More Insight

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Three Way Presidential Debate




[VoteNader.org]

Now is the Time to Resist Wall Street's Shock Doctrine

By Naomi Klein - September 22nd, 2008


I wrote The Shock Doctrine in the hopes that it would make us all better prepared for the next big shock. Well, that shock has certainly arrived, along with gloves-off attempts to use it to push through radical pro-corporate policies (which of course will further enrich the very players who created the market crisis in the first place...).

The best summary of how the right plans to use the economic crisis to push through their policy wish list comes from Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich. On Sunday, Gingrich laid out 18 policy prescriptions for Congress to take in order to "return to a Reagan-Thatcher policy of economic growth through fundamental reforms." In the midst of this economic crisis, he is actually demanding the repeal of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which would lead to further deregulation of the financial industry. Gingrich is also calling for reforming the education system to allow "competition" (a.k.a. vouchers), strengthening border enforcement, cutting corporate taxes and his signature move: allowing offshore drilling.

It would be a grave mistake to underestimate the right's ability to use this crisis -- created by deregulation and privatization -- to demand more of the same. Don't forget that Newt Gingrich's 527 organization, American Solutions for Winning the Future, is still riding the wave of success from its offshore drilling campaign, "Drill Here, Drill Now!" Just four months ago, offshore drilling was not even on the political radar and now the U.S. House of Representatives has passed supportive legislation. Gingrich is holding an event this Saturday, September 27 that will be broadcast on satellite television to shore up public support for these controversial policies.

What Gingrich's wish list tells us is that the dumping of private debt into the public coffers is only stage one of the current shock. The second comes when the debt crisis currently being created by this bailout becomes the excuse to privatize social security, lower corporate taxes and cut spending on the poor. A President McCain would embrace these policies willingly. A President Obama would come under huge pressure from the think tanks and the corporate media to abandon his campaign promises and embrace austerity and "free-market stimulus."

We have seen this many times before, in this country and around the world. But here's the thing: these opportunistic tactics can only work if we let them. They work when we respond to crisis by regressing, wanting to believe in "strong leaders" - even if they are the same strong leaders who used the September 11 attacks to push through the Patriot Act and launch the illegal war in Iraq.

So let's be absolutely clear: there are no saviors who are going to look out for us in this crisis. Certainly not Henry Paulson, former CEO of Goldman Sachs, one of the companies that will benefit most from his proposed bailout (which is actually a stick up). The only hope of preventing another dose of shock politics is loud, organized grassroots pressure on all political parties: they have to know right now that after seven years of Bush, Americans are becoming shock resistant.




[The Huffington Post]

Protecting the public interest in any economic "bailout"




Dear Friends,

The U.S. government has been turned into an engine that accelerates the wealth upwards into the hands of a few. The Wall Street bailout, the Iraq War, military spending, tax cuts to the rich, and a for-profit health care system are all about the acceleration of wealth upwards. And now, the American people are about to pay the price of the collapse of the $513 trillion Ponzi scheme of derivatives. Yes, that’s half a quadrillion dollars. Our first trillion dollar compression bandage will hardly stem the hemorrhaging of an unsustainable Ponzi scheme built on debt "de-leverages."

Does anyone seriously think that our public and private debts of some $45 trillion will be paid? That the administration's growth of the federal debt from $5.6 trillion to $9.8 trillion while borrowing another trillion dollars from Social Security has nothing to do with this? Does anyone not see that when we spend nearly $16,000 for every family of four in our society for the military each year that we are heading over the cliff?

This is a debt crisis, not a credit crisis. Just as FDR had to save capitalism after Wall Street excesses, we have to re-invigorate our economy with real - not imaginary - growth. It does not address the never-ending war on the middle class.

The same corporate interests that profited from the closing of U.S. factories, the movement of millions of jobs out of America, the off-shoring of profits, the out-sourcing of workers, the crushing of pension funds, the knocking down of wages, the cancellation of health care benefits, the sub-prime lending are now rushing to Washington to get money to protect themselves.

The double standard is stunning: their profits are their profits, but their losses are our losses.

