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PART III: Death Wish 2014

September 23, 2013
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imagesWhen the GOP shut down the government in 1996 and 1996 I was ticked with them. It backfired, big time. As a Republican, I was furious because I knew it was the kiss of death. It was. This time, if the GOP is allowed to get away with what they have begun, it is going to be even worse. This time, the end result is not only going to be the loss of the House, and further losses in the Senate, but basically the end of the Republican Party, as we known it. It’s basically over. The elephant is dead.

 

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king’s horses
and all the King’s men
couldn’t put Humpty together again!

There is no doubt that everyone who isn’t in that upper 1% is in grave danger of financial disaster. Something like 80% of us will now know something about poverty during our life-time. There are some experts who say that the middle class is purely financial. I don’t think so. As a historian, I’m more inclined to see it as cultural – a state of mind.

There are some hard lessons we may or may not have learned since 2008. The first is that the middle class in this country had been spending like shopaholics hooked on QVT. We blew it. Let’s be honest. Sure, it’s not very progressive to make such painful introspective observations, but it’s true. Be honest about something else. How many times did you see someone you know ‘flip’ up to that half million buck house, when they could not even afford one that was half that amount. We were seduced by easy credit, low interest, and low down-payments.

Don’t blame it all on Fannie & Freddie. Don’t blame it on minority loans for home ownership. Put the blame right where it belongs – go look in the mirror. Never in the history of this country had the middle class lived so far beyond its means. It began during the 1990s and the party continued until 2008 when high gas prices brought it, like Humpty Dumpty, the middle class, like that Royalist cannon, came tumbling down, and no one could put it back in place.

The middle class wasn’t always like this. I remember what the middle class once was, nice houses, paying off the mortgage, two weeks for vacation, a new car once the old one was paid off, with the old one going to one of the kids in high school. Then something changed in the 1970s. The kids who once made due with the junk yard car, and were glad to have it (guilty) suddenly, for the most part, had a new car, with mama going to work to make her kid look good.

(My 1967 Buick LeSabre robin’s egg blue convertible came out of the junk yard. I drove it for years – loved it. My ex-brother-in-law drove it for years, then it moved back to South Carolina. When we moved to New Mexico it came with the parents. My nephew now has it, restoring it, lovingly, I might add. My father bought it for a couple hundred dollars. It is now a family treasure.)

That’s what life in the middle class was. If you moved up to a new house, it was half-way paid for, by the time it was finished, and it only cost upward of a hundred thou, maybe. Usually it was fifty, and that was doing good. The parents’ mortgage payment was about $350 a month. My father double paid it.

It was like those old episodes of Lucy, where Ricky struggled to live within their means, finally putting the mortgage on the house in the burbs, then losing his mind when she spent several thousand dollars on new furniture. My mother bought a piece of furniture at a time – good stuff. My sister, niece and I are basically ‘fighting’ over who gets what. (I’m getting the maple, my sister want the dark wood).

My mother wanted my sister and I to have our crystal and china by the time we had graduated from high school. Guess what we received for birthdays and Christmas? Yep. Mine is so rare (and it was terribly inexpensive at the time) I don’t even use it. Then things changed. All of a sudden brides needed full sets of Waterford instead of just a nice crystal. The weddings became more elaborate, rather like a royal wedding, complete with a gazillion bridesmaids and a divorce a year later.

Traditional middle class values, which were always on display in the wonderful old movies of the 30s, 40, and 50s, into the 60s were replaced by status quo.

Pleasant Valley Sunday
(Carole King & Gerry Goffin)

The local rock group down the street
Is trying hard to learn their song
Seranade the weekend squire, who just came out to mow his lawn

Another Pleasant Valley Sunday
Charcoal burning everywhere
Rows of houses that are all the same
And no one seems to care

See Mrs. Gray she’s proud today because her roses are in bloom
Mr. Green he’s so serene, He’s got a t.v. in every room

Another Pleasant Valley Sunday
Here in status symbol land
Mothers complain about how hard life is
And the kids just don’t understand

Creature comfort goals
They only numb my soul and make it hard for me to see
My thoughts all seem to stray, to places far away
I need a change of scenery

It began to change. By the time the 90s hit, everyone was out of their minds. We began living well beyond our means. And, now we are paying for it, with a hang-over of monumental proportions – historic proportions. We’re dealing with the hangover of predatory banking practices, way too much credit card debt, and living just a bit beyond our means.

And – the middle class, thanks to the GOP, is DOA.

