Just about a year ago, for the first time in modern American history, voters selected a president who had not been vetted and funded by Big Money. In the euphoria of the celebration, we did not notice for a while that no similar winds of change had blown through the Congress. As a result the drive for health care reform (or was it health care insurance reform? Or both?) by the new president, with the backing of about 70 per cent of the American people, has not only missed the cup, in the parlance of golf, but the green, and cannot be found anywhere on the fairway. They are out among the trees now, looking for its remains.
The reason for this failure of public will is straightforward. Every member of congress wakes up every day knowing that he or she must raise a minimum of $2,000 that day, on average, just to stay in office. People who need health insurance, or who are sick, don't have two thousand dollars to give to anyone. Insurance companies, drug companies, hospital companies, and all the other players in the health care industry (imagine an advanced society that calls the practice of medicine an industry) have millions to give, and they have given it, and it has worked.
This is the reason for every position taken by every politician on this issue. Forget Democrat/Republican, liberal/conservative, the calculation is this and only this: what position can I take that will not jeopardize my fundraising and will not too seriously enrage my constituents? All the weight here is on the money side of the equation. Make the Big Money mad and the cash flow stops, just like that. Make the constituents mad and there's always time and money before the next election to distract them with spectres such as death squads for the elderly and creeping socialism. (Once in a great while, something -- usually a sex scandal -- erupts that is beyond the ability of a rash of commercials to fix. Ignoring the need of the American people for decent, affordable health care is apparently not one of those trigger issues.)
The gnashing of teeth over socialism and big government are especially diverting, mainly because they are taken at face value by journalists and pundits who should know better. The folks who rail against "socialized medicine" have no problem with socialism for agribusiness and nuclear power generating plants, neither of which could exist without constant government support. They like our socialized roads and investment banks. They have not seen a war they would not finance forever and ever, amen. But to spend government money to care for the sick and the poor? Why, that's socialist, it's un-Christian, and moreover it interferes with cash flow.
The Moneycrats, the only actual political party with power in America today, have become adept at staking out grotesque, content-free positions that become one-half of the ongoing discussion, mainly because of lazy journalists trying to appear fair and balanced. Thus politicians trying to serve their pharmaceutical-medical-industrial cash cows by defeating a bill that would limit profits need not concern themselves with its merits. They just need to start screaming that it creates death squads who will kill Grandma if she's too needy. Despite the fact that no one ever proposed it, no such language was in any bill, and no sane person would consider the proposition, their "side" of the ensuing "debate" gets half the face time and half the ink, for weeks on end.
With that kind of exposure, created by spinning fables and spending media money, one can convince 20 per cent of the people of just about anything, and thus drive a stake in the heart of an otherwise evenly divided debate. About 20 per cent of Americans believe they saw Elvis recently, or were abducted by space aliens. The Bush Administration managed to convince well over 60 per cent of Americans that Iraq was involved with the attacks of 9/11, without ever claiming it. All they did was mention the two names, 9/11 and Iraq, in close proximity, over and over and over.
Thus when Obama and 70 per cent of Americans strode forth last January to rationalize a health-care system and a health care insurance system that is rapidly sinking to sub-Third-World standards under the weight of corporate greed, the Moneycrats simply began throwing Congressional lines over his, and our, hands and feet, one at a time, until he and we lie staked out in the National Mall unable to move to help ourselves.
We will declare it a victory now, from our prostrate position, when we get a bill that gives the insurance companies 40 million new paying customers (they will, by the way, be "socialized" customers, paying with government money). Then, using 30 cents of every dollar coming in, the insurance companies will hire and train thousands more people to deny claims. That's called "job creation."
The deforming of health care has demonstrated, in plain view, once again, the new Golden Rule of American politics: who has the gold, rules.