- The Drive for Single Payer by Ralph Nader Advocates and activists for Single Payer Health Care (like they have in Canada- everyone covered for all medical costs) have written President Obama asking for a meeting "to discuss the future of health care as well as the moral, social, and fiscal imperative of enacting a single-payer system for America at this moment in our history." The White House turned them down flat. Yet Mr. Obama has met countless times with the CEOs of large corporations, whose greed and callousness causes so much of this crisis.
- Blackwater Despite its past crimes - including alleged murder, gun-running, sex rings, child prostitution and excessive violence against Iraqis - Blackwater is still in the security business in Iraq. The US State Department has extended its multi-million dollar contract.
- Seven Points About Dick Cheney and Torture by Jeremy Scahill First of all, Dick Cheney has all sorts of nerve purporting to speak in defense of the CIA. His administration outed a senior CIA operative, Valerie Plame, in retaliation for her husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson, exercising his freedom of speech (because he exercised it to criticize the Bush administration's lie-filled, one-way propaganda train to the Iraq war)....
- Bush's Third Term? You're Living It This dark fantasy of a third Bush term is also an accurate portrait of Obama's first term to date. In following Bush, Obama was given the opportunity either to restore the rule of law and the balance of powers or to firmly establish in place what were otherwise aberrant abuses of power.
- Bailout Baron Bounty The heads of the 20 banks that got the biggest federal bailouts - and laid off over 160,000 workers - made almost 40 percent more than other CEOS last year, with the top five executives at those banks earning about $32 million each and seeing stock options soar $90 million, a new study shows. The annual Institute for Policy Studies "Executive Excess" report also shows that average CEO pay was 430 times larger than for typical workers.
- US Fares Poorly in Child Welfare Survey America has some of the industrial world's worst rates of infant mortality, teenage pregnancy and child poverty, even though it spends more per child than better-performing countries such as Switzerland, Japan and the Netherlands, a new survey indicates.
Why Is Universal Health Care 'Un-American'?
by Rev. Jim Rigby
Published on Wednesday, September 2, 2009 by CommonDreams.org
Last week supporters of health-care reform gathered around the country, including in Austin, TX, where 2,000 people crowded into a downtown church to hear speakers talk about different aspects of the issue. Asked to speak about the ethical dimensions of health care, I tried to go beyond short-term political strategizing and ask more basic questions. This is an edited version of what I said.
Is anyone else here having trouble with the fact that we are even having this conversation? Is anyone else having trouble believing this topic is really controversial? I have been asked to talk about the ethical dimension of health care. Here's one way to frame such a discussion:
If an infant is born to poor parents, would we be more ethical to give medicine to that child so he or she does not die prematurely of preventable diseases, or would we be more ethical if we let the child die screaming in his or her parent's arms so we can keep more of our money?
Or, let's say someone who worked for Enron, and now is penniless, contracted bone cancer. I've been asked to discuss whether we are more ethical if we provide such people medicine that lessens their pain. Or would we be more ethical to let them scream through the night in unbearable agony so we can pay lower taxes?
I can't believe I am standing today in a Christian church defending the proposition that we should lessen the suffering of those who cannot afford health care in an economic system that often treats the poor as prey for the rich. I cannot believe there are Christians around this nation who are shouting that message down and waving guns in the air because they don't want to hear it. But I learned along time ago that churches are strange places; charity is fine, but speaking of justice is heresy in many churches. The late Brazilian bishop Dom Hélder Câmara said it well: "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a Communist." Too often today in the United States, if you talk about helping the poor, they call you Christian, but if you actually try to do something to help the poor, they call you a socialist.
Some of the other speakers today have been asked to address what is possible in the current political climate. I have been asked to speak of our dreams. Let me ask a question. How many of you get really excited about tweaking the insurance system so we just get robbed a little less? (silence) How many of you want universal health care? (sustained applause) I realize that insurance reform is all that's on the table right now, and it can be important to choose the lesser of evils when that alone is within our power in the moment. But we also need to remember our dream. I believe the American dream is not about material success, not about being having the strongest military. The American dream is that every person might have a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
It's amazing to hear Christians who talk about the right to life as though it ends at birth. They believe every egg has a right to hatch, but as soon as you're born, it's dog eat dog. We may disagree on when life begins, but if the right to life means anything it means that every person (anyone who has finished the gestation period) has a right to life. And if there is a right to life there must be a right to the necessities of life. Like health care.
I believe the American dream was not about property rights, but human rights. Consider the words of this national hymn:
"O beautiful for patriot's dream that sees beyond the years. Thine alabaster cities gleam, undimmed by human tears."
Doesn't that sound like someone cared about the poor? There are those who consider paying taxes an affront, but listen to these words:
"O Beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife, who more than self their country loved and mercy more than life."
"Mercy more than life" -- have you ever noticed those words before? Supporting universal health care does not make you socialist or even a liberal, it makes you a human being. And it makes you an ambassador for the American dream which, in the mind of Thomas Paine, was a dream for every human being, not just Americans. As we struggle to get health care to all people, we may have to settle for the lesser of two evils, but remember your dream -- the true American dream, a human dream. Whatever we win through reform is just first step toward a day when every human being has a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
London After Midnight / Sean Brennan