House Passes BailOut of Insurance Companies Bill

The House of Representatives passed H.R. 3962 (Affordable Health Care for America Act) known here as a bailout for private insurance companies, in what is lauded as a victory for Obama and health care in America.

I’ll be damned. The only worthwhile compromise is that the bill requires insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions and does not include a 5-year bar for legal immigrants.

Here’s my problem with the bill:

  • Mandates that all Americans, including undocumented immigrants, buy health insurance from predatory for-profit insurance companies, given them an additional $70 billion in new annual revenue.
  • Starting 2013, penalizes us if we don’t want to give money to health insurance companies or obtain health care under a public option that might have higher premium rates since it might draw less healthier patients, depending on how strongly the government can battle with private insurers on reimbursement rates.
  • A watered-down public option plan after the loss of a ‘robust public option’ tied to Medicare rates.
  • Provides no coverage for transgender health care
  • Final bill stripped an amendment, according to One Sure Insurance, that would have allowed states to have their own single payer health care (and quite possibly killed private health insurance companies)
  • Prohibits federal funding for women’s reproductive health except in dire circumstances and blocks insurance companies from providing any abortion coverage.

Congratulations, America, the wingnuts would like you to believe that you are ‘socializing medicine’ when you are actually doing ‘defensive healthcare’ and stepping towards more privatized health care on the backs of taxpayers. With a weak public option plan, we will be back here within a decade to argue why the United States needs to catch up with the rest of the industrialised world in providing single payer health care, medicare for all.

Next up is the Senate and then a tough Conference convening to hammer out a compromise that will further weaken the bill.

A small tidbit from Netroots Nation

Apparently, Sum of Change and most people in the room thought our panel was depressing. Welcome to my life.

They all shared stories about their efforts to fight a struggling battle. They were not very optimistic, they all shared depressing stories and sentiments about numerous immigration inequities, but were hopeful and dedicated to getting comprehensive immigration reform passed. While the immigration reform bill in congress has taken a back seat to other issues, such as healthcare, there are millions of people whose lives and well being are being held hostage by the unjust execution of antiquated laws. While positive news on the national scene is hard to come by, these panelists are working to facilitate as many small scale successes as possible.

The panel was about the ‘social change blogosphere.’ I am not even sure how much dreamactivist.org works on social change. We are working on integrating immigrant youth into the capitalist wage-slave system by adhering to false American ideals and values that do not exist. How much social change can that really bring forth?

No, I am not being too self-critical. I just got told by one of my old professors that I need to break the dominant (capitalist) paradigm. His central question-statement is:

“How about empowering everyone to not fight for a share of the dwindling pie, but to take over the bakery and make as many pies as we need?”

Now this professor is never really happy with anything I do but he also never gives up on pushing me to follow my ideals. So I can’t argue with that statement. We really need to own the means of production in society to make any meaningful change. All we have been doing is trying to get rid of one marginalized identity to make ourselves more mainstream.

Alright, yes, I suppose when put that way, I can be depressing.

What the World Economic Crisis Teaches Us About Capitalism

This is a must-read piece from an editor of GegenStandpunkt in Germany, now translated into English.

Everyone knows that this is dangerous for money. The newspapers write that inflation is imminent, even a currency reform – where money is deleted after all. For rescuing the banks, money is deleted in the end. What does this once again reveal? Everyone knows that this is the most crazy money printing action that has ever been brought under way – and they all say at the same time that this is necessary. They say at the same time that an alternative would just be impossible. So they profess that finance is the true wealth of society: this stronghold of the equation that every piece of money is more money, which the banks administer, this power to draw advance of capital out of the sleeves, to create it, wherever there is an opportunity to make business, this power is the true wealth of capitalistic nations. This is what these nations depend on, or to say it in other words: with this radicalism, by which they now are rescuing their banks, the governments profess the reason of state prevailing here: they risk their own financial power in order to rescue the private one.

It is through the power of finance (financial capitalism) that capitalistic nations hold economic monopoly over the world.

The whole article is here.

