Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Corporations and Congress v. the Constitution of The United States

In an interview with All Things Considered, Len Nichols, a health care economist with the New America Foundation, said that "Even if Democrats and Republicans do generally agree on things like curbing the ability of insurance companies to exclude people because they have pre-existing health conditions [...] legislation to do that by itself would be vehemently opposed by the insurance industry." (Emphasis added.)

The bolded phrase highlights exactly what's wrong with our political system. Instead of working to promote necessary change, politicians of all stripes use insurance companies opposition to reform as an excuse to save the untenable status quo as far in the future as possible. Of course the insurance sector will oppose any reform likely to make a dent into their gargantuan profits, earned in spite of decency and morals. But, whereas Congress certainly needs to keep in mind the economic interests of corporations when shaping legislation, our elected representatives are supposed to put the collective interest of the people before the absolute best interest of any economic concerns. In fact, they have a constitutional duty to promote the general welfare of the people of the United States, those living and those not yet born, not the particular interests of a few.

What we are talking about when we talk about reform is not putting insurance companies out of business. Those who make that disingenuous point are defending the status quo with all the weapons at their disposal, including--especially--fearmongering. After all, insurance companies operate in other countries and still make handsome profits. What we are saying is that there comes a point in a democracy where we can, and must, put limits to the unfettered free market when it becomes obvious that its interest are in conflict with the majority interest of the American people. All other coutries that many American politicians like to berate have found a way to accomplish what America has been unable to do: to provide universal coverage to its citizens, either through government manage health care systems or through private insurance (or a combination of both) at costs which are often half the costs of what Americans pay.

Since the beginning of the millenium we have found the will and the money to wage two wars, to bail out auto makers and financial behemoths; we have never failed to find room in the budget for huge subsidies to the agri-business; we have no qualms when it comes to letting energy companies run away with the loot generated by gauging American consumers at the pump and in their homes. But, somehow, we never find the will or the money to help those in need, who are steadily growing in numbers, to meet the challenges of a world more adept than ever at chewing them and spitting them out, because, I suspect, of their inability to compete with corporate donors. You see, only big business is good business, ordinary folk never were.

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