Better to Tax
The problem outlined by Tim Schwab in “Playing Games With Public Health Data” [Dec. 14/21, 2020] is aggravated by the heavy reliance of research in general, and global health in particular, on private philanthropists like Bill Gates. No matter his motivations and sincerity, it would be better if Gates’s $40 billion spent on health care were taken from him as income tax and via a wealth tax. It could then be channeled through the proper government and international agencies with the same or better efficiency.
In regard to Maria Margaronis’s article on the jail sentence given to Martha Hennessy for participating in a disarmament action at a nuclear facility [“Free the Plowshares 7!,” Dec. 14/21, 2020], sending this woman to jail isn’t the right move. As someone who spent 20 of 30 years in the electric utility business in nuclear generation, I disagree with her group’s stand on nuclear power (it can be an important alternative to fossil fuels if done right), but I think trying to rid the world of nuclear weapons is an important goal.
Ed Morales’s article, “Privatizing Puerto Rico,” in the December 14/21 issue included many of the talking points of the island’s Popular Democratic Party. This is the party that supports keeping more than 3 million US citizens living under discriminatory treatment by the federal government. Also, the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority operates as a public monopoly burdened by political patronage, lax financial accounting, unresponsive customer service, and antiquated management.
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An Ailing System
In “Too Big to Heal,” Susie Cagle spotlights the issue of consolidation in the US health care system [Dec. 14/21, 2020]. This consolidation began under Ronald Reagan, whose administration ignored antitrust laws and appointed judges who favored corporate interests. The result has been a consolidation in every industry, and this has increased costs for consumers and reduced wages for workers.
The Progressive Future
Jonathan Smucker answers no in the “Debate” article “Should the Left Launch an American Labor Party?” [Dec. 14/21, 2020]. Smucker says that only the crisis of slavery led to the emergence of a successful third party. The current pandemic and the emergent depression that is destroying small businesses and creating near-starvation and homelessness certainly ranks as a crisis on that order. The Bernie Sanders campaigns of 2016 and 2020 were an experimental test of whether progressive Democrats can take over the party. The results definitely show that they cannot.