This bailout will not bring real jobs back to America. It will not bring back jobs that make things. It does not rebuild our schools, streets, neighborhoods, parks or bridges. The major product of this financial economy is now debt. Industrial capitalism has been destroyed.
In the next few days I will push for a plan that includes equity for every American in any taxpayer investment in this so-called bail-out plan. Since the bailout will cost each and every American about $2,300, I have proposed the creation of a United States Mutual Trust Fund, which will take control of $700 billion in stock assets, convert those assets to shares, and distribute $2,300 worth of shares to new individual savings accounts in the name of each and every American.
I will also insist that all of the following issues be considered in whatever Congress passes:
Reinstatement of the provisions of Glass-Steagall, which forbade speculation
Re-regulation of the finance, insurance, and real estate industries
Accountability on the part of those who took the companies down:
a) resignations of management
b) givebacks of executive compensation packages
c) limitations on executive compensation
d) admission by CEO's of what went wrong and how, prior to any government bailout
Demands for transparencey
a) with respect to analyzing the transactions which took the companies down
b) with respect to Treasury's dealings with the companies pre and post-bailout
An equity position for the taxpayers
a) some form of ownership of assets
Some credible formula for evaluating the price of the assets that the government is buying.
A sunset clause on the legislation
Full public disclosure by members of Congress of assets held, with possible conflicts put in blind trust.
A ban on political campaign contributions from officers of corporations receiving bailouts
A requirement that 2008 cycle candidates return political contributions to officers and representatives of corporations receiving bailouts

And, most importantly, some mechanism for direct assistance to homeowners saddled with unreasonable or unmanageable mortgages, as well as protection for renters who have lived up to their obligation but fall victim to financial tragedy when the property they live in undergoes foreclosure.

These are just some thoughts on the run. You will hear more from me tomorrow.


Dennis J Kucinich
www.Kucinich.us
216-252-9000 877-933-6647




[Take the Power Back]

Free Market Ideology is Far from Finished

By Naomi Klein - September 19th, 2008


Whatever the events of this week mean, nobody should believe the overblown claims that the market crisis signals the death of "free market" ideology. Free market ideology has always been a servant to the interests of capital, and its presence ebbs and flows depending on its usefulness to those interests.

During boom times, it's profitable to preach laissez faire, because an absentee government allows speculative bubbles to inflate. When those bubbles burst, the ideology becomes a hindrance, and it goes dormant while big government rides to the rescue. But rest assured: the ideology will come roaring back when the bailouts are done. The massive debts the public is accumulating to bail out the speculators will then become part of a global budget crisis that will be the rationalization for deep cuts to social programs, and for a renewed push to privatize what is left of the public sector. We will also be told that our hopes for a green future are, sadly, too costly.

What we don't know is how the public will respond. Consider that in North America, everybody under the age of 40 grew up being told that the government can't intervene to improve our lives, that government is the problem not the solution, that laissez faire was the only option. Now, we are suddenly seeing an extremely activist, intensely interventionist government, seemingly willing to do whatever it takes to save investors from themselves.

This spectacle necessarily raises the question: if the state can intervene to save corporations that took reckless risks in the housing markets, why can't it intervene to prevent millions of Americans from imminent foreclosure? By the same token, if $85bn can be made instantly available to buy the insurance giant AIG, why is single-payer health care – which would protect Americans from the predatory practices of health-care insurance companies – seemingly such an unattainable dream? And if ever more corporations need taxpayer funds to stay afloat, why can't taxpayers make demands in return – like caps on executive pay, and a guarantee against more job losses?

Now that it's clear that governments can indeed act in times of crises, it will become much harder for them to plead powerlessness in the future. Another potential shift has to do with market hopes for future privatizations. For years, the global investment banks have been lobbying politicians for two new markets: one that would come from privatizing public pensions and the other that would come from a new wave of privatized or partially privatized roads, bridges and water systems. Both of these dreams have just become much harder to sell: Americans are in no mood to trust more of their individual and collective assets to the reckless gamblers on Wall Street, especially because it seems more than likely that taxpayers will have to pay to buy back their own assets when the next bubble bursts.

