Web Letters | The Nation

Web Letter

I was choking to death from an allergic reaction while in Peru. Puffed up, eyes closing with great difficulty breathing. After the emergency admittance, main doctor's examination, two Cortosone shots and follow-up pills, I recovered, was released and handed my bill. Saving my life cost me $40 dollars, almost an insult to my vanity... but you get the idea.

They treated me without regard to what country I was from, but while paying I was told that if I had been a Peruvian, it wouldn't have cost anything--the nurse apologized for the cost.

Whatever is being said that makes anyone think we can't achieve comprehensive universal healthcare in the United States when a less-developed country like Peru can is a lie.

Why are people who know little about the way money works talking about what we can or can't afford, while we waste billions in war profiteering every week?

Richard Ray Harris

Desert Hot Springs, CA

Sep 17 2009 - 12:59am

Web Letter

You have written a very insightful piece. The fifth paragraph (the one that starts, "There are three important points to acknowledge...") should be made required reading for every American who really wants to know what is going on. And certainly a large majority of the media should read it too (not that they'd understand it, though). Thank you for your true patriotism.

David Bly

Ithaca, NY

Sep 15 2009 - 10:34pm

Web Letter

To insult and barrage opposition to a Nazi policy is standard fascist behaviour. Please research Hitler's T4 policy instituted in Germany in 1939. Obama's call for a IMAC board to "ration care" and make the "tough decisions on healthcare" is verbatim Hitler's healthcare policy. As has been already said by the gentleman on Medicare, their is absolutly no way you can cut $500 billion plus, from Medicare and Medicaid without affecting the level of care and service. This week's edition of Newsweek actually lets the cat out of the bag. "Until Americans learn to contemplate death as more than a scientific challenge to be overcome," the Newsweek cover feature article argues, "our health-care system will remain unfixable."

"The idea that we might ration health care to seniors (or anyone else) is political anathema," writes Newsweek editor-at-large Evan Thomas. "Politicians do not dare breathe the R word, lest they be accused--however wrongly--of trying to pull the plug on Grandma. But the need to spend less money on the elderly at the end of life is the elephant in the room in the health-reform debate. Everyone sees it but no one wants to talk about it."

Thomas then does proceed to talk about it--and promote it--at great length, contending that there is no way we can get control of costs unless we find a way "to stop overtreating patients." He launches into a long defense of the Dartmouth lies, and even gets around to discussing setting up a British-model NICE-type panel to decide what (that is, who) gets cut. Arguing that our present system is unsustainable, Thomas writes that eventually, economic reality may force us to adopt a system like Britain's.

While claiming that talk of "death panels" is demagogy, Thomas proves that end-of-life counselling does hasten death. "A study by the Archives of Internal Medicine shows that such conversations between doctors and patients can decrease costs by about 35 percent--while improving quality of life at the end."

"Our medical system does everything it can to encourage hope," Thomas complains. "And American health care has been near miraculous--the envy of the world--in its capacity to develop new lifesaving and life-enhancing treatments. But death can be delayed only so long...."

So who's lying now? Who's waylaying the innocent and the ignorant.? Who's doctoring the facts?

Rescind the bailouts and we have more than ample resources to fix our economy and get every willing man and woman back to work.

Ibrahim Jama

Drham, NC

Sep 15 2009 - 8:49pm

Web Letter

This column is spot on. The writer raises the essential point: How is it that persons who have the most to gain from health reform legislation can be convinced otherwise?

Indeed, it's not only health reform legislation that is dividing Americans against their own priorities. Many people I know who are on the brink of financial disaster as a result of "anti-government" sentiments beginning, perhaps, as long ago as Reagan's presidency, and certainly gaining momentum during the Bush years (both Bushes), still cry "socialist" among other names, at President Obama.

They are losing their houses because of mortgages they purchased only five to seven years ago, during the "boom" market. How could they have predicted the collapse of that very market based on strange, hermetic, but widely cirulating unregulated investment (gambling) practices? They couldn't.

Still, in the bizarre world of Fox News and Glenn Beck, they are both to blame for their "lot" (Freddie Mac and Fannie May were government-subsidized, and therefore, middle- and lower-income Americans who took advantage of loan packages with interest rates varying over time, are the "culprits" who should have read the "fine print" of their loans more thoroughly)... and the victims of its greater damages in a time of crisis?

So, in the end, the guy who's losing his house goes to a "tea party" and screams about a president interested in regulation and reform that would restore the basic liberties he/she lost to Wall Street shenanigans in the past twenty years, not to mention get him back his house, his privacy and maybe even his insurance coverage...?

Barbara Molloy-Olund

NEON, a Webzine<br />Kirkland, WA

Sep 15 2009 - 4:45am

Web Letter

Sometime back, Honda was deciding if it should build a plant in Canada or the United States. Canada was chosen because their government-run heath plan was cheaper than the "free market choices" available in the US. For a majority of American businesses, the single-payer system proposed would be cheaper than the "free market " options available in the US. The only businesses that benefit from the "free market option" are the healthcare industries and the drug companies! What price Philosophy?

Pervis James Casey

Riverside, CA

Sep 14 2009 - 2:39pm

Web Letter

"Talking Health Insurance," by Robin Breon
(Inspired by the song Talking Union by Lee Hays, Millard Lampell and Pete Seeger)

If you want health insurance, let me tell you what to do:
You've got to talk to your neighbors in the 'hood with you,
You've got to build up a movement and make it strong,
And when you do, folks, it won't be long:
You'll get better coverage... lower premiums... better services.
Take your kids and get a flu shot--they deserve it!

