Belaboring the Obvious

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

An inconvenient truth....

In all the faux give-and-take over funding expanded health care, one simple fact is glaring in all the talk of general demands for such a plan to be "deficit-neutral."

The United States spends tens to hundreds of times what other industrialized nations spend on defense, and there is never, and I mean, never, any suggestion that we need to pare defense spending down to peacetime levels after six decades of wretched excess, or any suggestion that we simply bring home a military that now more resembles the French Foreign Legion than anything in the way of a standing army the Founders would have found reasonable and acceptable.

The emphasis for now is on the proclivity of Congress to listen to lobbyists, to protect the interests of the for-profit health care industry, to bend to the will of the deficit hawks.

All those things pale in comparison to a simple fact: we can't afford decent health care for all without an increase in taxes (preferably on the people in society who have most benefitted by rules and regulations tilted in their favor) or a return to normalcy with regard to military spending of all kinds.

Thus was it always ordained. We've deceived ourselves for sixty years that we can defy basic guns v. butter economics, and, just like the failed model of exporting jobs to countries which use cheap labor to produce cheap shit for U.S. consumers to buy with borrowed money, this model of thinking we can afford both a first-class social safety net and a military that never saw a weapon it didn't like has failed. Moreover, the social safety net will always get short shrift in a national security state, especially when our legislators also feel it necessary to ensure the profits of their principal campaign contributors.

When talk of a single-payer system first began during the Bush administration, it was understood that the Bushies would ignore it. But, they also wanted to minimize the threat of unflattering comparisons with our northernmost neighbor. The Bushies' ambassador to Canada began to make demands of Harper's government that Canada immediately and substantially increase its military spending, which would have the dual advantage of increasing arms sales by U.S. arms manufacturers and threatening the survivability and financial health of Canada's single-payer system, which had--up to that time--stayed well in balance with Canada's defense requirements and its budgetary constraints. The intention of the Bushies, I'm convinced, was to badger a mildly-receptive conservative Canadian leader into upsetting that balance, thus putting Canada's health system in jeopardy, or minimizing its effectiveness through starvation.

Canada had already committed, as a NATO member, to considerable unbudgeted expenses in Afghanistan; it was unlikely that they would also take on additional defense spending on top of that, but, that didn't stop the Bushies from trying mightily to convince them of a wholly imaginary need. There was a reason well beyond drumming up business for U.S. arms trade.

Until we come to terms with our imperial ambitions, the only people that will have good health care in this country are those who can afford it... and our representatives in Congress.


Post a Comment

<< Home