The Senator from Massachusetts, Blogging my thoughts
January 21, 2010
Does pragmatism mean the lack of a democratic backbone? The Republicans have clamored as if governmental power and decision making were their birthright. They are really full of bluff and the democrats should call their bluff. Remember how they were just going to privatize social security? Their principles oppose Medicare and they defend Medicare in order to stop the health care reform act.
The myopic self-interest and corporate special interests of Republicans should not be able to trump the common interests of the population of the whole country. With 51 seats in the senate and a contested election, the Republicans rolled over the Democrats. With 60 seats and a real mandate handed to the Democrats in the last election, they have again rolled over for the Republicans.
Our corporations are not economically democratic nor are they necessarily wedded to the interests of our country. The culture wars are used by that brand of politics to get people to vote against their common interests. The pharmaceuticals and health insurance corporations are the elephant in the room. When the CEO of Aetna Health Insurance on the NPR Lehrer News Hour states that he had to take 8 million people off Aetna’s health insurance rolls to make his company profitable once again, then I ask, what is wrong with this picture?
The Republicans are against reform of the unacceptable status quo. It is of course of Republican making in collusion with Democrats that at heart agree with Republican principles. Requiring the 60 senator supermajority really gives the power over the majority to the minority Republicans, who represent 10% of our population, while 90% have to sacrifice their interests for the wrong-headed 10%. Remember that the Dixiecrats went over to the Republican party, when L.B. Johnson passed our civil rights legislation.
Who got us into the Iraq war, making us sacrifice so much blood and substance? Who reduced diplomatic and multilateral possibilities to military tactical and strategic realities? Now even our military has to carry out diplomatic and nation building responsibilities. If war used to be diplomacy by other means, now war requires soldiers to fill the diplomacy vacuum and initiate the policies for nation building.
Massachusetts has universal health coverage and it elects a senator who wants to prevent the country from receiving it, preventing 40 million Americans in other states from the benefits that his state enjoys. That is self-contradictory and an unethical message that Massachusetts is delivering to the senate. Why are the Democrats now hesitant? They have already given up the democratic positions longing for single-payer system and the public health insurance option.
Even in Kindergarten we had to learn socialization skills. But the Republican party is taking an anti-social, myopic self-interested stand. Imagine the fix we would now have been in if the Republicans had been able to privatize social security? The Wall Street crash would have put our elderly, who paid for social security, into a new Republican poor house. Our government is more stable than the boom, bubble, and bust of a current economy. It’s dialectical, of course, in the long run, the government is also dependent on the economy.
Privatized utilities made the citizens of California lose their shirt. Enron in Houston, Texas, was the culprit, with Cheney’s secret energy summit, most probably behind it. Privatized schools, jails, armies! Forget it! We need a healthy public sector that stands as a guardian to our common interests. America needs more effective socialization. The invisible hand that translates self-interest into commonwealth, now seems to be about a Robin Hood in reverse, stealing from the poor to give it all to the rich. Where is the prosperity that the Bush tax-cuts were to deliver? Did the money get speculated in the derivative markets, insured by credit default swaps and take all our brokerage houses down, and would have taken our whole economy down as well, if our government had not saved them?
How can we allow health insurance to be employer based, when we now have 10% unemployment and no public option?
“That government is best which governs least” is an apt principle, if good government is internalized. I do not need to regulate my dog with a leash, if the dog has internalized the point of it: to stay near me and respond when I call to keep it out of harms way.
One more point. I believe the growing edge for Americans is socialization. We should not play off the individual principle against the magic that people can do when they are together, whether privately in corporations or publicly in the government. Like we need a healthy body in a sound mind, we need a healthy community with creative individuals who take initiatives. The individual and the group should not be played off against each other. In the words of Teilhard de Chardin, uniformity is a problem, but true unity differentiates, it does not confound.