Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Texas Longhorns with newborn calf in Bluebonnets

Please note I have a new phone number...


Alan Maki

Alan Maki
Doing research at the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

It's time to claim our Peace Dividend

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

We need to beat swords into plowshares.

A program for real change...


What we need is a "21st Century Full Employment Act for Peace and Prosperity" which would make it a mandatory requirement that the president and Congress attain and maintain full employment.

"Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens"

- Ben Franklin

Let's talk...

Let's talk...

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Universal Health Care... what is it?

There continues to be a great deal of confusion about what "universal health care" is; or, rather, I should say, the Democratic Party leadership--- including Obama, Clinton, and Edwards, the insurance industry, the HMO's, and the American Medical Association are trying to create a great deal of confusion as to what is meant by the term "Universal Health Care."

Some are making the claim that "Universal Health Care" is "affordable health care;" not true... "affordable" and "universal" are two different things. What is "affordable" to multi-millionaires like Barrak Obama and United Health's former CEO Mike McGuire are very different from what most working people would consider "affordable."

Others are suggesting that the reactionary "Massachusetts Plan" is "universal health care." Again, nothing of the kind is true.

Those right-wing media pundits like President Ronald Reagan's eldest son--- Michael, and Rush Limbaugh have launched into a vicious red-baiting campaign against "single-payer, universal health care;" the likes of such a vile and vitriolic campaign haven't been seen since the days of Harold Stassen, Joe McCarthy and his House Un-American Committees, and Hubert Humphrey's shameful "Communist Control Act."

Why sow the confusion around single-payer, universal health care? Why have complex schemes been devised by everyone from former Minnesota State Senator and Gubernatorial candidate Becky Lourey to Hillary Clinton to Barrak Obama and the health insurance industry under the guise of being "progressive health care reforms" when in fact all of their proposals are the epitome of being "reactionary" and "regressive" with nothing in common in what is articulated in the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Let us be clear what most people mean when they talk about "universal health care." If you ask most people what they mean they will say, "Health care like the Canadians have."

The Canadians have a "single-payer, universal health care system" created under the "Canada Health Act."

If creating legislation for single-payer, universal health care is too great of a task for some of the legislators who are apparently educationally challenged... all they have to do is copy the Canada Health Act; delete the word "Canada" whenever it appears, and substitute the word "Minnesota;" ditto for national legislation.

"Single-payer, universal health care" means that the government pays all health care related bills. The United States government, or the State of Minnesota, would pay all health care related expenses.

A "single-payer, universal health care system" is a no-fee, comprehensive, all-inclusive system that covers every human being from birth control and abortion to prenatal care and birth to death without any exceptions for everything from eye-glasses to dental, pharmaceutical to mental, from immunizations to the most complex operations, from home care to long-term care and nursing home care and hospice care; "single-payer, universal health care would not only be paid for by the federal or state government (depending on which level of government is first to enact it), but, it would also be publicly administered... in other words, there will be no role for private health insurance companies like United Health Care and the greedy, selfish CEO's like Mr. McGuire to profit from; and no need for employer or union health care funds; thus ending the health care juggernaut and fiasco in labor/management contract negotiations... everyone would get the same access to high quality health care... regardless of employment status or income.

In the following video (just click on the link) the president of the Connecticut AFL-CIO makes it very clear that when most people speak of "universal health care" they are referring to "single-payer, universal health care."


In fact, the Canadian health care system is based upon a system first advocated by a Canadian Doctor, Dr. Norman Bethune, a member of the Communist Party of Canada who practiced in both Canada and the United States; Dr. Bethune found that the for-profit health care system created more misery for people than many of the ailments and illnesses he was treating and he became the foremost advocate for "socialized health care" in North America. Dr. Bethune's call for socialized health care was picked up on by the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party and articulated by Minnesota's most popular governors, socialists Floyd B. Olson and Elmer Benson together with the communist United States Congressman from the Mesaba Iron Range, John Bernard, who advocated a single-payer approach as the first step towards "socialized health care;" this approach was picked up by Olson's good friend Frances Perkins who was President Franklin Roosevelt's Secretary of Labor. From her position as Secretary of Labor Perkins became the primary advocate of what is referred to as the "New Deal Reforms" of which she advocated on behalf of the "New Deal" coalition for universal health care, social security, unemployment compensation and welfare, and the right of workers to organize unions.

As Roosevelt was forced to drop universal health care from the New Deal as a bargaining chip with Southern reactionaries in his own Democratic Party and the Republicans and a number of Democrats who were backed by the American Medical Association, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the Chamber of Commerce in return for many of them supporting the rest of the New Deal package of reforms.

Perkins and Olson, together with a very powerful and united left and labor movement tried, to no avail, to continue to insist that "universal health care" be included in the New Deal... this is an important little historical tid-bit that is left out of our history books as is the fact that a Saskatchewan preacher by the name of Tommy Douglas who was being introduced to politics at about this same time by workers and farmers in his congregation who were Communist Party members trying to emulate the success of the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party.

Tommy Douglas was convinced to run for public office and he made "socialized health care" one of the primary planks in his socialist campaign which successfully ousted a long-serving, corrupt, drunkard and anti-communist who was a servant of big-business and big agri-business from the Saskatchewan legislature.

