It has taken me this long to post my first blog entry for 2017. It was not my intent to take such a long break from this blog. With the election and the post-election fallout and the recount, I had plenty of material. Now I have met with the stark realization that the world has changed in so many ways, I can't keep up.
This not being able to keep up is nothing new. For quite a few years, especially since I have been working in Information Technology, I have felt like the world is zooming past me. New gadgets with innovative features hit the shelves one after another. Since the 1990s, I have been able to resist the mass-market programming that conditions people to want all the new toys. When a product proves itself over time to be stable and useful, I'll consider blowing my allowance on it. The one particular gadget that I credit for that epiphany was the Tamagotchi.
The political world now has me feeling like a Frogger frog content just to coast downstream on the back of a turtle until forced to leap onto something else. I can't bring myself to write anything coherent about all the 31 flavors of shit that daily grows wings and starts buzzing around the landscape. How many different ways can one say, "Donald Trump is still an asshole" or "Democrats are still in the pockets of their corporate donors" or "Corporate media still sucks"? Why bother scrupulously documenting ever more evidence thereof?
This does not mean that I'll be giving up the blog. It just means that I will continue taking time to process the picayune details of a political system that would make Franz Kafka hide under his bed clutching a pair of scissors, and turning those details into Big Picture observations. It's a specialty of mine, or so I like to believe.
Big Picture observation on the impending death of the Affordable Care Act: In a word, damn. It's not that I have any love for Obamacare, being an advocate of single-payer national health care like they have in civilized nations. This is the true American exceptionalism: God Bless the only industrialized nation (other than South Africa) where lack of access to some form of health insurance kills thousands of citizens every year. But until our leaders come to their senses, we need the ACA, intact and improved.
Last year I was rooting for Rep. Alan Grayson to get the Democratic nomination for US Senate in Florida, just so he could take the floor and read the names of everyone who died from lack of insurance in 2016, even in the ACA era. He did something similar in his previous stint in the House, during the Obamacare debates in 2009. But Grayson lost big-time in 2016 to defecting Republican Patrick Murphy, who then lost to Marco Rubio in the general election. Apparently, the Democratic Party of Florida has placed a NO PROGRESSIVES sign on its clubhouse door.
I'm still having to stop and think before referring to 2016 as "last year." I thought it would never end.
What's far worse than ACA itself are the many ways opportunistic politicians have portrayed it as a gigantic gubmint giveaway, a massive federal expenditure that no actual people are actually paying for—or that it's a gubmint takeover of the insurance bidness (ye gods, if only), and a brazen violation of the Tenth Amendment to boot.
As Thomas Jefferson would agree, there are reasons for the existence of governments. Most of a government's function is protective: Think about medieval peasants forking over a portion of their harvest so they can take their families inside the castle walls when a foreign aggressor shows up.
At the very least, a republic protects its citizens from stupidity and greed, whether their own or that of others. This is why we impose regulations on businesses, which in the late 19th century were not only stealing the life-blood of workers and farmers but then selling them products to poison whatever blood they had left.
The original Progressive movement arose in response to that very situation. Thanks to precedents established in the Progressive Era, and then the New Deal, government intervenes when the private sector cannot or will not. This is why Ted Cruz and his ilk are not conservatives but reactionaries: They seek to roll back Progressive Era reforms like the federal income tax and the Pure Food and Drug Act, taking us back to the reign of Caveat Emptor (or, more accurately, Caveat Consumptor), when businesses were regulated only by whatever conscience their limited-liability investors could summon.
The ACA is an attempt, through regulation, to curb the lethal greed of the insurance industry. Per one of its most important provisions, denying coverage or charging exorbitant premiums because of pre-existing medical conditions became more difficult. On the demand side, the legislation contains mandates for uninsured individuals to purchase insurance, with penalties for non-compliance. Thus, more money for Big Insurance and a whole new jobs program for ACA navigators.
The fact that ACA left it to states to decide at what levels they would participate in this Brave New World is one of its fatal flaws. In Texas, then-Governor Rick Perry opted not to accept federal funds to boost Medicaid coverage for the poorest of the poor, those for whom ACA is not intended because, well, they've got Medicaid. Current Governor Greg Abbott has shown no inclination to change that policy. It makes no nevermind to either of those Republican tools whether people not smart enough or resourceful enough to just steal them some health care die as a result.
Really Big Picture observation: By keeping needed treatments and medicines out of reach for so many Americans, the insurance mafia kills far more Americans every year than Islamist terrorists and racist cops and prescription opioids combined. Their enablers in federal and state governments are accessories to mass murder.
Blogging Sporadically since 2014
Here you will find political campaign-related entries, as well as some about my literature, Houston underground arts, peace & justice, urban cycling, soccer, alt-religion, and other topics.