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History / The U.S. is Not a Democracy, It Never Was
« Last post by RE on Today at 02:20:21 PM »
https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/12/13/the-u-s-is-not-a-democracy-it-never-was/

December 13, 2017
The U.S. is Not a Democracy, It Never Was

by Gabriel Rockhill


Photo by Daniel Huizinga | CC BY 2.0

One of the most steadfast beliefs regarding the United States is that it is a democracy. Whenever this conviction waivers slightly, it is almost always to point out detrimental exceptions to core American values or foundational principles. For instance, aspiring critics frequently bemoan a “loss of democracy” due to the election of clownish autocrats, draconian measures on the part of the state, the revelation of extraordinary malfeasance or corruption, deadly foreign interventions, or other such activities that are considered undemocratic exceptions. The same is true for those whose critical framework consists in always juxtaposing the actions of the U.S. government to its founding principles, highlighting the contradiction between the two and clearly placing hope in its potential resolution.

The problem, however, is that there is no contradiction or supposed loss of democracy because the United States simply never was one. This is a difficult reality for many people to confront, and they are likely more inclined to immediately dismiss such a claim as preposterous rather than take the time to scrutinize the material historical record in order to see for themselves. Such a dismissive reaction is due in large part to what is perhaps the most successful public relations campaign in modern history. What will be seen, however, if this record is soberly and methodically inspected, is that a country founded on elite, colonial rule based on the power of wealth—a plutocratic colonial oligarchy, in short—has succeeded not only in buying the label of “democracy” to market itself to the masses, but in having its citizenry, and many others, so socially and psychologically invested in its nationalist origin myth that they refuse to hear lucid and well-documented arguments to the contrary.

To begin to peel the scales from our eyes, let us outline in the restricted space of this article, five patent reasons why the United States has never been a democracy (a more sustained and developed argument is available in my book, Counter-History of the Present). To begin with, British colonial expansion into the Americas did not occur in the name of the freedom and equality of the general population, or the conferral of power to the people. Those who settled on the shores of the “new world,” with few exceptions, did not respect the fact that it was a very old world indeed, and that a vast indigenous population had been living there for centuries. As soon as Columbus set foot, Europeans began robbing, enslaving and killing the native inhabitants. The trans-Atlantic slave trade commenced almost immediately thereafter, adding a countless number of Africans to the ongoing genocidal assault against the indigenous population. Moreover, it is estimated that over half of the colonists who came to North America from Europe during the colonial period were poor indentured servants, and women were generally trapped in roles of domestic servitude. Rather than the land of the free and equal, then, European colonial expansion to the Americas imposed a land of the colonizer and the colonized, the master and the slave, the rich and the poor, the free and the un-free. The former constituted, moreover, an infinitesimally small minority of the population, whereas the overwhelming majority, meaning “the people,” was subjected to death, slavery, servitude, and unremitting socio-economic oppression.

Second, when the elite colonial ruling class decided to sever ties from their homeland and establish an independent state for themselves, they did not found it as a democracy. On the contrary, they were fervently and explicitly opposed to democracy, like the vast majority of European Enlightenment thinkers. They understood it to be a dangerous and chaotic form of uneducated mob rule. For the so-called “founding fathers,” the masses were not only incapable of ruling, but they were considered a threat to the hierarchical social structures purportedly necessary for good governance. In the words of John Adams, to take but one telling example, if the majority were given real power, they would redistribute wealth and dissolve the “subordination” so necessary for politics. When the eminent members of the landowning class met in 1787 to draw up a constitution, they regularly insisted in their debates on the need to establish a republic that kept at bay vile democracy, which was judged worse than “the filth of the common sewers” by the pro-Federalist editor William Cobbett. The new constitution provided for popular elections only in the House of Representatives, but in most states the right to vote was based on being a property owner, and women, the indigenous and slaves—meaning the overwhelming majority of the population—were simply excluded from the franchise. Senators were elected by state legislators, the President by electors chosen by the state legislators, and the Supreme Court was appointed by the President. It is in this context that Patrick Henry flatly proclaimed the most lucid of judgments: “it is not a democracy.” George Mason further clarified the situation by describing the newly independent country as “a despotic aristocracy.”

