As usual, we now find ourselves looking at what Ralph Nader may offer this nation. In this area, we have some related history to detail and examine as well as some policies that he offers that we can compare to those offered by the twins.
Letís begin a bit of history. Ralph Nader, while having no power in government other than as a citizen and activist and owning no government officials, has been instrumental in the creation of some the most responsible and important agencies in Washington.
He was the driving force behind the Occupational Health & Safety Act, the Clean Water Act, the Highway Transportation and Safety Act, and many other lesser known laws and accomplishments. These named above alone are responsible for massive reductions in injuries and deaths all across America. You can rest assured, gentle readers, that not one of these agencies would have ever become a reality without the power and vision of Ralph Nader.
He began his career as a populist activist by informing the world of the deaths and injuries being caused by one of Americaís most popular automobiles of the 60ís, the GM built Corvair. His efforts to save lives resulted in General Motors slandering and libeling him in hopes of undermining his bookís message.
After emerging victorious from the courtroom where he had sued GM over those attacks, he used those monetary penalties won from GM to begin a long career in which he and his ďNaderís RaidersĒ have won countless victories over corporate greed, a judicial system that deprives injured parties fair access to court, and global trade agreements that undermine workersí rights and American sovereignty. He has constantly waged the battle against the undue power over our government by moneyed interests and corporations and their lobbyists.
He has spent his life fighting for the American consumer, workers, voters, taxpayers and the environment. He has struggled against the power that multinational corporations wield over your government and the restrictive two party system and the unwieldy electoral arrangement.
In poll after poll in which Americans are asked to name the American they most respect, once they get past cartoon and television characters and silly athletes, Nader is always among the highest regarded real live human beings in America. He is so highly regarded not because he spins his story through the mouths of highly paid political operatives but, rather, solely because he is one of the few Americans left in public life who cares about the difference between right and wrong and fights for your rights and mine as American citizens.
Okay, now that the fawning, but factual, parts are behind us, what does Ralph Nader offer to this nationís citizens when he is elected President come this November?
First, how would he devise a system in which the seniors in this nation are no longer faced with the choice between medications and food or rent?
(Iíll use his own words wherever possible in as much as he represents his policies better that I can. Finding real quotes from the twins is difficult as they attempt not to offer statements that might come back to haunt them when the voters begin to ask what happened to all of the promises.)
"... under a system of universal health care, [p}rice restraints should be placed on all drugs especially developed with taxpayer money, and multiple licenses should be issued for those drugs in order to stimulate competition and bring prices down. The Medicare authorities should then negotiate lower drug prices, as the VA and the Pentagon are already doing."
Now, gentle readers, here we have a policy being offered that uses the term "competition", but follows it with a firm explanation of how that competition would be developed. Not exactly the strong suits of the twins, remember?
Exactly who would be covered under Naderís plan and who would be responsible for offering it; the insurance industry of the government?
Speaking first of Clintonís failed proposal and the twinís offerings, "Itís a jury-rigged health care proposal that makes the health care industry half happy and everyone else half happy. Why canít the richest country have cradle-to-grave health care like Europe and Asia? We need universal health care which is accessible, affordable, with quality care, and relying on preventive health. We have waited long enough - we donít need a plan like Bushís or itty-bitty steps like Goreís"
Now, letís review what weíve learned so far. Nader wants to enact a universal health plan, meaning every single American will be immediately covered and part of the system will be a huge reduction in both the cost of drugs and a reduction in the cost of health care by designing a preventive system rather than the reactive system we "enjoy" now.
Using the Canadian model for his system, he states that there will be only 11 cents on the dollar for administrative costs (as opposed to 24 cents in our current system). He will do it on just 10% of the budget while giving everyone the freedom to choose their doctors and hospitals. With a universal system, existing conditions will no longer be a barrier to affordable care nor will any American ever again have to worry about losing a lifetimeís work in order just to pay the medical bills nor will those bills ever again force any American to have to choose between medical care, food or rent.
