Have we written about this before? Are we reading about anything else? Chait at NY Mag sets the context for the healthcare debate – you know, the one we’re going to have, again.
Opponents of the law have endlessly invoked “socialism.” Nothing in the Affordable Care Act or any part of President Obama’s challenges the basic dynamics of market capitalism. All sides accept that some of us should continue to enjoy vastly greater comforts and pleasures than others. If you don’t work as hard as Mitt Romney has, or were born less smart, or to worse parents, or enjoyed worse schools, or invested your skills in an industry that collapsed, or suffered any other misfortune, then you will be punished for this. Your television may be low-definition, or you might not be able to heat or cool your home as comfortably as you would like; you may clothe your children in discarded garments from the Salvation Army.
This is not in dispute. What is being disputed is whether the punishments to the losers in the market system should include, in addition to these other things, a denial of access to non-emergency medical treatment. The Republican position is that it should. They may not want a woman to have to suffer an untreated broken ankle for lack of affordable treatment. Likewise, I don’t want people to be denied nice televisions or other luxuries. I just don’t think high-definition television or nice clothing are goods that society owes to one and all. That is how Republicans think about health care.
This is why it’s vital to bring yourself face-to face with the implications of mass uninsurance — not as emotional manipulation, but to force you to decide what forms of material deprivation ought to be morally acceptable.
Can this Supreme Court case be about anything else? No, it can’t. These are the terms. This is the reason there was an Affordable Care Act, and an individual mandate. And the reason there will have to be another debate and another law if this one is indeed struck down. Republicans will try to elide this debate, but there isn’t any other debate. The other aspects of the situation are beyond question. This is what they’re holding out on. Damn, green makes some people really mean.
I know there’s a lot of interesting stuff going on… what with all the face-eating bacteria and flesh-eating humans, but there is actually something else going on. The ‘business of America is business’ reality is actually taking over the country. The University of Virginia, founded by the revered Thomas Jefferson, is about to become the unofficial Citizens United test case for just how much can be run into the groundlooted and soldbankruptedjust like a business:
For as much as this has been described as “remarkable” and “unprecedented,” I can’t help but see it as the microcosm of a dynamic playing out in our politics and across our public institutions. The constant denigration of government and public service, coupled with the often unjustified veneration of business, has led to a world where successful capitalists are privileged in all discussions. In an earlier time, we understood that the values and priorities of the market weren’t universally applicable; of course you wouldn’t run a university like a business. It has different goals, serves different constituencies, and more important, has a broad obligation to serve the public.
The same goes for government. The Postal Service has never been a money-making operation, but that’s never been the point; as a country, we agreed that everyone should be connected, even if it doesn’t pay for itself. The value of public-spiritedness trumped the goal of profitability. You could say the same for Social Security, Medicaid, Pell Grants, Amtrak, etc. These programs should be judged by whether they accomplish the goals of our society—a safety net for the poor, help for the young, assistance for the old—and not whether they meet the metrics of a business. If they need reform to meet their goals, then we should move in that direction. But handing to them to the private sector, or running them like a business, won’t automatically solve their problems or make them better.
For the last thirty years, however, we’ve deferred to capitalists and businesspeople in nearly all decisions. A handful of rich people think they know how to run the economy? Great, we’ll let them take care of it. A few billionaires think they know what’s wrong with our education system? Well, we should listen to them!
It’s almost like 1876 all over again, except instead now with more updated, completely content-free b-school jargon.
I used this phrase once at lunch today (sorry, D) but it came back to mind reading this Felix Salmon review of new books by Tim Noah and the Krug-meister:
Each of these books, in its own way, is an attempt to disabuse the rich of precisely that idea — to explain that while they’re doing perfectly well for themselves, an overwhelming majority of the population, the bottom 80 percent to 90 percent of the country, is struggling hard and has tasted none of the fruits that have been showered on the wealthy.
Take the quarter-century from 1980 to 2005, during which markets soared and America got indisputably richer: over that period, Mr. Noah, a columnist for The New Republic, says that fully 80 percent of the nation’s income gains went to just the top 1 percent. Most Americans’ incomes stagnated, with the middle class getting nowhere. Mr. Krugman takes a shorter view, and demonstrates that the same group suffered dreadfully in the financial crisis, and that its plight continues today. Both of them try to inject urgency back into the national debate, spelling out how unacceptable the status quo is, and calling on the government to do something about it as a matter of the highest priority.
It’s class warfare alright, as surely as this phrase is verboten across the airwaves except as an antidote for any talk about income inequity. It takes journalists with the guts to call this what it is, over and over, and Salmon is one of them. He’s hard on Dr. K, too, but he should be – that’s the point of criticism, even if you agree with the work. We’re not critical enough. We don’t call a spade a spade or a crook a crook when we need to, and this is the skullduggery to which I refer. The corruption runs deep, but our own complicity in overlooking and excusing malfeasance and greed is its chief ally.