With the World Trade Organization talks off the rails, this crisis could also be a catalyst for a radically alternative approach to regulating world markets and financial systems. Already, we are seeing a move towards "food sovereignty" in the developing world, rather than leaving access to food to the whims of commodity traders. The time may finally have come for ideas like taxing trading, which would slow speculative investment, as well as other global capital controls.

And now that nationalization is not a dirty word, the oil and gas companies should watch out: someone needs to pay for the shift to a greener future, and it makes most sense for the bulk of the funds to come from the highly profitable sector that is most responsible for our climate crisis. It certainly makes more sense than creating another dangerous bubble in carbon trading.

But the crisis we are seeing calls for even deeper changes than that. The reason these junk loans were allowed to proliferate was not just because the regulators didn't understand the risk. It is because we have an economic system that measures our collective health based exclusively on GDP growth. So long as the junk loans were fuelling economic growth, our governments actively supported them. So what is really being called into question by the crisis is the unquestioned commitment to growth at all costs. Where this crisis should lead us is to a radically different way for our societies to measure health and progress.

None of this, however, will happen without huge public pressure placed on politicians in this key period. And not polite lobbying but a return to the streets and the kind of direct action that ushered in the New Deal in the 1930s. Without it, there will be superficial changes and a return, as quickly as possible, to business as usual.

[The Guardian]

Monday, September 22, 2008

Sanders Wake Up Call




Rescue Wall Street--and the Rest of Us
by BERNIE SANDERS


For years, as a member of the House Banking Committee and now as a member of the Senate Budget Committee, I have heard the Bush administration tell us how "robust" our economy was and how strong the "fundamentals" were. That was until a few days ago. Now, we are being told that if Congress does not act immediately and approve the $700 billion Wall Street bailout proposal these "free marketers" have just written up, there will be an unprecedented economic meltdown in the United States and an unraveling of the global economy.

This proposal as presented is an unacceptable attempt to force middle-income families (and our children) to pick up the cost of fixing the horrendous economic mess that is the product of the Bush administration's deregulatory fever and Wall Street's insatiable greed. If the potential danger to our economy was not so dire, this blatant effort to essentially transfer $700 billion up the income ladder to those at the top would be laughable.

Let us be clear. If the economy is on the edge of collapse we need to act. But rescuing the economy does not mean we have to just give away $700 billion of taxpayer money to the banks. (In truth, it could be much more than $700 billion. The bill only says the government is limited to having $700 billion outstanding at any time. By selling the mortgage-backed assets it acquires--even at staggering losses--the government will be able to buy even more resulting is a virtually limitless financial exposure on the part of taxpayers.) Any proposal must protect middle-income and working families from bearing the burden of this bailout.

I have proposed a four-part plan to accomplish that goal that includes a five-year, 10 percent surtax on the income of individuals above $500,000 a year, and $1 million a year for couples; a requirement that the price the government pays for any mortgage assets are discounted appropriately so that government can recover the amount it paid for them; and, finally, the government should receive equity in the companies it bails out so that when the stock of these companies rises after the bailout, taxpayers also have the opportunity to share in the resulting windfall. Taken together, these measures would provide the best guarantee that at the end of five years, the government will have gotten back the money it put out.

Second, in addition to protecting the average American from being saddled with the cost, any serious proposal has to include reforms so that we end the type of behavior that led to this crisis in the first place. Much of this activity can be traced to specific legislation that broke down regulatory safety walls in the financial sector and allowed banks and others to engage in new types of risky transactions that are at the heart of this crisis. That deregulation needs to be repealed. Wall Street has shown it cannot be trusted to police itself. We need to reinstate a strong regulatory system that protects our economy.

Third, we need to address the needs of working families in this country who are today facing very difficult times. If we can bail out Wall Street, we need to respond with equal vigor to their plight. That means, for example, creating millions of jobs through major investments in rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and creating a new renewable energy system. We must also make certain that the most vulnerable Americans don't freeze in the winter or die because they lack access to primary healthcare.

