Saturday, April 12, 2008

Joe Knollenberg, Republicans Make Us Sick

As I was sitting in the audience at the Rochester Chamber Legislative Update meeting in Rochester yesterday I felt angry and the more I listened, the angrier I got. There was Joe Knollenberg telling everyone how his health care idea, tax credits for wellness programs for employers, and his other mantra, personal responsibility, are the cures to what ails the American health care system.

Then I see this little article in the Oakland Press. I see them all the time, people holding fundraisers for people who have some kind of health care crisis, many times it's children. When I saw this article it made me think, this should NEVER happen in America. It also made me think how Joe was telling the audience about personal responsibility. Mike Bishop was doing it too. Well, I have to say, all that talk about personal responsibility was making me sick. When someone we know gets diagnosed with cancer, there is usually no personal responsibility that person has for getting cancer. Maybe smoking is an exception.

The boy mentioned in the article isn't to blame for getting cancer. What did he do that he doesn't deserve to get the best treatment available?

We are spending trillions of dollars on the fiasco in Iraq, but we can't afford health care for all of our citizens? What a joke.

As the line from the movie Network says, "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it any more." We can have universal, single payer health care in this country, if we just get mad enough and direct our anger at our government and demand it.

Joe, we aren't going to take it any more. Republicans are out of touch with main stream, middle class Americans and the "Let them eat cake" attitude of the Republican party is going to lead to sweeping victories for Democrats in the fall.


MIKE said...

Spot on Bruce. When will people realize they have been suckered by the Republicans. Time for change. It is all about pocket book issues vs greed.

Kathy said...

Bishop and Knollenberg are such hypocrites. They push personal responsibility for average Americans, yet their party bails out companies like Bear Sterns. Why don't they just level with us and admit they only care about corporate America.

Zark-Vader said...

That's certainly a difference between us, Bruce.

You get "sick" when you hear about people voluntarily getting together to help other people out in situations quite beyond humanely (or government) control.

I get sick when you insult people and call Republicans names without any depth of reasoning (or that we automatically make you sick) and act without civilty because and precisely when we are voluntarily acting locally to solve problems or doing charitable things. It's so wierd to me to hear you say you are sick when you point out a news story of people helping other people.

We clearly have different world views about whether government should attempt or even can succeed at taking over the solutions to all problems (and thereby eliminating charity as a concept through force) - but your worldview doesn't make me "sick". It worries me, because history has repetitively proven that government is an ineffective means at delivering the types of massive solutions you envision, but I don't question your motivations as evil. It worries me when I see all the "great societies" and "wars on poverty" that are promised, and years later only see a larger government infrastructure (that you admit is woefully ineffective, but ironically argue we need "more" of) that drains off even larger amounts of the average hard-working American's taxes. Now, you propose yet another government structure for yet another set of issues, and you get mad at people who are trying to do something without it first clearing through that bureaucracy.

And I'm not entirely against precise or innovative uses of government in certain situations, as long as the nature of markets (and I'm not against regulating markets that are abused by anti-market monopolists, fraudsters, etc. who use the raw power of size or information disparity against decision-makers & consumers) and choice is retained, the proposals are precise and limited and limitable, and alternatives are considered. I believe, as most Republicans do, that we do have obligations to the poor and misfortunate - but that they are not limitless, that they are best fulfilled without government if possible, and that when government is involved its role precise.

And here's a bone - the biggest problem with the war in Iraq - at least for the first three years is that it lacked those elements. The war in Iraq - and indeed the 25 year reign of Saddam - is evidence of the failure of big government even in relatively concentrated geographies. (of course, war hopefully never becomes "effective", and some wars, despite their blunderous and monumentally stupid turns, are/were still justified by their long-term historical consequences and need -- like I think we will agree, WWII).

Katrina response - big government simply doesn't have the capacity to respond to natural disaster at that scale - and the culture of dependency fostered in poorer areas of New Orleans only made both the human toll and ironically the blame placed on government, worse. In 1900 - a mere hundred years ago - when Corpus Christi was annihilated by a bigger hurricane - it took years for the area to rebuild, all with local and individual effort. Not even significant private insurance, let alone federal involvement. When Krakatoa erupted in the late 1880s, tens of thousands died of tsunami without the "West" even knowing about it for weeks, let alone being able to do something.

