Bill Moyers Explains Money, Politics and Healthcare Reform

 Business, Congress, Politics  Comments Off on Bill Moyers Explains Money, Politics and Healthcare Reform
Jul 202009
 

As is so often the case, Bill Moyers does another outstanding job of pointing out the differences in how healthcare is viewed.

I continue to be amazed at the absolute ignorance of people who can’t understand that this version of “free market” healthcare is not, and will not work. In the free-market, companies are out to make a profit. They don’t make a profit by paying for your care. They profit by collecting the highest amount in premiums, and paying out the least amount possible. That may be good for them, and Moyers shows you how good it is, but that doesn’t bode well for me if I fall ill.  Continue reading »

Single Payer Health Care-The Only Option

 Business, Congress, Featured, Politics, Presidency  Comments Off on Single Payer Health Care-The Only Option
Jun 072009
 

Leave it to Bill Moyers to be the voice of sanity in an otherwise insane discussion about healthcare reform.

A recent report showing the majority of bankruptcies in America are healthcare related (and most of those people have healthcare insurance) should be causing Americans to demand that our Congress Critters take a serious look at single payer as the only real way to reform healthcare. But it’s just not happening, and Obama and the Congress have been bought and paid for by the insurance and healthcare industries.

Howie Klein has a rundown of all the money that the people who are blocking real reform in health care have received from the health care industry.

Arlen Specter (R-D- PA- $4,026,933)
Max Baucus (DLC- MT- $2,833,731)
Mitch McConnell (R-KY- $2,758,468)

And when you just go right to Big Insurance, the non-presidential candidates who got the biggest legalized bribes were the 7 senators who have been tasked with the job of killing single-payer:

Ben Nelson (DLC-NE- $1,196,799)
Max Baucus (DLC- MT- $1,184,113)
Joe Lieberman (DLC- CT- $1,036,302)
Arlen Specter (R-D- PA- $1,035,530)
Chuck Schumer (D-NY- $981,400)
Mitch McConnell (R-KY- $929,207)
Chuck Grassley (R-IA- $884,724)

The water-carriers for the health insurance industry (see list above) have managed to mischaracterize the plan as “socialized medicine,” and convince us that we do not want “government bureaucrats” running our healthcare (never mind that these members of Congress have their very own government run, “socialized,” health insurance, and they are doing very well…and not willing to share).

I have written about this before, and just don’t understand why we think we’re better off having an insurance company bureaucrat make our healthcare decisions.It’s important to remember that, as publicly traded companies, insurance companies do NOT have any obligation to keep you healthy or get you well when you get sick. Their one and only LEGAL obligation is to increase shareholder value, and they don’t accomplish that goal by paying your healthcare bills. They do it by finding ways to NOT pay your healthcare bills. So wise-up America. If we want to have a well functioning single-payer option we can. It’s just something we have to demand of our leaders.

But back to Bill Moyers:

Health care reform is coming. Both Congress and President Obama have made it a top priority, and many expect a bill by the fall. Now comes the tricky part — designing and funding a plan. President Obama has outlined broad goals, several competing plans have been introduced in the Congress, and the Republican party recently introduced its own plan.

But Dr. David Himmelstein and Dr. Sidney Wolfe tell Bill Moyers on the JOURNAL that President Obama isn’t considering a popular plan — single-payer. In a recent town-hall meeting in New Mexico, President Obama said switching to single-payer would be too disruptive.

The term “single-payer” generally means a system in which rather than having private, for-profit insurance companies, the government runs one large non-profit insurance organization. That organization pays all the doctor, drug and hospital bills — it is the “single-payer” of all medical bills. In most single-payer plans, every American would be enrolled and would pay into the fund through taxes…

I know this video is 30 minutes long, but it’s a small investment to make for your future physical and financial well-being.

A Time For Anger, A Call To Action

 Constitution, Culture, Politics, Religion, Right Wingnuts, Society  Comments Off on A Time For Anger, A Call To Action
Mar 232007
 

by Bill Moyers

The following is a transcript of a speech given on February 7, 2007 at Occidental College in Los Angeles.

I am grateful to you for this opportunity and to President Prager for the hospitality of this evening, to Diana Akiyama, Director of the Office for Religious and Spiritual Life, whose idea it was to invite me and with whom you can have an accounting after I’ve left. And to the Lilly Endowment for funding the Values and Vocations project to encourage students at Occidental to explore how their beliefs and values shape their choices in life, how to make choices for meaningful work and how to make a contribution to the common good. It’s a recognition of a unique venture: to demonstrate that the life of the mind and the longing of the spirit are mirror images of the human organism. I’m grateful to be here under their auspices.

I have come across the continent to talk to you about two subjects close to my heart. I care about them as a journalist, a citizen and a grandfather who looks at the pictures next to my computer of my five young grandchildren who do not have a vote, a lobbyist in Washington, or the means to contribute to a presidential candidate. If I don’t act in their behalf, who will?