When the American republic slowly came to be relabeled as a “democracy,” there were no significant institutional modifications to justify the change in name. In other words, and this is the third point, the use of the term “democracy” to refer to an oligarchic republic simply meant that a different word was being used to describe the same basic phenomenon. This began around the time of “Indian killer” Andrew Jackson’s presidential campaign in the 1830s. Presenting himself as a ‘democrat,’ he put forth an image of himself as an average man of the people who was going to put a halt to the long reign of patricians from Virginia and Massachusetts. Slowly but surely, the term “democracy” came to be used as a public relations term to re-brand a plutocratic oligarchy as an electoral regime that serves the interest of the people or demos. Meanwhile, the American holocaust continued unabated, along with chattel slavery, colonial expansion and top-down class warfare.

In spite of certain minor changes over time, the U.S. republic has doggedly preserved its oligarchic structure, and this is readily apparent in the two major selling points of its contemporary “democratic” publicity campaign. The Establishment and its propagandists regularly insist that a structural aristocracy is a “democracy” because the latter is defined by the guarantee of certain fundamental rights (legal definition) and the holding of regular elections (procedural definition). This is, of course, a purely formal, abstract and largely negative understanding of democracy, which says nothing whatsoever about people having real, sustained power over the governing of their lives. However, even this hollow definition dissimulates the extent to which, to begin with, the supposed equality before the law in the United States presupposes an inequality before the law by excluding major sectors of the population: those judged not to have the right to rights, and those considered to have lost their right to rights (Native Americans, African-Americans and women for most of the country’s history, and still today in certain aspects, as well as immigrants, “criminals,” minors, the “clinically insane,” political dissidents, and so forth). Regarding elections, they are run in the United States as long, multi-million dollar advertising campaigns in which the candidates and issues are pre-selected by the corporate and party elite. The general population, the majority of whom do not have the right to vote or decide not to exercise it, are given the “choice”—overseen by an undemocratic electoral college and embedded in a non-proportional representation scheme—regarding which member of the aristocratic elite they would like to have rule over and oppress them for the next four years. “Multivariate analysis indicates,” according to an important recent study by Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page, “that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence. The results provide substantial support for theories of Economic-Elite Domination […], but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy.”

To take but a final example of the myriad ways in which the U.S. is not, and has never been, a democracy, it is worth highlighting its consistent assault on movements of people power. Since WWII, it has endeavored to overthrow some 50 foreign governments, most of which were democratically elected. It has also, according the meticulous calculations by William Blum in America’s Deadliest Export: Democracy, grossly interfered in the elections of at least 30 countries, attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders, dropped bombs on more than 30 countries, and attempted to suppress populist movements in 20 countries. The record on the home front is just as brutal. To take but one significant parallel example, there is ample evidence that the FBI has been invested in a covert war against democracy. Beginning at least in the 1960s, and likely continuing up to the present, the Bureau “extended its earlier clandestine operations against the Communist party, committing its resources to undermining the Puerto Rico independence movement, the Socialist Workers party, the civil rights movement, Black nationalist movements, the Ku Klux Klan, segments of the peace movement, the student movement, and the ‘New Left’ in general” (Cointelpro: The FBI’s Secret War on Political Freedom, p. 22-23). Consider, for instance, Judi Bari’s summary of its assault on the Socialist Workers Party: “From 1943-63, the federal civil rights case Socialist Workers Party v. Attorney General documents decades of illegal FBI break-ins and 10 million pages of surveillance records. The FBI paid an estimated 1,600 informants $1,680,592 and used 20,000 days of wiretaps to undermine legitimate political organizing.” In the case of the Black Panther Party and the American Indian Movement (AIM)—which were both important attempts to mobilize people power to dismantle the structural oppression of white supremacy and top-down class warfare—the FBI not only infiltrated them and launched hideous smear and destabilization campaigns against them, but they assassinated 27 Black Panthers and 69 members of AIM (and subjected countless others to the slow death of incarceration). If it be abroad or on the home front, the American secret police has been extremely proactive in beating down the movements of people rising up, thereby protecting and preserving the main pillars of white supremacist, capitalist aristocracy.