Do we have an obligation as a nation, now that we have SOME relief capacity exists, to be charitable when a tsunami hits in Indonesia? Yes. Do we have an obligation in modern times to offer assistance to New Orleans - yes. But not without limit, and not with the belief that we are somehow automatically racist because poor people died in an act of nature. If there is to be any blame to government, more of it should be dished out to local (Mayor of N.O.) and state governments (Governor and whole system). They are local to the issue - they know they live in a hurricane risk area - their planning for the eventuality should be far superior to anything the feds could achieve. But sometimes the unforseeable occurs, and mistakes lead to (hopefully) learned lessons for the future.

PS - Kathy, the Bear Stearns "bailout", which I'm not fond of, was a cross-partisan decision involving the Fed, a body of economists appointed by presidents of both parties that really isn't ideological along the traditional political lines we find among R's and D's. The method they used was a procedure adopted in the 1930s depression-era, and not really a "bailout", and given its origin couldn't be considered "Republican".

Also, some Democrats wanted even more action:
Senator Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, accused Bush of not doing enough.

Kathy, Whether the Fed should have that kind of power or how the power should be structured is a different question, and we might even find common-ground there.

Bruce Fealk said...

As usual, Chet, you miss the point. Is it a great showing of compassion that there is going to be a fund raiser for the boy in the article, yes.

Should it be that way in America? No.

The reason Republicans can't govern, is because they don't believe in government. They choke off funding even for programs that actually work and won't allow new innovative programs to see the light of day.

Republicans want to privatize even the most basic government functions, thinking a corporate entity is automatically more efficient.

Insurance companies are a good example. Their overhead is 25-30% and Medicare's overhead is only 2-3%, so which is more efficient.
The Medicare Part D program had a fatal flaw, the fact that drug prices could not be legally negotiated and therefore probably costing government 40% more than it should have and now the private companies that provided the Part D coverage are raising policy prices beyond some seniors' ability to pay.

Republicans write bad programs and then say government doesn't work and complain about it in the media. If they would just work harder at making government work, I have a feeling people would feel better about their government.

Zark-Vader said...

First, what's your source on Medicare "overhead" - and whatever it is, its not counting some big things.

I'm not missing the point.

(Part of) the reason Republicans couldn't govern in 2006 is that they lost sight of the values that got them elected, not because they don't believe in government. It was Bush and an R-majority that brought you massive prescription drug programs, and other spending. The rest of your pigeon-holing is simply exaggeration or inaccurate.

On the other hand, if one accepted your point, I'd argue the corrollary - Democrats can't govern because the don't believe in individuals (many decent Democrats do, but not the current Party as a whole, in my opinion) or the market.

We truly need someone who believes in both, Bruce, and I believe who looks first to individuals and the people of America, rather than last.

You are just a hack that goes around labeling people and calling them names if they don't agree with you entirely. You are part of the polarization of American politics. Strong disagreement, even serious philosophical disagreement, is fine - indeed, it defines America and its success. But your nastiness and lack of civilty are repulsive to America - though there are certainly similar forces on both sides of the aisle, and ironically, your lack of civilty is American in that we've always had an element of it from day one as part of the rights the First Amendment guarantees.

Bruce Fealk said...


I'm just sick and tired of the Republicans always screaming the loudest so as to drown out reasonable discussion.

I don't think I've ever called you a name Chetly, although I can think of quite a few besides to sling back at you.

I don't think that there has been a chance for Democrats to be heard in at least 7 years, since the hack of a president and Vice President we have now took over. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney think they are dictators and they have the power to disobey the laws that govern them too. They think they are a power unto themselves and that can not be allowed to stand.

John McCain and Joe Knollenberg are just part of the old thinking and it's time for new leadership. I don't see any chance of the Republican party regaining its way for a very long time, at least while Karl Rove lives and breathes. McCain is even using him as an advisor on his campaign, so I see more of the same coming from McSame and the rest of the Republican hacks, including Joe Knollenberg.