Nostalgia for Free-Market Health Care

Republicans in Congress have once again voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.  Someone should tell them that we don’t want to go back to the time before Obamacare, when:

Insurance companies could deny life-saving treatment to infants born with a congenital condition on the grounds that the condition was “pre-existing” birth.

Insurance companies could deny insurance to people on the grounds that they had a “pre-existing condition,” or charge them an excessively high premium for coverage which did not include that condition anyway.

Insurance  companies could refuse to pay for expensive necessary treatment on the grounds that the person failed to disclose “facts” on his or her application for insurance.

Insurance companies could cancel policies on entire companies if one employee required expensive and lengthy (and costly) treatments.

Insurance companies could put a cap of $1 million or less for all payments made to a person insured.

Insurance companies could drop children from their parents’ policy when they turned 18 or 21, even though they were still in school or being supported by their parents.

Insurance companies could deny legitimate claims to increase their profits.

Insurance companies were not required to pay out 80% of premiums for care, but could make an unlimited amount of money and give it to executive bonuses or stockholder dividends.

Hospital emergency rooms were overwhelmed by uninsured people who did not get early treatment and came to be hospitalized after the condition became critical.

More than half of all bankruptcies were caused by or involved unpaid medical bills.

People should publicly ask Republicans why they want to repeal an Act which has helped so many of them and has reduced the cost of insurance for all of them.  

Frank L. Schneider
Chicago, Ill.

Act on Solar Superstorms

Some time ago I mailed a letter based on the article “Near Miss: The Solar Superstorm of July 2012,” in NASA Science News (science.nasa.gov, 2/23/14) ... NASA and other scientists now believe it is no longer a question of if we are ever hit by a solar superstorm but of how soon we are hit. How does a death rate of 1/3 to 1/2 the population sound to you? (“Geomagnetic Storms, EMP and Nuclear Armageddon,” by Matthew Stein, whentechfails.com.) This is not the basic idea for a Hollywood B movie. This information comes from some of the best scientists we have who know what they are talking about. The last Congress was well aware of the possible danger and tried to get a bill passed that would have protected the nation’s power grid. Why? Because a hit from the sun that we missed in July of 2012 would have been able to knock out all 104 nuclear power plants in the United States for months, possibly years. A bill called The Shield Act in the Senate that would protect the nation’s power grid was to be voted on during the last Congress. However, one senator from Alaska was able to stop the bill from being voted on. And this is where we stand today,

I realize in an age where there are so many lies all over the place that this issue may be hard to chew on, but do your research. Contact NASA, read the articles above and the one in National Geographic Magazine of a few years ago, and let’s get Congress to act, NOW! 

David Raisman
Brooklyn NY

Optimist’s Take on Robots

How would you like to live in an economy where robots do everything that can be predictably programmed in advance, and humans are left with the free time to pursue whatever makes them happy and/or fulfilled? This is what robots could accomplish for us in a sane society … obviously not a capitalist one.  Robert Reich’s depressing account of what is likely to be our future when robots are widespread [“Share-the-Scraps Economy,” 3/1/15 TPP] does not have to be the case. The problems he associates with an economy geared to robots is not the fault of the robots or their creators. The problem lies with our current economic system — capitalism. In a “Sane Society” (Eric Fromme), the robots would be serving the people, not the reverse. In order to get to the sane society we need positive visions of what socialism can do for us; negative ones are useful, but a positive outlook is needed to show the direction needed for a more socialist, less capitalistic economy.

Bob Bogner
Aspen, Colo.

Vaccination Should Be Nationally Legislated

Re:  “Polio: Lessons for Today” [5/15/15 TPP, May 15]: In Mexico, where I lived during my childhood, it was common practice for brujos and curanderos (witch doctors and shamans) to continually warn the ignorant people living in remote villages and city slums against the evils of modern medicine.

Thus, each time the government sent doctors and nurses to those areas to vaccinate children, most of the parents made haste to hide their little ones to protect them from harm.

What a curious irony that today we have thousands of people here in America (including many who are well educated and affluent) who distrust science and refuse to have their children vaccinated!

Just like 60 years ago in Mexico, we have our own modern versions of witch doctors and shamans, such as the Million Mamas Movement, who are successfully infecting even the elite with ignorance.

Vaccination of children should be nationally legislated. Those who deny the benefits of proven medicine (no matter how rich and well educated they may be) should not have the power to endanger our children’s health.

David Quintero
Monrovia, Calif.