Finally, we need to protect ourselves from being at the mercy of giant companies that are "too big to fail," that is, companies who are so large that their failure would cause systemic harm to the economy. We need to assess which companies fall into this category and insist they are broken up. Otherwise, the American taxpayer will continue to be on the financial hook for the risky behavior, the mismanagement and even the illegal conduct of these companies' executives.

These are the last days of the Bush administration, the most dishonest and incompetent in modern American history. It is imperative that, at this important moment, Congress stand up for the middle class and for fiscal integrity. The future of our country is at stake




[unacceptable outrage]

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Wall Street Socialism




U.S. orgy of debt: Americans borrowed to hilt, then housing bubble burst

by Eric Margolis | September 21, 2008 - 12:58pm


NEW YORK -- The financial panic sweeping the globe is maddeningly complex, but the cause of the worst financial crisis since the 1930s Great Depression is clear.

America has reveled for two decades in an orgy of debt. The U.S. national debt is now twice its net worth. From Wall Street's "masters of the universe" financial powerhouses such as Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Lehman, and Morgan Stanley, to the humblest homeowners, America's national motto became "borrow to the hilt and bet."

The traditional regulated banking system was pushed aside by Wall Street's financial titans who created their own money in the form of complex securities and furiously traded these exotic instruments and borrowed recklessly against them with little government regulation or oversight.

As Kevin Phillips points out in his prophetic book, Bad Money, America's primary business became non-productive finance. Manufacturing fell to only 12% of GDP. Wall Street titans grew obscenely rich by simply passing around paper. Inflated or semi-worthless securities increased in bogus value at each stage of the trading process.

Wall Street was allowed to virtually print money and peddle toxic securities around the globe because the big financial houses and heads of hedge funds bought the politicians of both parties.

Equally important, the mammoth financial and housing bubble thus created was hailed by the Bush administration as proof positive of Republican free market philosophy and the true road to prosperity.

More cautious European and Canadian bankers were dismissed by Republican chest thumpers as financial sissies.

This Ponzi scheme worked so long as markets kept rising. When the music stopped - disaster.

It's uncertain how far damage from America's financial equivalent of Hurricane Katrina will spread. Hedge funds, money market funds and automakers could be next. Real estate losses may reach $636 billion by 2012.

All stock market gains of the past 10 years have been wiped out in the most dangerous crash since the 1930s.

The "free market" Republican administration has ended up nationalizing nearly $1 trillion worth of businesses, including the federal mortgage agencies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Bear Stearns, and global insurer AIG. Welcome to Wall Street socialism.

One thing is now clear. When great empires run onto the financial rocks, their power quickly ebbs. France's Sun King, Louis XIV, ended his once glorious rein in near bankruptcy caused by his long, ruinous wars with the British and Dutch. Louis XVI's runaway borrowing to finance the American Revolution helped ignite the French Revolution. The Soviet Union's collapse was caused by spending half its national income on arms, and failure to modernize industry.

Over the past decade, the U.S. foreign debt doubled. Japan and China now hold 47% of the U.S. foreign debt and finance Washington's wars. The addition in recent days of at least $1 trillion in new debt will cause interest rates to rise and the dollar to weaken. Even the U.S. government's AAA credit rating now is in question.

Washington may no longer be able to spend half the globe's defence budgets.

The $12-13 billion a month wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will end up costing $750 billion by December 2008. There will be less cash in Washington's kitty to buy foreign dictators and prop up their regimes, as in the Mideast and Central Asia. Less cash to pay for little wars in Africa.

Less for exotic anti-missile systems and death rays.

America's enormous global power is based as much on its financial might as military muscle. Wall Street has been the vehicle and policeman of America's hegemony. It shaped the destiny of the globe and made many nations subservient to the demands of New York's titan bankers. Wall Street is essential to raising capital for business expansion, but often it resembled New York's ruthless loan sharks: Once you borrowed from them, you never got off the hook.

Americans will have to relearn the hard truth that you can't borrow your way to prosperity.

Let's Not Bicker and Argue About Ooo Killed Ooo



Naomi!




