USA! USA! We’re Number One! We’re Number One!
September 6, 2012

Among industrialized nations, the United States has the

  • highest poverty rate, both generally and for children;
  • greatest inequality of incomes;
  • lowest government spending as a percentage of GDP on social programs for the disadvantaged;
  • lowest average number of days for paid holiday, annual leaves, and maternity leaves;
  • lowest score on the United Nations index of “material well-being of children”;
  • worst score on the United Nations gender inequality index;
  • lowest social mobility;
  • highest public and private expenditure on health care as a percentage of GDP

These trends are accompanied by the

  • highest infant mortality rate;
  • highest prevalence of mental health problems;
  • highest obesity rate;
  • highest proportion of population going without health care due to cost;
  • second-lowest birth-weight for children per capita, behind only Japan;
  • highest consumption of antidepressants per capita;
  • third-shortest life expectancy at birth, behind only Denmark and Portugal;
  • highest carbon dioxide emissions and water consumption per capita;
  • second-lowest score on the World Economic Forum’s environmental performance index, behind only Belgium;
  • third-largest ecological footprint per capita, behind only Belgium and Denmark;
  • highest rate of failure to ratify international agreements;
  • lowest spending on international development and humanitarian assistance as a percentage of GDP;
  • highest military spending as a portion of GDP;
  • largest international arms sales;
  • fourth-worst balance of payments, behind only New Zealand, Spain, and Portugal;
  • third-lowest scores for student performance in math, behind only Portugal and Italy, and far from the top in both science and reading;
  • second-highest high-school dropout rate, behind only Spain;
  • highest homicide rate;
  • largest prison population per capita.

From Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt by Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco: 2012, Nation Books.

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Here’s An Interesting Blog by Jane Devin
July 29, 2012

Take a look at Jane Devin’s blog, especially this piece on the attitudes of the middle class toward the poor.

I don’t know who she is, but she writes good stuff.

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End The Bloodshed in Syria: Kill Assad
May 27, 2012

Bashar al Assad in Syria killed some ninety people in the town of Hula yesterday or Friday. Thirty-two were children. Assad claims he was acting against ‘armed terrorist groups’, his standard justification for his mass murders. Pictures of dead children, their heads split open, name Assad for what he is.

The world wrings its hands and asks him to stop using heavy weapons in civilian areas. There are calls for the United Nations Security Council to meet and condemn the action. The United States wants Russia to help ‘ease’ Assad from power.

Ease Assad from power?

The man is a liar, a psychopathic mass murderer, a piece of moral scum no decent human being would have in his home. He murders children, not as ‘collateral damage’ but as policy.

And analysts and government spokesmen in the West bemoan that there is no easy solution to the situation. It’s too complicated, they say. Our hands are tied, they say. Israel is too close to Syria, they say. Alawite Christians are involved, they say. The Syrian army is too strong, they say. Our actions might precipitate civil war, they say. So they let it go on and make mewling noises about what a terrible thing it is that the Syrian government is slaughtering its own people, that Syrian soldiers, under the command of Assad, are splitting open the heads of children.

You cannot negotiate with an animal like Assad. His father was an amoral animal. His brother is an amoral animal. Both have bred spawn.

There is only one way to end Assad’s murderous rampage. Kill him. Kill his wife. Kill his children. Kill his brother. Kill his brother’s children. Kill the entire Assad family.

Meet savagery with savagery. Hunt them with SEAL teams. Send cruise missiles into their mansions and palaces and homes. Hound them until they are hiding in caves and then fire the caves with napalm.

But before you do that, take Bashar al Assad aside in one of those fancy rooms where diplomats and politicians decide how many of what kind of anonymous people they will arrange the deaths of and tell him he has two hours to withdraw his forces to barracks. At the end of the two hours, if he refuses, tell him there is no place on earth he, his wife, his children, his relatives, can hide. Tell him they will all be hunted down and killed. The legacy of Assad will be… exactly nothing. The blood of the Assad line will water the desert and disappear forever.

And then do it. No matter if he stops the attacks on the Syrian people. Kill him and his no matter what. Such people can not be tolerated any longer. Not in the Middle East. Not in Africa. Not in Asia. Not in Europe. Not in South America. Not in North America. Not in the United States.

Of course none of that will happen. Assad will continue on his merry, bloody way knowing the countries that could stop him haven’t got the balls to do it. He knows they will continue to wring their hands and say bad things about him, but will do nothing. The response of sanctions is simply a joke. They don’t affect him and his in any serious way and he doesn’t give a damn about what the sanctions visit on the Syrian people. He knows, in that clear-sighted way that psychopaths know things, that he will never be called to account for the blood on his hands.

When you look into the abyss of human nature, when you look into the darkest, ugliest places, the depths of what we are, you will see Assad grinning back at you.

