Class Warfare Blog

May 12, 2016

American Exceptionalism Triumphs

In the most recent New York Times Magazine there is an article with the intriguing title “When Do You Give Up On Treating A Child With Cancer?” I am sure that title was carefully crafted by some editor to evoke a significant emotional response. Unbeknownst to him/her, the American Healthcare System, the Best System in the World (according to Donald Trump and most conservative drudges) has made this question moot.

Parent’s need not struggle with heart rending existential problems any more, at least not in the medical arena. The answer to the question “When do you give up on treating a child with cancer?” is answered by the system itself. The answer is …

… when you run out of money.

May 4, 2016

Because the GOP Said So!

Remember back in the Obamacare debate? How the Republicans kept claiming we have the best health care system in the world, so why would we want to undermine it? It is clear we have the most expensive health care system in the world, that is indeed true, but best? Today a report is out finding that the third leading cause of death of people in the U.S. is … wait for it … medical error.

That’s right, boys and girls, our medical system makes mistakes, but don’t pay any attention to them, they are not important. The fact that a few people die here and there is a small price to pay for our freedoms and American Exceptionalism!

What kind of freaking world would the GOP actually fit in? Sheesh!

 

March 15, 2014

Why Is It the Koch Brothers Can’t Find a Real Obamacare Victim?

Every time the Koch brothers, through one of their many false front organizations, create another “Victim of Obamacare” political ad, it usually takes less than a day to find out the victim was just a D.C. actress who was not a real Obamacare Victim, just playing one on TV, or a numb nuts who couldn’t figure out that he or she was getting better insurance for less money.

I thought all of these plutocrats were filthy rich because they were smarter than us, because they worked harder than us, because they had more grit and gumption than us.

If Obamacare was such a disaster you should be able to find a real victim by swinging a cat in a not very crowed room with your eyes closed. (No animals were hurt in the writing of this blog!)

It isn’t bad enough that the plutocrats are driving our democracy into a ditch of their digging, but it is the stupid and lazy plutocrats doing it.

We should be ashamed of ourselves for letting them fool us for even one minute; the damned plutocrats will never feel any shame at all.

March 12, 2014

My Religious Freedom vs. Your Religious Freedom

There is a lot going on under the label of “religious freedom” currently, including what could be some landmark Supreme Court cases. But it seems to me that a great many people are trying to drag all kinds of things not really aspects of religious freedom under its banner so as to strengthen their cases. This is wrong and I hope it gets squelched.

The idea of religious freedom in this country is the ability to practice your religion without the interference of the government or, really, other religions. This is extended to include practicing no religion at all. When this country was founded, you will note that religious freedom was not in the Constitution. In fact, religion wasn’t really mentioned. It took an amendment to the Constitution to forbid the federal government from endorsing any religion by giving it special favors, etc. Also forbidden was inhibition of any religion. Originally this meant only the federal government and quite a few states had their own sponsored denominations. Over time the wisdom of this was challenged and people finally came to the point that any state-sponsorship of religion was a bad idea and all of the states complied with this idea of government non-interference and non-support. (The argument the religious bought was “sure it would be nice to have the state collect a tithe for you, but what happens if another religion becomes dominant and takes over that state sponsorship? You are then out in the cold.” Today consider about what would happen if a very small state were to have a large influx of Muslims. Would people be happy having a Muslim state? Would that mean Sharia law could be imposed? Sorry, just trolling for Fox (sic) News viewers.)

Here’s the deal. If the government(s) have a law that effects religions, they must exercise it without prejudice. So, it is entirely appropriate for the federal government to impose a tax upon religious groups. There is no basis for not taxing them that makes any sense. But they cannot tax any such religious group any differently that the others. This is what religious freedom means under the law.

Note that Utah was told it’s petition for statehood would not be accepted by the Congress unless they outlawed polygamy, something promoted by the dominant religion of the state. This was acceptable in that Utah was not yet a state in the “United States” and did not receive full consideration or application of all of the federal laws.

Clergy who commit crimes are not immune to prosecution under the banner of “religious freedom.” They do not have the equivalent of diplomatic immunity to local prosecutions.

But, because there is a culture of “hands off” with regard to religions, various people interpret that in various ways.

A current case before the Supreme Court involves whether or not an employer can be required to provide health insurance that includes contraceptive coverage if that conflicts with the religious convictions of the owners. Churches, per se, are exempted from the requirements of this law, for no good reason other than political expediency, but to exempt everyone who has a “religious conviction” will open up a legal can of worms, a very large can of worms. There is no protection for these people under current “religious freedom” legal doctrine. We’ll have to wait to see if the Supreme Court decides to invent something whacko like its “corporations are people” doctrine.