Rather than blindly believing in a golden age of democracy in order to remain at all costs within the gilded cage of an ideology produced specifically for us by the well-paid spin-doctors of a plutocratic oligarchy, we should unlock the gates of history and meticulously scrutinize the founding and evolution of the American imperial republic. This will not only allow us to take leave of its jingoist and self-congratulatory origin myths, but it will also provide us with the opportunity to resuscitate and reactivate so much of what they have sought to obliterate. In particular, there is a radical America just below the surface of these nationalist narratives, an America in which the population autonomously organizes itself in indigenous and ecological activism, black radical resistance, anti-capitalist mobilization, anti-patriarchal struggles, and so forth. It is this America that the corporate republic has sought to eradicate, while simultaneously investing in an expansive public relations campaign to cover over its crimes with the fig leaf of “democracy” (which has sometimes required integrating a few token individuals, who appear to be from below, into the elite ruling class in order to perpetuate the all-powerful myth of meritocracy). If we are astute and perspicacious enough to recognize that the U.S. is undemocratic today, let us not be so indolent or ill-informed that we let ourselves be lulled to sleep by lullabies praising its halcyon past. Indeed, if the United States is not a democracy today, it is in large part due to the fact that it never was one. Far from being a pessimistic conclusion, however, it is precisely by cracking open the hard shell of ideological encasement that we can tap into the radical forces that have been suppressed by it. These forces—not those that have been deployed to destroy them—should be the ultimate source of our pride in the power of the people.

 
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More articles by:Gabriel Rockhill

Gabriel Rockhill is a Franco-American philosopher and cultural critic. He is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Villanova University and founding Director of the Atelier de Théorie Critique at the Sorbonne. His books include Counter-History of the Present: Untimely Interrogations into Globalization, Technology, Democracy (2017), Interventions in Contemporary Thought: History, Politics, Aesthetics (2016), Radical History & the Politics of Art (2014) and Logique de l’histoire (2010). In addition to his scholarly work, he has been actively engaged in extra-academic activities in the art and activist worlds, as well as a regular contributor to public intellectual debate. Follow on twitter: @GabrielRockhill
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Agelbert Newz / Re: Agelbert's Newz Channel
« Last post by Palloy2 on Today at 01:53:06 PM »
Interesting Article, except for the obligatory bow to the (imaginary) evolutionary cause and effect hypothesis  ::):

https://www.zmescience.com/science/optical-llusion-curvature-blindness-432/

Yes, the bit about evolution is not interesting at all!  So in a non-evolutionary world, what could be the explanation? Presumably when God created the world and everything, not only was he prepared to wait 13.6 billion years for humans to pop into existence on Planet 3 of a G-type star in the Milky Way galaxy, but he thought this little trick might demonstrate to us how subtly clever he is - a trick so subtle that we didn't notice until 2017. That makes sense!
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Knarfs Knewz / Re: Knarf's Knewz Channel
« Last post by Eddie on Today at 01:51:08 PM »
The meanness in your comment is not called for AG. Try to maintain a civil discourse.  I think you completely missed the point on what I wrote. I'll let K-Dog speak for himself.

It's not about what a good guy Doug Jones is. It's about what can happen in a special election with only 25% voter turnout.

And Alabama voters are quite likely to trade Jones for a Christian conservative asshole candidate in the next general election, if the usual blocs turn out. Roy Moore would have won handily if the scandal hadn't come out. Alabama is a very backward state full of dumb-ass rednecks.

I'm more than happy Moore got his ass handed to him. He's lower than snake shit, and dumb as a stump. But Doug Jones' election has not turned the tide on anything. At some point demographics will begin to favor Democrats, maybe even socialists for all I know. But we aren't there yet. Victory parades are premature.
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Knarfs Knewz / Doug Jones WIN is a KEY win, NOT an "anomally"!
« Last post by agelbert on Today at 12:19:39 PM »
A small win for the good guys. It's tempting to say the tide is turning against Bannon and Trump, but the truth is that this kind of upset is likely to remain an anomaly, at least for a while. 
 


I'll bet the Repugnants lose the Senate in 2018.

RE


A small win built up to epic proportions by the media. One corrupt party of elites battling another corrupt party of elites.  I can't say the democrats are good guys.  I do not care to accept forty year old he-said she-said stories as fact even if the accused are people I find personally distasteful.  Were the Democratic party to embrace the possibility of collapse and determine that the country needed to be put on a sound footing to prepare for a janky future I could change my mind but that is not going to happen.  Democrats tend to be cornucopians totally out of touch with reality.  Republicans as disgusting as they are, at least recognize the world has limits. Their answer is just to take it all for themselves.

Both major American political parties have only a sophomoric, skin deep world view.  Their immaturity combined with their power make both parties dangerous for the little guy.   Only people from scalable professions can enter the upper ranks of either party. 