Bush in Drag



Free Levi



[FreeLevi.org]


Perspective

Cry Wolf

Yikes - where are the manners?




Monday, September 15, 2008

YES!

So good, I had to steal it directly from The Martian Chronicles




Check it out - this is probably the first image of an extra solar planet around a Sun-like star! More specifically, the image above shows both the primary and companion of the star 1RXSJ160929.1-210524 (romantic, eh?), imaged at the Gemini North Telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawaii. The companion is about 8 times the mass of Jupiter, and has a radius about 17% of the Sun’s. One of the reasons that the team was able to image the planet so clearly is that it’s orbiting really far away from it’s star - 330 AU! (In our solar system, that would put it almost 7 times farther out than Pluto!) Planets that are close to their star are very difficult to find with imaging like this, since the light of the star washes out the light from the planet. For more info on how a planet could have ended up so far away from it’s star, look here. The planet was found as part of a survey of 85 young (~5 million year old) stars in the same stellar group, about 150 Mpc away. The other very cool part of this discovery is that this is a fairly random star in a fairly random group of young stars, and it has a planet. This (along with all the planets found with other methods) is a fantastic piece of evidence that planets are common, For those that want to get into the technical details, here’s the pre-print of the paper on the arXiv. Just a note, this discovery has not been peer reviewed yet (to my knowledge), but since Gemini chose to release the press release, we can assume that they, at least, are pretty confident with the results.


[Martian Chronicles]

What's Your Relevance Expectancy?


Disney Lab Unveils Its Latest Line Of Genetically Engineered Child Stars

The economy takes a hit: who will harass a retired old man?


Economists Warn Anti-Bush Merchandise Market Close To Collapse

Friday, September 12, 2008

Friday, September 5, 2008

god Has Rewarded Her




[ANP]

IVAW at the RNC




IVAW Gets McCain's Attention

IVAW members have been trying to get John McCain's attention all week. On monday, a formation of 60 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans marched in uniform to the Xcel center to deliver a briefing on veterans issues, but McCain's staff refused even to accept the report.

Last night, IVAW finally got McCain's attention when Adam Kokesh, IVAW board member, interrupted his speech with a sign reading "McCain Votes Against Vets."

McCain's record on veterans' issues is extremely poor. He received a "D" rating from the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and the Disabled American Veterans reports that he voted for legislation benefiting veterans only 20% of the time.


[Support the Iraq Veterans Against the War]

Free Speech

Dear Reader,

Reports of journalists, bloggers and videomakers being arrested keep rolling in. The St. Paul police department's targeting of journalists, including Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! and the I-Witness videomakers, is having a chilling effect on free speech as the city hosts the Republican National Convention.

Many in the mainstream media are ignoring these attacks on journalism -- and some independent media makers are still in jail. But in less than 24 hours, more than 35,000 people have signed our letter demanding that press intimidation cease immediately and that all charges against journalists be dropped.

This is an incredible response. Help deliver the message that a free press will not be intimidated!

Help Us Reach 50,000 Letters: Take Action Now

Thanks,

Josh

P.S. Below is yesterday's e-mail with detailed information about the arrests.



Dear Friend,


Police in St. Paul arrested several journalists yesterday, including Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman.

Stand Up for Independent Journalism

Yesterday, police in St. Paul arrested several journalists, including Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman and an AP photographer as they were covering protests of the Republican National Convention.

Amy Goodman and others were released last night, but the story is not over.

We need you to cosign our public letter demanding that press intimidation cease immediately, and that all charges be dropped. It will be delivered immediately to St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, the RNC Host Committee and the local prosecuting attorneys. We need 10,000 signatures in the next 24 hours, so please take action now:

Sign the Letter: Drop All Charges Against Journalists

In addition to these arrests, police with firearms drawn raided a meeting of the video journalists' group I-Witness and arrested independent media, bloggers and videomakers. We’re also receiving late-breaking reports of other arrests.

By signing this letter, you’re sending a powerful message: Officials must rein in aggressive and violent tactics by local law enforcement, stop the targeting of journalists and immediately drop all charges against them.

