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Friday, July 2, 2010

Canada's System is BETTER; Corporate PR Killing Healthcare Reform While People Die; Obama Too Conservative; Glenn Beck in Bullshit; more (posted 09/16/09)

- How Corporate PR Works to Kill Healthcare Reform When I testified before the Senate Commerce Committee in late June, I told the senators how the industry has conducted duplicitous and well-financed P.R. and lobbying campaigns every time Congress has tried to reform our healthcare system, and how its current behind-the-scenes efforts may well shape reform in a way that benefits Wall Street far more than average Americans. I noted that, just as they did 15 years ago when the insurance industry led the effort to kill the Clinton reform plan, it is using shills and front groups to spread lies and disinformation to scare Americans away from the very reform that would benefit them most. The industry, despite its public assurances to be good-faith partners with the president and Congress, has been at work for years laying the groundwork for devious and often sinister campaigns to manipulate public opinion. 

- Uninsured Americans Hope Reform Brings Health Coverage "We have already have death panels," said Gloria Smith, Stuart Burrows' partner. "They're called insurance companies."

- Glenn Beck in his Natural Medium- Bullshit With Obama increasingly straying from the progressive ideals that moved so many young people to work and vote for him, Campus Progress hopes to put him back on track with a helpful lesson in dealing with right-wing bullies who are pushing him around "like kids in a playground." In honor of their "deranged" leader Glenn Beck, artist Michael Murphy has painted a portrait of Beck "in bullshit and pigment on canvas"...

- Let Us Not Become the Evil We Deplore On Sept. 14, 2001, the U.S. House of Representatives considered House Joint Resolution 64, "To authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the recent attacks launched against the United States." The wounds of 9/11 were raw, and the lust for vengeance seemed universal. The House vote was remarkable, relative to the extreme partisanship now in evidence in Congress, since 420 House members voted in favor of the resolution. More remarkable, though, was the one lone vote in opposition, cast by Barbara Lee of San Francisco. Lee opened her statement on the resolution, "I rise today with a heavy heart, one that is filled with sorrow for the families and loved ones who were killed and injured in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania." Her emotions were palpable as she spoke from the House floor.
"September 11 changed the world. Our deepest fears now haunt us. Yet I am convinced that military action will not prevent further acts of international terrorism against the United States. ... We must not rush to judgment. Far too many innocent people have already died. Our country is in mourning. If we rush to launch a counterattack, we run too great a risk that women, children and other noncombatants will be caught in the crossfire."
The Senate also passed the resolution, 98-0, and sent it on to President George W. Bush. What he did with the authorization, and the Iraq War authorization a year later, has become, arguably, the greatest foreign policy catastrophe in United States history. What President Barack Obama will do with Afghanistan is the question now.

- Jamie Rubin, Democratic War-Hawk, Calls for Hypnotizing Americans About Afghan War Rubin is predictably finding himself on the side of a band of discredited neoconservatives led by William Kristol who have launched a campaign to support the US war in Afghanistan.

- Obama's Presidency Isn't Too Big to Fail A president has only so much capital to expend, both in tax dollars and public tolerance, and Barack Obama is dangerously overdrawn. He has tried to have it all on three fronts, and his administration is in serious danger of going bankrupt. He has blundered into a deepening quagmire in Afghanistan, has continued the Bush policy of buying off Wall Street hustlers instead of confronting them and is now on the cusp of bargaining away the so-called public option, the reform component of his health care program.

Those are not happy sentences to write for one who is still on the e-mail list of campaign supporters urged to back the president in the face of attacks that are stupidly small-minded. But to remain silent about his errors, just because most of his critics are so vile, is hardly an example of constructive concern for him or the country.

- G20 on Track to Fail the World's Poor The financial crisis presents a rare opportunity to build a system of international finance that works in the true interest of the global public, but the G20 ministers seem intent on maintaining the unsustainable growth-oriented global economy of the past

- How UK Oil Company Trafigura Tried to Cover up African Pollution Disaster The British oil trader Trafigura has offered to pay out in a historic damages claim from 31,000 Africans injured by the dumping of toxic waste in one of the worst pollution disasters in recent history.