Surely you’ve noticed these Exxonmobile commercials (no link, sorry. Google it) focussing on the state of education in America today, how we’ve fallen behind relative to so many other countries and how we need to support teachers and students to re-establish our dominance. Exxonmobile is concerned. About education.
The cartoon narratives are fancy and well done, but back up a minute. The tag line, ‘Let’s solve this.’ Really? Confident. Serious. First-person plural. Everything else they are involved in is kosher and so now they’re turning their attention to our education problems. Exxonmobile. That is sporting of them. This is has got to be one of the most classic, think-up-something-else-so-we-don’t-talk-about-energy-policy, concerning trolling PR strategies they have dreamed up at least since they embraced, and likely already solved, the ‘go green’ issue – by making it go away. Let’s solve this?
Starting this fall, thousands of poor and middle-class kids will get vouchers covering the full cost of tuition at more than 120 private schools across Louisiana, including small, Bible-based church schools.
The following year, students of any income will be eligible for mini-vouchers that they can use to pay a range of private-sector vendors for classes and apprenticeships not offered in traditional public schools. The money can go to industry trade groups, businesses, online schools and tutors, among others.
Every time a student receives a voucher of either type, his local public school will lose a chunk of state funding.
“We are changing the way we deliver education,” said Governor Bobby Jindal, a Republican who muscled the plan through the legislature this spring over fierce objections from Democrats and teachers unions. “We are letting parents decide what’s best for their children, not government.”
BIBLE-BASED MATH BOOKS
I’ll stop with that sub-head, just to let it sink in. Let’s solve this. Oy.
A quote from James Baldwin that I included in Dark Polska goes something like, “The future of America can only be as bright as that of the black man.” No truer words, Mr. B (though he may have used ‘Negro’ as was his wont), and at times this seems more promising for our country than others. Ahem.
Nonetheless, a great American writer none of us reads enough – thus, instantly qualifying him for another Friday Reading.
Every legend, moreover, contains its residuum of truth, and the root function of language is to control the universe by describing it. It is of quite considerable significance that black men remain, in the imagination, and in overwhelming numbers in fact, beyond the disciplines of salvation; and this despite the fact that the West has been “buying” African natives for centuries. There is, I should hazard, an instantaneous necessity to be divorced from this so visibly unsaved stranger, in whose heart, moreover , one cannot guess what dreams of vengeance are being nourished; and, at the same time, there are few things on earth more attractive than the idea of the unspeakable liberty which is allowed the unredeemed. When, beneath the black mask, a human being begins to make himself felt one cannot escape a certain awful wonder as to what kind of human being it is. What one’s imagination makes of other people is dictated, of course, by the Master racelaws of one’s own personality and it’s one of the ironies of black-white relations that,by means of what the white man imagines the black man to be, the black man is enabled to know who the white man is.
I have said, for example, that I am as much a stranger in this village today as I was the first summer I arrived, but this is not quite true. The villagers wonder less about the texture of my hair than they did then, and wonder rather more about me. And the fact that their wonder now exists on another level is reflected in their attitudes and in their eyes. There are the children who make those delightful, hilarious, sometimes astonishingly grave overtures of friendship in the unpredictable fashion of children; other children, having been taught that the devil is a black man, scream in genuine anguish as I approach. Some of the older women never pass without a friendly greeting, never pass, indeed, if it seems that they will be able to engage me in conversation; other women look down or look away or rather contemptuously smirk. Some of the men drink with me and suggest that I learn how to ski-partly, I gather, because they cannot imagine what I would look like on skis-and want to know if I am married, and ask questions about my metier. But some of the men have accused le sale negre-behindmy back-of stealing wood and there is already in the eyes of some of them that peculiar, intent, paranoiac malevolence which one sometimes surprises in the eyes of American white men when, out walking with their Sunday girl, they see a Negro male approach.
There is a dreadful abyss between the streets of this village and the streets of the city in which I was born, between the children who shout Neger! today and those who shouted Nigger! yesterday-the abyss is experience, the American experience. The syllable hurled behind me today expresses, above all, wonder: I am a stranger here. But, I am not a stranger in America and the same syllable riding on the American air expresses the war my presence has occasioned in the American soul.
For this village brings home to me this fact: that there was a day, and not really a very distant day, when Americans were scarcely Americans at all but discontented Europeans, facing a great unconquered continent and strolling, say, into a marketplace and seeing black men for the first time. The shock this spectacle afforded is suggested, surely, by the promptness with which they decided that these black men were not really men but cattle. It is true that the necessity on the part of the settlers of the New World of reconciling their moral assumptions with the fact -and the necessity-of slavery enhanced immensely the charm of this idea, and it is also true that this idea expresses, with a truly American bluntness, the attitude which to varying extents all masters have had toward all slaves.