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Roger Hickey: NOW is the time to fight for a public health insurance option [and oh btw, single payer advocates are so funny!]

Paul Jay, of The Real News, interviews Roger Hickey, one of the Very Serious People who bring you managed competition this time around about single payer, the public option, Obama's campaign promise on health care and whether he'll keep it, and that little foofaraw at the Senate hearing.

THE REAL NEWS: Why weren't people who promoted single payer allowed to attend?

ROGER HICKEY: It's clear that in the United States Senate, at least, the Democrats have decided that reform is not going to take the shape of single payer. I thought it was a bad move to exclude testimony from advocates of single payer. We could have had them on without taking them seriously [chuckles].

The rest of the interview:

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BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

Ian Welsh has noted that the U.S. suffers from two kinds of insanity. The first is that a lot of Americans believe things that are untrue, largely due to propaganda. An example:

This is the first type of insanity in the US and it runs deep. I often feel like I spend more time correcting outright lies, outright propaganda, than anything else. Just this week I had to explain to a left wing blogger (who should know better) that single payer health insurance is cheaper and gives better results than private insurance system. Now in the US this is somehow still in doubt, but that’s insane–this isn’t in question, every other western nation that has single payer insurance spends about 1/3 less than the US and has as good health metrics or better either in most or all categories. This isn’t something that’s up in the air; this isn’t something that is unsettled. This is a bloody FACT.

The second kind noted by Ian is that U.S. decision makers are so far removed from the experiences of most Americans:

The second is worse, in a sense. When Diamond wrote his book on why societies collapse he came to the conclusion that it occurred when elites weren’t experiencing the same things as the majority of the society–when they were isolated from the problems and challenges the society was facing.

For 30 years ordinary Americans haven’t had a raise. And despite all the lies, Americans are beginning to get that.

But for the people in charge the last thirty years have been absolutely wonderful. Seriously, things haven’t been this good since the 1890’s and the 1920’s. Everyone they know–their families, their mistresses and toyboys, their friends–is doing well. Wall Street paid even larger bonuses for 2007, the year they ran the ship into the shore, than they did in 2006 when their bonuses equalled the raises of 80 million Americans. Multiple CEOs walked away from companies they had bankrupted with golden parachutes in excess of 50 million. And if you can find a Senator who isn’t a millionaire (except maybe Bernie Sanders) you let me know.

Life has been great. The fact that America is physically unhealthy, falling behind technologically, hemorrhaging good jobs and that ordinary Americans are in debt up to their eyebrows, haven’t seen a raise in 30 years and live in mortal fear of getting ill–because even if they have insurance it doesn’t cover the necessary care–means nothing to the decision making part of America because it hasn’t experienced it. America’s elites are doing fine, thanks. All they can taste, or remember is the caviar and champagne they swill to celebrate how wonderful they are and how much they deserve all the money federal policy has given them.

This is the second insanity of the US–that the decision making apparatus in the US is disconnected from the results of their decisions. They make sure they get paid, that they’re wealthy, and let the rest of society go to hell. In the end, of course, most of them will find that the money isn’t theirs, and that what they’ve stolen is worth very little if the US has a real financial crisis.

I'd say that Mr. Hickey's comment is a symptom of both forms of insanity. The longer it goes untreated, the worse it's going to be for all of us.

Submitted by hipparchia on

although he could be right about this too:

They make sure they get paid, that they’re wealthy, and let the rest of society go to hell. In the end, of course, most of them will find that the money isn’t theirs, and that what they’ve stolen is worth very little if the US has a real financial crisis.

my take: they already have their own parallel society, and they'll have stolen enough that a huge drop in their net worth still leaves [many of] them fantabulously rich, and well-insulated from the collapse they've engineered. some of the lower rungs of the upper echelon will be jettisoned, but that's just social darwinism doing its thing, just like it's supposed to.

there are a number of lefty bloggers who don't understand single payer and are deluded about how, and why, it works, but many of the pundits and politicos understand it completely. the [probably irrelevant] problem is sorting out those who truly believe that crap about 'political feasibility' and those who want the rest of us to believe that crap about 'political feasibility'.

the real problem, of course, is bypassing all these naysayers and getting single payer in spite of them.

Submitted by hipparchia on

he's actually for a strong public option and expects it likely will lead to single payer at some point in the future. he just thinks that single payer now now now advocates are cutely naive about what's politically feasible.

i agree with hickey on one point -- the time is NOW and there isn't much of it left. obama is expecting to have some kind of legislation out of the senate as early as the beginning of june, hence the june 6 house parties. he's also expecting final legislation to land on his desk, ready to sign, before the august recess.