One of my obsessions is democracy, and there is no campus in the country more attuned than Occidental to what it will take to save democracy. Because of your record of activism for social justice, I know we agree that democracy is more than what we were taught in high school civics – more than the two-party system, the checks-and-balances, the debate over whether the Electoral College is a good idea. Those are important matters that warrant our attention, but democracy involves something more fundamental. I want to talk about what democracy bestows on us?the revolutionary idea that democracy is not just about the means of governance but the means of dignifying people so they become fully free to claim their moral and political agency. “I believe in democracy because it releases the energies of every human being” – those are the words of our 28th president, Woodrow Wilson.

I’ve been spending time with Woodrow Wilson and others of his era because my colleagues and I are producing a documentary series on the momentous struggles that gripped America a century or so years ago at the birth of modern politics. Woodrow Wilson clearly understood the nature of power. In his now-forgotten political testament called The New Freedom, Wilson described his reformism in plain English no one could fail to understand: “The laws of this country do not prevent the strong from crushing the week.” He wrote: “Don’t deceive yourselves for a moment as to the power of great interests which now dominate our development… There are men in this country big enough to own the government of the United States. They are going to own it if they can.” And he warned: “There is no salvation in the pitiful condescensions of industrial masters… prosperity guaranteed by trustees has no prospect of endurance.”

Now Wilson took his stand at the center of power – the presidency itself – and from his stand came progressive income taxation, the federal estate tax, tariff reform, the challenge to great monopolies and trusts, and, most important, a resolute spirit “to deal with the new and subtle tyrannies according to their deserts.”

How we need that spirit today! When Woodrow Wilson spoke of democracy releasing the energies of every human being, he was declaring that we cannot leave our destiny to politicians, elites, and experts; either we take democracy into our own hands, or others will take democracy from us.

We do not have much time. Our political system is melting down, right here where you live.

A recent poll by the Public Policy Institute of California found that only 20% of voters last November believe your state will be a better place to live in the year 2025; 51% say it will be worse. Another poll by the New American Foundation – summed up in an article by Steven Hill in the January 28th San Francisco Chronicle – found that for the first time in modern California history, a majority of adults are not registered with either of the two major parties. Furthermore, writes Hill, “There is a widening breach between most of the 39 million people residing in California and the fewer than 9 million who actually vote.” Here we are getting to the heart of the crisis today – the great divide that has opened in American life.

According to that New American Foundation study, frequent voters [in California] tend to be 45 and older, have household incomes of $60,000 or more, are homeowners, and have college degrees. In contrast, the 12 million nonvoters (7 million of whom are eligible to vote but are not registered) tend to be younger than 45, rent instead of own, have not been to College, and have incomes less than $60,000.

In other words, “Considering that California often has one of the lowest voter participation rates in the nation – in some elections only a little more that 1/3 of eligible voters participate – a small group of frequent voters, who are richer, whiter, and older than their nonvoting neighbors, form the majority that decides which candidates win and which ballot measures pass.” The author of that report (Mark Baldassare) concludes: “Only about 15% of adult people make the decisions and that 15% doesn’t look much life California overall.”

We should not be surprised by the consequences: “Two Californias have emerged. One that votes and one that does not. Both sides inhabit the same state and must share the same resources, but only one side is electing the political leaders who divide up the pie.”

You’ve got a big problem here. But don’t feel alone. Across the country our 18th political system is failing to deal with basic realities. Despite Thomas Jefferson’s counsel that we would need a revolution every 25 years to enable our governance to serve new generations, our structure – practically deified for 225 years – has essentially stayed the same while science and technology have raced ahead. A young writer I know, named Jan Frel, one of the most thoughtful practitioners of the emerging world of Web journalism, wrote me the other day to say: “We’ve gone way past ourselves. I see the unfathomable numbers in the national debt and deficit, and the way that the Federal government was physically unable to respond to Hurricane Katrina. I look at Iraq; where 50% of the question is how to get out, and the other 50% is how did so few people have the power to start the invasion in the first place. If the Republic were functioning, they would have never had that power.”

Yet the inertia of the political process seems virtually unstoppable. Frel reminds me that the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee can shepherd a $2.8 trillion dollar budget through the Senate and then admit: “It’s hard to understand what a trillion is. I don’t know what it is.” Is it fair to expect anyone to understand what a trillion is, my young friend asks, or how to behave with it in any democratic fashion?” He goes on: “But the political system and culture are forcing 535 members of Congress and a President who are often thousands of miles away from their 300 million constituents to do so. It is frightening to watch the American media culture from progressive to hard right being totally sold on the idea of one President for 300 million people, as though the Presidency is still fit to human scale. I’m at a point where the idea of a political savior in the guise of a Presidential candidate or congressional majority sounds downright scary, and at the same time, with very few exceptions, the writers and journalists across the slate are completely sold on it.” Continue reading »

An Incredible Article By Bill Moyers About Today's Holy War In America

 Religion, Right Wingnuts, Society  Comments Off on An Incredible Article By Bill Moyers About Today's Holy War In America
Sep 102005
 

While drilling around through links in some comments on one of the blogs I read frequently, I was linked to this article adapted from a speech given by one of my favorite journalists and a leading thinking of our time, Bill Moyers. The article is titled 9/11 and The Sport of God. As with most his writings, it is well worth reading, and chocked full of some of the most important insights of our time.