Now, I acknowledge the sad fact that a lot of greed heads will start whining about any system that requires them to participate in a universal health care policy. They will moan and grown that they already have health insurance so why should they be forced into paying their fair share so that everyone in America can experience the joy of knowing that their health will never suffer due to financial problems. To them I can only say, please, as soon as you can, move to any nation on earth that does not have a Constitution in which every citizen is guaranteed a life free of unnecessary anxiety by these few words:
"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Nader wants to alter the vision we have of health care from a profit driven industry in which only the wealthiest survive to a system in which the health of Americans becomes the primary focus and profits are not an issue.
Nader expects, if a universal health care system cannot be created due to the barriers that will be put in place by those with the least interest in health care but the most interest in profits, then laws must be enacted to force accountability in the areas of independent reviews for all patients (along with the possibility of civil liability for gross violations of a patientís rights), have those reviews done by doctors and medical personnel in no way connected to the HMO industry, allow patients or family members to sue HMOs whenever health care is withheld resulting in further harm or death, enforce executive salary caps which will immediately lower the cost to the consumer of health insurance, and allow consumers to group together in order to receive the lowest possible rates and to help to enforce legal requirements in all dealings with an HMO.
In order to drastically lower the diseases and deaths directly and indirectly attributable to the use of tobacco products, tobacco would be immediately be regulated by the FDA, with particular emphasis being placed on the addictive ingredients and the control of those ingredients most responsible for causing harm to human beings. This alone will result in saving the lives of nearly 400,000 Americans who die every year from the use of tobacco products. This alone will vastly reduce the costs of any health system.
Okay, you may be saying to the walls, if Nader is elected President, how will he ever force Congress to turn their backs on the millions and millions of dollars that the health care industry and the related fields around it pay to purchase the souls of those congressional members? What makes me believe that Nader, alone, can force these huge changes onto an industry so used to calling it own shots and creating its own "regulatory" systems?
Well, if youíll think back to 1980 when Ronald Reagan was elected, youíll recall that his election was due to less than 30% of the eligible American voters putting their checkmark beside his name on the ballot. The Republicans werenít able to take over either houses of Congress and remained the minority party for another 12 years. Nevertheless, Reagan was able to inflict upon America some of the most mean spirited and regressive policies the nation has ever before witnessed. How as this accomplished, even without a true majority of Americans supporting his nasty little administration? Simply put, his election appeared to indicate that America wanted to turn greedy and selfish and mean spirited towards the less fortunate (a belief encouraged by the conservative media in order to please their executives and their fellow corporate miscreants in the rest of Corporate America who hadnít seen such a huge opportunity to destroy everything good about America since the days of Tamany Hall and the Teapot Dome scandals.) Since logical and reality-based thought isnít a real easy quality to find in elective government, those who otherwise opposed his plans rolled over and offered no resistance, instead pretending in front of the cameras to be enjoying making a mockery of the American people.
Should Ralph Nader win, the hard work and energy that it took to put him there will only be the beginning. Every decent American will be faced with the daunting task of confronting Americaís wealthiest and greediest representatives and lobbyists. They will spare no expense nor stop at any degree of back handed actions to force the system back to one where they and they alone control it. We will see no lessening of the obscenity that is and has been known as the ďRepublican RevolutionĒ and their army of supporters and lobbyists trying to steal this nationís very soul.
If America finds itself redeemed through the election of Ralph Nader, you and I will have a truly tortuous four years ahead of us. Quite frankly, that will be toil that be a joyous and fulfilling time for those of us still trying to make a difference in this nationís ill-planned future, a future that we will be handing over to the all of the generations yet to come. Iím ready. ( 1, 3, 4 )
PS. Just so that you understand exactly how poorly any "Market Driven" (read privatized) health care system fares for its members, once the HMOs have tricked innocent Americans into enrolling in their Medicare HMO plans, they nearly immediately double the rates they charge and begin dropping the coverage for those who most need the plans due to age or illness. Folks, these schemes only benefit the corporations, NEVER, the people of this nation. Any idiot that troies to tell you that private business does a better job of anything that the government offers, you immediately know that they are both a Republican and they worship Rush Limbaugh and Wall Street. (2 )
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