GUEST OPINION: When politicians stop working for the people

By on October 15, 2013

JACKSON HOLE, WYO – I read Judd Grossman’s editorial in Planet JH Weekly and was surprised by his sentiment, especially considering that he is a musician and not a member of the upper caste. I feel compelled to offer some differing perspectives in the hope of widening his political outlook.

The problem with health care in the United States is not that we are facing a “massive government invasion” of our health care, it’s that we’re not! Health care in the United States costs 17 to 19 percent of GDP, more than double any developed country in the world, and yet fails to cover a fifth of the population, while simultaneously providing results that are ranked 38th in the world. The really creepy thing about this situation is that we ALREADY pay 7 to 9 percent of GDP (what most countries pay to provide care for their entire population) publically for health care in the form of Medicare and Medicaid and then we are paying 7 to 9 percent of GDP on top of that for our oh-so-wonderful private health care system.

The truth is that our health care system is ripping us off! Which is just fine with the politicians and their benefactors (owners may be a more accurate handle). Take medical devices: I read just a few days ago about the cost of hip replacement here and abroad. It’s appalling! It costs $350 to manufacture the device but charged $33,000 by the hospital plus another $70,000 to install it. And this is the kind of “private” health care system we want? In Belgium the same device installed with five days of hospitalization and airfare was $13,600.

I would not be opposed to shutting down the government and suffering some inconveniences (closing the national parks) or even more seriously, public service protections like FDA food inspections etc., if our legislators were actually serious about cutting government waste and reducing deficit spending by ending programs such as these: welfare payments in the form of subsidies to corporate and agri-business; closing offshore tax havens for the wealthy and corporations; cutting out loopholes that allow hedge fund managers to pay less in taxes than their secretaries; and cutting military spending in half (we would still be spending more than the next four biggest spenders combined).

However, our illustrious legislators are not interested in shutting those things down at all. The truth is they like government when it operates to their benefactor’s benefit. What they don’t want are programs that they fear will, at some point, cause their benefactors to have to pay more in taxes or cause them to lose those ever so lovely government supplied benefits.

The depiction of the dangers of “big government mafia” extortion is not entirely misplaced, but the problem is clearly misunderstood. The reason to fear government is not because it is some big monolithic behemoth, that even though our theoretically democratically elected politicians run it, is so huge it is somehow malevolent and out to do us harm. No, the reason to fear “big government” is because our elected officials are running it for the benefit of the people that pay for their election propaganda used to get them elected, and that is not you and I. No, those are the people who own and operate 90 percent of our media and everything else of value and are all for shutting down Obamacare and anything else that does not make them money, and in fact, might cost them something.

The Christian ethic of taking care of the “least among you” is clearly not part of the “owner’s” agenda.

– Rob Broadbent

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