As Tommy Douglas' socialist movement rapidly gained influence and expanded he was elected to the position of Premier of Saskatchewan and his socialist party formed a majority government... about the same time that the mine owners, the forestry and power generating industries, the bankers and big agri-businesses, the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce decided they had had had enough of cooperatives and socialism in Minnesota and they retained the most corrupt, most vile, most disgusting, most racist and anti-Semitic, most anti-labor, most anti-communist and anti-socialist lying son-of-a-bitch they could find--- Republican Harold Stassen--- to run against Minnesota's most decent, most respected, most honest and most open governor--- Elmer Benson--- who was overwhelmingly elected as Minnesota's governor... in fact, Harold Stassen and his campaign of lies and hate were on par with Hitler's... who knows, Hitler might have learned a few things from Stassen

Douglas' socialist majority held on to power for years in Saskatchewan, as it does today; and, was able to create a single-payer, universal health care system that became so popular even his big-business adversaries at the national level were forced by the Canadian people to create the Canada Health Act which brought about single-payer, universal health care for all Canadians... Tommy Douglas always insisted this was only the first step towards creating a fully socialized health care system and one step towards eradicating the scourge of capitalism... something Canadians today are having to grapple with as private, for-profit schemers are trying to get their hands further into health care as U.S. pharmaceutical companies are trying to bankrupt the Canadian health care system, just as they squeeze the life from the elderly here in this country in quest of ever larger profit margins.

Check out the Canada Health Act: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/hcs-sss/medi-assur/index_e.html

Manitobans have elected a socialist New Democratic Party government for the third consecutive time just as they have done throughout most recent history largely on the basis of the excellent health care system that has been maintained by the New Democratic Party.

Hubert Humphrey and Walter Mondale sabotaged the best efforts of progressive Minnesotans over many years to attain single-payer, universal health care.

Roger Jourdain, Rudy Perpich, and Paul Wellstone placed single-payer, universal health care back on the political agenda here in Minnesota and the Jourdain-Perpich Health Care Center on the Red Lake Indian Reservation stands as a monument to these efforts, just as Mesaba Cooperative Park stands as a living example to the movement that it took to bring the Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party of Olson, Benson, and Bernard to power... and these "monuments" along with the Wellstone Memorial in Eveleth stand as examples of what is possible if Minnesotans fully unite and insist that we will tolerate nothing less than true "single-payer, universal health care" for every Minnesotan.

Minnesota can be the Saskatchewan of the United States in creating the model for health care for the rest of the country to follow... as long as we don't allow the detractors of "universal health care" to confuse this debate... we need to stand firm; "universal health care" is "single-payer, universal health care" and we take this compromising step on the way to "socialized health care" because we need this band-aid to get us out of the present mess.

Let us be very clear: we have this health care mess because it has been created by an unhealthy social and economic system that places corporate profits before human needs... more specifically, the greed of corporations is being placed before the needs of working people.

The capitalist system is a rotten system; it is no wonder the capitalist system has spun a rotten health care system. The capitalist system is based upon a serious, incurable malady to begin with--- the exploitation of working people by the owners of capital and everything else, like health care, is turned into a racket.

One blogger, Doctor Rosenthal, a staunch supporter of single-payer, universal health care recently stated the problem very succinctly: Capitalism can solve only one problem — how to accumulate profit. Every other problem is waiting for a worker-run society that will put human needs first, including the need for a healthy environment. See Dr. Susan Rosenthal's excellent blog: http://powerandpowerlessness.typepad.com/

If Karl Marx couldn't get his message across here in the United States, Abraham Lincoln did it for him in his "Message to Congress" in 1861, in which he stated in no uncertain terms: "Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much higher consideration."

To this day, our history books ignore Lincoln's statement because no professor or think tank adjunct can refute it; and big-business fears any discussion of anything that suggests "Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much higher consideration." This formulation of Lincoln's should become the center of debate surrounding the health care issue... obviously the health care needs of working people are superior to the "needs" of the insurance and pharmaceutical companies and HMO's "need" to profit.

Make no mistake, in this health care debate we are speaking about the needs of working people to have access to health care; the wealthy and their political puppets can "afford" to pay for their own health care... but notice, members of congress, state legislators, the governor, can all "afford" health care... but we end up paying for their health care while we don't have the same access to health care. Just as Michael McGuire got health care as a corporate "perk;" at whose expense? All those paying big insurance premiums.

I think we are being very generous in suggesting that health care, like Social Security, be "universal." Ever notice who is first in line applying for their Social Security check? You got it... as much as they complain about "free lunches" these corporate CEO's are first in line to apply for Social Security, and they don't even need it. In the same way they will be first in line for no-fee health care. But in its generosity, as the working class struggled for some kind of old age pensions there was no complaint from working people that the undeserving parasitic capitalist class should be deprived of these benefits.

Working people understand full well there is no such thing as a "free lunch" because we have been paying for the gourmet meals of corporate executives for years while we feed our families on hamburger helper. We fully understand the difference between "no-fee" and "free." We are seeking "no-fee" single-payer, universal health care. We know that our labor creates all wealth. We also know that it is better to use this wealth that we have created to finance health care rather than squandering this wealth in a senseless, illegal, and immoral imperialist war for oil and regional domination in Iraq.

It is no coincidence that the very same politicians who have just recently voted to to continue the funding of this dirty war in Iraq are the very same politicians who make the claim that "single-payer, universal health care" is not affordable even though it would only cost a fraction of what is being spent to reign death and destruction in Iraq.

The time is long over-due to implement the final installment of the "New Deal" reforms... single-payer, universal health care... pay for it the exact same way Social Security is paid for.

The time is long overdue for forging the progressive coalition needed for winning "health care, not warfare."