Reporting by independent journalists is vital to a functioning democracy. Americans must have access to diverse sources of information to hold their leaders accountable. Journalists must be free to do their jobs without intimidation.

Please Take Action by Signing this Letter

Don’t wait. We need a free press now more than ever. Tell your friends and take action now!

Thank you,

Josh Silver
Executive Director
Free Press
http://www.freepress.net/

1. Watch the video of Goodman's arrest.

2. See other journalists being arrested as reported by UpTake.

3. News of the AP arrest.

4. Learn more about the arrest of an ABC News producer during the Democratic Convention in Denver.

5. Watch the video of the police raid of I-Witness journalists (Caution: strong language).

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Getting Saved Here

[Early September Videorrhea]



Oh boy...



How it went down




I'd Rather not



That's Fairly scientific



We Love you, George




Ironically, but not surprisingly, empty words




RNC Ronvolution

Monday, September 1, 2008

No He Won't

Curb Your Enthusiasm for Obama

Posted on Aug 31, 2008

By Chris Hedges


Barack Obama’s health care plan coddles the corporations that profit from the misery and illnesses of tens of millions of Americans. The plan is naive, at best, and probably disingenuous when it insists that we can coax these corporations, which are listed on the stock exchange and exist to maximize profit, to transform themselves into social service agencies that will provide adequate health care for all Americans. I wish we lived in such a rosy world. I know, and I suspect Obama knows, that we do not.

“Obama offers a false hope,” said Dr. John Geyman, the former chair of family medicine at the University of Washington and author of “Do Not Resuscitate: Why the Health Insurance Industry Is Dying, and How We Must Replace It.” “We cannot build on or tweak the present system. Different states have tried this. The problem is the private insurance industry itself. It is not as efficient as a publicly financed system. It fragments risk pools, skimming off the healthier part of the population and leaving the rest uninsured or underinsured. Its administrative and overhead costs are five to eight times higher than public financing through Medicare. It cares more about its shareholders than its enrollees or patients. A family of four now pays about $12,000 a year just in premiums, which have gone up by 87 percent from 2000 to 2006. The insurance industry is pricing itself out of the market for an ever larger part of the population. The industry resists regulation. It is unsustainable by present trends.”

We face a health crisis. The Democratic and Republican parties, awash in campaign contributions from the beasts they should be slaying on our behalf, have no interest in addressing it. A report in the journal Health Affairs estimates that, if the system is left unchanged, one of every five dollars spent by Americans in 2017 will go to health coverage. Half of all bankruptcies in America are because families are unable to pay their medical bills. There are some 46 million Americans without coverage and tens of millions more with inadequate policies that severely limit what kinds of procedures and treatments they can receive.

“There are at least 25 million Americans who are underinsured,” said Dr. Geyman. “Whatever coverage they have does not come close to covering the actual cost of a major illness or accident.”

Obama, like John McCain, did not support HR 676, the single-payer legislation. The corporations that run our for-profit health care industry, which would be shut down if the bill was enacted, have vigorously fought it through campaign contributions and armies of lobbyists. A study by Harvard Medical School found that national health insurance would save the country $350 billion a year. But Medicare does not make campaign contributions. The private health care industries do. They have lavished money on Obama. He received $708,000 from medical and insurance interests between 2001 and 2006, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. And Michelle Obama is a vice president for community and external affairs at the University of Chicago Hospitals, a position that paid her $316,962 annually.

“The private health insurance companies and the pharmaceutical industry completely and totally oppose national health insurance,” said Dr. Stephanie Woolhandler, one of the founders of Physicians for a National Health Program. “The private health insurance companies would go out of business. The pharmaceutical companies are afraid that a national health program will, as in Canada, be able to negotiate lower drug prices. Canadians pay 40 percent less for their drugs. We see this on a smaller scale in the United States, where the Department of Defense is able to negotiate pharmaceutical prices that are 40 percent lower.”

Sen. Obama argues that we can improve the system by expanding government oversight. The government, he says, should require doctors and hospitals to prove they provide quality care. His plan links payment with reported quality. This would mean that health care providers would have to hire even larger staffs to collect and report this data to the government. There would be a $10-billion federal investment in health care information technology over five years under the Obama plan, in essence turning record keeping from paper to electronic data.