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John Judis: Republicans Are Insurrectionists
September 6, 2011

Over at The New Republic John Judis has called out the Republicans for what they are, and it ain’t pretty. The remarks come in the midst of an analysis of President Obama’s confusion about what comprises courage and what comprises compromise. It should be obvious by now to anyone with three live brain cells that Obama lacks courage and has no clue about the skills of compromise. But on the Republicans, here’s Judis:

Over the last four decades, the Republican Party has transformed from a loyal opposition into an insurrectionary party that flouts the law when it is in the majority and threatens disorder when it is the minority. It is the party of Watergate and Iran-Contra, but also of the government shutdown in 1995 and the impeachment trial of 1999. If there is an earlier American precedent for today’s Republican Party, it is the antebellum Southern Democrats of John Calhoun who threatened to nullify, or disregard, federal legislation they objected to, and who later led the fight to secede from the union over slavery.

Today, Republicans are threatening a government shutdown and an international monetary crisis over raising the debt ceiling. They have demanded a set of ruinous concessions as a condition for raising the ceiling. These conditions would include draconian budget cuts at a time when economic growth has virtually stalled—it grew a mere 0.9 percent the first half of this year—because of the exhaustion of the 2009-10 government stimulus. To gain Tea Party votes, House Speaker John Boehner set another condition for raising the debt ceiling again in six months: the passage by the House and Senate of a constitutional amendment to balance the budget. An amendment of this kind would make it impossible for the federal government to reverse economic downturns. The Republicans are, in effect, demanding a major constitutional change in return for not shutting down the government and undermining the American economy. That’s insurrectionary behavior.

No argument here. The Republicans are elitist scum, out to destroy the country for no reason other than to feather their own nest. Too bad they don’t understand that they’re crapping in their own nest too.

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Economics Professor Proposes Another Stupid Conservative Republican Health Plan
August 28, 2007

In the Globe today, a Boston University economics professor named Laurence J. Kotlikoff offers his solution to health care in America.

It reeks of conservative idiocy. Here’s the proposal, quoted at length:

My solution is called the Medical Security System. It would eliminate Medicare, Medicaid, and (by dropping the tax breaks) employer-based healthcare. The government would give everyone a voucher each year for a basic health plan. The size of the voucher would be based on one’s health status. Those in worse health would get bigger vouchers, leaving insurers no incentive to cherry-pick. Furthermore, insurers would not be permitted to refuse a voucher or otherwise deny coverage.

The government would set the total voucher budget as a fixed share of gross domestic product and determine what a basic plan must cover. We would choose our own health plans. If we cost the insurer more than the voucher, he would lose money. If we cost him less, he would make money. Insurers would compete for our business and could tailor provisions, like co-pays and incentives to stop smoking, to limit excessive use of the healthcare system and encourage healthy behavior.

Nothing would be nationalized. Virtually all of the cost would be covered by redirecting existing government healthcare expenditures as well as tax breaks. Doctors, hospitals, and insurers would continue to market their services on a competitive basis.

This is not a French, British, or Canadian solution. It’s an American, market-based solution that Republicans should love. It’s also a progressive solution that Democrats should love.

What is it with these guys and their overweening desire to protect the insurance companies?

A voucher? To the insurance company? Why? If you’re going to hand out money, give it to the doctors and the hospitals when they provide actual health care to someone.  Why hand it to a useless middleman who will take a twenty or thirty percent cut to pay outrageous salaries, and then crap all over the sick patient?

Why? Because that’s the Conservative and the Republican way.

And who’s going to determine the size of these vouchers? Who’s going to determine the health status of an individual? Some government or insurance bureaucrat?

And doctors and hospitals do not market their services on a competitive basis. Ever see an ad with a list of prices the doctors are charging? Or how about a hospital ad pushing this week’s specials in heart surgery? As for insurers, hell, they’re thieves from the get go.

You bet it’s not a French, British, or Canadian solution. Those countries have healthcare that actually works to take care of the patient instead of insurance bigwigs.

And market-based solutions? Oh spare me the failed mantra. There’s forty-seven million people out there in America with access to the ‘market’. Guess what? They can’t afford it. They’ve got a choice, alright. Go broke paying for health insurance designed to deny them health care, or go broke paying medical bills. Some frigging market, Professor.

You want proper healthcare? Then go to single payer.

Free the doctors to deliver healthcare instead of filling out a wasteful myriad of insurance forms.

Free the people from the dread of illness that can take away their life savings, their home, their dignity, their freedom.

Free the business community from an increasingly unbearable burden of insurance costs that damages their ability to compete in the ‘market’ you conservative clowns value so highly.

You get sick, you go to the doctor. The doctor takes care of you and bills the government. The government pays him. Charge an affordable co-pay if necessary. Raise some taxes to pay for it. Quit wasting billions on a bloated, useless, ineffective military and on senseless wars. Tax the rich instead of giving them a free ride on the backs of the working people.

We don’t need insurance companies with their fancy buildings and overpaid CEOs and executives, and their office drones making healthcare decisions that doctors should be making.

Go back to your little ivory tower, Kotlikoff. And if you ever manage to pull your head out of your butt and get out and see how real people live and struggle and how their lives are screwed over by harebrained ideologies like yours, maybe then you can come up with something that works in the real world for real people.