Saturday, June 30, 2012


Is the Obama Administration's health care reform package the end of American freedom and the beginning of broccoli-chewing fascism, or a monumental breakthrough in the centuries-long struggle of ordinary citizens yearning for full participation in society and government finally returning to 'promoting the general welfare'?  Well, it may be neither, but it is a rare instance of the average Joe and Joanna stranded at the garage or busstop debating a US Supreme Court decision and how it impacts the most regular working-class folks.  Is that good?  I'm biased towards 'yes,' you know, because it ought to be good when the hogs look up from the slop, right?  'Course, most of these debates, it seems, are happening 'totally unencumbered' by anything resembling facts.  And there are ways to check facts these days.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Health care for all, or many, sometimes, at a cost

Let’s not pretend this is the bill it could have been, folks.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Supreme Double Talk

OK, so let me get this straight ... the recent US Supreme Court decision on Arizona's immigration ridiculation says essentially, "Immigration is a federal issue, and the states should butt out ... but Arizona can still make their cops check for papers?"

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Joe Bageant, RIP

Just started reading this guy's stuff this summer with Deer Hunting With Jesus.  Now I find out he's dead.  That's really not at all what I wanted to hear.  We could really use his ongoing class-based no-nonsense analysis and essay-writing.  Not that I agree with what I've read so far 100 percent - but when is that likely to happen?

P.S. Speaking of summer reading, Chavs.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Godsavethequeen - we mean it, man!

Attended a Royalist tea party the other day.  Friendly neighbors of in-laws in England celebrating 60 years of Elizabeth's rule.  Wandering down the street and they waved us up to join them.  You have to wonder why anybody would celebrate.  Ten million pounds (over $15 million) just for the celebration, not to mention the day-to-day upkeep of the whole in-bred family.  Then there's the recession and all.  Kinda like a hurricane party, I guess.

But the very nice man whose patio we were on said, grinning from ear to ear, "Somebody said to me the other day, I didn't know you were a Royalist.  I said, I thought we all were!"  I was fascinated.  "She pledged herself to us 60 years ago," he beamed, "and she has never wavered from that."

Hm.  "Well," I offered cautiously, "what else would she do if she left that position?"

"Eh?" asked her enthusiast, looking as if he must not have heard me right.

"I mean, she's not going to get a job washing dishes, is she?"

He stared at me.  "She meets with the Prime Minister every week," he said cheerily, pointing at the corners of his mouth, "and she has to smile..."

Ah, well.  "It is a long time," I said.

Later someone was describing a choir of black children singing for the Queen, and how beautiful it was.  "Reminds you of the Old Empire," interjected my enthusiatic friend above.  Ugh.

Strange, someone else told me later,  the same hard-working man had been spotted on a train once before trying to persuade someone to go on strike with him.  The assumption was that the guy was bright, knew what time it was, and was anything but a brainless bootlicking lemming. And all that may yet be.

Just goes to show, just because someobody knows what side of the bread their butter is on one day, the next day they may well cheer with the mob at their own hanging - if the executioner waves the right flag.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Sickness in Health Care - A True Fable

If you were lucky enough to get the word and have the availability to attend a recent lecture by Ralph Martire of the Center for Budget and Tax Accountability, you got a real faceful of yucky-tasting-but-very-good-for-you info.  And excellent economic analysis.  No chewy, hard-to-digest economese, just plain talk and the facts to back it up.  It's a wonder he hasn't been drone-targetted yet.

One side comment was a particularly nasty piece of news.  Ready?  I don't think you are:

So Ill-annoy is famously in a budget crisis.  A manufactured one, created by years of toadying to the rich by suck-up politicians, but a crisis nonetheless. One of our less-than-inspiring "Democrat" governor's latest ingenius schemes, you may have heard, is to cut Medicaid - and reduce Medicaid payments to hospitals.

Background flash: Illinois earns big bucks through Medicaid by the following unbelievable (unless you're an Illinois-news-watcher) shell game: local governments pay the State money for services to Medicaid patients.  The State then pays the exact amount back to local governments.  Why?  Because, the instant they pay out, the State is eligible for federal MATCHING FUNDS.  No shingle.  Really.  So the State makes millions by pretending to pay for services to poor people. 

This game is smarter than some politicians, however, who routinely cry publicly about how much the State's Medicaid obligations are costing.  So how do Medicaid cuts actually help the State when it means that we lose federal matching funds?  Oh, you naive little things!  It 'helps' the State only if the State = the rich.  That is, people with lower incomes are required to serve the rich in any capacity the rich need at the time.  But if they have a certain economic safety net, they will - well, not exactly refuse to serve, but they will draw a line - say, at leaving small children at home to go out and slave for pennies in dirty jobs that destroy their health.  Things like that.  But if the State reduces their benefits ... ah, now you begin to see, my pretty, eh?

But this is only half the healthcare skullduggery deal currently unfolding in the halls of power and influence in Springfield.  Hospitals, you see, are unhappy with their rates being cut.  And the hospital associations get access to political ears about a million light years ahead of the poor who stand to have their services cut.  After all, what's a mere loss of life or health, compared to a negatively impacted corporate bottom line?  (You see, we do understand them!)

So how do politicians get the hospitals to go along with this plan? Hmm... Aha!  What if the hospitals were offered something else they want?  Like an easing-up on their charitable obligations, their obligation to treat a certain volume of charity cases in order to keep their tax-exempt status? Hmm... 

It would be a double-whammy on the poor, in other words, an extra bonus for the rich!  Ta-da!  Nothing up the sleeves.

Background flash: for Urbana residents, we know all about this, don't we?  Our hospitals have been failing to meet these obligations, and face a big fat tax bill (ironic, and giggly for anyone who has ever been badgered by them for not paying a bill to the hospital).  But now, there's an opportunity to make it all go away.  And all the hospitals have to do is screw its neediest patients.  Easy choice there.

Yep, you guessed it.  They're bringing out the big stamp of approval for this one.  It's a little-known exception to the Hypocratic Oath: you can kich whoever to the curb if it means big bucks for you and your identified social class.

And that, children, is how a state budget crisis is a VERY useful thing to have around and why you'd really, really want one (if you're filthy rich).  Welcome to reality.  Sorry it sucks.

Time versus Money

I owe an explanation, I think, to anybody who actually reads this stuff.  For the long gap, I mean.  Well, it's the time to write.  Nothing more complicated that that.  In the current economic order, we often face a choice: time or money.  You can work more to earn more money and you will not have enough time to do some of the things you love, spend time with loved ones, etc.  If you work less, by choice or not, you may have more time, but unless you are very lucky you will face a bloodless economic reality.  Well, nobody ever said life (in a world ruled by rich plutocrats) was fair.

I've been working more.  But I'm going to try to find time to blog a little more.  On the off-chance that anybody's listening.  And if you are, thanks.