For those of you who disagree with that last statement, consider this: employers provide their employees with a voucher that enables them to purchase contraceptives, pay for abortions, solicit prostitutes, buy illegal drugs, or drink one’s self into oblivion or with any other manner of vice the employees wish. It is called a paycheck. Once the employer transfers that voucher to the employee, they lose control over what the employee does with the funds it is worth. So, a business that employs even only good Catholics can be required to provide insurance that includes hospitalization, out-patient care, and contraceptive services and not have to worry because no good Catholic would avail themselves of the contraceptive services. Because no person can impose their religious beliefs upon another and neither can the government. That’s the law.

February 11, 2014

What You Mean “We” White Man?

(If you get the reference in the title, you are older than you look. It is the punch line from a joke from the 60’s. Think Tonto and the Lone Ranger.)

Republicans have insisted since the beginning of the health care debate that “We have the finest health care system in the world.” Others clarified that as “We have the finest health care money can buy.” Here is a slide from a course Economist Paul Krugman is giving that clarifies this:

Health Care Costs per Segment

It is a little hard to read but the vertical axis is “Percent of Total Expenditures on Health Care” and the horizontal axis is “Percent of U.S. Population by Income (Various)”. All you need do is look at the column on the far right: it says that the bottom 50% of Americans account for 3% of the health care expenditures of the country. Therefore the top 50% pay for 97% of the healthcare. Since Republicans insist that “you get what you pay for” (and only what you pay for) this means that the bottom 50% of Americans (160,000,000 or so) get 3% of all of the health care given. In other words:

top 50% ALL
bottom 50% NONE

And according to Republican officials, who do not know anybody in the bottom 50%, this is fine and dandy.

It is not fine and dandy, it is a disgrace!

Carried to the extreme we would only extend aid to soldiers on the battlefield if they were card carry members of the top 50% of Americans by income. Hey, if it’s good enough for the folks back home, it’s good enough for our troops! Think about it. We should leave no battlefield wound untended, nor should we leave any citizen without basic health care at any time. Why? Because we can and it is the right thing to do: for the troops and our citizens.

February 5, 2014

Obamacare Will Reduce Number of Workers! Good!

“The Congressional Budget Office released a report predicting that because of the Affordable Care Act, the economy will have 2.3 million fewer full-time workers in 2021, partly due to some opting to work fewer hours to avoid losing Medicaid or insurance subsidies. Republicans, of course, crowed that proved Obamacare was a job killer,” said the Washington Post.

Again, biased or possibly moronic Republicans can’t tell the difference between workers and jobs. Those workers, presumably voluntarily giving up their jobs or extra work hours they were holding only to secure the fringe benefit of health insurance, will in actuality provide jobs for 2.3 million people who desperately want one.

In fact, if 2.3 million jobs were to be created today, they would immediately be snapped up. No business would lack for willing and able applicants. The net effect of this Obamacare result is that the unemployment rate will drop.

January 3, 2014

Duplicitous Nuns, Oh my!

In my post “Slippery Slope, Oh My!” I described the intervention of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor in a case involving a Colorado nuns’ group, the Little Sisters of the Poor. They are objecting to the contraception aspect of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). I stated that there were legitimate questions involved, but . . . now we find out more. According to the Editorial Board of the New York Times “The Little Sisters of the Poor, is a religiously affiliated organization that is exempt from the health law’s requirement that employer insurance plans cover contraception without a co-pay. The audacious complaint in this case is against the requirement that such groups sign a short form certifying that they have religious objections to providing coverage for contraceptive services, a copy of which would go to their third-party insurance administrator. The nuns say that minor requirement infringes on religious exercise in violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

“Under that law, the federal government may not “substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion” unless the government demonstrates that the burden is the least restrictive means of furthering a compelling interest. The certification requirement, an accommodation fashioned by the Obama administration to bolster the protection of religious exercise without depriving women of an important benefit, does not rise to a substantial burden. A federal trial court denied a preliminary injunction on that basis and a federal court of appeals declined to issue an injunction pending appeal, though decisions in some similar cases have come out differently.

“Adding a level of absurdity to the controversy, Little Sisters of the Poor’s insurance plan qualifies as a self-insured “church plan” under an insurance statute known as Erisa. The Justice Department has conceded that it has no authority to compel a third-party administrator of such a plan to provide contraceptive coverage. In this case, contraceptives would not be made available even indirectly to the nuns’ employees.

