Archive for category Health

Single-Payer Health Care Plan Dies

What you have to look forward to:  “The Private Insurance Company Stimulus Package.”

Here’s to your health (you’re going to need it…).

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Why the #$%! do we swear?

Who the #$%! knows?  SCIENTISTS, it turns out.

Bad language could be good for you, a new study shows. For the first time, psychologists have found that swearing may serve an important function in relieving pain.

Great!  ‘Scuse me while I fix my aching back:  #$%!  #$%!  #$%!  #$%!  #$%!  #$%!

p.s  Speaking of which, if you need a (thoughtful, yet crude) laugh to help ease that pain, why not try WTF (you know what that stands fo…) with Marc Maron.  Have a listen to his podcast here.

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It’s all interconnected…

Especially agri-business and the health “care” industry.   Michael Pollan explains.

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More Anarchism and Universal Health Care

Check out this set of reflections.  The essence:

So where does this leave anarchists? Well, as Chomsky said, this issue affects real people and the status quo is really not an option. The question becomes, should anarchists join in the debate for or against reform. I think that only an idiot would join those who are campaigning against reform and so that leaves supporting the reform movement. However, that is not enough (obviously) and I’ll need to discuss this more but first I need to quickly address an obvious objection, namely the notion of anarchists supporting a government reform. Does this imply a contradiction for anarchists? No more than not supporting or commenting on reform (which implies the status quo). Most fundamentally there is no contradiction because anarchists are anti-state and anti-capitalist. This means the current American system of privatised health care is as anti-anarchist as any government system. The question then boils down to which of the two alternatives is better and the facts are pretty clear: the nationalised system (it is cheaper and gives better outcomes).

Also, you can listen to Noam Chomsky on the question:

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Anarchism and Universal Health Care

It’s no secret that I’ve been supportive of single-payer universal health care for this country.  The current proposals on the table may result in some improvement, but they are still only partial measures, still too much constrained by big-money private insurance providers and the out-of-control litigiousness surrounding health care. (“Neither Trial Lawyers Nor HMO’s!”)

But how well does government-run single-payer health coverage square with the tenets of anarchism, which promotes (on my understanding of it) communalism, localism, mutual aid, and the dismantling of rigidly hierarchical power structures?  Wouldn’t centralizing health care provision run the risk–so loudly trumpeted by the right–of leading to massive bureaucracy, further entrenching power structures and distancing each of us even further from caring for each other?

The short answer is that single-payer health care probably is inconsistent with anarchism.  The trouble we face, however, is getting from “here” to “there” in terms of a more equitable, more humane society of free persons.

I can hardly stomach the “argument” against universal health care that consists of a mere quip by Republicans:  “I don’t think the American people want to check with their congressperson before getting treated for an illness.”  Maybe not, but we are certainly tired of checking with those whose sole motive is profit before we can get the health care we need (if we can get it from them at all, that is).  It would certainly be better to have a system of locally-acting, regionally- and nationally-connected health care cooperatives than either the current model or a Washington-centered plan.  But so much would have to change before we could get there, and it is unrealistic to expect a radical transformation over night.  For the moment, a plan without any public option at all (phased in, triggered, whatever) is totally unacceptable, but it is unlikely we’ll be doing away with private, for-profit insurance companies in the near future.

You know, “insurance companies” were originally an idea of those committed to mutual aid and were a form of free association instituted to mitigate the effects of ill fortune and disaster and to assume shared risk for the benefit of all.  Such associations have been formed, and they could be formed again–if the state and corporate interests were not violently opposed.

Here is Peter Kropotkin:

It is not my intention to criticise tonight the State. That has been done and redone so often, and I am obliged to put off to another lecture the analysis of the historical part played by the State. A few general remarks will suffice.

To begin with, if man, since his origin, has always lived in societies, the State is but one of the forms of social life, quite recent as far as regards European societies. Men lived thousands of years before the first States were constituted; Greece and Rome existed for centuries before the Macedonian and Roman Empires were built up, and for us modern Europeans the centralized States date but from the sixteenth century. It was only then, after the defeat of the free medieval Communes had been completed that the mutual insurance company [this use of “insurance company” Kropotkin means in a bad way, but keep reading  (EW)] between military, judicial, landlord, and capitalist authority which we  call “State,” could be fully established.

