Tag Archives: marginalized

Affordable Care Act Rollout (Obamacare): Disaster or Distortion?

19 Nov

ACAFactsI know I talk at length about the dominant culture and discourse (the structural and institutional power source) and how targeted populations (folks that are not white, heterosexual, male, wealthy, and Christian) should unite and engage the dominate culture in a way that works towards creating equity across the board. This means a re-distribution of wealth and health insurance for all human beings. Today I want to talk about how tired I am about all this mishigas over the Affordable Care Act.

Sadly, all we hear from 99% of the media is the crash of the Affordable Care Act and has President Obama lost credibility? Really? This the question? Why are we not asking how many people are already enrolled and are still trying desperately to enroll? Why are we not asking how we can create a more equitable way of taking care of all of our citizens regardless of party lines? Why are we not asking where were all the critics when Mitt Romney had trouble rolling out the exact same health plan in Massachusetts? Why are we not asking about the cost of the government shutdown and how much of that money could have gone to health insurance? Why are we still tying employment to health insurance?

Of course, I have to bring up race and class again.  Those that are not part of the dominant culture (as defined above) suffer disproportionately as far as employment, health care, and poverty.  Do we just discard human beings in the United States if they don’t fit in to the boxes we assign them? Let’s look at a simple fact: at least 20 Million people in this country are uninsured and will have the ability to be insured thanks to the ACA. No amount of GOP whining, media distraction, website downtime, or pundit bloviating changes the fact that this is a simply good thing.

The constant barrage of criticism uses words like “debacle” and “disaster.” Are these accurate? Objectively, NO! Let’s explore the three basic criticisms of the ACA: website, signups, and cancellations.

First, the most legitimate criticism: the website doesn’t work very well. That appears to be true. The deliverable product is very complex. It needs to interact with multiple government agencies, multiple private companies, and the fundamental operations of the ACA. At the same time, it needs to protect privacy and pass along a significant amount of information. Yes, the government should have focused on making this rollout a success. On the other hand, nearly 20 MILLION visitors have started come to the site, providing a great deal of stress. GOP governors repeatedly rejected state exchanges, forcing their citizens to the federal site, contributing to overload. Many of the federal employees  responsible for making the website a success were either furloughed during the shutdown or bogged down answering questions from GOP House members. Objectively, the website needs serious improvement, but the loudest complainers (are you listening, Boehner and company?) are the biggest obstacles to its viable completion.

Pundits and so-called journalists are also bemoaning the sign-up levels. The number 27,000 is used a lot lately. Yes, that number is lower than the initial estimates. Given that nearly half of America lives in cities smaller than 25,000 , however, that means the typical U.S. citizen is seeing their entire town given health care. The dire figure also ignores a significant number of other factors. Nearly 100,000 people have signed up through state exchanges, proving that the “states rights” option that should have appealed to the GOP is a big success. Medicaid enrollment, a major element of the ACA, is up by nearly 400,000.  People under 26 can stay on family plans under the ACA, leading to a large (but so far uncalculated) number of younger Americans having coverage they would not have had. So the real number  easily 20 times larger than the pessimistic reports.

How about those cancellations? Anyone on an employer plan should remember that the plans change every year or two. That’s right, those cancellation notices that the media are saying prove the ACA doesn’t work are business as usual for insurance companies. Sadly, the cancellations that make the news ignore two other very important facts. First, many of these plans were at best cheap, ineffectual coverage. Second, many of the people who need to look for new plans qualify for much better insurance for little or no increase in payments through state or federal exchange programs.

Yes, there are legitimate frustrations. Certainly the website should have been better stress tested. At the end of the day, however, what matters is CARE. Thousands, leading to millions, of US citizens will have better coverage — or the first coverage in years (or ever) — as a result of this law. Could it be smoother or simpler? YES. But the GOP refused to pass that kind of law. The ACA is a strong step in the right direction and must be given time to succeed. Millions of Americans need that. The media need to focus on facts and benefits and stop the senseless, sensational reality-show shenanigans–all in the name of profits for the top 20% of the country.   What would it be like if each citizen was guaranteed the same health care package that all 535 congress people receive?  What is getting in the way of accomplishing this?