Would someone please explain to me, in this modern era, why Republicans still hang on to the notion that there are even communists in the world? Why do the minions of the far right think it is the ultimate insult to call someone a communist when they disagree with them?

“...According to the right, The American Dream is a promise of communism for all when it is spoken of by Obama. President Obama wasn’t saying that he was going to give anyone anything. He was speaking about building a stronger economy that will allow more Americans to become a part of the middle class. I guess economic opportunity earned through hard work is also a form of communism.

It is impossible to understand why Republicans are so obsessed with communism. This mental defect has advanced to the point where it really wouldn’t surprise anyone if Ted Cruz introduced a bill mandating duck and cover drills in all schools, while Rep. Darrell Issa revives the House Un-american Activities Committee so that he can expose the “red menace” that has taken over the White House.

Why do right wingers think that calling somebody a communist is some great insult? The Cold War is over. Calling somebody a communist is about as cutting edge cool as greeting your friends by proclaiming that you are Mork from Ork and saying, “nano nano.”…”

What kind of idiot? Well, maybe they are the same idiots who don’t realize that they are basing their hatred of the impoverished, not on Christ, but on Lenin.

Why? Well, we can’t have Obama Care. That’s what all of this mess is about.

The NRO had the following headline: now in the Cost-Cutting Crosshairs. Then it was implied that the NY Times is against all those evil profits. Never mind that there was an excellent flow chart (located below) that shows just how much we are paying in the US, so that mega corporations can make a mega profit. NOTHING exemplifies the problem in this country, with out of control corporate pricing and profit than the health care industry.

National Review Online

National Review Online

The NY Times piece.

“...Deirdre Yapalater’s recent colonoscopy at a surgical center near her home here on Long Island went smoothly: she was whisked from pre-op to an operating room where a gastroenterologist, assisted by an anesthesiologist and a nurse, performed the routine cancer screening procedure in less than an hour. The test, which found nothing worrisome, racked up what is likely her most expensive medical bill of the year: $6,385.

That is fairly typical: in Keene, N.H., Matt Meyer’s colonoscopy was billed at $7,563.56. Maggie Christ of Chappaqua, N.Y., received $9,142.84 in bills for the procedure. In Durham, N.C., the charges for Curtiss Devereux came to $19,438, which included a polyp removal. While their insurers negotiated down the price, the final tab for each test was more than $3,500.

“Could that be right?” said Ms. Yapalater, stunned by charges on the statement on her dining room table. Although her insurer covered the procedure and she paid nothing, her health care costs still bite: Her premium payments jumped 10 percent last year, and rising co-payments and deductibles are straining the finances of her middle-class family, with its mission-style house in the suburbs and two S.U.V.’s parked outside. “You keep thinking it’s free,” she said. “We call it free, but of course it’s not.”

In many other developed countries, a basic colonoscopy costs just a few hundred dollars and certainly well under $1,000. That chasm in price helps explain why the United States is far and away the world leader in medical spending, even though numerous studies have concluded that Americans do not get better care.

Whether directly from their wallets or through insurance policies, Americans pay more for almost every interaction with the medical system. They are typically prescribed more expensive procedures and tests than people in other countries, no matter if those nations operate a private or national health system. A list of drug, scan and procedure prices compiled by the International Federation of Health Plans, a global network of health insurers, found that the United States came out the most costly in all 21 categories — and often by a huge margin….”

NYTimes

NYTimes

“…In the case of prescription drugs, the answer is supposedly that other countries are free riding off of us. If everyone paid $6 for Lipitor, then Pfizer never would have developed it in the first place. It wouldn’t have been worth it. It’s only the fact that Americans pay full market value for Lipitor that allows other countries to artificially force down the cost for their residents.

There may or may not be something to this, but at least it’s an explanation. What about MRI scans, though? MRI machines cost the same in the Netherlands as they do here, and they’re utilized just as heavily in both countries. So why the higher price in America? Some of the answer is in the cost of the personnel: we pay doctors and technicians more than most countries do, and that all goes into the price charged for diagnostic procedures. But does that explain a 4x price difference? Or the stunning 26x price difference in an angiogram between the U.S. and Canada?…”

What is going to happen to an industry that out prices itself to the point where it either destroys the economy of a nation, or people refuse to use it? This is what is going on with the health care industry, as a whole. Because the unwitting dupes on the right have been so brainwashed to believe that all corporations are good and anyone questioning their profit motive is evil, no one dares ask the questions that need to be asked.

The real problem, why Barack Obama must be destroyed?

What happens if Obama Care really does work?

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