I must confess, I have never read Howard Zinn. But now I intend to. There was one more comment I wanted to respond to, but I felt my last post was getting too long. The comment was made on ‘it’s not polite to talk about politics.’ Something to the effect that corporations that have to make a profit must on some level provide what the general population desires, while the government just forces taxes on us and they will spend it doing whatever they want.
Ed and I were watching the news the other night, and there was a segment on how Obama's budget cuts funding for NASA. One of the NASA directors was on saying how horrible that was and how important space travel is to ours country's prestige. That is one man's opinion on how our tax dollars should be spent.
One thing that kills me in the health care debate is people saying they don’t want their taxes to pay for other people’s health needs. To that I say, I can name a whole host of things I don’t want my tax dollars going to. I don’t want any of my tax dollars going to Iraq or Afghanistan. I don’t want any of my tax dollars going to the CIA or any covert operations that they engage in. I don’t want my tax dollars to subsidize corn, or to bailout big banks. I don’t mind my tax dollars going to fix roads, or educate children, or maintaining our national parks. And I would not mind my tax dollars going towards providing everyone in the country with adequate healthcare. While we’re at it, let’s shift the health care focus from reactive to proactive. Let’s stress being healthy. Eat well and exercise.
Another thing I find interesting is, (I got this information off a 2007 congressional report that cited 2004 numbers), the US government spends more per capita on health care than any other country in the OECD. The OECD is the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development; it consists of 30 democratic countries that are considered the most economically stable. The US government spent $6,102 per person, more than DOUBLE the OECD average. I would like to point out that a lot of the countries in the organization have universal coverage. How is it that other countries can provide all of their citizens coverage for less than what we pay not providing for all of our citizens?
This brings me to another one of my big questions about humanity. Can a bureaucracy be efficient? Is that possible? First let’s look at the general reasons we find them to be inefficient. Well, they run on tax dollars that are given to them, not earned by them, with no one there who really cares about the bottom line. They are generally top heavy organizations that rely on extensive paperwork. And the employees are generally incapable of deviating from that paperwork. I always say that the one thing that college really taught me is how to have a piece of paper signed by four different people and retuned to the first. And here is the second question, can big corporations be efficient? In the brief time I worked for a national investment bank in Oregon I found them to be just as top heavy, just as bogged down in paperwork, and the people with the company purchasing power have no real stake in the company and don’t care about the bottom line either. Look at all the Wall Street execs who were bonusing themselves out millions while their company was losing money. The CEO’s, who again have no skin in the game, jump off the sinking ship with their golden parachute, over to the next company and starting the game over again. While the shareholders are left seeing their investments diminish. How efficient is it to disenchant your customer base by routing their calls to Bangladesh, causing them to speak to someone with whom they are mutually unintelligible? I said to one of them once, ‘I realize they tell you what you are speaking is English, but you cannot understand me and I can not understand you. Let me speak with a supervisor’ How efficient is it to ignore the signs of changing times, and to dig one’s heals in while refusing to change and adapt, e.g. like the auto companies?
What about corporations providing what customers want? Most of the time these companies come up with a new product, and then through advertising, convince the public they need it. Take the pharmaceutical industry, continually coming up with a new drug for ailments people never knew they had. Or inventing new ailments that humans have never had in the past. Like ADHD, which I don’t believe really exists; it wasn’t until the 1960s when Ritalin came out, and the 1990s when prescription medication really took off, that it came out that all these children had ADHD. What about the hundreds of generations before them? Did they have overwhelming occurrences of ADHD? No, just like the millions of children that don’t have it now, but the company came up with this drug, and they intend to sell it. Let’s look more broadly at all the psychotropic drugs on the market and ask ourselves why is it that millions of Americans feel the need to drug themselves in order to cope with life? Prior to all these medications people just drank martini’s. And how hypocritical is it that we tell the public that they can take all the little blue pills they want, as long as they were prescribed by a physician, but don’t you dare smoke marijuana or peyote, don’t you dare take mushrooms or any of the other NATURAL occurring mind-altering substances. No, they would rather us take chemical compounds put together in a lab. What’s up with that? Why don’t we trust the natural world, perhaps it’s because that’s what the pagans worshipped? Is it that we think we are smarted than nature, the same nature that provided adequately for our predecessors? I have no answers for you.
I mentioned in my last post how BOTH parties in a conflict bear responsibility. We Americans (which is really just the latest incarnation of Rome) are taught to believe that we are Number 1. That we are the best, that all our motives are magnanimous, that we are the doer of good deeds throughout the world. This is simply not true. The decimation of our native population, the enslaving of the African race, the Japanese interment camps of WWII, our current treatment of homosexuals, the prejudice against Middle Eastern people, these are all bad things that we have done. Like our current action in Afghanistan, what do we think we are going to accomplish there? Genghis Khan couldn’t conquer them, he British couldn’t do anything, the Russians couldn’t do anything, so what are we going to be able to do? Also the notion that we are number 1 implies that we are the best in every possible way. There is no room for growth with that opinion, which is why as a country we have become stagnant and are beginning to collapse.