It was only in the sixteenth century that a mortal blow was dealt to ideas of local independence, to free union and organization, to federation of all degrees among sovereign groups, possessing all functions now seized upon by the State. It was only then that the alliance between Church and the nascent power of Royalty put an end to an organization, based on the principle of federation, which had existed from the ninth to the fifteenth century, and which had produced in Europe the great period of free cities of the middle ages, whose character has been so well understood in France by Sismondi and Augustin Thierry-two historians unfortunately too little read now-a-days.

We know well the means by which this association of the lord, priest, merchant, judge, soldier, and king founded its domination. It was by the annihilation of all free unions: of village communities, guilds, trades unions, fraternities, and mediæval cities. It was by confiscating the land of the communes and the riches of the guilds; it was by the absolute and ferocious prohibition of all kinds of free agreement between men; it was by massacre, the wheel, the gibbet, the sword, and the fire that Church and State established their domination, and that they succeeded henceforth to reign over an incoherent agglomeration of subjects, who had no direct union more among themselves.

It is now hardly thirty or forty years ago that we began to reconquer, by struggle, by revolt, the first steps of the right of association, that was freely practised by the artisans and the tillers of the soil through the whole of the middle ages.

And, already now, Europe is covered by thousands of voluntary associations for study and teaching, for industry, commerce, science, art, literature, exploitation, resistance to exploitation, amusement, serious work, gratification and self-denial, for all that makes up the life of an active and thinking being.

We see these societies rising in all nooks and corners of all domains: political, economic, artistic, intellectual. Some are as shortlived as roses, some hold their own since several decades, and all strive-while maintaining the independence of each group, circle, branch, or section-to federate, to unite, across frontiers as well as among each nation; to cover all the life of civilized men with a net, meshes of which are intersected and interwoven. Their numbers can already be reckoned by tens of thousands, they comprise millions of adherents-although less than fifty years have elapsed since Church and State began to tolerate a few of them-very few, indeed.

These societies already begin to encroach everywhere on the functions of the State, and strive to substitute free action of volunteers for that of a centralized State. In England we see arise insurance companies against theft; societies for coast defense, volunteer societies for land defense, which the State endeavors to got under its thumb, thereby making them instruments of domination, although their original aim was to do without the State. Were it not for Church and State, free societies would have already conquered the whole of the immense domain of education. And, in spite of all difficulties, they begin to invade this domain as well, and make their influence already felt.

And when we mark the progress already accomplished in that direction, in spite of and against the State, which tries by all means to maintain its supremacy of recent origin; when we see how voluntary societies invade everything and are only impeded in their development by the State, we are forced to recognize a powerful tendency, a latent force in modern society. And we ask ourselves this question: If, five, ten, or twenty years hence-it matters little-the workers succeed by revolt in destroying the said mutual insurance society of landlords, bankers, priests, judges, and soldiers; if the people become masters of their destiny for a few months, and lay hands on the riches they have created, and which belong to them by right-will they really begin to reconstitute that blood-sucker, the State? Or will they not rather try to organize from the simple to the complex, according to mutual agreement and to the infinitely varied, ever-changing needs of each locality, in order to secure the possession of those riches for themselves, to mutually guarantee one another’s life, and to produce what will be found necessary for life?

Will they follow the dominant tendency of the century, towards decentralization, home rule and free agreement; or will they march contrary to this tendency and strive to reconstitute demolished authority?

There is, then, a risk of creating a large national bureaucracy to oversee the delivery of health care, and we must continually be on our guard, looking for ways to evolve that public system into a more democratically manageable set of procedures.

I want to draw your attention to a thoughtful essay in imagining the transformation of society in salutary ways (found here).  The author (comradshaw) speaks of prefiguring this revolutionary change via a set of possible strategies worth exploring:

  1. Occupy Hospitals, Medical Labs, Medical Supply Factories, and Re-Establish Hospitals as Free, Community Clinics.
  2. Health Insurance Companies Must Be Expropriated.
  3. De-Monopolizing Medical Knowledge
  4. Decentralize the Medical Bureaucracy
  5. Embed All Communities With Advanced Medical Facilities
  6. More Practitioners, Less Hours
  7. Make Violent Crime A Health Care Issue: Health Care Personnel And Prison Abolition
  8. Eliminate Rationing
  9. Community-Regulated Research
  10. Democratic Utilization of Technology and Resources

Read the rest of “Prefiguring Real Universal Health Care” for the details.  Could these strategies be worth adopting?  Could they really work?

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Sick…Reading…

Well, they got me with the bug.  Between sneezing, I’m reading.  Why not?

 reader by chagall

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Learn…then get mad as hell.

Mad as Hell Doctors,” that is.  Watch this:

http://blip.tv/play/AYGLinOYnHQ

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