily substitute “taxpayers” for “workers” as misdirection in dialogue about fairness. The conversation is consequently principally about taxation as opposed to trade and good-paying jobs with benefits, which reduce government dependence. So when someone who discounts American labor’s contributions to the country’s general welfare celebrates the decline of unions and doesn’t mention the simultaneous wage stagnation and disappearance of defined benefit plans in this country, the average American doesn’t comprehend the implicit devaluation of the American worker. The Labor movements loud silence is the starting gun in this, American labor’s sprint down the real road to serfdom.”
The presence of unions didn’t destroy the Detroit auto-industry any more than they are destroying the German economy. For clarity Mr. Salter some of the issues at the Nissan plant” ”

Isiac Jackson, Chairman of Mississippians for Fairness at Nissan, says the plant may employ 5 thousand people, but many of those are temporary employees, paid well less than the average Nissan rate.

Jackson says, “Why can’t you hire the person and pay them the right salary? Does that make sense? Why is it that you (Nissan) can give all this money to an agency that pays half the price to the worker?”

“And no matter how hard he tries Mr. Salter will not be able to satisfactorily justify a defense of his position that American workers somehow don’t deserve something South African and Japanese workers have, unions. Contrary to Mr. Salter’s anti-labor contention, what is really spurring Japanese auto plants construction in the U.S., actually providing the foundation for their existence is not Mississippi’s Right-to-work-for-less law but American trade policy and state race-to-the-bottom-give-aways. While Mr. Salter talks about how unconvincing Danny Glover is as a union advocate, the southern media’s role in applauding and defending foreign owned auto plants for providing wages that “are not out of line with other non-union auto manufacturing plants in the region” has been very convincing in their depiction of labor as destroyer of Detroit auto dominance with ne’er a mention of heatlth care costs or managerial decisions. Clearly such a depiction reveals much of the southern anti-labor commentary to be little more than public relations work for foreign auto corporations. Of course if you are basically a Toyota or Nissan propagandist your blindness in this regard is expected.

Slavery defined – giving a child to her father

Only in the mind of a conservative, Thomas Sowell, would uniting a child with its father be compared with an institution which, among many horrors, was responsible for separating children from their parents, slavery. In the mind of a conservative, a father, soldier Dusten Brown, who had second thoughts (“within two weeks, he changed his mind and began petitioning for custody”) about giving his daughter up for adoption and sued for custody, is ruining his “child’s life.” Mr. Sowell even draws on the Solomon-child-splitting threat scenario to cast the father as a villain. And a law, ICWA, which would allow this is merely protecting a “tribe’s turf.” This despite the fact that, by Mr. Sowell’s admission, “in the past, Indian children were wantonly wrested from their Indian parents and sent off to be raised by non-Indians.” In an effort to lambast Mr. Brown, Mr. Sowell who seems to have a problem with Indians who want their children to know about Indian culture, resorts to giving figures on the number of Indian children in foster care and lamenting how people won’t adopt Indian children if they may be forced to give them up. But if Mr. Sowell were really concerned about the “welfare of a flesh-and-blood human being,” he would do well to train some of his fire on laws like the one in South Carolina which “ends a father’s paternity rights when he has not provided pre-birth support or taken steps to be a father before and shortly after birth.” Wealth and speed should not be deciding factors in cases like this. One could get the notion that “Indian children were wantonly wrested from their Indian parents and sent off to be raised by non-Indians.”