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March 20, 2017

    Following is my response to today’s blog of Sheila Kennedy, professor at IUPUI in Indianapolis, who invited commentary. My response is slightly edited to fit general publication and reads as follows:

    Although we have always had the rich and the poor, we can trace government intervention to make sure such is policy to the general counsel for Big Tobacco, Lewis Powell, who wrote his infamous memorandum to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 1971 on how corporate America could take over the politics of our country with, among other things, giant infusions of money. Powell, a Virginia lawyer who represented Big Tobacco long after its toxic effects were known and after cancer warnings were required on cigarette packages, was later rewarded by an alcoholic Nixon via an appointment to the Supreme Court in a sort of round robin exercise in addiction and politics.

    Unfortunately, the Chamber took his advice, ran with the ball and you know the rest of the story – from a Reagan recession caused by huge tax cuts to the rich and corporate class to and through Bush’s Iraq adventure on the cuff and McCutcheon and Citizens United decisions by a right wing court and the current prospect of having Trump appoint at least one more right wing jurist to the court to cement ultra conservative jurisprudence for years to come, a dreary prospect for those of us who had hoped to live in a democracy.

    As Shelia and my fellow commentators have so aptly written, the costs of Trump’s current budget proposals of healthcare to millions of people will be disastrouly high and and one can only hope that our streets and sidewalks are not littered with dead and dying Americans and do not begin to resemble those of Calcutta where we depend upon charity and Mother Teresas to do the work that government has abandoned in favor of heaping favors on the rich while the underserved poor and even some in the middle class who take bankruptcy due to stratospheric medical costs suffer (even though insured) as a result of high deductibles and other market-based costs.

    If there was ever a time for us to adopt single payer healthcare, a system practiced both in capitalist and socialist states and at far less cost and with better results than our market-based system where healthcare is a mere commodity and not a right, this is it. We may be the richest country in the world but distribution of such income and wealth provided by our economy increasingly resembles that of a banana republic. It seems the rest of us are funding an ATM machine for the superrich, who wave the flag and make defense industries ever richer in their attempts to divert our attention from their money-grabbing via bought government.

    Solution? Elect those who reject Powell’s power grab, pass single payer legislation, substantially increase the minimum wage, tax those who have been riding the gravy train of low rates and end such handouts as “carried interest” to the superrich and in general champion the rights of people over bankers and corporations. Socialism? Not at all. Let’s not let big business frame it as such when it amounts only to fair play-ism in a capitalist economy to be regulated by consuming Americans and not the Koch Brothers and their congressional (and now executive) surrogates. It’s our country, not theirs. Let’s defend our property.       GERALD      E


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