I received an e-mail from a member of the Progressive Democrats of America in Wisconsin asking me to explain my thinking about this; she is really upset that so much work has been put into building support for single-payer because she thinks it will all be for naught.
I received another letter from Carl Davidson of Progressives for Obama... Davidson puts it this way: "I don't support any other health care plan other than single-payer universal health care." Well, this sure is a divisive and defeatist attitude.
And, Sara Robinson of the Campaign for America's Future/America's Future Now says that I am not telling the truth when I state that CAF/AFN is undermining the single-payer universal health care movement; claiming, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, that CAF/AFN remains committed to single-payer universal health care.
And, of course, we have the Democrats claiming that single-payer is a nice idea but it is not in the political cards at this time (if anyone believes these Democrats will ever place single-payer on the agenda they are living in the world of make-believe) because when anyone takes money from powerful corporations, the well-heeled and very influential people with money to oppose something like single-payer they had better do it or these powerful interests will simply replace them in the United States House and Senate.
Then we have Barack Obama, the grand-daddy of all the con-artists and flim-flam charlatans who puts Elmer Gantry to shame as an amateur, saying that single-payer is a great idea if only it didn't go against the "American tradition" of "employer-paid health insurance" as the policies of his Administration through hundreds of thousands of workers out into the streets without jobs--- without employers!--- every month, with no end of rising unemployment in sight.
I received another e-mail from a very astute activist in Michigan asking in a Letter to the Editor, "Will we have to change the entire U.S. Congress before we can get single-payer universal health care?"
On top of this we have wonderful organizations like the All Unions Committee For Single Payer Health Care--HR 676 who day after day keep us informed of all the new support single-payer universal health care is receiving in the form of the most wonderful resolutions from unions at every level in this country; from union locals to the national federations and their affiliates. This is a typical e-mail we receive on any given day from the small, under-financed, over-worked All Unions Committee For Single Payer Health Care--HR 676:
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com] On Behalf Of Unions for Single Payer HR676
Sent: Tuesday, June 23, 2009 11:32 PM
To: Alan Maki
Cc: News about union support for single-payer health care and HR 676
Subject: Three Maine Labor Councils Call on AFL-CIO Convention to Endorse HR 676
Three Maine Labor Councils Call on AFL-CIO Convention to Endorse HR 676
and Call for March On Washington
Three Labor Councils in Maine, Southern, Western and Central, have
followed the lead of the Maine State AFL-CIO in calling on the national
AFL-CIO September Convention to endorse HR 676 and educate and mobilize
for its passage.
The resolution passed by the 3 councils urges that the AFL-CIO Convention:
“…pursue the passage of HR 676, the ‘United States National Health Care
Act’ to meet the needs of our members, our families, and all America, and
not endorse or support any fallback program of mandated insurance which
includes the wasteful, for-profit insurance industry….”
The resolution further calls on the AFL-CIO to “...help organize and
financially support a ‘Healthcare is a Human right’ Solidarity March and
Rally in Washington, DC.”
Chris Teret, President of the Southern Council said: “The Southern Maine
Labor Council realizes that the fundamental principle of labor is
solidarity—an injury to one is an injury to all. For that reason, the
labor movement can’t support any health care system except one that
includes everybody, no exceptions. We know the insurance companies are
the problem and we’re ready to see them gone….”
The Troy Area Labor Council initiated the campaign to get resolutions
urging support of HR 676 sent to the AFL-CIO Convention which meets in
Pittsburgh September 14-17. The sample resolution and information on how
to submit a resolution are at: http://pefencon.info/HR676/Resolution.htm
Convention resolutions can be submitted at
firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline for submitting
resolutions is Aug. 14th. #30#
HR 676 would institute a single payer health care system by expanding a
greatly improved Medicare system to everyone residing in the U. S.
HR 676 would cover every person for all necessary medical care including
prescription drugs, hospital, surgical, outpatient services, primary and
preventive care, emergency services, dental, mental health, home health,
physical therapy, rehabilitation (including for substance abuse), vision
care, hearing services including hearing aids, chiropractic, durable
medical equipment, palliative care, and long term care.
HR 676 ends deductibles and co-payments. HR 676 would save hundreds of
billions annually by eliminating the high overhead and profits of the
private health insurance industry and HMOs.
In the current Congress, HR 676 has 83 co-sponsors in addition to Conyers.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has introduced SB 703, a single payer bill
in the Senate.
