Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Response to a Popular Facebook gif

Some friends of mine on facebook were discussing this picture today. Rather than get into a long comment discussion, I figured, hey, I have a blog! So here we go.

This is a good example of the free-market healthcare plan. In a nutshell, it's really a two step solution. Step 1: Live Responsibly. Step 2: Don't ever have any unexpected medical issues. No cancer, no car accidents, no miscarriages, no slips or falls, etc.

I think in a functioning society everyone needs to step up and do their part. But this only goes so far. We also need to step in and take care of each other once in awhile. You see good-hearted people doing this all the time in neighborhoods and churches around the country.

I don't know how you go about making it fair. Seems like now the punishment for unhealthy people is a slow death and an uncomfortable life, with the occasional free emergency room visit.

I don't know how we could have a more market-oriented coercive theory everyone should be healthier because no one wants to live poor, die young and get fat. And yet here we are. Meanwhile, comparable world examples with socialized medicine tend to have healthier people at a lower cost, with an equal amount of basic freedom and economic mobility. I'm thinking of the UK or Germany. Both have two vastly different forms of universal coverage and I highly doubt that anyone in either country feels any less "free" than we do in the US.

I'd prefer to shift to a system where prices are more predictable. The math there generally works out to either a) a single-payer, government sponsored solution, or b) a highly-regulated, highly-accountable privately run system. Right now we have a half-cocked private system with not nearly enough regulation on price controls. Providers and insurance companies can essentially charge us whatever they want to charge us. The consumer and the producer don't have equal amounts of control on the supply/demand curve.

The extent to which we as consumers can actually affect our costs will have to involve massive amounts of people simply leaving the system and following the attached .gif (or just dying).

Whatever the solution really is, it's to the benefit of those with the economic power to have us consumers separated, squabbling down here about causes, when we could very likely get to a solution if we did the research, found the best fix, and stuck to our guns until it was in place.

Blaming the chronically ill for our rising healthcare costs and then just throwing your hands up when the bill comes....something about this approach hasn't worked for us for the past 50 years.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Love Will Keep Us Together

In the dime stores and bus stations
People talk of situations
Read books, repeat quotations
Draw conclusions on the wall
Some speak of the future
My love she speaks softly
She knows there’s no success like failure
And that failure’s no success at all

-Bod Dylan, Love Minus Zero/No Limit
I've spent the morning reading accounts of yesterday's election, listening to friends break the situation down amongst themselves. But this beautiful Dylan song continues to run through my head today.

There's a lot to be considered this morning. In the mountains of data at our disposal, there are assumptions to be made and conclusions to be drawn. There are small victories to be cheered, like the turning over of the senate. We have more victories ahead of us in local elections, and a strong base of friends and volunteers.

As working men and women, we've weathered much worse. While I see the economic stability of the middle class slipping away, I think we've got plenty of battles we can win to provide protection. Saul Alinsky always tried, when he was working with a new group, to win small battles first. We did the opposite - we picked a huge fight, against enormous power and gobs of cash. It's not really amazing that we lost. What's amazing is that we even had a chance.

We're so much more powerful today than we were 16 months ago, if only for the simple fact that we know each other. 45% of this state last night committed to a new future for Wisconsin. It's our job to use this muscle everywhere we can. Yes, we need to look at our failure and ask, "how." But we also need to look at the victories here.

We also need to find out how to broaden our appeal. Our key message is economic justice for the working men and women of Wisconsin. We've got a strong coalition of the Farmers Union, teachers, public sector unions, the tribes, and progressives across the state. We can make significant gains for large amounts of people if we work together.

Our job, over the summer, should be to honestly convince one uncommitted person apiece. We need to make the case that getting involved is important, that we're better off standing together against big corporate power, and that we need strength in the movement. We're not there yet, but we're close. We may not win every battle, or every election, but we can maintain our voice as a united group.

I feel such a heartfelt sense of solidarity with all those who put themselves out there on the front lines. The candidates themselves, the callers, and all those who worked so hard to do the bare-knuckle organizing and canvassing for our cause. We all know how important it is to stay engaged. Let's keep moving forward - we've taken a lump today, but we can dust ourselves off and, after a bit of a breather, come out stronger than ever. Wisconsin will be ours!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Needles and Pins

God Bless The Ramones, and God Bless America.