No Faith In Hillary

Your 5/15/15 issue’s article by Robert B. Reich — “Hillary’s Candidacy and America’s Defining Moment” — causes me to respond. I saw the Robert Reich movie, Inequality for All in 2013 at N.H. State House. It was shown during our legislators’ lunch-break, with the public welcome too. The movie “examines widening income inequality in the United States.” The movie itself omits that Bill Clinton signed the North American Free Trade Agreement and brought to reality what H. Ross Perot predicted — “The sucking sound of jobs leaving the country.” Reich is a huge Clinton supporter — no matter what. I heard someone promoting Hillary on the Diane Rehm Show state that “Clinton inherited the NAFTA.” No he didn’t. President Clinton signed it, and began the selling out of American labor and the undermining of environmental protections making sense and being held to. 

So I mistrust Reich’s endorsement of Hillary. I just plain do. I don’t, however, want the next US Supreme Court justices chosen by a Republican president. Sigh. Our tiny hopes are absolutely tiny alongside the great needs for the people’s welfare. So much greed needs correcting.

Lynn Rudmin Chong
Sanbornton, N.H.

Bernie Is Running!

Reference is made to Judith Redding’s sentiments, “Run, Bernie, Run” [Letters, 4/15/15 TPP].

Sen. Sanders is the best potential candidate since Howard Dean was a candidate. He should reach out to the staunch Republicans who were not born with a golden spoon in their mouths or even a silver one. Some were lucky to have cornflakes for breakfast, jelly sandwiches for lunch and hot dogs or cereal again for dinner. Their parents were hardworking but they needed some government assistance.

These are the people who have been hoodwinked by the Republicans.

“Run, Bernie, Run!” as a Democrat!

Marion F. Gaide
Annapolis, Md.

‘Right to Work’ is Unconstitutional

Thank you, Dean Baker [4/15/15 TPP, “Scott Walker Ends Freedom of Contract in Wisconsin”] for bolstering my observations. Article 1, Section 10 of the US Constitution reads, “No State shall ... pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.” [Our emphasis.]

Since Right to Work started in Michigan [it was hastily passed in December 2012], I have tried to tell my local, international and Southeast Michigan Building Trades Council, to no avail.

William Shaw
Jackson, Mich.


No Fast Track

The 1993 North Amercan Free Trade Agreement promised to boost our economy. It did, for the very rich, but it took millions of middle class jobs offshore where labor is cheap and pollution is rampant. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) promises to be NAFTA on steroids. If TPP passes, our nation’s financial regulations would be “harmonized” to comply with international de-regulation. The costs of a too-big-to-fail bank’s collapse would be have to be borne by taxpayers. Our government’s environmental standards, wage and labor laws, prohibition of the sale of goods made in sweatshops, and safety inspections of imported food, would all be illegal (as “restraints on international trade”). Multi-national corporations would overrule local sovereignty.  TPP is worse than a terrible idea, it is a betrayal of the Democratic principles that got Obama elected.

“Fast Track” would make it way more easy for this catastrophic pact to pass and would seal our oppression.

Bruce Joffe
Piedmont, Calif.

Obama Wants to Modernize Nukes

The avalanche of right-wing hatred directed at Obama is unrelenting. In recent weeks I have read commentary that suggest President Obama is a socialist, a Muslim, is anti-American and a closet ISIS supporter. Running and raging through this commentary is the hidden theme that screams, “He is not one of us!” And this insanity has found a foothold in American political discussion — which sadly demonstrates the current level of political discourse  in the United States. If one wants to cast some critical thought Obama’s way they may want to look at his aggressive and seldom discussed plan to spend over a trillion dollars “modernizing” our nuclear arsenal. The professed goal of this race-to-Armageddon windfall is to increase the “reliability” of our nuclear stockpile. But a simple review shows one that this obscene arms race is really an effort to make our chances of a successful nuclear attack on Russia that much more “successful”. Theodore Postal from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology writes, “The US modernization program is producing nuclear forces that will severely complicate the chances of backing away from a disaster if a crisis were to occur. Anyone who looks at history knows that such crises will occur.”

So, while we are raving about Obama’s birth certificate and true country of origin-his sinister socialist agenda-his Muslim sounding name-and his obvious hatred for America-maybe it would be well and good to inject into the conversation the reality that our US President has signed off on and is supporting a trillion dollar nuclear arms modernization plan that may well trigger nuclear Armageddon and an end to human life. While this minor issue may not be as topic worthy as Obama’s other shortcomings, it is something Americans need to be acutely aware of — that is, if the future for our children matters.

Jim Sawyer
Edmonds, Wash.

From The Progressive Populist, June 1, 2015


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