Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Slippery Slope to Socialism, Again....

It seems that many independents and right-wingers are convinced the health care bill is part of a vast conspiracy to implement socialism in the USA. Here's a recent post from the Left, Right & Center blog on the KCRW website by an author called Florida_Independent:

“I cannot believe how anyone who calls themselves an American can get behind legislation that places a mandate on individuals to buy health insurance. It is a travesty and for the first time in my life I plan on getting involved in politics. I will work to defeat any Rep. or Sen. who voted in favor of this monstrosity. Capitalism is not perfect, but it is the best system out there and this bill is designed to push the nation toward socalism. I don't see how you can look at it any other way. Your beloved Obama ran his campaign promising that he would not seek a mandate because it was wrong. Guess what, it is still wrong and he is proving that he has the intenstinal fortitude of a fruit fly. I can only hope that the courts will overturn this before it takes effect.”

Why does this author have to attack anyone who supports the health care bill as un-American? It’s law that you have to have insurance if you want to drive. I think this makes sense in the same way. If you want a more affordable health care system, support this legislation. The current version of the health care bill does not have a public option, so there is little in it you could call socialism. The current bill has non-profit insurance exchanges that may be able to provide more affordable care to the uninsured , unemployed and the underinsured. It makes sense that you should have to pay a penalty if you don’t buy a plan, because when you get healthcare by showing up at the emergency room, you are transferring the costs to the hospital and thus raising the rates for everyone else who pays into the system. So, we might as well mandate that everyone has to buy it, which should help drive costs down. Without a public option or single-payer system, the mandate to buy is one of the best levers left to control costs. Although I would vastly prefer a government run single-payer system to the bill that is about to get passed, I think this bill is a step in the right direction and better than the status quo.

We are the only industrialized country in the world that has neither national health care nor a public option and it is costing us dearly. The fear of socialism has become so entrenched among independents and the right that we have become incapable of accepting even a public option. How is it that we have managed to have Social Security and Medicare for so long and still remain a Capitalist country? It is because it is possible to have strong markets and strong government programs that co-exist and support each another. If you really want Capitalism without any social programs, take the economic disaster of the past year and intensify it by orders of magnitude equal to the next great depression and that will be the natural end-product of the return to laissez faire economics that most independents and Republicans seem to advocate.

The extent to which the rich and powerful have increasingly exploited and manipulated the poor and middle class is the direct result of the past 30 years of increasingly more conservative legislation that has slashed taxes to unsusustainable levels while removing appropriate oversight and government intervention from banking, energy, education and the environment.

The world view of the author above, Florida_Independent, will only lead to a more entrenched oligarchy, massive underemployment, sickness, exploitation and global flooding, while those of us in favor of national health care or a public option want fairness, democracy, decency and even strong markets for most goods and services to prevail….not totalitarian socialism.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Recent Comments on Socialism

Here's a comment I posted to the Seeking Alpha Blog, in response to another author's comment that appears to conflate Socialism with Fascism:

"I like most of your ideas, Oldfoxbob, and ironically most of your ideas like making the rich pay more in taxes, giving welfare to the poor, extending unemployment benefits and creating jobs with government projects are things Democrats want and they are all things the right calls Socialism, and many of these ideas are present in Socialist countries. 

The problem is that Fox News and the GOP have succeeded in brainwashing average Americans into equating ANY government project with Socialism and making you think that Fascism = Socialism, when in fact they are not equal. What we have had in the US since the mid-19th century is a mixed economy that combines public and private enterprise.

Just as we have for 150 years, the US has a market-based economy, we enjoy all our democratic freedoms AND we have strong government programs. But, as long as the Republicans and Fox News continue to perpetuate the myth that sensible, Keynesian economic policies like you advocate are part of a slippery slope to "Socialism" (meaning fascism with no democratic freedom as opposed to the real meaning, which is a government that protects the poor from being exploited by the rich) then we will never get the change that most average Americans including you and me actually want. 

Your fear of immigrants and demand for "English-only" is an important part of the problem. Who wants to pay their fair-share of taxes if you are also afraid that your money is going to help people like "welfare queens" even though they represent an incredibly small percentage of users of our safety nets?"

If "Oldfoxbob" is indicative of many Americans, it confirms Michael Moore's hypothesis that the vast majority of American's want the policies of Democrats, but are afraid to vote for the case of "Oldfoxbob", apparently because they are also afraid of a diverse America.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Kucinich Amendment

State-backed (ie California, not Federal) single-payer is not Totalitarian Socialist health care, much as Fox News would have you believe. Evidence is mounting that even with a public option, there will be little pressure on insurance companies to lower rates.

I support the Kucinich Amendment. State-backed single-payer initiatives like they have in Massachusetts appear to be the best way to bring costs under control. Private insurance companies can still offer their plans and supplemental services. You can opt-out and buy the "private option," (much as we have single-payer public education and you can opt-out for private schools), which disproves fear-mongering right-wingers' assertions that private industry will disappear from America as liberal, well-educated elites attempt to implement a state-controlled, Marxist economic system via Emperor Obama's iron-fisted rule!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Obama's Southern Problem

A poll from last summer shows the geographic distribution of US citizens who believe Obama is a US citizen. The fact that more than half of the people who live in the South do not believe President Obama is a US Citizen also explains why Harry Reid is having such a hard time getting a health care bill through the Senate. It's not a mere coincidence that Democratic Senators from Arkansas and Florida are giving Reid such a hard time while their states are chocked full of Obama-is-not-a-citizen believing denizens. Perhaps the Administration needs to do a better job getting copies of the birth certificate posted throughout shopping malls of the south, maybe a road-show where they display the actual birth certificate in a Pope-mobile style trailer. If such a large percentage of US citizens do not believe their President or their government is legitimate, the harder it will be to pass any legislation that establishes new government programs, even if the vast majority of Americans want public works and public options as we do with health care.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Documentary on 9/12 Tea Party Protests in DC

There is a lot of fear underlying the emotion that is driving these protests. How can we create a compelling counter-weight to Fox News, which will help these people become more relaxed?

Please visit ...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Racist Underbelly of Anti-Health Care Movement Rears Its Ugly Head

In her most recent New York Times column, Maureen Dowd calls South Carolina Congressman Joe Wilson a racist. In his interview with Fox News yesterday, Wilson defended himself as non-racist by saying that his family is from the next town over from Michelle Obama's family in South Carolina. He said that is why he has "great respect for the Obama family." Why? Because her ancestors used to be his ancestors' slaves? Because he actually has something in common with her, even though she's black?

Wilson's commitment to the Old South is further displayed when he says that he was not wrong to call Obama a liar. Wilson said that although the House bill specified that health benefits are intended only for US citizens, because the bill did not contain ID verification provisions, the language was meaningless, implying that Obama and Democrats secretly intend to offer public health care to illegal immigrants. This is an absurd leap, similar to most of the lies and claims being hurled by the exteme Right at health care reform.

Wilson should be rebuked at every level. And so should Republican politicians who stoke the claims of Birthers, Palin and other liars about health care reform. I agree with Dowd: the false assertions about the bill including Wilson's outburst are racially motivated. Whether it is Tea Party anti-government rhetoric, Birthers' lies or Palin's "death panels" the point is the same as it was 30 years ago when Lee Atwater and the RNC devised their Southern Strategy: promote low taxes and smaller government as a way to deprive "welfare queens" and other minorities of their uppity new laws and benefits -- a policy and agenda that exploits the racist hatred of mostly poorer, southern white Americans and lines the pockets of industrial titans who benefited from the largest transfer of wealth in the history of mankind: a transfer of wealth from the poor and middle class to the richest 1% in America.

Obama should start work on a new speech as a follow-up to last week's fine presentation on health care and to his first race speech last year. If Obama can marginalize the racists instead of letting them dominate the debate, perhaps he stands a chance of getting health care reform passed. By continuing to attack the lies and hatred of the extreme Right, we might finally enjoy policies that are in the public interest. Policies that balance markets and government for the benefit of a majority, instead of the Reagan-Bush-Clinton-Bush era policies that mainly helped the privileged few.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

When Terror Alerts = Lies

Tom Ridge revealed today that terror alerts were used to manipulate public opinion during the 2004 presidential election. In his 2004 presidential bid, Dennis Kucinich often spoke of the terror alerts and how they were used by the Bush administration to raise fear and keep people in line. Mainstream media dismissed Kucinich and the Left as knee-jerk Bush-haters, and so their suspicions and claims were never taken seriously. Now they are vindicated and the fact that Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush were pulling the levers of terror-alerts to control the voting fingers of Americans comes as no surprise to many of us.

This is lying. These were lies told by the President and his men to manipulate public opinion. Raising a terror alert based on 3 to 4-year old information, just because you recently received the information is the same as telling a lie. You are saying it is new information, when you know the truth is that it is old information.

And there is a precedent to their lies. The summary execution of suspected terrorists by Predator drone missiles on the eve of the 2002 mid-term elections was the first picture I had seen that year that provided any evidence of success in the new "War on Terror." I found it odd that a picture of a decimated terrorist's car should appear on the front page of the LA Times the day before the election. With Ridge's revelations today, it appears we have a pattern of this kind of behavior to sway public opinion. How can we sway it the other way, with hope instead of fear?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

On Health Care Reform: An Open Letter to my Congressman, the Honorable Edward R. Royce (R-Ca)

To the Honorable Edward R. Royce:

I recently read your Investor's Business Daily column, which advocates against the public insurance option at the center of the health care reform legislation currently before Congress. While I agree with you that market-based solutions are usually best, I think we have to face the fact that health care is one marketplace that is not best served by the private sector.

Your column overstates the current health care reform legislation as yet another attempt to create a "politically controlled economy." The financial and automotive industry bailouts were necessary corrections, but they hardly represent attempts to create a socialist state, as your column implies.

I also disagree with your assessment that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are examples of the failure of government backed institutions. While Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac certainly played a role in the current financial crisis, private mortgage lenders, and their "creative" financing and payment options for subprime loans, drove the housing bubble while lending by the government sponsored enterprises contracted. In fact, while the credit bubble was peaking from 2003 to 2006, the amount of loans originated by Fannie and Freddie dropped from $2.7 trillion to $1 trillion. Meanwhile, in the private sector, the amount of subprime loans originated jumped to $600 billion from $335 billion and Alt-A loans hit $400 billion from $85 billion in 2003. If anything, the strict regulation imposed on Fannie and Freddie as a result of their government sponsorship prevented them from getting into the trouble or levels of leverage taken on by purely private lenders.

Like you, I agree that market-based solutions are often best for the vast majority of industries like aerospace, automotive, travel, advertising, clothing, agriculture, software, technology, housing and just about everything else. The American way is competitive capitalism. But the delivery of affordable, quality healthcare to all Americans is clearly undermined by the huge administrative costs and profit-taking of the insurance industry.

I urge you to vote in favor of the health care reform bill currently before Congress.

Thank you,
Eric Forst

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Swine Flu: news-driven hype or a real emergency?

The Wikipedia entry on the 1976 Swine Flu suggests that our recent swine flu is news-driven hype and not a real emergency. And, news today suggests that Swine Flu is not more lethal than any other strain of flu. There are only 16 confirmed deaths worldwide. What do you think: is Swine Flu a real emergency or fake hype designed to sell news, ads and vaccines?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Trap: What Happened to Our Dream of Freedom

Just watched amazing video, "The Trap: What Happened to Our Dream of Freedom" a 2007 BBC documentary that details the ideological underpinnings of the modern conservative movement. Shows how the movement grew out of the Cold War with a dark and distrustful vision of humans as selfish, isolated and suspicious creatures -- and how they used this concept to try and form a new type of free society. A society in which the language of freedom would be used in a way that that ulimately made people less free.

The Trap, pt. 1 "F**k You Buddy"

The Trap, pt. 2 "The Lonely Robot"

The Trap, pt. 3, "We Will Force You to Be Free"

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Madoff Whistleblower Blasts SEC

Edward Manion is another in a long list of examples of ex-Bush administration officials who should go to jail. Whereas, Harry Markopolos (pictured) is an example of someone who should be promoted. All crimes occur in the past. The crimes of the previous administration should not go unpunished -- otherwise, they set the precedent for future lawlessness. I am not advocating witch hunts. Simply, prosecute the criminals, both within the SEC and the bankers who violated SEC rules. If we don't, then any new reforms and oversight will be corrupted just like the previous system. If there is no fear of breaking the law, then it doesn't matter how many new regultors or regulations we create.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Facebook Data Mines

Facebook has landed in Davos, Switzerland where it unveiled its latest attempt to monetize its site. The social networking site has announced that it is helping multinational companies instantly poll Facebook members to get instant focus-group research from its 150 million users. The ability to "target exactly the audience you want" is Facebook's latest attempt to find a viable business model. It will be interesting to see how companies listen and learn from their customers who are also active Facebook members.