Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Some Econ for the Human

If you like Ronald Reagan chances are you won't like this entry, possibly this whole blogsite. Sorry. And don't worry, I don't like Jimmy Carter...well no one seems to, so I guess that's not quite fair. In my last post I made an allusion or two to Reagan or "Reaganomics," and I realize my terse tone. Intentional, yes. Anything personal towards the guy? No. His, Thatcher's, Bushs', even Clinton's (thanks for NAFTA) economic policies, we have problems.

Firstly, I am not a communist. But George Lakoff, a linguistic at UC Berkley, says I should state what I am or what my cause is, not what it's not. Because, like Nixon's "I am not a crook," nearly everyone thinks he is or was and that I'm communist. I'm not. I'm a humanist, if anything. In economic terms, this would mean I leave more Left because, as history has shown, the rise to the the economic top is and must be at the expense of another; another group of human beings, another country, another culture that has never seen industrialization, etc. And the fist-pumping capitalist says "too bad so sad" and cite lack of moral character if someone looses their home, or can not save enough from the 10cents a day they make in a poultry plant. Just, "sorry, that's the way the game goes" type deal. It's easy to live by this until you or one of your friends or loved ones ends up on the street.

We should try to imagine, not just friends in close proximity, but other humans around the world. In short, for some, this makes me "not a crook" if you know what I mean.

There is no consequence in our consumer culture. If we had to read an account of the person's life that made that shirt we bought at Wal-Mart, we may never shop there again. But we do know it, and we shop there. Why? not because we are inconsiderate human beings but because we are so immensly saturated with Wal-Marts and tons of other brightly lit places to blow our money.

So what do we do as respectable human beings? Now that we know our ability to buy the newest iphone is directly related to someone else not being able to put food on the table. I realize I'm talking about "free" trade here, and I do know that protectionism does not work and it didn't work 50 years ago. I'm talking about communism. Historically proven to be a failure.

But we shouldn't think in quickly fashioned dichotomies. That is, if not capitalism then it must be communism and vice versa. The whole us vs. them, good (U.S.) vs. evil (Russia/Everyone else), capitalist vs. communist doctrine and the frame of mind it's created should be stated for what it is: dangerous anti-intellectualism. Sure, maybe, at one time, the world and all of its issues could be viewed this way. Well, as they say, welcome to the 21st Century.

In the wake of the whole economic_______(you fill in the blank), some things have become exceptionally clear. As Dr. Frank Luntz, a well known author and right-winger, stated in a forum held at the Commonwealth Club of California, "Capitalism almost destroyed this country. And I'm a capitalist." What he is reffering to is the "higher-ups" on Wall Street and the CEOs becoming rich at the expense of their fellow countrymen, that's aside from the rest of world. But that should say something--their own. And they filled their pockets at yours and mine expense. Why? Because free-market, "nail the door shut on regulation," Reaganomic economic policies said that's ok.

So call me a communist. You can even call me what seems to be even worse at the current historical moment, a socialist. If you think you and others deserve something better than the boom and bust, fill the pockets of the rich while you go into bankruptcy paying for health care bills, and rampant "free" trade a.k.a the new economic imperialism that ships your job somewhere else in the world, then you might just be a socialist too. Maybe even a humanist.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

And Health Care...damn it.

That is probably the reaction everyone shares when they hear those first two words, "Damn it." Everyone, even Sean and Rush and Neal and Dennis all know and will actually admit that there needs to be reform. That alone should speak volumes. If those guys want something to change, then we must be up-shit-creek-without-a-paddle. If you don't live in the South, that means: we got problems.

And we do. We all know it. Our (probably) shared explicative reaction comes from the foul taste in our mouths after we say "health care..." Why? Not because person A hates the idea of a public option or because person B can't stand the idea that someone else would be able to buy their third yacht if they dropped person B for a "pre-existing condition." No, I don't think those are necessarily the reasons for the bad taste. It is because the way we've all watched the whole thing go, the whole process, if you can even call it that.

From intentional disinformation--not misinformation but disinformation--to Fox News holding their own parties on the lawn in D.C., to disrespectful outbursts in a joint session of Congress, to people actually convincing themselves that the supposed 800 or 900 billion dollar plan could actually only cost that much, to believing that number could prove "deficit neutral," fill in the blank. It's chaos. I don't even think that sentence made sense. But, there you go (fits doesn't it? damn it). It's almost comic. And yet, it is one of the most serious and pressing issues facing the U.S. and the human individuals that make up the country.

Oh yes, like tons of other issues in the world, there is always a human factor. And really, the "human factor" of health care (reform, legislation, what have you) is the main factor. Find the most Conservative, Right-leaning, free-market/invisible hand-praising, Reagan lover on Wall Street or Main Street and they want health care, they want good health care, they want health care so they can live another day to watch all the idiots on cable television rant and rave care. Damn it.

What I'm saying is that there is capital ($) interest and then there is human interest. In the whirlwind that is the health care debate, these two are at odds. And there are people who love capital interest, love giving tax breaks to the richest people the world that don't need tax breaks, people who dream of the Adam Smith at night, that are concerned about the well being, the health of themselves and of others. The two interest above do not have to be at odds.

I am not proposing that "the entire universe" (read with movie announcer voice) be given free health care. I am not proposing that everything just stay the exact same, and that Mr. CEO of CFO or a fat cat lobbyists gets to buy their 3rd yacht because they denied me coverage. What I am proposing that we, as human beings in the United States, have a common interest, the human one. And we deserve better than what has been the health care available, at a reasonable price--one we hopefully don't have to go bankrupt trying to pay for--and the health care debate thus far.

Let's meet in the middle. Let's stop screaming and yelling about "socialism," and "liberal fascism" (personally, my favorite contradiction yet). Let's stop being dragged around by AM radio announcers that don't even have college educations. Let's stop trying to convince ourselves that we have the means or the pocket for the debt that the public option could create. We should realize our common interest and can do so without asserting that the health care industry and all of its main street workers go to pot, or end up, up-shit-creek-without-a-paddle.