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09.24 Unlocking secrets of sea level rise in Greenland [15 minute video]
09.24 What are public lands?
09.24 Americans: the next climate migrants 'We're moving to higher ground': America's era of climate mass migration is here [estimates do not include immigrants from other nations similarly affected]
09.24 Opec predicts massive rise in oil production over next five years [wonderful for fossil fuel investors; terrible for all plants and animals]
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09.24 Brett Kavanaugh faces second allegation of sexual misconduct09.23 MARYLAND GOVERNOR REBUFFS CALL FOR CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION INTO BRETT KAVANAUGH ATTEMPTED RAPE ALLEGATIONS [Republicans above the law...]
09.19 'Killing a generation': one million more children at risk from famine in Yemen [Does America's government have empathy? Does it understand the concept of morality? The Saudi Air Force would be ineffective without U.S. military assistance...]
Economics, Crony Capitalism
International & Futurism
09.18 Racist rioting in Chemnitz has reopened Germany’s east-west split [After 10,000 generations, we are all mixed-race. So let's become friends with our cousins instead!]
The Phony Age Gap War
First published in his blog Unsilent Generation yesterday, 14 September 2009
The real scandal is this: The only reason that any cuts at all need to made to Medicare is because pols are unwilling to cut the profits of insurance and drug companies. That’s where the money to finance health reform really should be coming from.
In “Politics and the Age Gap,” featured in yesterday’s New York Times, Adam Nagourney adds to the litany of recent articles that position old people as a primary obstacle to health care reform. In part, the target of these pieces is the tea party geezers who rant about socialism–but it goes well beyond that. Seniors tend to be depicted, explicitly or implicity, as obstinate or selfish because they fear cutbacks in Medicare will be made in order to provide health care for younger people. What’s more, they refuse to accept that Medicare must be cut back to keep it from going bankrupt before younger generations even get to use it. Thus, the argument goes, what’s really going on in the health care struggle is a fight by the old against the young, in which we miserly old coots are unwilling to give up what we’ve got for the sake of the greater good. “As the population ages and the nation faces intense battles over rapidly rising health care and retirement costs,” Nagourney writes, ”American politics seems increasingly divided along generational lines.”
But the whole intergenerational conflict is a phony one. This health reform debate is about substituting a trumped up intergenerational war for what ought to be class war–pitting the old against the young, instead of pitting the rich against the poor, or the corporations against the little guy.
If health reform moves forward, there surely will be cuts to Medicare–that isn’t some fantasy of demented old folks. And you can be sure the cuts won’t only apply, as promised, to “waste and inefficiency.” But the real scandal is this: The only reason that any cuts at all need to made to Medicare is because pols are unwilling to cut the profits of insurance and drug companies. That’s where the money to finance health reform really should be coming from.
In other countries, single-payer systems deliver better health care at far lower cost. If we did the same here–or at least made moves in that direction–there would be enough for everyone. We could have Medicare for all–the young as well as the old.
But that, of course, wouldn’t serve the interests of corporations or their conservative cronies. The interests in question are not only those of the drug and insurance companies, but of the financial giants on Wall Street. As Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research wrote back in January:
And here’s what I myself wrote on the subject a while back:
These dire predictions are surfacing again–but what’s now driving the move toward entitlement cuts isn’ t the bailout, but health care reform. And because Democrats aren’t willing to stand up to the force that’s most reponsible for soaring health care costs–the U.S. system of medicine-for-profit–they are playing right into this hand, jumping on the Medicare-cutting bandwagon.
In the end, old folks are likely to end up getting screwed by Medicare cuts–right at a time when we’ve already been screwed from several other angles. More from Dean Baker:
In view of all this, it’s no surprise that old folks have started to get paranoid, feeling like our country is getting ready to sweep us out with the trash. Too bad so many old people are wasting their time tilting at bogus adversaries like the death panels, instead of at their real enemies of their golden years.
Born in 1936, James Ridgeway has been reporting on politics for more than 45 years. He is currently Senior Washington Correspondent for Mother Jones, and recently wrote a blog on the 2008 presidential election for the Guardian online. He previously served as Washington Correspondent for the Village Voice; wrote for Ramparts and The New Republic; and founded and edited two independent newsletters, Hard Times and The Elements.
Ridgeway is the author of 16 books, including The Five Unanswered Questions About 9/11, It’s All for Sale: The Control of Global Resources, and Blood in the Face: The Ku Klux Klan, Aryan Nations, Nazi Skinheads, and the Rise of a New White Culture. He co-directed a companion film to Blood in the Face and a second documentary film, Feed, and has co-produced web videos for GuardianFilms.
Additional information and samples of James Ridgeway’s work can be found on his web site, http://jamesridgeway.net.
This article is republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.
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Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.This story was published on September 15, 2009.