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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...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Single-payer universal health care

An open Letter to James Mayer, Host on Air America and John Kolstad of the Minnesota Universal Health Care Coalition (MUHCC)

Note: This "Open Letter" was also sent to United States Senate candidate Priscilla Lord Faris

-----Original Message-----

From: Alan Maki [mailto:amaki000@centurytel.net]

Sent: Sunday, August 17, 2008 9:41 AM

To: James Mayer at info@jamesmayer.org and John Kolstad

Cc: David Shove, Editor, Progressive Calendar

Subject: Single-payer Universal Health Care

Mr. Mayer and John Kolstad;

I see where you are going to be discussing health care at the Minnesota State Fair.

As usual, it looks like the discussion, by intent, will omit some real options in the way of health care reform.

You have an obligation to tell people how much this “Plan” of MN State Senator John Marty will cost people; and, who is going to be paying how much.

You have an obligation to tell Minnesotans the cost of this “Plan.”

Dr. James Hart has told me that this Marty “Plan” is projected to save people 10% to 15% off what they pay now. This is not good enough.

Every time people are given the opportunity to have input to what they want, and expect, in the form of health care reform they point to Canada and say: “We want the exact same plan Canadians have.”

There is ample proof that people mean what they say because Minnesotans continue to cross the border into Canada to purchase their prescription medication which is very selfish because this is placing a burden on the Canadian Health Care system--- the Canadian tax-payers are subsidizing what our own government will not provide to our own people.

Prescriptions in Canada are not cheaper than in the United States because some corporation decides to be nicer to Canadians than to us south of the border. Cheaper drug prices are the result of the entire Canadian health care system under the Canada Health Act.

Honesty and integrity in this debate over health care requires a Canadian perspective at this point simply because Americans crossing the border are placing this burden on the Canadian health care system and this is not fair to Canadians who are now paying higher prices for their medications as a result of all of this.

In fairness, I would suggest that you get the view from Canada, perhaps from Gary Doer or someone from his Administration to explain all of this and to explain just how the Canadian Health Act serves the Canadian people--- including explaining any problems with the system because we have a right to ALL information and viewpoints.

At this point it is very clear what Minnesotans want and expect from health care reform: We want no-fee, comprehensive, all-inclusive (from pre-natal to death with everything from eye and dentistry to physical therapy), cradle to grave, single-payer universal health care which is publicly funded and publicly administered paid for primarily the same way Social Security is funded with a special progressive tax assessment on businesses--- big-business would pay a greater percentage than small business.

However, in fairness, once Minnesotans hear the full story and have all the facts, they may want, and have a right to expect from their government, an even better plan than single-payer universal health care, which, by the way, the Marty “Plan” is not; Minnesotans, upon hearing all the facts and when presented with ALL of their options as is only right and fair, may decide they want a full-scale socialized health care system which was advocated by the two most popular governors in Minnesota history--- socialists Floyd Olson and Elmer Benson.

And, Tommy Douglas, who, without any doubt--- along with Doctor Norman Bethune, they were, and are, considered the fathers of the Canadian Health Act with Tommy Douglas having successfully brought single-payer universal health care to North America for the first time in the Province of Saskatchewan; Tommy Douglas made it very clear that he considered single-payer universal health care a “step towards” socialized health care. He based this on having seen the way doctors and all those involved in the health care industry were in health care to make a buck, rather than for serving the health care needs of the people.

In fact, what Tommy Douglas and his socialists put in place in Saskatchewan was the very same program being advanced by Frances Perkins, Franklin Roosevelt’s Secretary of Labor. When red-baited that her proposal was straight out of the “Communist Manifesto;” Perkins boldly and very honestly responded: “I would rather see this legislation helping the American people than remaining words on the pages of a pamphlet.”

Now, Mr. Mayer and Mr. Kolstad, I am suggesting to the two of you and all the other politicians and spokespersons you have had on Air America, Mr. Mayer, you refuse to tolerate a full dialogue, discussion and debate in which ALL views are brought forward--- including the Canada Health Act which the Canadians got the idea from Frances Perkins and Franklin Roosevelt AND socialized health care which had been advocated by both Floyd Olson and Elmer Benson throughout their long political careers and until each took their last gasp of air for life.

There is something inherently unfair with a mass communication media refuses to allow a full discussion, dialogue and debate on this health care issue as there is with the present health care mess itself. To me this sends a very powerful message that anything based on “market economics” and “free enterprise” is fatally flawed and rigged against the people to take their money but provide nothing of substance in return.

It just may happen that after hearing all of the facts, Minnesotans may not want anything short of socialized health care.

As the original author of the “Single-payer Universal Health Care Resolution” which was passed by 72% of the delegates to the State Convention of the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party, which the DFL leadership and just about every single elected, and those seeking election, DFL politician has gone on to ignore, I am, quite frankly, highly offended--- as I think most Minnesotans are--- that politicians, including John Marty, and organizations like the Minnesota Universal Health Care Coalition, are thumbing their noses at the democratic will of the people on this most important issue affecting ALL of us.

Up here in Roseau County, after an extensive door to door campaign, where we talked to thousands of people between 2000 and 2006, we found that the majority of the people we talked to--- 74%, very close to the number of DFL State Convention delegates in 2006 of which I was an elected delegate from Roseau County and the elected member of the State Central Committee to the Minnesota DFL from Roseau County--- I introduced a resolution, first at my Lake Township Precinct Caucus, then at the Roseau County Convention which stated in no uncertain terms our resolution on health care. That resolution stated: “Be it resolved the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party is for no-fee, comprehensive, all-inclusive single-payer universal health care; publicly financed and publicly administered.” This was the exact wording people chose from of the many options we provided them--- ranging from the fraudulent and phony Republican schemes of Health Savings Accounts to what John Marty is proposing to socialized health care.

