I am surprised to learn that President Obama is, perhaps, planning to change his mind on the role of the government on health insurance reform. I hope he keeps his promise. Reform is long overdue.
I have followed closely the fall and demise of GM. I learned that while Toyota made a profit of $2,000 per car, GM only made $500. The difference being that Toyota did not pay $1,500 for the pensions and healthcare of its workers as GM did. (You may wonder which is the socially responsible company! You may wonder, Why not reward those that are?)
In 1950, the UAW and GM began negotiating on pensions and healthcare. The union tried to convince GM that these benefits were not the responsibility of any one corporation but should be handled by the government. The UAW wanted both parties to go to Washington to plead for reform. Unfortunately, GM would would not agree. They deemed it too socialistic!
It is no surprise that the cars GM produced here in Canada were more profitable. Here we have public medicare and pensions, allowing companies like GM to save on these costs. With these programs everyone (individuals and companies) benefits. It is a public good.
Had the US government implemented a national pension plan and medicare program in the 1950s, companies like GM would still be flourishing today. In fact, the US economy would be more fit. There would have been no need for bailouts and people would be healthier. It is absurd that in the richest country on earth you have people suffering and dying of preventable causes!
The US is not just lagging behind the rest of the world on pensions and medicare but in education as well. You fancy yourselves as being highly intelligent, but you act in ways that make us scratch our heads. Because of your ideology (survival of the fittest, every man for himself), you end up spending more money and getting less in return. This is not smart! For example, Canadians spend less per capita on healthcare and yet we have universal coverage. You spend more and still have close to 50 million people without any insurance at all. For example, Canadians spend less per student on education and yet our scores on international math and science contests outshine those of American students. Canadian students rank tenth, whereas Americans are twentieth.
You can do better. It is your narrow-mindedness and short-sightedness that prevents you from doing what is best for the country. Your biases, whether they be rooted in racism or elitism, are harmful in all aspects. (This is similar to the problem of alcoholism. The individual is not the only one being harmed. There is a social cost in terms of lost productivity.)
This takes me to the Blue Dog politicians who sit in Congress and are obstructing health insurance reform. These people were elected to look after the interests of the nation. They ought to be concerned about the public good. Unfortunately, these corrupt politicians are not looking after national interests, but are concerned more about their own personal gains. The problem stems from the fact that they take donations from corporations. You can solve this problem by having the government finance electoral campaigns. Politicians would then not be in a conflict of interest but would be in a position to vote for the public good. They would be truly free to vote their consciences.
After all, these Blue Dogs are, generally, Southern gentlemen who consider themselves "Christian." Come to think of it, maybe that is the problem.
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Aug 17 2009 - 3:15pm