Wed, 20 November 2013
Just Like Bush: US Under Obama, Thumbs Its Nose at the World on Climate Change
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon
Is there really any place where electing Democrats to the White House really makes a difference? Sometimes, people who call themselves progressives get it twisted, and imagine that environmental affairs are one of those places. But are they, really?
The world was shocked when the oil-soaked administration of George W. Bush openly thumbed its nose at the Kyoto Protocol, claimed there was no such thing as man-made climate change and refused even to send representatives to global climate change summits. The current Democrat in the White House ran with vague promises, amplified by his “progressive” surrogates, to rein in the oil companies. But now all that looks like empty campaign rhetoric, the cultural fluff that temporarily distinguishes the two parties from each other when they campaign, but vanishes when they govern.
Barack Obama was president, with a thumping Democratic majority in both houses of Congress when the DeepWater Horizon exploded and thousands of square miles of the world's most productive fishing grounds were poisoned. The Obama administration lied to the public about the extent of the leak, used the Coast Guard and US Navy to keep reporters and experts from flying over or visiting into the affected areas, made sure the token settlement didn't much affect the assets of the guilty parties, and passed no law or regulations to make sure it couldn't happen again.
This week, internal memos of the US Secretary of State's office demonstrated continued US determination to thumb its nose at the future of humanity in the face of climate change, refusing even to discuss reparations to the poorer countries whose growing deserts, raging storms, rising sea levels and collapsing agriculture are direct results of massive overconsumption of fossil fuels by the wealthier parts of the world. So China joined 133 countries – basically the entire developing world, in walking out of this year's UN Summit on Climate Change.
There was, they concluded, nothing left to talk about with the representatives of wealthy countries like the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia and Britain, who have already burned enough coal and petroleum to make deserts in African and Asia larger, begin to melt large sections of the polar ice cover, decisively changing the world billions of poor people have to live in, while preaching to them about their solemn duty to conserve, and adapt. The developed countries will not “adapt” themselves, will pay no reparations for global damages already inflicted and to come, and led by the world's greatest environmental scofflaw, the United States of America, refuse to agree to any binding reduction in the rates and amounts of poison they dump into the planet's oceans and air.
Democrats or Republicans, environmental promises or none, the corporate elite of the developed world are rogues and outlaws. Suck it up, they tell the poorer countries. Adapt. We'll give you a loan (at ruinous interest) to do that. Conserve. We'll audit you. But nobody, the rich countries say, regulates or audits us.
No wonder the Chinese, and most of the world decided there was nothing more to talk about.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com.
Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report and a state committee member of the Georgia Green Party. Contact him via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.
Wed, 20 November 2013
Obamacare is Doomed by Its Internal Logic
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford
“Private insurers make money by betting against the health interests of their customers.”
Obamacare is unraveling, not because the administration is particularly incompetent or unlucky, and certainly not as a result of the Republicans’ unrelenting hostility to the Obama health insurance plan. Indeed, ever since the bill’s passage in early 2010, the GOP’s holy war against Obamacare has served to solidify reflexive Democratic support for what has always been a Republican-inspired bill.
The truth is, the Affordable Health Care Act is coming undone because of its own, tortured internal logic. At root, it is a fraud on the public: a scheme to subsidize and more deeply embed a private insurance system that can only make profits by denying sick and vulnerable people health care, and playing different demographics of Americans against each other. As every other industrialized country in the world has already learned, it is impossible to build a genuine, universal healthcare system on a cut-throat capitalist foundation. Private insurers make money by betting against the health interests of their customers. Obama served his corporate masters by conspiring to make tens of millions more Americans into customers of private insurers. He tried to dress up one of the greatest corporate subsidies in history as if it were a solemn national mission, a rebirth of the social compact between the American people. But of course, Obamacare is no such thing; it is a racket to prop up private insurers with public money, while allowing the profiteers to continue to run the show.
“It is a fraud on the public.”
You can’t hide a truth that big. The Obamacare website has suffered from terminal complexity because white collar crime is usually quite complex. The web site attempts to reconcile the profit margins and various products of a universe of private insurance corporations, while at the same time pretending to serve the health needs of the people at an affordable cost. Obamacare claims to be in the business of serving both the public and corporate stockholders. But that’s mission impossible. If Obamacare is based on making profits for private corporations – if that is what keeps the system going – then the public’s health care needs will always be an afterthought. And, that will be obvious in the way that the website is organized as a sales platform that matches federal subsidies with corporate products, rather than matching people with the medical resources they need to survive and thrive.
Website complexity and failures aside, Obamacare can never become part of a national social compact, something of which all Americans can be proud. That’s because, by definition, corporate insurance schemes divide people into “winners” and “losers” – although, of course, the big winner is always the corporation. Young, healthy people know they are the fatted calves of the insurance business, and they are avoiding Obamacare like the plague. If this were really a national health care program, like Medicare for All, then most young people would join in the national health care mission. But this is just Obama working a scam for the insurance companies, and young folks know it. Anybody who manages to get access to the web site knows it.
The fatal flaw in Obamacare can’t be fixed. The best thing that could happen would be a quick and total collapse. Large majorities of Americans still support Medicare for All, but Obamacare stands in the way of a real national health plan – just as the Republican right-wingers that invented Obamacare back in 1989 intended.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.