Quote
    A scalable profession is good only if you are successful; they are more competitive, produce monstrous inequalities, and are far more random with huge disparities between efforts and rewards — a few can take a large share of the pie, leaving others out entirely at no fault of their own.

    One category of profession is driven by the mediocre, the average, and the middle-of-the-road. In it, the mediocre is collectively consequential. The other has either giants or dwarves — more precisely, a very small number of giants and a huge number of dwarves.  - Nassim Nicholas Taleb
 

In other words only people with a lot of money can be high ranking Republicans or Democrats.  In other  words people with distorted and incorrect ideas of how the world works.  This can lead to only one thing.  Doom!

Consider Dwayne Douglas Johnson, also known as 'The Rock'.  He could be our next president, the idea is being floated around.  Dwayne I'm sure is a really nice guy but he has a totally scalable world view.  Were Dwayne to become president the little guy is going to be totally left out.  I could never vote for him.  To Dwayne and people like him success is just a fact of life.  That any part of their success is the result of luck or others being left behind so they could have all success to themselves is a concept they won't entertain.  For them success is a matter of hard work and that is all there is too it.  To elites the idea the world should move in a direction where only one guy has everything makes total sense.


Nice try, Mr. Arrogant holier than thou pseudo-erudite babble spewing bigoted double talker. Your pathetic and feeble attempt to downplay this key win by Doug Jones is expected, it being that you are a TRUMPER, whether you want to admit it or not. I am not surprised that Eddie is on the same erroneous page as you on this issue (birds of a feather flock together).


Your verbal effluent exercise in deliberate confusion irrelevance, by bringing up prize fighter Dwayne Douglas Johnson, evidences how desperate you are to change the subject AND how low you will stoop to cleverly attempting to trash someone with a similar sounding name.

You know NOTHING about Doug Jones.  Perhaps it is time that you learned what a principled man he is. He tirelessly defended a man found guilty (who was innocent) of Cannabis possession and use to the point of getting him freed from prison YEARS after the man was found guilty and imprisoned. You OWE Doug Jones for his principled behavior. We all do! He will be a voice of reason in the Senate. SHAME on you!


Doug Jones Never Stopped Fighting Until My Husband was Free!

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/U7JsYL7-V_g" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/U7JsYL7-V_g</a>

Quote
Thom Hartmann Dec. 11, 2017 4:30 pm

There is so much talk about Roy Moore and the awful things he's done but what about Doug Jones? Today on the Thom Hartmann program, Thom gets a call from someone Doug Jones never gave up on.
5
Agelbert Newz / Can your brain handle this Intriguing optical illusion?
« Last post by agelbert on Today at 11:31:01 AM »
 

Intriguing optical illusion proves most humans have ‘curvature blindness’ Intriguing optical illusion proves most humans have ‘curvature blindness’

LAST UPDATED ON DECEMBER 13TH, 2017 BY TIBI PUIU

SNIPPET:

Credit: Kohske Takahashi/i-Perception

Look at the picture above. What kind of lines do you see in the middle, grayed-out part: wavy, straight, or both? The truth is all the lines represented in the image are curvy, but if you’re like most people, you should see alternating rows of straight-angled and wavy lines.

Japanese psychologists found that this optical illusion underlies a newly identified cognitive bias in humans. It’s called the “curvature blindness illusion”. Though it’s somewhat unclear how it works, scientists think it’s caused by the brain using different mechanisms to identify curved and angular shapes. These mechanisms may interfere or compete with each other, producing this strange effect.

Interesting Article, except for the obligatory bow to the (imaginary) evolutionary cause and effect hypothesis  ::):

https://www.zmescience.com/science/optical-llusion-curvature-blindness-432/
6
A small win for the good guys. It's tempting to say the tide is turning against Bannon and Trump, but the truth is that this kind of upset is likely to remain an anomaly, at least for a while.

I'll bet the Repugnants lose the Senate in 2018.

RE

A small win built up to epic proportions by the media.  One corrupt party of elites battling another corrupt party of elites.  I can't say the democrats are good guys.  I do not care to accept forty year old he-said she-said stories as fact even if the accused are people I find personally distasteful.  Were the Democratic party to embrace the possibility of collapse and determine that the country needed to be put on a sound footing to prepare for a janky future I could change my mind but that is not going to happen.  Democrats tend to be cornucopians totally out of touch with reality.  Republicans as disgusting as they are, at least recognize the world has limits.  Their answer is just to take it all for themselves.