Now it's not quite that simple, so I better explain
Just why you've got to ride on the health insurance train,
'Cause if you let the Republicans have their way,
We'll all be waiting 'till Judgment Day--
We'll all be dead... gone to heaven ... won't need any health insurance then.

Now you're working so hard, it's just outrageous,
Trying to exist on starvation wages.
Universal health care sure would be great
To ease the burden, 'cause it's getting kind of late
In the day... if you know what I mean... long time comin'...

If we get healthcare now, we'll be sittin' pretty,
So put some pressure on those Congressional committees!
The pols won't listen when one person squawks,
But they've got to listen when millions talk,
About Cadillac plans and pre-existing conditions,
Special interest groups and conservative politicians...

Pass out flyers and organize meetings,
Make telephone calls and give out greetings
To anyone who needs to hear the news:
This is one fight we can't afford to lose

'Course Rush Limbaugh might persuade some poor damn tools
To come to your meeting and act like fools
They'll shout and they'll yell and try to bust things up,
And when you say "SShhhh," they'll tell you to shut up.
But you can always tell a fool, though, that's a fact;
They've got very big mouths and very little tact--
Uh huh... it's true... just watch 'em on TV...

Now, folks, you've come to the hardest time.
The right will come on with their own little rhymes
About socialism and the big, bad Fed,
About how everyone you is a dirty, commie Red,
Un-American...unpatriotic... makin' good ol' Joe McCarthy turn over in his grave...

But up in Canada, here's what they found--
And over in Europe, here's what they found--
And in every industrialized country on the planet, here's what they found:
That if you don't let the right wing break you up
And if you don't let racism break you up
And if you don't let homophobia and sexism break you up--
You'll win!
So take it easy sisters and brothers--but take it...

A member of the United Steelworkers Union Local 1998 at the University of Toronto,

Robin Breon

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Sep 13 2009 - 10:45pm

Web Letter

Gary Younge promises, but he does not deliver. Opposition to healthcare reform "is well organized and well funded." This assertion is not backed up. Nothing in this article is backed up. I am not saying that I am not aware of the evidence, I am. But to offer none is irresponsible. More importantly, he says, "...we can beat them." How? He says these tactics work "only when there is a vacuum of leadership." Really? You'd think that George Lakoff never exposed right wing/strict father amorality for what it is. Younge says roughly 35 percent of the country cannot be engaged in reasonable debate. If this is true, and I have few doubts that it is, then it cannot be fixed by "leadership." Nor can such a percentage of people be cowed into going along quietly.

If his article reflects the quality of thought and analysis that Younge considers adequate to "beat them," our chances are slim indeed. I could go on, and on, but what would be the point? The Nation and the left have been fighting the same fight for over fifty years, with the exact same arguments and exactly the same results.

This phenomena is unconscious. The seeds for it are buried in early childhood. Only a very careful, compassionate, accurate and total reframing can hope to make a dent in it. Besides, the bullies have most of the power and the money. We have a bully culture and we all participate. We cannot change it by trying to bully the bullies. They are already better at it than we can ever be, and they believe they are right. It's the only thing they know. Nothing can change until this is recognized.

Mark Snyder

Flemington, NJ

Sep 13 2009 - 7:14pm

Web Letter

My wife and I are senior citizens, and we both collect Social Security and we're both enrolled in Medicare. We're worried about Obama's healthcare reform because in his speech he stated he would not sign a bill that added one dime to the federal deficit.

This would require massive cuts to Medicare--not just to the waste but also to services and reimbursements. I don't believe $500 hundred billion can be cut from Medicare by just cutting "waste." And what is Obama's version of "waste"? I guess adding $128 billion to the deficit to continue the slaughter in Afghanistan and Iraq doesn't bother him.

My source for this is an article in the New York Times by conservative columnist David Brooks. He had mostly high praise for Obama's statements, so that had to make me think. I think you'll agree that he is not one of the lunatic-fringe conservatives. He analyzed the speech to be basically a sellout of the poor and middle class and a boon for the insurance corporations and corporations in general. They'll be able to drop their employee insurance coverage, which will give them even more profits.

The public option, if it is in the bill at all, will be a "benchmark for substandard care." As far as Obama's concerned, the public option is dead. Even Pelosi is backing away from it. This healthcare reform will amount to another transfer of wealth from the working people to the rich, and leave the poor unable to buy insurance.

I'm surprised and disappointed that you've been taken in by Obama's speech by not really listening to what he was saying. Or was your article just propaganda backing up a "liberal'" president?

Charles Lingenfelser

Brandon, MS

Sep 12 2009 - 4:22pm

Web Letter

Unfortunately for Mr. Younge's position, the problem is not the right wing (even leaving aside the dubious question of whether a government health care system can be workable). The main objections and counterproposals come from swing-vote Democrats and mainstream Republicans. The reactionary fringe can be ignored, but the mainstream must be bargained with. They are not convinced of great improvement, and neither am I. Any program jammed thru without the mainstream will be repealed after the following election.

Nor is it likely to craft a bill that is revenue-neutral and that covers many millions more people. It is not primarily the fringes who are very afraid of the destruction from a runaway deficit.

At this point, the deficit is more critical than any other political issue. That's not "right wing," that's common sense.

John D. Froelich

Upper Darby, PA

Sep 12 2009 - 8:42am