The Poor and Uninsured are not the Enemy


America hates its poor. If one is poor, has no health insurance it is one’s own fault. The uninsured just need to get a job. They are just lazy. Just a bunch of welfare cheaters. Why should they get a free ride on my hard work? I ain’t paying for no one else’s health care! We love to hear that Andrew Carnegie started U.S. Steel with $10 in his pocket and that it is the poor’s own moral failing if they just can’t all of them do the same.

Listening in on this week’s healthcare forum among President Obama and Democratic and Republican legislators I was saddened to hear these same sentiments expressed, just slightly dressed up .We heard over and over that we just can’t afford healthcare for everyone and that if the government would just stay out of the market’s way then all would be well. We could all just buy those high deductible health savings accounts with our discretionary income. Those legislators expressing such concern over costs had no reservations about the Iraq/Afghanistan wars costing much, much, much more. Those legislators claiming that passing healthcare reform by budget reconciliation is a Senate-wrecking travesty fail to recall that George Bush’s tax cuts for the rich, costing the budget twice as much, were passed under reconciliation.

The uninsured I see in the emergency department are working, often at two jobs. They skip their own healthcare needs to get their children’s medications. They live shorter, sicker and less productive lives while dying from lack of health insurance at a rate of almost 45,000 a year. They have no discretionary income to buy those health savings accounts. Can our nation afford 45,000 deaths a year because we think the market is more important? How is it other nations, perhaps not handicapped by the Carnegie myth, spend half the money we do and take care of everyone with better results?

We hate the poor and love rich corporations. The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) got all its Congressional funding cut-off after accused felon James O’Keefe secretly and illegally videotaped his own conservative sting operation. ACORN’s real crime was its success at registering thousands of poor voters. ACORN was accused many times by Republicans of voter fraud in the 2008 elections although not one instance of a fraudulently cast vote by an ACORN-registered voter exists. Not one, ever. Just because some goof thought it funny to fill out a registration form as Donald Duck does not show that said waterfowl ever actually voted. Mr. O’Keefe’s group posed as a pimp and prostitute asking for ACORN’s help on whitewashing their operation. FOX news seized upon the illegally filmed sting operation as proof of ACORN’s criminality. FOX failed to note that O’Keefe’s group was hustled out of several ACORN offices when staffers threatened to call the police.  Nor did the FOX report note that although two receptionist low level ACORN staffers appear willing to help whitewash the proposed house of prostitution on a heavily doctored tape (FOX refuses to release the unedited edition) absolutely no action by ACORN was ever initiated. The local District Attorney’s office concluded that “they ( Mr. O’Keefe’s sting group) edited the tape to meet their agenda.” Mr. O’Keefe is now deservedly facing felony charges for attempting to sabotage phone lines into Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu’s office to discredit her support of healthcare reform.

 For our corporate friends: Blackwater Security ( renamed Xe) continues to take over a billion of our tax  dollars as private mercenaries in Iraq/Afghanistan/Pakistan.  All  criminal charges against Blackwater were dropped after their  operatives unjustifiably killed 17 Iraqi civilians in Nissour square September 2007.  The US news barely covered the $2.3 billion fine Pfizer Pharmaceuticals was assessed this past summer for illegal, deceptive and dangerous marketing practices. Both Blackwater and Pfizer continue to wine and dine our legislators. California’s Anthem, Aetna, Blue Shield , Cigna, Healthnet, Kaiser, PacifiCare are being investigated by Attorney General Jerry Brown for “illegally raising customer premiums and denying payment of legitimate claims.” These names are the enemy of your health, not the poor.

Dick Cheney’s Halliburton/KBR is unable to even account for billions of tax dollars they were awarded in no-bid backroom contracts in Iraq. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, one of only seven legislators to defend ACORN in the Senate, pointed out that the three biggest Pentagon contractors; Lockheed, Boeing and Northrop have engaged in 109 criminal violations since 1995, paying nearly $3 billion in fines and settlements. Yet these war contractors were rewarded with another $77 billion from the Pentagon in 2007.

ACORN was targeted for right wing attacks as they were successful at turning out thousands of voters in districts taken for granted by the GOP. Our entire democracy is in serious peril after the recent Supreme Court decision allows corporations to dump unlimited funds into our elections. Our progeny shall have to reverse this disastrous decision after incalculable damage shall have already been done to the principle of one man, one vote. Just as many Churches and civil rights organizations went south to organize and register African-American voters in Mississippi, Alabama and other Jim Crow states in the 1960’s, we need to stand up for ACORN and the rights of all of us, especially the poor and uninsured, to vote and receive health care.

--- Brad Cotton

ACORN contributor.