We see the spectacle of the US Congress unable to manage decent health care reform that will actually enable the American citizenry to join the rest of the industrialized world in having health care for all. The problems, it is clear, come from those who are lying.
Death panels? That’s true—we already have them. Insurance companies deny care to Americans who then die as a result. It happens every day, Sarah Palin—but ascribing that to the Obama plan is untrue. In fact, those corporate death panels would be outlawed.
Find the language in Obama’s bill that says that illegal aliens are covered or admit it’s a canard—God forbid we should help some migrant worker who is stricken by illness or accident while laboring in service to Americans. South Carolina’s Joe Wilson is just the Tourette tip of a dissembling iceberg.
We can’t afford the plan? That is a whopper. It’s all choice.
If every child in America doesn’t have health care but we own more than 6,000 nuclear weapons, more than half of them on board a fleet of 18 extremely expensive Trident submarines ready to fight the Soviets (hey! Where’d they go?), isn’t it time to ask some fundamental questions? One is: why spend $16.5 billion just on the Department of Energy nuclear weapons budget for FY 2010 with 50 million uninsured citizens? Does US Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) speak for us all when he calls health care a privilege (and presumably threatening life on Earth is a human right for the US military)?
When our working poor are so often without either the money to pay for health insurance or the high costs of health care for ailing family members and yet we somehow manage to justify spending in excess of $915 billion on the so-called War on Terror, shouldn’t we engage in some national discussion about priorities?
$1 trillion for war while unemployment pushes 10 percent in more and more states is unconscionable. Unemployment means a loss of health care for a high percentage of those who lose jobs and more foreclosures on the American dream of home ownership every month. Historically, it naturally correlates with increases in crime. The US is the last of the so-called developed countries to fail to insure the unemployed and underemployed, and we have the highest crime rates. So many thousands of us are shot each year that we more than qualify to be considered at war inside our own borders. Much of that carnage relates to social problems like unemployment, lack of health care and simple hopelessness.
Does it not seem that when the US can afford and not question nearly 1,000 military bases on other people’s sovereign soil—287 of them in Germany alone—that we can afford to create jobs? Rather than have our young people learning how to hurt others in the military, we could end economic conscription, lower the crime rate, drastically reduce the numbers of uninsured, reverse the home foreclosure numbers and enhance our nation’s productivity by offering minimum wage jobs to anyone willing to work. Those jobs would include housing in some cases, health care benefits in all cases, and on-the-job training and supplementary education for those needing it. Closing foreign military bases until these programs were paid for would be a giant leap for the US back toward the health of our workforce, our economy, our educational system and our very citizenry.
No one is talking about this? True. So it’s time to start.
Tom H. Hastings (firstname.lastname@example.org) is director of PeaceVoice and a founder of Whitefeather Peace Community in Portland, Oregon. He is a core faculty in the Portland State University Conflict Resolution graduate program.