I sit here this afternoon on needles and pins, awaiting the results of today's momentous election. I hope our efforts pay off in victory tonight! It's going to be close. There's a party in Eau Claire tonight with the folks that have fought so hard to reclaim our state. Email me if you want the details, you're more than welcome to join us.

We've canvassed, called, stood on corners gathering signatures, and some of us even slept in the capitol. Today is the day we have wished for since last February. I will be doing my personal best to enjoy it - all of it. This includes the butterflies, the hope, the fear, the skepticism, and every other raw emotion that comes through today.

I hope we as progressives are able to maintain the long view. We're on the right side of history here, and we can be proud of our accomplishments. We're galvanized in a way that is almost unexplainable. Think of the folks you've met through this process. In this pool are future school board, city council, and state government representatives. You've got a group of great friends who know how to work together. You know each others' strengths and weaknesses. You just happened to pick the toughest battle first. Believe me, after this, a whole lot of local political efforts are going to seem pretty simple by comparison.

We know our state government and our local communities inside and out. There's nothing we can't accomplish if we stick together. So don't fear today. Celebrate it. We made this happen. This fight is a blip on our radar. In a few years, it's going to be a small bullet point on the beginning of our progressive resumes. Wisconsin will be ours!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Crunch Time

I sit here this morning amazed. Over the past 15 months or so, we have been participants in something completely beyond and outside our experience. Never in our lifetime has there been a progressive movement like this. We're this close to toppling a sitting governor.

I feel like we've come so far. For over a year, the progressives in this state have been running in what now seems like a marathon. With almost no money, against very big money, we've taken the fight to some extremely powerful national interests. We've had to face down an angry, reactionary section of the populace who blame teachers and welfare moms for our country's problems. We've stood together in the elements, the rain, the snow, the frozen Wisconsin winters, and hot summertime parades.

We saw the Occupy movement spring up in New York, months after we occupied our capitol building for weeks on end. Many of their signs matched ours. In my visit to New York last winter, at a bar in Hell's Kitchen, I spoke for hours with Occupy progressives, relating how we did it, who we were, trading stories and advice, sharing our work ethic and our motives. Our progressives have become famous across the country, not because we're amazing, but because we're ordinary.

We're ordinary men and women standing up to power, using every resource in our control to make our state better, expressing the very best in democratic values. We're holding our elected officials accountable as our founding fathers truly had intended. We're moms and dads, college kids, snowplow drivers, teachers, cops, firefighters, business owners, nurses, software geeks. I've heard from so many great progressive people from so many different walks of life.

It's not always pretty. In fact I think some of this has at times gotten very ugly. We've all made mistakes somewhere in the mix. Our state is divided, and in the heat of things, there's no doubt that we've separated ourselves here or there on party lines. I know I have friendships where we just don't talk politics anymore. Somehow we need to pull together again, with love and with understanding, even in the face of anger and disappointment.

I personally believe we can win tomorrow - polls show that turnout is key. I've got butterflies in my stomach today thinking about it. In one sense, everything comes down to tomorrow. In another sense, I think it's important for us to realize that we will be waking up to a whole new state on the morning of June 6th.

My sincere hope for us, as progressives, is that, win or lose tomorrow, we continue to fight, and that we continue to bring our strong work ethic and devotion to bettering Wisconsin. Political involvement has now become the norm for so many of us. I hope that we can remain active for decades to come.

Throughout history, the working class has witnessed defeat at the hands of the powerful. We've also made gains that have been rolled back. But if you ever really stop to take notice, our victories are never fully taken away. When we take three steps forward, they may take one or two back from us here or there. But in the end we will have created an infrastructure that knows how to fight, knows what it means to win, and understands that the health of our state depends on the economic well being of the men and women who go to work every day.

I think of our history as progressives, going back generations. Yes, they made progress, but in the thick of things, while cops were beating them with clubs, while they were on the picket lines, stopping the gears of industrialism, risking their entire livelihoods...was it ever clear that they would win? In spite of this, they pressed on, year after year. And even though our grandparents lost a few battles, they kept on fighting, so that we could have better lives. It's our job to carry their banner for the next generation. No victory is final, and no defeat is the end.

Tomorrow is the end of this race, though, and we need to finish strong. I'll be working tonight, and I hope you will, too. But as you do this with your brothers and sisters, remember that, no matter what happens, we took it to them and we gave them a hell of a fight. Wisconsin will be ours!