HR 676 has been endorsed by 540 union organizations in 49 states including
128 Central Labor Councils and Area Labor Federations and 39 state
AFL-CIO's (KY, PA, CT, OH, DE, ND, WA, SC, WY, VT, FL, WI, WV, SD, NC, MO,
MN, ME, AR, MD-DC, TX, IA, AZ, TN, OR, GA, OK, KS, CO, IN, AL, CA, AK, MI,
MT, NE, NY, NV & MA).
For further information, a list of union endorsers, or a sample
endorsement resolution, contact:
All Unions Committee For Single Payer Health Care--HR 676
c/o Nurses Professional Organization (NPO)
1169 Eastern Parkway, Suite 2218
Louisville, KY 40217
(502) 636 1551
One has to wonder why the AFL-CIO hasn't been doing what the All Unions Committee For Single Payer Health Care--HR 676 has been doing... but, then, in asking this we begin to find the answer as to what is wrong with the labor movement in the United States today and why the National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Wall Street coupon clippers take the two major labor federations--- the AFL-CIO and Change To Win--- as nothing more than minor irritants; anyone can read the joint FBI/CIA report--- Family Jewels--- and find out why this is.
On top of this, we have United States Congressman John Conyers who had Cindy Sheehan arrested because she brought a group of people to his office who thought he was sincere about impeaching Bush and Cheney, only to find that all of his talk was nothing but hot air and political rhetoric designed by intent to drum up support for Democrats like Barack Obama who he knew would sink single-payer universal health care; yet, Conyers continues right on talking about how he is supporting H.R. 676, the single-payer initiative that now has fewer Congressional endorsers than it ever did and in the U.S. Senate Bernie Sanders has brought forward a different version of single-payer and he can't even get any support from his fellow Senators.
Then we come to the Physicians for a National Health Program, the major advocates of single-payer universal health care who shot off both their feet before they could ever hit the ground running by assuring all the doubters, cynics and opponents of single-payer universal health care that the charges of "socialized health care" being made against single-payer universal health care were untrue since single-payer with its "privately delivered health care" would fit right in with free enterprise.
The Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council has been a primary mover in the Midwest behind single-payer universal health care. We have researched the history of health care reform in this country and around the the world going back to the Soviet revolution, Madam Secretary of Labor---Frances Perkins and her New Deal reforms, articulated what the benefits of the Canada Health Act are compared to what we have in this country and explored the Cuban socialized health care model. On top of this, we have been amongst the most active supportive of single-payer universal health care with our activities involving distributing hundreds of thousands of leaflets, organizing support at the precinct level, county, state and national level inside and outside of the Democratic Party for single-payer universal health care as a step towards socialized health care. We have testified at hearings, participated in rallies and marches; we have circulated petitions and open letters. We have shared information and resources with other people and organizations--- including many who stabbed us in the back when it came time for them to speak up about the terrible and atrocious conditions of smoke-filled casinos and over two-million casino workers forced to work without any rights under state or federal labor labor laws at poverty wages in the Indian Gaming Industry by those supporters of single-payer who repeatedly make the claim that a big part of their support for health care reform is teaching people how to stay well. In short, we have participated at every level, in every way in building what support we could for single-payer universal health care.
As a result of our activities on behalf of single-payer universal health care, we have made a number of observations:
First, the single-payer movement has reached maximum strength and this strength simply is not enough to achieve a victory.
Two, the reason that the single-payer movement cannot build beyond its present strength which is very formidable is that the majority of the American people realize the limitations of "private delivery of health care;" and most people want nothing less than what VA and the Indian Health Service offers... free health care for all... or, as we call it, a national public health care system: socialized health care.
The Cubans created such a health care system... largely with help, assistance, advice and often supplies from Americans employed in the field of public health care.
The Cubans took the children of nickel miners and sugar plantation workers who had been treated like slaves before the socialist revolution, and educated them to be doctors and the best health care providers in the entire world--- making health care one of Cuba's most valuable exports, and winning them many friends on all continents while the United States has been exporting poverty, exploitation and war.
The Canadian never got health care reform until the socialist Tommy Douglas was elected the premier of Saskatchewan and challenged the American Medical Association and the for-profit health care providers and the insurance companies... yes, it did take completely changing to a socialist government in Saskatchewan and the Cubans needed a revolution to get their health care reform. The Soviets set the example in the area of health care that is still the model envied by people all over the world who seek to emulate the excellent health care the Soviets provided the people with for over seventy years... "the Bolshevik plot" the American Medical Association still fears.