Both major American political parties have only a sophomoric, skin deep world view.  Their immaturity combined with their power make both parties dangerous for the little guy.   Only people from scalable professions can enter the upper ranks of either party. 

Quote
    A scalable profession is good only if you are successful; they are more competitive, produce monstrous inequalities, and are far more random with huge disparities between efforts and rewards — a few can take a large share of the pie, leaving others out entirely at no fault of their own.

    One category of profession is driven by the mediocre, the average, and the middle-of-the-road. In it, the mediocre is collectively consequential. The other has either giants or dwarves — more precisely, a very small number of giants and a huge number of dwarves.  - Nassim Nicholas Taleb
 

In other words only people with a lot of money can be high ranking Republicans or Democrats.  In other  words people with distorted and incorrect ideas of how the world works.  This can lead to only one thing.  Doom!

Consider Dwayne Douglas Johnson, also known as 'The Rock'.  He could be our next president, the idea is being floated around.  Dwayne I'm sure is a really nice guy but he has a totally scalable world view.  Were Dwayne to become president the little guy is going to be totally left out.  I could never vote for him.  To Dwayne and people like him success is just a fact of life.  That any part of their success is the result of luck or others being left behind so they could have all success to themselves is a concept they won't entertain.  For them success is a matter of hard work and that is all there is too it.  To elites the idea the world should move in a direction where only one guy has everything makes total sense.

Very well said. When I said it was a win for the good guys, I really meant it was blow against the Trump/Bannon fascism. I completely agree with you about the Dems, and about the stupid rich being in control of the country.
7
A small win for the good guys. It's tempting to say the tide is turning against Bannon and Trump, but the truth is that this kind of upset is likely to remain an anomaly, at least for a while.

I'll bet the Repugnants lose the Senate in 2018.

RE

A small win built up to epic proportions by the media.  One corrupt party of elites battling another corrupt party of elites.  I can't say the democrats are good guys.  I do not care to accept forty year old he-said she-said stories as fact even if the accused are people I find personally distasteful.  Were the Democratic party to embrace the possibility of collapse and determine that the country needed to be put on a sound footing to prepare for a janky future I could change my mind but that is not going to happen.  Democrats tend to be cornucopians totally out of touch with reality.  Republicans as disgusting as they are, at least recognize the world has limits.  Their answer is just to take it all for themselves.

Both major American political parties have only a sophomoric, skin deep world view.  Their immaturity combined with their power make both parties dangerous for the little guy.   Only people from scalable professions can enter the upper ranks of either party. 

Quote
    A scalable profession is good only if you are successful; they are more competitive, produce monstrous inequalities, and are far more random with huge disparities between efforts and rewards — a few can take a large share of the pie, leaving others out entirely at no fault of their own.

    One category of profession is driven by the mediocre, the average, and the middle-of-the-road. In it, the mediocre is collectively consequential. The other has either giants or dwarves — more precisely, a very small number of giants and a huge number of dwarves.  - Nassim Nicholas Taleb
 

In other words only people with a lot of money can be high ranking Republicans or Democrats.  In other  words people with distorted and incorrect ideas of how the world works.  This can lead to only one thing.  Doom!

Consider Dwayne Douglas Johnson, also known as 'The Rock'.  He could be our next president, the idea is being floated around.  Dwayne I'm sure is a really nice guy but he has a totally scalable world view.  Were Dwayne to become president the little guy is going to be totally left out.  I could never vote for him.  To Dwayne and people like him success is just a fact of life.  That any part of their success is the result of luck or others being left behind so they could have all success to themselves is a concept they won't entertain.  For them success is a matter of hard work and that is all there is too it.  To elites the idea the world should move in a direction where only one guy has everything makes total sense.
8
Medicine & Health / Socialism, Capitalism and Health Care
« Last post by RE on Today at 07:45:52 AM »
http://www.greanvillepost.com/2017/11/29/socialism-capitalism-and-health-care/

Socialism, Capitalism and Health Care
November 29, 2017 shorty


HELP ENLIGHTEN YOUR FELLOWS. BE SURE TO PASS THIS ON. SURVIVAL DEPENDS ON IT.

Introduction
The US political and economic elites have always bragged that capitalism is far superior to socialism in terms of providing people’s personal welfare.  They claim that citizens live longer, healthier and happier lives under capitalism.

