Healthcare and Political Culture

I total agree with the article on healthcare but the problem runs deeper than costs, delivery of services and insurance. The real problem impeding the progress to a single-payer publically-run healthcare system is the political culture in the United States which currently dismisses the role of government as inefficient, wasteful, and ineffective.  On the other hand the private sector is minimally constrained by these impediments.

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The Progressive Generation: What Young Adults Think About the Economy

Anyone who has read a poll knows that the economy is the #1 concern for young people today, but what does that mean in terms of the policies they would support?  The Center for American Progress just issued a new report that sheds light on this not-often-explored intersection of demographics and policy.  The report - The Progressive Generation: How Young Adults Think About the Economy - does much to dispel myths (like the one that says young people are gung-ho about Social Security Privatization), and clarifies the position of Millennials on a number of issues.  The report provides some rays of hope to the labor movement, and has a lot to say not just about the economy, but really what Millennials think about the role of government in America.  

This should be mandatory reading for campaigns, the Party, and anyone seeking to understand the political beliefs of the youngest generation. Here are the major findings:

  • Millennials are more likely to support universal health coverage than any age group in the 30 previous years the question has been asked, with 57 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds saying that health insurance should come from a government insurance plan.

  • Eighty-seven percent of Millennials think the government should spend more money on health care even if a tax increase is required to pay for it, the highest level of support in the question's 20-year history.

  • An overwhelming 95 percent of Millennials think education spending should be increased even if a tax increase is required to pay for it, the highest level ever recorded on this question in the 20 years it has been asked.
  • Sixty-one percent of Millennials think the government should provide more services, the most support of any age group in any of the previous 20 years the question was asked.

  • When asked in the General Social Survey whether they were in favor or against the idea that cutting government was a good way to help the economy, Millennials had the lowest support of cutting government spending in the history of the question.

  • Millennials are very supportive of  labor unions, giving them an average ranking of 60 on a 0-to-100 scale (with 0 indicating a more negative view of labor unions and 100 being a more positive view), the second-highest level of support of any age group in the over 40-year history of the question.

For the more graphically inclined, here's what that looks like in graphs:

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Being dragged into the laboring lower class...

As I drove past the Sheetz gas station in Shepherdstown this morning (once the lowest-priced venue in the area and now one of the most expensive) regular gas listed for 3.75 a gallon. It made me think. I drive approximately 30 miles a day to and from work in a car that averages 33 miles to the gallon (a 2001 Toyota Echo). That means just driving to work now runs me about $75.00 a month just to commute to work. It used to cost me a third of that... $25.00 a month.

The cost of food, largely dependent on the trucking costs that bring carrots to the Food lion in Shepherdstown, for example, has increased by about 30% in the past few months. Eating is now a much more expensive pastime.

So basics have gone up about $1800.00 a year, but payroll hasn't.

My retirement account has lost eight thousand dollars this past quarter or so because of the dive of the stock markets and the wretched effect of the mortgage fiasco on the economy. That means, with my increase in expenses, I'm now $10,000.00 poorer. I haven't figured my wife in here, but if I did, our household would have taken at least a $20,000.00 dive.

I don't feel middle-class anymore. I used to. Since Reagan, the government that regulated banks and oil and trade and insurance and airlines and all the basic needs we consider to be the foundation of middle class existence has de-regulated everything, leaving corporations and lobbyists and multi-millionaires (and Charles Gibson, apparently) in charge of this faltering economy.

Conservatives, who have dominated this country for the past 30 years or so, have always claimed to be protectors of America... champions of small and efficient government... those who see America as safe for Americans. In reality, they have destroyed the America we had and fought two world wars for. They have exploded the size of government, primarily to deal with the massive infusion of corporate lobbyists they have turned much of America over to.

The folks we now call liberals are, I believe, the real conservatives. Those who would conserve America for Americans... regulate corporations back from their status as "citizens" to their former existence as job sites... bring banks and mortgage companies under ethical scrutiny, not be their own kind, but by our elected officials.

Elected officials! We once elected people to pass laws and regulate those who would take over and rape the economy. We have to get back there again.

It is one of the reasons I support Barack over Hillary. Lobbyists and "free traders"(there's a misnomer if ever there was one!) know she will keep things in their interest. Obama, so far, actually looks like a change.

Let's hope.

Under The LobsterScope

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The SuperDelegates and Representative Government

I don't think that the SuperDelegates have any obligation to to vote according to the vote in their areas.  They, especially the DNC members, were not elected to represent a position.  The DNC members were elected to help the party function effectively and to succeed in elections.  Congresscritters, Senators, and Governors are in a little different position.

So I return to the philosophical question that has plagued me since I was about sixteen, when I read "Profiles in Courage" and "Advise and Consent." The question is, when and based on what criteria does a person elected to represent a constituency depart from the "will of the people" and vote the person's conscience, firmly believing that that departure from the will of the people is in the long-term best interest of the country?  Where do you draw the line?  After all, this is a republic, not a pure democracy.  If it were a pure democracy, all legislation would be put up to a plebiscite rather than have representatives decide on our behalf.  

I think that if I were a representative, I would have no problem in voting against the majority of my constituents, if, after studying the issue thoroughly and examining all points of view, I came to believe that the majority were wrong and their "will" would be harmful to the country.  My task then, would be to convince the people that I was right, and if I couldn't do that, they would have a perfect right to replace me with someone else.

Stan Davis
Lakewood, CO

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Indestructible Food: With Love from America, Inc.

By Cameron Salisbury

There can be no doubt that the United States has one of the most legally polluted food supplies in the Western world. Antibiotics and hormones have long been allowed in chicken and cattle feed, a practice forbidden in Europe. Plastics, which release compounds that interfere with normal cell division, are present in baby bottles, soda cans, and milk and water bottles We have more additives of all kinds: preservatives, dyes, color enhancers, taste enhancers, texture enhancers, sugar substitutes, emulsifiers, thickeners, all labeled `GRAS', generally regarded as safe, by the porous safety net charged with protecting our food supply: the Food and Drug Administration.  

Especially since about 1970, as more chemicals and other `enhancements,' like genetically modified ingredients, have inundated the grocery store, other things have also been happening. Consider that, with no known cause:  A girl entering puberty at age eight is no longer considered an anomaly; the U.S. no longer grows the tallest people on earth- in fact, we aren't even in the top 5; our life expectancy has fallen behind many other nations; we are among the heaviest people on earth; the rate of the devastating condition known as autism is mushrooming.

There is no research linking these facts to our food supply because there seems to be no research whatever on the impact of a degraded food supply on human health.  But the incidental evidence is causing plenty of unease. The legal contamination of the food supply has now reached levels where no one can predict the outcome, and the adulteration just keeps on coming.

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