Anti-communism denied the American people health care reform as part of the New Deal package of reforms; it is this same fear of socialism that now has the movement for single-payer universal health care hamstrung, castrated and unable to influence even the most progressive public officials who, every time they assure us they are not for socialized health care, they deal another death blow to single-payer universal health care.
Of course, like everything under capitalism, there are those who have made quite nice livings from working for single-payer universal health care. There are those organizations like the Progressive Democrats of America and John Conyers who wrap themselves in single-payer universal health care as if it is the American flag knowing full well, they have no intent of opening up the kind of grassroots movement that would really be required to win single-payer universal health care because they know full well, the larger the single-payer movement grows the louder the demand for socialized health care becomes.
The Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council and our affiliated local Organizing Committees will continue to support single-payer universal health care based upon the Canadian model with the understanding this will be a step towards a national public health care system--- socialized health care.
However, our efforts will be to encourage a broad and far ranging discussion about socialized health care... the only really viable option that will enable us to "bundle" the need for health care reform as part of a complete "people's bailout" package.
We are for continued work inside of the Democratic Party as we expand our primary efforts to working towards building some kind of "people's front" capable of replacing the good-for-nothing Democrats in Congress and the state legislatures with real representatives of the people.
Towards these ends, we will increasingly be talking about, and doing what we can, to help build a political movement constructed upon the progressive foundation we inherited from the real Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party, a party of socialism... which is more of an American tradition than the hoax of "employer provided health care;" especially at a time when so many working people are unemployed--- without employers.
Any country that can finance wars being fought in three countries at the same time, maintain a huge nuclear and biological weapons arsenal, fund 800 U.S. military bases dotting the globe and spend trillions of dollars bailing out a bunch of crooked and corrupt Wall Street thieves can establish 800 major public health care centers spread out across the united states with thousands of public satellite health care centers dotting the country like fire halls, police stations, public schools and public libraries providing the health care the American people need, expect and want.
Socialism really does work whenever the needs of people come before corporate profits.
The American people will be satisfied with a public health care system that delivers as well as the system of public education has for well over one-hundred years in this country. The fee for health care should be no more than checking out a $75.00 book at the local public library and getting health care should be just as easy and efficient as mailing a letter using the United States Postal Service... for those getting the health care services of VA or the Indian Health Service, this is the kind of health care Americans already receive... there is no reason this socialized health care should not be extended to all of us now.
I would point out that the National Indian Gaming Association joins with the American Medical Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, the health insurance industry and the HMO's along with most members of the U.S. House and U.S. Senate in opposing single-payer universal health care.
We can either watch the single-payer universal health care movement die with our efforts being wasted; or, we can build the kind of real grassroots/rank-and-file movement required to win socialized health care... such an outgrowth of the single-payer movement would be the most appropriate way to proceed as we seek out allies from other sections of the people's movements fighting for reforms such as moratoriums on all home foreclosures and evictions, for an end to malnutrition and hunger, for a minimum wage that is a real living wage, for reforming the laws regulating the right of workers to organize more effectively, for social justice and peace and for an end to all forms of racial discrimination in employment, housing, education and health care and for the right of all workers to be employed in healthy and safe work environments and their right to live in communities with clean air and water. We need to begin to explore the option of nationalization through public ownership of the basic industries from steel and auto to banking and communications as the way to save jobs and protect and defend the living standards of working people. No-fee, public child-care has become just as important as no-fee public health care for the labor movement to work for.
Together, we must strive to win through politics those things we cannot win at the bargaining tables... this is the way forward for a genuine labor movement.
It is all about priorities; this big-business dominated government has the priorities of Wall Street in mind when it comes to making each and every decision... yes, we do need a new government and getting such a new government is no more difficult than what it was for those who built the New Democratic Party in Canada or the real Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party... it will take the initiative of grassroots and rank-and-file working people... those at the top have already determined they will sell us out on single-payer just as they have done on every other issue.
I would also point out that the organized labor movement in this country is very weak and small... we will have to move the entire working class--- organized and unorganized--- into action if we want to get results... unless of course one considers the election of Barack Obama a "victory."
Yes, single-payer universal health care is dead. Obama and the Democrats as beholden to Wall Street's interests as the Republicans have killed it. These Democrats should be properly "thanked" at the polls... but, the movement for real health care reform must move on right along with the people's growing movements for real change, peace, social & economic justice.
Health care is a human right and so are a lot of other things like the right to work in smoke-free casinos receiving real living wages and to have a voice at work which working people only achieve to some degree under capitalism with a union contract.
Again, to us as casino workers, we are very disappointed that so few advocates of single-payer universal health care lack any concern for the plights of some two-million workers employed in smoke-filled casinos in the Indian Gaming Industry--- this causes us to wonder how sincere some of these doctors and labor "leaders" really are.
Just recently, the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States and Canada (UA), held their state convention at the smoke-filled Fortune Bay Casino and Resort where workers are forced to sign an affidavit stating they will not engage in union organizing as one of the terms for their employment. This convention was attended by Ray Waldron, the racist President of the Minnesota AFL-CIO... shameful, disgraceful... this is no way to build unity of the working class and the progressive movement. The UA has, historically, been among the most racist unions in the AFL-CIO and here in Minnesota this union has stayed true to its racist and reactionary history. Dick Anfang, the racist president of the Minnesota Building and Construction Trades Council was also present at this convention. Mr. Anfang has encouraged and promoted the racist, anti-labor sweetheart agreements between labor and in Minnesota Indian Gaming Industry for many years. In fact, the agreements made between the Building Trades Unions are so racist that Mr. Anfang doesn't even dare to disclose the labor-management agreements to state legislators or the general public and even those paying union dues are denied the right to see the contracts! Such unions can pass resolution after resolution in support of single-payer universal health care, as these unions have done; but, there is ext to no chance that anyone will take these racist and corrupt union leaders like Dick Anfang or Ray Waldron seriously... certainly not the politicians who take their bribes and then turn away laughing at them.
But, the ultimate "joke" is on working people who suffer without access to health care just as casino workers are forced to work in smoke-filled casinos and just as the "joke" will be on casino patrons when one of these casinos collapses because of the cheap, sub-standard steel girders and beams made from cheap imported steel from which the casinos are being constructed, like the new casino being built by Red Lake Gaming Enterprises.
Tax-payers will ultimately foot the health care bills for tens of thousands of casino workers forced to work in these smoke-filled casinos who are already suffering from cancers, heart and lung problems and complications due to second hand smoke from their existing diabetes and asthma.
To even think that labor federations led by racists like Ray Waldron or Dick Anfang will lead the struggle for single-payer universal health care or any other health care reform when they have not demonstrated one iota of concern for the health and well-being tens of thousands of Minnesotans who are forced to work in these casinos is the epitome of self-delusion... there is a reason why working people have been reluctant to organize in Minnesota and across the country... not because they lack an Employee Free Choice Act, but, because they see a bunch of uncaring racists like Dick Anfang and Ray Waldron living off their union dues who won't lift a finger to support the very single-payer universal health care legislation they claim to have endorsed only because they know their memberships will begin to work at the rank-and-file level for socialized health care if they don't pretend to be concerned... and the single-payer movement, with its middle class base (as opposed to working class), provides them with such a cover of looking like they have the best interests of the workers they are collecting dues from when nothing could be further from the truth.
We have had quite a lot to say over the years about single-payer universal health care and we have always tried to be very gentle with what we perceived to be the the truth that this movement was a movement of the relatively well-heeled middle class professionals and small business people and money-grubbing doctors who most people can't even trust for a truthful diagnosis, always wondering if profit is more the motive of finding problems and expensive "treatments" from which they derive huge profits more a motive than getting them well when sick.
We just felt now is the time for a cold, hard reality check... better to re-adjust our goals towards a public health care system than to let the movement we have helped to build die along with single-payer universal health care now left in the hands of John Conyers who had Cindy Sheehan arrested just like Max Baucus did with single-payer supporters. The present gaggle of Wall street owned and corrupted politicians will not be delivering anything in line with real health care reform... neither will the Democrats who couldn't even deliver this important reform when it had the support of President Franklin D. Roosevelt... there simply is far too much money to be made off of health care in this country to think that these politicians will ever put health care for people before profits.
The cold sad truth.
Alan L. Maki
Director of Organizing,
Midwest Casino Workers Organizing Council
Representing tens of thousands of casino workers employed in the Indian Gaming Industry forced to work under the most severe, repressive and Draconian conditions in smoke-filled casinos at poverty wages without any rights under state, federal or tribal labor laws.
A good union contract is better than any government anti-poverty program and a whole lot less expensive for tax-payers.
The proponents of the Indian Gaming Industry promised $40.00 an hour jobs... we intend to make this a reality for each and every casino worker; along with the right to be employed in smoke-free casinos.