For more on the economic crisis from a heterodox perspective, see URPE.

Brand Obama – No You Can't

http://i480.photobucket.com/albums/rr161/Goldcreative/Obamachange2.jpg

President Obama’s popular appeal makes him a dream for marketing companies looking to siphon profits by using his image and rhetoric. So it should come as no surprise that the White House is looking into copyrighting “brand Obama.”

“Our lawyers are working on developing a policy that will protect the presidential image while being careful not to squelch the overwhelming enthusiasm that the public has for the president,” White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

Obama’s calls for change and his “Yes We Can” campaign mantra are being evoked to sell assembly-required furniture in Ikea’s “Embrace Change” marketing campaign, bargain airfares during Southwest Airlines Inc.’s “Yes You Can” sale and “Yes Pecan” ice cream at Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc. shops.

[…]
Riding the wave of Obama’s popularity may become a concern when advertisers use his likeness without permission to imply that Obama is endorsing a product or cause. The White House through the years has objected to commercial use of presidential faces, such as footage of President George H W Bush in a Cold War-themed 1989 television ad for cold medication.

Is “si se puede” going to come under attack?

Given the massive sale revenues generated using brand Obama, how much is he worth? Can he sell himself and just pay off some of the trade deficit that may help hedge U.S. dollar and restore some credit credibility to this country?

It’s not clear who will lose from this precisely, but the winners list is quite apparent with White House litigators at the very top.

The World Economic Forum – The Crisis

Anti-Wef Demo Davos 2009 by JUSO Schweiz.

The ‘leaders’ of the world gathered at the World Economic Forum (WEF) this past weekend to advance the failed and flawed concept of ‘free trade’ to generate economic growth for their respective nations. The forum ended in “we don’t know what to do but we must do something quickly…”
Who elected these guys?

In the next few weeks, governments will follow the good bank / bad bank policy in an effort to get the banking sector under control. That is a short-term fix till the next crisis of capitalism.

Europe is ripe with unrest. The Guardian reports on the following protests and ‘riots’ that may be part of a larger picture of growing resentment against ‘failed states’ (and here we define failed states as those who cannot take care of the basic needs of their constituents):


Upset at the government’s handling of the economic crisis, protesters in PARIS clashed with police last week, throwing bottles and overturning cars
Thousands of protesters held rare rallies throughout RUSSIA on Saturday, calling for the resignation of the government as the country continues to sink deeper into an economic morass
Fuelled by fears of rising job cuts, wildcat strikes against foreign workers spread through oil refineries and other energy facilities in BRITAIN on Saturday
Venting their fury at the way that the political class allowed the
country to slip towards bankruptcy, ICELANDERS all but stormed their Parliament a few days ago
Last week in LATVIA—where growth has been in double-digit figures for years—10,000 people, rioting over the country’s economic troubles, besieged the parliament and threw Molotov cocktails at police
Some 7,000 protesters gathered outside the LITHUANIAN parliament on January 16 to demonstrate against the government’s reforms, forcing the police to fire rubber bullets to dispel the mob

In China, 20 million migrant workers lost their jobs, which threatens social stability since these workers were already displaced from their rural lands due to development.

Crossing over the Pacific and in Brazil, the less publicized but largest gathering of anti-globalization forces called the World Social Forum was held where more than 100,000 people convened to discuss how neo-liberal globalization was destroying itself and and how it was imperative to define the world we want. The forum also concluded with mixed results. Does anyone else see a pattern here?

It sort of reminds me of immigration reform conference calls: a chaotic bunch of good people who have a lot of ideas but little desire to go maverick with implementing them. If we can’t deal with tiny things like immigration reform, there is little chance of dealing with the collapse of the U.S. economy given how incompetent American economists are due to the stifling of heterodox ideas in Economic Departments across the country. The BEST economists are not hired by the U.S. government or businesses — they end up mostly as failed lecturers or professors in the Ivory Tower. That’s part of the reason this country is in a crisis — a failure to listen to solutions outside of the ‘capitalist world order.’