Thursday, April 25, 2019

Oh God!

Stanley - Thursday

Oh God! There are still eighteen months to go to the next US elections.

Some people think that the give and take, thrust and parry, of the run up to the nominations is essential for the voters to see how people function under pressure. I understand the argument, but just look at the results. It's bad enough listening to all the rhetoric from the candidates, but other issues bother me perhaps even more.

A hot issue in the 2018 congressional elections was healthcare. The Democrats did pretty well pushing hard on the need for good healthcare and the erosion of the same under the Republicans. To a large extent this resulted in the House switching from being Republican-controlled to being Democratic-controlled.

As you would expect, healthcare is still the prominent issue, with Democratic candidates ranging from supporting free universal care to improved overall coverage with no exemptions for pre-existing conditions. Any suggestion of universal coverage is immediately met with the SOCIALISM defence by the Republicans. For reasons I don't understand, the word SOCIALISM conjures up in many Americans' minds images of faceless bureaucrats and large concrete structures. For them, SOCIALISM is anathema to the American way - despite there already being huge, popular, socialist programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid.

Medicare is a national, premium-free insurance program for people over 65 and for people under 65 with certain disabilities. It can still be costly to be sick even if you have Medicare, and people who can afford it buy supplemental coverage. Medicaid is insurance for people with little or no income and few assets. It is a joint federal/state program that varies enormously from state to state in terms of coverage.

Now these programs are under attack from Republicans - in my mind partly to help reduce the deficit they incurred with their latest tax plan, partly because they are SOCIALIST, and partly....

What depresses me about the healthcare debate is how many people acknowledge that it would be nice to have a system like those in Northern Europe, but feel the USA couldn't get it to work. The country is too big, they say. It is too diverse. I understand that size and diversity would make universal coverage more difficult, but it is a new phenomenon to hear Americans say their country can't accomplish something it sets its mind to.

The Nordic countries, for example, believe it is in the national interest to have a healthy, educated population, even if it means higher taxes. Many Republicans disagree. I have friends, Republican friends, who don't want their taxes helping ne'er-do-well, down-and-out malingerers (sub-text: Blacks).

The USA spends more per capita on healthcare than any other country, yet the outcomes are generally not as good. In both infant mortality and under-5 mortality, for example, the USA is lower that thirtieth in country ranking. Every European country is better. Damn SOCIALISTS!

It is also estimated that about 1 million Americans file for bankruptcy every year because of medical bills! And bankruptcy stays on your record for 10 years, I think, adversely affecting all sorts of other aspects of your life.

The second issue that depresses me about the US elections is the amount of money spent on them. In 2016, over $6.5 BILLION was spent with nearly $2.4 BILLION being on the presidential race alone. In the 2018 congressional races, over $5.7 BILLION was spent. God knows what it will be by November 3, 2020.

It boggles the mind. It sickens me.

The third aspect of the elections that makes me sizzle are the attack ads. Rather than addressing issues of policy, many candidates spend their time attacking their opponents, often snipping comments out of context to show bad the other is. I hope that the myriad contenders for the Democratic nomination will stick to their positions and not sink into using personal attacks or scurrilous innuendo. Stick to the high road, I say.

I think I'm going to throw away my TV remote until November 4, 2020. And I hope Bose will develop some politician-cancelling headphones.


  1. I love the Bose headphone idea! Could they do eyeglasses as well?

    By contrast, South Africa has a national election in about two weeks. Odd posters dot the lamp poles. I receive an occasional recorded message from the opposition party on my cell phone. The TV is packed with...the usual programming. Of course, the result is pretty well predetermined - the governing ANC sits on 61% in the polls. (Make that poll. I've seen one so far.)

    I'll let you know the outcome when we have it. If I can find where it's announced...

  2. Well, Medicare isn't really premium-free. Part B costs $133 a month, taken out of SS checks. And one does have to have a Medigap especially if there are serious illnesses, surgery etc.
    The Republicans and super-rich have tried to undo Medicare since it passed in 1965. They hate it and they hate Medicaid.
    They are determined to uninsure the 11 million people who were added to Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
    The tax cuts should never have been enacted. So, of course the Republicans are trying to cut everything. Already food stamps were cut.
    It is obscene that people sit on their millions and billions of dollars while so many people need food, shelter, medical care. The callousness is shocking.
    Also, I question use of the word "socialism" for social programs. England, Canada and the Scandinavian countries are capitalist countries (industry is privately owned) with comprehensive government programs, paid for by people's taxes.
    I'd be perfectly happy with Britain's National Health System, paid for by taxes, but free with good care. What's not to like?
    And also, people pay into Social Security and Medicare while they're working. Thus, the Social Security Trust Fund and the fund for people with disabilities. The government throws it into the funds to use for expenses and then many politicians don't want to give it back to those who put into the funds.
    The Democratic candidates are interesting, discussing policy. I do think it's fine for any of them to attack Trump, including for mistreatment and separation of im/migrant families, the Nazis are "very fine people," the racism, anti-Muslim bans, etc. All fair game.

  3. I've stopped watching TV news and given up reading about POTUS, PORPOISE, and PROSTITUTOUS--and I feel so much better. There is so much to get enraged about over this health care travesty, but my favorite is ask members of Congress to substitute their health coverage for what they propose their constituents endure and see how they react.

  4. Right! In other words, it's asking those in Congress to have whatever will allegedly replace Obamacare or Medicare or Medicaid. Actually, they just want to take Medicaid away and weaken Medicare. The Trump budget proposal cuts billions from Medicare and funds from the SS Disability fund, et al.
    I probably should just bury myself in fiction from now on and turn off MSNBC and CNN. It is just aggravating. Time to turn to crime (fiction).