The debate between the supporters of the US Affordable Care Act or ‘Obamacare’ and its most vehement opponents under President Trump is not part of any larger system debate since both ‘sides’ base their vision and plans for medical care on private, for-profit corporate insurance schemes.  This source of funding would ‘harness market forces’ to deliver quality medical care…in a marketplace of ‘free competition’, in which every American, even the most fragile, cancer-ridden patient, would be an engaged stakeholder, weighing a huge menu of free choices…

The real comparison of how these economic systems provide basic health care should be based on showing which provides the best population outcomes, personal satisfaction and community security across national boundaries.  National health systems top the chaotic private system in these parameters.

On the other hand, the US tops all European countries in terms of the percentage of workers and family members who avoid necessary trips to the doctor because they fear financial ruin from the inflated costs of their private health care. In other words, majorities of people, dependent on private for-profit insurance schemes to provide health care, cannot afford to visit a medical facility, doctor or clinic even to treat a significant illness. The type of economic system funding health services determines the likelihood of a patient actually going to seek and receive important medical care that will preserve life, one’s ability to work and enjoy some level of satisfaction.

This essay will include a brief discussion of the social and political conditions, which gave rise to the socialized, and clearly more effective, health care system.  And we will touch on the consequences the two health systems in terms of people’s life expectancy and quality of life.

Comparing Costs of Medical Visitation by Economic System

The US is the only developed country relying on a private, for-profit insurance system to fund and deliver medical care for its working age population. In contrast, all countries in the European Union have some form of publicly funded and delivered health plans for their workers.

One of the key quality measures of a health care system is a patient’s access to timely competent medical care.

The Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OCECD) recently conducted a systematic comparison of seven countries, with different levels of GDP, and the percentage of people in each country who are able to afford medical consultations for necessary medical care.

The European countries all have established national public health programs with clear goals and measures in terms of outcomes. The US is the only nation to rely on privately administered and funded health care systems for its working age population.

The Results

Over one-fifth (22%) of the US working age population believe they cannot afford to consult a doctor or medical clinic – in the event of an illness or accident. In contrast, less than eight percent of European workers view themselves as unable to afford necessary medical care. For the largest EU nations, less than 5% of the working population avoids care because of a perceived inability to pay for essential services. US workers are five times more likely to voluntarily forego health care, often with disastrous long-term consequences.

If we compare the US with its ‘free market’ private insurance run system with any EU nation, we find consistent results: Access to competent, essential medical services in the US is far worse!

In Germany and France, the EU’s most developed nations, working age citizens and their family members have three to ten times better access to health care than the US. 8% of workers in France and 2% in Germany postpone necessary visits to the doctor because of a perceived inability to pay. Among middle developed EU nations, 4% in the UK and 4.5% in Italy cite financial reasons for skipping essential medical care – compared to 22% of working age Americans.

Even in the least developed EU nations, Spain and Portugal, with the highest unemployment rates and lowest per capita income, workers have greater access to health care. Only 2.5% of workers in Spain and 7.5% in Portugal view costs as a reason to avoid visiting their doctor.

High Tech Billionaires Speak of ‘Values’ while Maximizing Profits

‘Protecting our community is more important than maximizing our profits’, the multi-billionaire Mark Zuckerberg opined this month, after his company, Facebook posted its first ever $10 billion quarterly earnings result. (FT 11/16/17 P 8)

Zuckerberg and entourage had apparently ventured into Middle America discovering to their shock that American communities were in the midst of a narcotic addiction crisis, which had caused hundreds of thousands of deaths and disrupted the lives of millions of addicts’ family members.  The natives of Middle America were more concerned about access to effective addiction treatment than their access to Facebook! Zuckerberg, with his legions of highly educated foreign workers on the West Coast, conveniently missed the chance to identify the source of the American addiction crisis: The over-prescription of opioid pain medications by tens of thousands of private US medical practitioners, pushed by the giant US pharmaceutical industry in a 2 decades-long medical genocide that the nations of Europe had so ‘miraculously’ avoided because of their centralized, regulated, socialized health systems.

While the US may have the least available and least affordable health care for working people, it can certainly boast about producing the highest number of super-rich in the world. Five of the world’s largest companies are US-owned with a combined market capitalization of $3.3 trillion for the top US tech giants. Europe’s largest tech company, SAP, is sixty notches below.

