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June 29, 2012


Following is an excerpt from a letter (edited here for blogging) that I wrote today to an old friend and former retired archivist of a presidential library in the wake of the Supreme Court’s finding and decision on health care.

Well, the big day has come and is going. My daughter and I were right in our (shaky) view that this court would O.K. the Affordable Care Act. I opined during this interim between argument and decision that the court should also expand federal jurisdiction in order to bulwark a finding that upheld the constitutionality of the Act – and it did. Are we brilliant? Hardly. As my younger brother says, “Even a blind hog can find an acorn once in a while.” Luck is not brilliance.

Aside from the substance of its finding and decision, I am glad to see this 5-4 court expand federal jurisdiction which undergirds future findings where constitutionality is in issue. The decision, in other words (and beyond its specific findings), is a blow to 10th Amendment nuts (usually racist or don’t tread on me types). I welcome this brave new world of the concept of federated states. We are the United States of America, not South Carolina with the USA as appendage. I am almost of the view that I should start calling this court the Supreme Court, not the 5-4 court, but I am still in a state of rage over Citizens United. When the court overrules that precedent, I will relent (assuming no more such outrages during the interim).

Predictably, the Senate Minority Leader (McConnell) – sold out to the health care industry long ago – quickly vowed that republicans would work tirelessly to get the court’s decision reversed. He appeared to be unhappy with the ruling. It might surprise you to know that my daughter and I are gratified but not totally happy with the ruling, either. So far as we are concerned, it is just one more step on a spectrum leading to single payer. We appreciate the positive movement, but are not yet satisfied. Now that the fundamental right of the federal government to involve itself in public health and its financing is established, a constitutional challenge to such an ultimate statute of single payer coverage is unlikely to succeed. We will take what we can get, but this is only a first step. As for McConnell’s tough guy stance, that is for the republican base and his health care patrons. Reversal will not happen (and he knows it); the only question now is whether we move up to single payer from here, and I intend to continue agitating for such a situation.

The rest of the First World has single payer health coverage and must wonder how the USA allows a health care industry that plays nothing more than a role of cost-enhancing parasite to dictate health policy here. Answer: “Campaign contributions” (aka bribes, as we used to call them in the old days). No one needs the healthcare industry; the many billions of dollars they skim off the top in “premiums” could be used for actual health care, which, along with the economies of scale (everyone is covered), should give us substantially more and better care at lower cost under a single payer system. France, widely regarded as having the best healthcare system in the world (single payer, of course), delivers care superior to ours at half the cost.

Consider what it would mean if we could emulate such a system. Americans would be healthier and happier, employers would enjoy less absenteeism on the job, preventive and early intervention care would greatly reduce later surgeries and other costly procedures and their attendant aftercare costs etc. Maybe we would finally take a positive step in proceeding to “life, liberty and happiness” as envisioned by the Founders.

The republicans talk a good game about healthcare (until you get into the pocket of the healthcare industry, one of their major sources of “campaign contributions”), after which we Democrats are told what “socialists” and overtaxing left wing rabble we are. Funny. They don’t seem to mind “overtaxing” for their defense industry buddies (who daily defraud the United States on their “contracts,” R & D et al.). Parenthetically, we need to have a new discussion in this country on taxation centered not only on and who and how much, but WHAT we are taxing for. Personally, I would greatly reduce defense outlays and tax loopholes given to big corporations in favor of an enhanced safety net for people, but trying to sell that in the current toxic atmosphere has about as much chance of success as Hitler would have running for mayor of Tel Aviv.

So what is the solution? If there is one, I think it will have to be political. We simply have to throw these tea party and bought-out right wingers out of office. We have to persuade the electorate that money thrown to defense contractors and big corporations does not necessarily wend its way down to demand in this economy, whereas money paid out to the hoi polloi is likely to be spent in stimulating aggregate demand in our economy to the very great benefit of all concerned, including massive reemployment of the currently unemployed which would result from following such policies. We have to persuade them that throwing the lion’s share to the few and hoping for a trickle down actually amounts to abandonment in making policy to the few as well. This is our policy to be made, not theirs. Why should corporations effectively be in charge of the money AND policy considerations that should be our business, not theirs? Answer: republican and Wall Street propaganda, incessant and never ending.

I suppose I should be happy; the decision today (and what its reasoning portends) is clearly a victory for America and its people. It is just that I want more than could be had from the facts and law in issue in this specific appeal. So, I’ll take it, and go right ahead agitating for more.

Single payer is at least now in sight, and it wasn’t 24 hours ago. That’s something to smile about. GERALD  E

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