So, the objection is to signing a form which states their actual beliefs (WTF?)? And signing a form, an act that takes mere seconds, is considered to be a substantial burden upon a person’s exercise of religion. I am willing to let the statement that “They calculated that they would have to pay ‘an annual fine of approximately $2.5 million — for an organization that cares for 69 elderly poor people and operates with an annual budget of approximately $6 million.’” go as that is surely an error—it sounds like the $6 mill is being spent on 69 elderly folks which would hardly make those nuns “poor,” plus the fines are not only exaggerated but trumped up. But the duplicitous creation of faux outrage over signing a form that states their actual beliefs and which removes from them the requirement they object to, and when their insurer has no plans of offering contraception support in any case. . . .

It is the nuns who are on a slippery slope.

January 2, 2014

Slippery Slopes—Oh, My!

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor recently issued a temporary injunction barring the Obama administration from enforcing the birth control requirement against an order of Colorado nuns, the Little Sisters of the Poor, and related groups.

In their Supreme Court brief, the nuns said they faced huge fines if they failed to comply. They calculated that they would have to pay “an annual fine of approximately $2.5 million — for an organization that cares for 69 elderly poor people and operates with an annual budget of approximately $6 million.” Uh, that sounds like more than a little bit of an exaggeration. How could “health benefits” in their entirety constitute almost half of that organization’s annual budget, let alone the slap on the wrist fines of the ACA?

Since this group is an entirely charitable organization, associated with the Catholic Church, they fall into the middle ground between for-profit employers and churches themselves. And I think that there are discussable issues here. Are all of the employees of this organization Catholics? Are they an order of the Catholic Church or not? (If they are an order of the Catholic Church, they would be exempt, but if they are not part of that church and are independent, how do they get to claim that they are an “order of that church?”) If not, what about the rights of the non-Catholics? What happened to Obama’s sleight of hand that allows the government to pay for the contraception coverage so that the employer doesn’t have to? And the big one is 90+% of American Catholic women admit to using birth control sometime during their lives, so is the Church asking the Government to enforce a bit of their dogma that they themselves do not enforce?

And, the Supreme Court has shown more than a little faulty judgement in the last decade and a half (jumping in to decide the 2000 election inappropriately (according to Antonin Scalia), the Citizen’s United decision which was a massive reach, the Obamacare decision, etc.). I do not trust their deliberations to be enlightening.

And I am sure that the right-wing wingnuts will frame this as a “Why do nuns need birth control?” debate.

November 25, 2013

Calling Obamacare Rollout a “Disaster” is Ludicrous

I’m not using the Hurricane Katrina reference here, I am specifically addressing the use of the word “disaster” which has been dropped repeatedly by opponents and proponents of the Affordable Care Act.

So, I have a few questions:
How many people died?
How many people were injured?
How much property was damaged?
How much money was lost?

Answers: Zero, Zero, Zero, Zero.

Some “disaster.”

A better word, possibly, would be an “embarrassment” or maybe an “inconvenience.” Get a grip Talking Heads!

September 25, 2013

If Ted Cruz Were to Take His Clothes Off, Would You Look?

The junior Senator from Texas Ted Cruz has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that he craves attention. He has done nothing since being elected to the Congress. He has no novel ideas, he seems to have no ideas at all. He seems to skim the surface of the political pool and finds a crusade to attach himself to then starts looking for microphones to approach. He has offended the traditions of the Senate in which newly elected Senators are supposed to wait and take their turn at the microphones.

Mr. Cruz wants two things right now: attention and money and he doesn’t seem to care how he acquires them. Threatening to shutdown the federal government as a ploy to accumulate campaign contributions? Sign him up. Threatening the credit rating of the entire country and with it the robustness of the economic recovery of this country (such that there is) and the whole world . . . as a ploy to raise even more money? Yeehaw, sign him up.

When he strips naked to get even more publicity, will you continue to watch?

Mr. Cruz is a living political train wreck, the equivalent of a bad reality TV show, our generations Joe McCarthy, etc. something you are embarrassed to watch but can’t take your eyes off. The sad thing is that so many Republicans say that during their caucus meetings, he is the brightest bulb in the room. So, it is true, in a country of the blind, a one-eyed man is King, because that sparkle isn’t glitz, it isn’t intelligence, . . . it is snake oil.

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