The US giant mega-billion dollar tech companies and CEO’s are also mega-billion dollar tax-evaders who stash their fortunes overseas and avoid the inconvenience of having to contribute to any national health programs for workers – whether in the US or elsewhere. The monopoly tech corporations’ wealth and power are one important reason why over a fifth of working age Americans cannot afford necessary medical care. As one acute observer noted,

    ‘The new high tech elite tend to cloak their self interest by talking about values which has the collateral benefit of avoiding talk about wealth.’(FT 11/17/17 P9)

The scarcity of European multi-billion dollar tech CEOs, like the American Zuckerberg and Gates, is linked to the domestic tax systems that provide public financing and management of effective medical service serving hundreds of millions of European workers.

In other words, the US, with its far more extreme concentration of wealth and social inequality, continues to have the greatest level of health care inequality among industrialized nations.

Europe is not without inequalities, monopolies and underfunded health programs but it delivers far better and more accessible care to its citizens than the private capitalist health system promoted in the US.

Historical Roots of the Superior European Health Care System

The power of monopoly capital is one of the key factors resulting in the deteriorating quality of health care for the US working population. Another factor is the lack of consistent working class struggle in the US compared to Europe. After the Second World War, there were huge waves of working class strikes across France, Italy and the UK.  Various communist parties in continental Europe played a leading role within the trade unions demanding for publicly funded, national health care. In the UK, Socialists and the Labor Governments were pushed by their trade union members to craft a national health system to meet the needs of workers and their families. While Germany had a basic national health system dating from the time of Bismarck in the late 19th century, the socialist economy and public services developing in the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) after the Second World War provided an alternative for West German workers who then successfully pushed for the implementation of an advanced welfare state, including a socialized medical care system, within the thoroughly capitalist German Federation.

In the 1970’s Spain and Portugal shed their fascist past and post-war dictatorships. The militant trade unions and leftist parties ascended to power on promises to implement social-welfare programs, which, even with their economic limitations, included highly effective national health programs. Life expectancies rose dramatically.

The US has neither welfare nor national medical programs for its working population. Despite a brief interlude of American workers’ strikes shortly after WWII, leftist militants, communists and socialists were purged and corrupt business-linked trade union leaders took over. Rather than struggle for an effective national system of publicly funded medical care, the trade unions, linked to the Democratic Party, pushed their membership to struggle for ‘nickel and dime’ wage increases – accepting a system of the most expensive, and unaccountable private health care in the world.

The capitalist US has been the only country to deprive its working age citizens and their family members of an effective national health system. After over 60 years, the results are damning. Providing essential medical care for American workers, through the various forms of private, for-profit insurance schemes, has resulted in an uncontrolled health care cost inflation making manufacturing in the US far more expensive than its European, Japanese or Canadian competitors.

From 2001 up to 2018, under Presidents Bush, Obama and Trump, the US taxpayers have spent $5.6 trillion dollars on privately delivered, for-profit medical care with unimpressive results in terms of population health and life expectancy. On a per-capita basis, this is twice the amount spent on citizens of the EU who have consistently enjoyed rising life expectancy and improving health parameters. Despite this enormous investment of money in a chaotic, ineffective private system, the US Treasury has steadfastly maintained it could not finance a National Health Program for the population.

Present and Future Consequence of a Capitalist ‘Health System’

Today millions of US wage earners can expect to suffer shorter and less healthy lives than their counterparts in other industrialized countries in Europe and Japan. The opioid addiction epidemic among US workers, caused entirely by uncontrolled prescription of highly addictive narcotics by private practitioners and pushed by the profit-hungry US pharmaceutical industry, has led to over 600,000 deaths by overdose and millions of lives shortened by the brutal realities of addiction and degradation. This legally prescribed epidemic is unique to the United States where an estimated 15% of construction workers need treatment for addiction, millions have dropped out of the labor market due to addiction and the medical plans of numerous US building trade unions are facing bankruptcy because of the cost of addition-treatment for its members. The anti-addiction drug, Suboxone, is the most expensive and heavily prescribed medication for some union health plans. The reasons for this atrocity are clear:  Injured American workers were being prescribed long courses of cheap, but highly addictive opioids to address their pain during cursory visits to ‘medical clinics’, rather than providing them with the more expensive but appropriate post-trauma care involving physical therapy and rest. The bosses and supervisors, who just wanted ‘warm bodies’ back on the job, were oblivious to the impending disaster.