In fact, the primary reason most of the thousands of people we spoke with in our door to door talks said they were for socialized health care but chose the wording of the resolution which passed was because they didn’t think politicians would go for socialized health care… people had just about no confidence in politicians really wanting to solve this mess… so they chose a “compromise” in the way of reform.

I support socialized health care as does our Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council. However, the people spoke and I took their resolution to the Lake Township Precinct Caucus and the Roseau County Convention where it passed without any opposition--- unanimously--- with all in attendance voting; both the Precinct Caucus and the County Convention were attended by record shattering numbers of people… all time highs.

It seems Floyd Olson and Elmer Benson are as popular today in Minnesota as when they served, having left us a legacy of progressivism even “love me, love me I’m a liberal” Hubert Humphrey and “I can’t shake this state’s progressive legacy” Tim Pawlenty have not been able to derail when it comes to health care reform.

In fact, the politicians do not dare take their real “programs” for health care reform door to door directly to the people as we have done because if they told the people the truth of their proposals after giving Minnesotans ALL the options as we have done here in Roseau County which borders Manitoba so we know what kind of health care Manitobans have--- good, quality health care; free health care--- and this is what we want; for now we will compromise and accept real single-payer universal health care, as a step towards socialized health care where all profits are removed from the health care system as the only consideration is keeping people healthy and treating them when sick as needed and as medically appropriate; a system where doctors earn a fair salary for a fair days work and not the income of a Wall Street coupon-clipper, regardless of what the American Medical Association thinks about this.

The capitalist sooth-sayers, from large and small business people, have had their say on this issue; the time has come to allow Minnesotans to have all available options made available to them so they can have their say, too… anything less makes a mockery and a farce out of democracy.

If John Marty, John Kolstad, the Minnesota Universal Health Care Coalition, the Democrats or Republicans, Barack Obama or John McCain think that we are not entitled to have ALL of our options on the table, including real single-payer universal health care and socialized health care, they should have the moral and political integrity and courage to explain why this dialogue, discussion and debate on health care should be limited in this way.

As the primary author of the MN DFL resolution on “single-payer universal health care” I can tell you that the proposed legislation being pushed forward by Senator John Marty is not our idea of single-payer universal health care by any stretch of anyone’s imagination. What this legislation being proposed by John Marty is, is a sop to his professional and small business constituency and there is no way working people can afford this boon-doggle… for sure not when people are losing their homes to foreclosures and being evicted because they can’t pay rent, saddled with credit card debts the result of trying to feed their families and heat their homes, not to mention the robbery taking place at the pumps where people have to have a second job just to get to the first… and if their first job is working in a casino they need a second job at Wal-mart in order to survive and a third job at Target just to pay for the gas to get to their other two jobs--- what will two-thousand Ford workers, hundreds in the airline industry, hundreds more on the Iron Range do with no jobs at all with unemployment nearing record levels as the capitalist economy appears to be on the skids to oblivion… under these circumstances, I don’t think Minnesotans want any part of John Marty’s proposed legislation which will cost the average worker still lucky enough to have a job between $700.00 and $800.00 per month.

Democracy demands some honesty here; something, like health care, we don’t seem to be able to have access to.

Now, before we go any further, let’s get Manitoba’s Premier, Gary Doer, down here to explain to Minnesotans how the Canada Health Act really works. Is someone afraid of the truth?

I find it interesting that single-payer universal health care has the obvious majority support; but, all the politicians are scheming and scamming trying to get around it.

Even an entirely new “coalition” has come into existence from among the supporters of Barack Obama trying to derail the single-payer universal health care movement… they seek to sabotage support for the federal single-payer universal health care legislation H.R. 676 which the Minnesota Universal Health Care Coalition has only provided lip-service to and even most of the MN DFL’s Congressional Caucus has refused to sign onto; in spite of the fact the 2006 resolution was specifically aimed at supporting H.R. 676… we need Minnesota to enact real single-payer universal health care legislation which will smoothly transition us to H.R. 676--- the proposed Marty legislation will not do this.

Let me be blunt, not meaning to offend anyone; but, we need health care reform to serve the working class… such legislation will take care of everyone else just fine--- even if business will shed a few tears as they always do when they can’t place the entire financial burden on the backs of working people. Quite frankly, it is time for business to do a little suffering… the profits they have reaped for so many years provides them with a nice soft pillow to cry into.

Mr Mayer, give me a call if you want the truth to be told like it really is.

By the way, why doesn’t Air America get both Priscilla Lord Faris and that clown Al Franken on to discuss this issue together… Minnesotans want to know where these two DFL U.S. Senate candidates stand on H.R. 676.

Speaking of clowns, Minnesota doesn’t need to send another clown like Al Franken to the United States Senate… we already have simultaneously operating three-ring circuses in St. Paul and in Washington D.C…. in fact, these are probably the longest continual running three-ring circuses in the world being passed off as the world’s greatest democracy… and single-payer universal health care and socialized health care can’t even get fair hearings… not even on “liberal” Air America.

Any country wealthy enough to finance the war in Iraq, subsidize the the Israeli carnage of the Palestinian people, stick its nose into bolstering a corrupt and incompetent government in Georgia to massacre the people of South Osetia, and still have money left over to send more troops into Afghanistan and support some one-hundred and fifty military bases around the world given the exorbitant price of fuels, certainly this government can afford socialized health care... or, at least single-payer universal health care for its own people.

Alan L. Maki
Director of Organizing,
Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council

58891 County Road 13
Warroad, Minnesota 56763
Phone: 218-386-2432
Cell phone: 651-587-5541
E-mail: amaki000@centurytel.net

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