Obama’s plan, said Dr. Don McCanne, who writes on health care issues, would actually make health plans “more expensive, which compounds the problem.”

Obama says he would require insurance companies to use more income from premiums for patient care.

“There isn’t an enforcement mechanism,” Geyman said bluntly. “Most states have been unable to control rates or set a cap on rates.”

Obama’s plan would also not cover all Americans. Unlike in Canada, citizens would not be enrolled in a plan automatically. Americans would have to go looking for one they could afford. And if they could not find one they would remain uninsured. Dr. Woolhandler, who is also a professor at Harvard Medical School, estimates that “tens of millions” of Americans would remain uninsured under Obama’s plan. These numbers would swell as employers, who provide plans for 59 percent of those who are employed, continue to reduce coverage.

The only way everyone will get insurance is with national health insurance,” she said from Boston in a phone interview. “There is nothing in the Obama plan that will change the bitter reality that working-class families face when their breadwinner gets sick. People with catastrophic illnesses usually lose their jobs and lose their insurance. They often cannot afford the high premiums for the insurance they can get when they are unable to work. Most families that file for bankruptcy because of medical costs had insurance before they got sick. They either lost the insurance because they lost their jobs or faced gaps in coverage that meant they could not afford medical care.”

Obama has borrowed John Kerry’s idea to have the government absorb certain severe costs, although again the details are not spelled out. Insurers, he says, would no longer be able to discriminate based on preexisting conditions. All children would have health coverage. He would, he says, expand Medicare and Medicare-like coverage to protect the very young and the elderly. This is laudable, if he can make it happen. But the fundamental problem is a health industry run for profit. Our health system costs nearly twice as much as national programs in countries such as Switzerland. The overhead for traditional Medicare is 3 percent, and the overhead for the investment-owned companies is 26.5 percent. A staggering 31 percent of our health care expenditures is spent on administrative costs. Look what we get in return.

We on the left, those who should be out there fighting for universal health care and total and immediate withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, sit like lap dogs on the short leashes of our Democratic (read corporate) masters. We yap now and then, but we have forgotten how to snarl and bite. We have been domesticated. And until we punish the two main parties the way big corporations do, by withdrawing support and funding when our issues are ignored, we will remain irrelevant and impotent. I detest Bill O’Reilly, but he is right on one thing—we liberals are a spineless lot.

Labor unions don’t negotiate with corporations on the basis of good will. They negotiate carrying the threat of a strike. What power do we have as long as we cave on every issue we stand for, from opposition to the death penalty to battling back against the military-industrial complex?

It is not about liking or not liking Obama. It is not about race or class or gender. It is not about growing up poor or a member of the working class. There is no shortage of greasy politicians who, once in power, sold out their own. Look at Bill Clinton. It is about fighting back. It is about confronting a system that belittles us, what we stand for and what is best for the majority of Americans. We need to throw our support behind alternative candidates who champion what we care about, whether Cynthia McKinney or Ralph Nader. Bob Barr’s health care plan, like John McCain’s, is even worse than Obama’s tepid proposal. We need to begin to actively and militantly defy the corporate state, and this means stepping outside of the two-party system. Universal health insurance is one issue. There are others. Nothing we care about will change until we do.

The Democrats, who promise to end the war in Iraq, create jobs and provide universal health care, ignore these promises once election cycles are over. And we never make them pay. They gave us NAFTA, the destruction of welfare and increased military spending, and we gave them our vote. This is the party that took back Congress in 2006 on an anti-war platform and then increased troop levels and funding for the Iraq war. This is a party that talks about the crushing weight of debt carried by Americans and then refuses to cap predatory interest rates as high as 30 percent imposed by credit card companies. This is a party that promises to protect our constitutional rights and then passes the FISA bill to protect the telecommunications companies. The list goes on. These politicians, including Obama, must begin to feel heat. They must learn that there is a cost to be paid for working on behalf of corporations and disempowering citizens.

[TruthDig]