- World Bank Spends Billions on Coal-Fired Power Stations Despite Own Warnings The World Bank is spending billions of pounds subsidising new coal-fired power stations in developing countries despite claiming that burning fossil fuels exposes the poor to catastrophic climate change. The bank, which has a goal of reducing poverty and is funded by Britain and other developed countries, calls on all nations in a report today to "act differently on climate change".

It says that the world must reduce its dependence on fossil fuels, but it is funding several giant coal-burning plants that will each emit millions of tonnes of carbon dioxide a year for the next 40 to 50 years.

- US Planning to Weaken Copenhagen Climate Deal, Europe Warns Key differences between the US and Europe could undermine a new worldwide treaty on global warming to replace Kyoto, sources say

An Inconvenient Truth for the Republicans: Canada's System is Better
Published on Tuesday, September 15, 2009 by Globe and Mail
by Eugene Lang and Philip DeMont

It is rare for Canada to get noticed in the United States. In fact, it is almost unprecedented for anything Canadian to be the focal point of debate in Washington. Yet we have seen just that in recent months during the congressional wrangling over U.S. President Barack Obama's attempts to reform health insurance.

Canada's medicare system has suddenly been thrust into the spotlight south of the border. It has been pilloried by the Republicans in Congress, the subject of derisive and distorted television advertisements, described variously as a system of medicine by bureaucrat, a statist form of health care afflicted by gross inequities and inefficiencies, one that pales in comparison to the U.S. model. The hysterical tone of the anti-medicare rhetoric among Republicans would make one think Canada is North Korea.

But there is an inconvenient truth that the Republican ideology cannot dispute. Canada's approach to providing citizens with universal health insurance is superior to the U.S. model of private insurance. When we get beyond the anti-medicare ideology and histrionics on Capitol Hill, we can establish this by reference to four basic numbers that give a good sense of our system versus the system in the United States.

Life expectancy is a basic measure of the quality of health care. In the U.S., a citizen will live 77.8 years on average. In Canada, you can expect to live two and a half years longer (80.4 years). Infant mortality is also a vital indicator of health care. In the United States, 6.37 infants die out of every 1,000. In Canada the number is 5.4 out of a 1,000.

But what about the cost differences of the two approaches to health care? Surely our Leviathan-like system, which produces such enviable results, must cost a fortune relative to the U.S. model.

The best measure of health care costs is the percentage a country spends relative to the size of its economy, or its gross domestic product (GDP). Canadians spend about 10 per cent of GDP on health. Americans spend 16 per cent to achieve inferior results on life expectancy and infant mortality.

Finally, it is estimated that there are somewhere around 40 million Americans - about 12 per cent of their population, well in excess of the total population of Canada - who have no medical insurance whatsoever. These unfortunate people are literally on their own in paying for any and all medical treatments they require. That gap in coverage is staggering, making the United States an outlier among all advanced Western nations.

One might ask how many uninsured citizens exist in Canada? The answer is zero - all Canadians are insured. In this country, good-quality, universally accessible medical care is regarded as a basic element of citizenship, kind of like owning a gun is in the U.S.

So to sum up. We live longer than the Americans do. We are less likely to die at or soon after birth than the Americans are. All Canadians have medical insurance, whereas a huge number of Americans don't. And we pay less as a society for health care than they do in the United States. Four numbers paint a stark picture. And when you strip away the anti-medicare ideological rants and falsehoods on display in Washington, Canada's approach to health insurance would probably sound pretty good to many Americans.

To their credit, by putting public insurance on the table as a supplement to private plans, the Democrats in the U.S. Congress are trying to drag the United States into the club of civilized nations when it comes to health care. We've been in that club since the establishment of medicare more than 40 years ago.

Don't get us wrong here. We are not saying medicare is perfect; it is far from that, and it requires constant improvement, as most Canadians understand. But it is not a bad deal for citizens of this country.

The Republican-led anti-medicare lobby in Congress knows these numbers and facts. But they are regarded as inconvenient truths that must be ignored in the crusade to discredit the Canadian approach to health insurance, to ensure no public option creeps into the U.S. system. Anti-government ideology is running amok in Washington, trumping facts and rational debate, distorting one of the most important public policy issues the United States has grappled with in decades.

Ultimately, the U.S. public will pay the price for that.