Mega billion dollar private drug companies manufactured and promoted highly addictive prescription narcotics and paid ‘lobbyists’ to persuade US politicians and regulators to ‘look the other way’ as the addiction epidemic unfolded. Corporate hospitals and for-profit physicians, nurses, dentists and others participated in a historic catastrophe of medical irresponsibility that ended up addicting millions of American workers and their family members and killing hundreds of thousands. A huge proportion of prescription narcotic addicts are white workers in poorly protected manual jobs (construction, factories, farms, mines etc.). They lack access to effective, responsible medical care. In new millennium America, their jobs would not provide for ‘time off’ or physical therapy following injury and they unwittingly resorted to the ‘miracle’ of prescription opioids to get back to work. In many cases, their private medical insurance plans blatantly refused to pay for more expensive non-addictive alternatives and would insist the workers receive the cheap opioids instead. The rare worker, who demanded to take time off to seek effective medical and physical therapy for an injury, would be fired. US capitalists could easily ignore the growing shortage of healthy American construction and other workers by importing cheap, skilled labor from abroad and sanctimoniously blame American workers for their disabilities.

Conclusion
Opioid overdoses burden US hospitals (Source: Health Day News)

Workers in even the poorest European Union countries have greater access to better, more effective medical care then their US counterparts. They continue to enjoy rising life expectancies and longer lives without disability. Their injuries are treated appropriately with rest and physical therapy. Injured European or Japanese workers are never prescribed ridiculously long courses of highly addictive narcotics given to Americans. Certainly any increase in overdose deaths from prescribed opioids in the European Union or Japan would have generated rapid public health investigations and corrective action – a marked contrast to the two decades of callous indifference within the US medical community that bordered on Social Darwinism considering the working class identity of most victims. In Europe and Japan, long-term narcotic therapy is reserved for terminal cancer patients suffering from intractable pain. It would never have been offered to rural or working class teenagers for sports injuries – a common practice in the US!

The European public medical care systems are the product of class struggle and socially conscious mass movements and political parties that produced welfare states where improving population health was a central goal of its social compact. In contrast, the private-for-profit health system in the US is the shining example of the triumph of capitalism – the consolidation and further enrichment of capitalist control and the subordination of labor in each of its phases– from low to high tech business. In this ultimate triumph of capitalism, the old class struggle slogans were revised – becoming – Long live the bosses! Early death to the workers!

Private health care and the drive for higher profits provided enormous benefits for the pharmaceutical industry, making billionaires out of the owners and CEOs. This spawned the ‘ultra-philanthropic’ billionaire Sackler family whose Purdue Pharmaceuticals peddled the deadly Oxycontin to tens of millions of Americans. For profit-hospitals, private medical practices and rapacious insurance companies all reaped the bounty of mismanaging a bloated, unaccountable system that has provided the American worker with an early death by overdose or a shortened life of despair and disability.

Private capitalist employers and insurance companies continue to benefit from the epidemic of premature deaths of their former employees: Pension costs and health care liabilities are slashed because of the decreasing life expectancy – Wall Street is jubilant. There will be fewer communities to educate and protect and this will lower taxes. Cheap imported replacement workers (educated or trained on their own societies’ dime) can conveniently be deported or replaced.

It is undeniable: increasing life expectancy and a decent life free of disability has disappeared for the American worker. With poor health and inadequate care, maternal and infant mortality are on the rise especially in rural and de-industrialized areas.

By every health and living standard indicator, the history of successful class struggle led to the implementation of effective national welfare and health programs. Their societies have reaped benefits for their citizens that were clearly superior to corrupt boss-worker class collaboration under private capitalism in the US. [And these societies did not even reach true socialism yet!].
Crosspost with Global Research, November 28, 2017
Copyright © Prof. James Petras, Global Research, 2017

  James Petras is a world-renowned public intellectual. He is a retired Bartle Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University in Binghamton, New York and adjunct professor at Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada who has published extensively on Latin American and Middle Eastern political issues.
9
A small win for the good guys. It's tempting to say the tide is turning against Bannon and Trump, but the truth is that this kind of upset is likely to remain an anomaly, at least for a while.

I'll bet the Repugnants lose the Senate in 2018.

RE
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Science, Inventions & Techology / Fibonacci Sequence: The Spiral of Life
« Last post by RE on Today at 06:45:30 AM »
1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,55,89...










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