On Social Security, Is the White House Possessed by Thatcher’s Ghost?

10 Apr
If she's laughing, be afraid.

If she’s laughing, be afraid.

This week one of the prime movers in late 20th Century geopolitics died. Margaret Thatcher’s deeply conservative, pro-corporation, anti-business, slash the safety net and cut the taxes approach to governance helped set the stage for the fiscal gambling and international financial meltdown from which we are still struggling to recover. Remember her effort to secure a poll tax–oh she was a madcap, our Maggie. With a legacy like that, you might think that smart politicians would steer clear of her policies.  The English Punk group, The Jam gave the world an all too accurate portrait of Thatcher with their song, Town Called Malice, which basically addresses the death of the middle class and economic oppression.  The architects of this oppression were Thatcher and Reagan.

Sadly, the President of the United States — a DEMOCRAT elected by a coalition of the poor, people of color, women, and other marginalized and oppressed people — seems intent on taking an unprecedented and disastrous budgetary step. In the latest mind-numbingly awful round of budget “negotiations” with Congress, the White House has made it clear that cutting Social Security is part of the package.

This makes no sense. Even St. Ronnie the Addled, Thatcher’s partner in crime in the 80s, famously noted that cutting Social Security did NOTHING to reduce the deficit. Worse, the proposed plan, tying benefits to a particular Consumer Price Index, is viciously regressive. Those who depend on Social Security — the elderly disproportionately from marginalized populations — have expenses that don’t fit with chained CPI. The bulk of their expenses are health care, which increases much faster, and non-discretionary spending. You know, like food. The White House proposal effectively shoves retirees into poverty even faster.

The President’s stated goal seems admirable: compromise. Like all his fiscal wrangling with the GOP, however, he seems to think that compromise starts with capitulation and goes downhill from there. By taking the first ever major blow to Social Security, a Democratic President is easing the country into the Teahadist dream world where the New Deal and Great Society are erased forever.  Looks like most Americans will need to get used to eating cat food.

It isn’t too late. Many Democrats in Congress oppose the President’s plan and have proposed much more sensible starting points for budget negotiations. Please contact your members of Congress and ask them to support these smarter plans. Then contact the White House and make it clear that putting Social Security on the chopping block is unacceptable. If that doesn’t work, we should start raising some money to hold an exorcism.

Lech Wałęsa Done Drank the Tea

5 Aug

The Tea That Washes All Principles Away

When I used to hear the name Lech Wałęsa, I used to think of the words, courage, integrity, and social justice.  What happened? Well, it looks like our poor old Lech drank the Kool Aid Tea.  His disgusting support of Mitt Romney manages to undermine his legacy of fighting back against a corrupt Soviet Union and standing up for unions and the marginalized. A whole generation will be left with the bitter taste of Lech allying himself with a billionaire, anti-union, anti-woman, anti-poor, anti-civil rights, homophobic, Chick-Fil-A eating white boy.

Is it any wonder that Solidarity (the group Wałęsa helped found) immediately distanced themselves from Wałęsa’s endorsement of Romney, so quickly as though they might be contaminated by the bitter brew of tea served up by the elitist Joe Stalin wannabe.

I’m not sure what has caused this fall from Wałęsa’s social justice principles and his dedication to giving voice to the marginalized, but I am sad that he is destroying a legacy for future generations and like many here in the United States is plummeting on the wrong side of history.

Celebrating Women’s History Month: March 24

24 Mar

Honoring Nancy Amidei

Today I would like to honor and pay tribute to Nancy Amidei. Amidei was actually brought to my attention by my friend and fellow do-gooder, Marla Moore. Amidei is best known as a social reformer and a, “relentless advocate for changing public policy to better serve the most vulnerable populations.”   I admit, I aspire to be the social reformer Amidei is currently;  I aspire to be a combination of Ida Tarbell, Amidei and Howard Zinn. Let us hope that more people will choose to give voice to the marginalized and disenfranchised–to help all of our brothers and sisters. Let us hope that the generations following mine will use their collective voice to drown out the ugly, bitter voices of bigotry and hate. Here is to speaking truth to power. To learn more about Amidei, click here.

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