My spiritual forbears did not take kindly to living under theocrats who embraced religious liberty for themselves but denied it to others.  “Forced worship stinks in God’s nostrils,” thundered the dissenter Roger Williams as he was banished from Massachusetts for denying Puritan authority over his conscience.  Baptists there were a “pitiful negligible minority” but they were agitators for freedom and therefore denounced as “incendiaries of the commonwealth” for holding to their belief in that great democracy of faith—the priesthood of all believers.  For refusing to pay tribute to the state religion they were fined, flogged, and exiled. In l651 the Baptist Obadiah Holmes was given 30 stripes with a three-corded whip after he violated the law and took forbidden communion with another Baptist in Lynn, Massachusetts. His friends offered to pay his fine for his release but he refused.  They offered him strong drink to anesthetize the pain of the flogging. Again he refused.  It is the love of liberty, he said, “that must free the soul.”

He talks about how the terrorists can win, even if they never attack again. And he believes they are winning.

But it is never only the number of dead by which terrorists measure their work. It is also  the number of the living— the survivors—taken hostage to fear. Their mission was to invade our psyche; get inside our heads—deprive us of trust, faith, and peace of mind: keep us from ever again believing in a safe, just, and peaceful world, and from working to bring that world to pass. The writer Terry Tempest Williams has said “the human heart is the first home of democracy.” Fill that heart with fear and people will give up the risks of democracy for the assurances of security; fill that heart with fear and you can shake the house to its foundations.

Terrorists plant time bombs in our heads, hoping to turn each and every imagination into a private hell governed by our fear of them.

They win only if we let them, only if we become like them: vengeful, imperious, intolerant, paranoid. Having lost faith in all else, zealots have nothing left but a holy cause to please a warrior God. They win if we become holy warriors, too;  if we kill the innocent as they do; strike first at those who had not struck us; allow our leaders to use the fear of terrorism to make us afraid of the truth; cease to think and reason together, allowing others to tell what’s in God’s mind. Yes, we are vulnerable to terrorists, but only a shaken faith in ourselves can do us in.

Moyers talks about how all the compassion of our response to the 9/11 attacks, has so often been replaced by a darker side.

As a Christian realist I honor my inner skeptic. And as a journalist I always know the other side of the story. The historian Edward Gibbon once wrote of historians what could be said of journalists. He wrote: “The theologians may indulge the pleasing task of describing religion as she descended from Heaven, arrayed in her native purity. A more melancholy duty is imposed on the historian [read: journalist] He must discover the inevitable mixture of error and corruption which she contracted in a long residence upon earth, among a weak and degenerate race of beings.”

Very succinctly, he explains how religious fundamentalists have taken over the Republican party, and are imposing their biblical interpretation on the rest of us.

We can’t wiggle out of this, people. Alvin Hawkins states it frankly: “This is a problem we can’t walk away from.”    We’re talking about a powerful religious constituency that claims the right to tell us what’s on God’s mind and to decide the laws of the land according to their interpretation of biblical revelation and to enforce those laws on the nation as a whole.  For the Bible is not just the foundational text of their faith; it has become the foundational text for a political movement.

True, people of faith have always tried to bring their interpretation of the Bible to bear on American laws and morals—this very seminary is part of that tradition; it’s the American way, encouraged and protected by the First Amendment.  But what is unique today is that the radical religious right has succeeded in taking over one of America’s great political parties—the country is not yet a theocracy but the Republican Party is—and they are driving American politics, using  God as a a battering ram on almost every issue: crime and punishment, foreign policy, health care, taxation,  energy,  regulation, social services and so on.

And then, he sums of the war we are in this way:

What’s also unique is the intensity, organization, and anger they have brought to the public square. Listen to their preachers, evangelists, and homegrown ayatollahs: Their viral intolerance—their loathing of other people’s beliefs, of America’s secular and liberal values, of an independent press, of the courts, of reason, science and the search for objective knowledge—has become an unprecedented sectarian crusade for state power. They use the language of faith  to demonize political opponents, mislead and misinform voters, censor writers and artists, ostracize dissenters, and marginalize the poor. These are the foot soldiers in a political holy war financed by wealthy economic interests and guided by savvy partisan operatives who know that couching political ambition in religious rhetoric  can ignite the passion of followers as ferociously as when Constantine painted the Sign of Christ (the “Christograph”) on the shields of his soldiers and on the banners of his legions and routed his rivals in Rome.  Never mind that the Emperor himself was never baptized into the faith; it served him well enough to make the God worshipped by Christians his most important ally and turn the Sign of Christ into the one imperial symbol most widely recognized and feared from east to west. 

I have quoted liberally, and could go on and on. Every paragraph says something important, and I desperately want you to take the time to read the entire article. Its important.