Friday, December 5, 2008


Could anything be more obvious? To “solve” America’s health care problems, we must get rid of private insurance (except perhaps in niche markets for supplements, not replacements, for what is provided to all citizens and permanent residents by right). Then the government or some quasi-government entity established for that purpose could handle administrative issues at far less cost to citizens, as is the case almost everywhere else in the world. But since money talks and since the vested interests have lots of it which they generously disburse to the political class, no Democrat taken seriously will dare state, much less act on, the obvious; least of all Barack Obama. [Dennis Kucinich has never been taken seriously; neither was Paul Wellstone, though he got much better press than Kucinich.] Back in her (unelected) First Lady days, Hillary Clinton ignored the obvious too. If anything good will come from her becoming Secretary of State, it is that she and health care reform, allegedly the “cause” of her life, will part ways. Last time she took charge of that issue, she set the cause back a generation. Life isn’t long enough for her to get another chance.

It’s equally obvious, despite decades of indoctrination in free market theology, that the “solution” to the problems posed by the imminent collapse of the American auto industry is to nationalize General Motors and perhaps the other failing Big Three corporations as well, and to utilize their resources to produce the energy-saving vehicles we need in the face of an impending environmental catastrophe -- even if, for some indefinite period, there are no profits to be made in doing so. Environmental considerations require it; so does the welfare of American workers. Let the shareholders get the (current) market value of their assets but, by all means, stop the “furloughs” and layoffs and give-backs. The paramount task must be to strengthen unions; not hasten their demise.

In all likelihood, though, no help will come from the feds; it is even clearer that if help does come, it will not be worker-friendly. The Bush government and the Republican Party have seized upon the crisis to escalate their union busting efforts – and, as is their wont in nearly all matters of grave concern, the Democrats are going along. Unlike Democrats, when Republicans see an opening, they go for it. This is a case in point. Top executives at the Big Three will do well for themselves, no matter what. Why, then, should the (more) favored party of the ruling class throw good money after bad, especially in a period of “bailout fatigue” and at a time when organized labor, having demanded nothing from Obama or anyone else, is too weak to stand up for itself (even if its leadership had the will to do so)?

Of course, the answer to that question is obvious too, not that it matters in the least. The reason to save the U.S. auto industry, by the most efficacious and least costly means available, nationalization, is that workers matter. Democrats gesture towards organized labor when elections loom, and then diligently ignore their interests. But even if they were less contemptuous of the constituencies that vote for them, it’s still not clear that Democrats would find it within themselves do the right thing in this instance. After all, for our lesser evil party, nationalization has never exactly been “on the table,” as the peerless Pelosi might put it.

In short, it hardly matters that some ways forward are obvious. Nevertheless, it’s worth pointing the obvious solutions out, over and over again, as conditions change. In the past month, “change we can believe in” has revealed itself to amount to nothing more than “change” only gullible liberals can delude themselves into believing in. But there are forces at work that just might, at great cost in pain and suffering, move the center-right, where Obama has situated himself, slightly more towards a point where Obama will have no alternative but to acquiesce in some pale approximation of the obviously right thing. Remember, though, that in the POP, the Party of Pusillanimity, backbones are in short supply. It will be up to “us” to steel their resolve. But that isn’t going to happen until more of “us,” many more, get past the obviously false idea that Obama and his “competent” appointees and advisors are somehow part of the solution.

No comments: