Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The “Co-Op” Will Save the Day!

“It's like a condom with a hole. It looks like protection.” Stephannie Miller (Albuquerque, KABQ 1350AM, 18 August 2009) 110

The Republicans and the Democratic Senators of the “wholly owned” variety dismissed the possibility of a single payer approach to the health care reform matter at the first light of the first day of debate. The total resistance was presented in a chilling certainty: “We will never vote for a health reform package which includes the single payer option.” Period.

The obvious implication of such a well ordered affront to what the American people had indicated as their first choice was, well, negotiate.

Once those negotiations were in progress, the dramatics were introduced on all fronts. Senator Grassley's (R-Ohio) “unplug Grandma” was perhaps the first of many carefully tuned “word salads” to gain traction under media enhancement. “Federal take-over of health care” placing a bureaucrat “between you and your doctor” quickly followed.

The hill billies and bigots, that is, the base of the Rush Limbaugh Party, found “secret” diamonds in their salads. No thought was required for these reactionaries to literally explode with “free market” outrage, whatever that meant. Dick Armey, a very soiled Senator for the racist past, had been languishing in the rest fields of forgotten bigots for too long. In no time he found himself at the helm of an incredibly well funded “organizing committee” with the stated task of keeping the hill billies and bigots in a frenzy of manageable outrage. There would be the harsh doggerel of the hand made signs, the “Obama is Hitler” and the unchallenged appearance of gun toting “freedom thinkers” on the fringes of Presidential town hall meetings almost at once.

You see, the hill billies and bigots among us had taken quite an affront at the ease of the Obama camp during the Presidential campaign in 2008. It was a predictable response to being excluded from a sophisticated, sincere populous of Obama supporters. The “Yes We Can” crowd was having discussions about ideas which might map a possible emergence from the destruction of the Bush autocracy. The hill billies and bigots were left by themselves, stranded with their vacuous insistence that “there were two sides to the argument.”

You betch'a. Precisely as there are two sides to a plan to bail out a life boat after a ship wreck.

In fact, once the “bail out” plan was executed at a significant cost of Obama's political capital, the hill billies and bigots continued to fervently criticize it. Unable to comprehend the gravity of the situation of the “life boat” or the “bail out,” the hill billies and bigots insisted on pretending that the calamity was no more than politics, you know, a simple matter of which side will prevail. The matter of the sunken ship and the life boat tossing about on the stormy ocean of a very perturbed world meant nothing more than an opportunity to them. The “lesser people” could be inducted to the pedestrian tasks of laboring to save the country while the hill billies and bigots remained unburdened with any of such menial chores, free to savage new opportunities.

The outcome? More negotiating, only, this time, the “public option” was to be removed from the table as a condition of talks. Anything less would be tantamount to an imposition of appeasement. The billionaire insurance masters were emboldened. They issued this “combat order” to their servants in the Senate, and those toadies obeyed, promising to employ every Senatorial “trick” that they had learned after spending all those years in Washington.

Time for more moments with Grassley. His orders included proposing the “health care Co-Op” idea. He very dutifully trotted out his long, warm hearth tale of Co-Operative development in his heartland agricultural state. The trustworthiness of Co-Ops arising from the fact that they were non-profit entities managed by members – innocent consumers of the Co-Op's wares honest, hard working, dedicated to the good of the membership and elected rather than appointed in the thrall of glory oozing out of a Board of Directors who would sell Mother Mary's after birth if given a chance.

Grassley's exposition might have material, factual merit when applied to agricultural co-operatives. Those groups were forced to rise up in their own defense from market manipulators with very starkly “free market” ambitions of controlling agricultural markets to the detriment of farmers. When those farmers saw these economic parasites routinely bankrupting them, purchasing their farm lands for pennies on a dollar and then amalgamating their advances into gigantic agricultural conglomerates such as ADM and Monsanto, they formed co-operatives as a form of self-defense. The continuing threat continually posed by the Juggernauts of those “farm gobbling” monsters has sustained the enthusiasm for such co-operatives even today.

A perfect, prepackaged ruse for the Grassley. What could be more attractive to a population of wounded, health care greed victims than such a story of “good old American know-how” and “stick-to-it-ism.” The plan would include very little government intervention and, yet, would still be a “free range” of health care insurance providers beyond the death grip of the insurance corporations.

The media was ordered to portray the plan as a literal, modern, economic “wet dream.”

It did. In no time, the “co-operative health care” solution was ascending with no less glory than the bright warm, dawn sun of a beautiful new day.

However, as usual with media portrayals, some rather pertinent details were carefully omitted from that gushing media presentation. Those details would be any mention of an example of the recently ennobled phenomena of “co-operative health care.” After all, weren't there contemporary examples of such a fabulous solution to the dilemma?

Uh, not exactly. You see, there is actually a contemporary example of the perpetual blessings of a “co-operative health care wet dream,” and it is close at hand. Blue Cross and Blue Shield began their corporate lives as a co-operative health plan. Along the way, this co-operative of health care consuming members “drank the Kool Aid,” turning into one of the current mega-corporations practicing every one of the profit extracting outrages typical to the industry giants. It now splays itself in a myriad forms, tax exempt, “non-profit,” legally monopolistic (thanks to the good work of its carefully purchased Senators and Congressmen), all deceptive, grotesque (and profitable) denizens of the “big take,” quite able to defend themselves by embarking on “lie campaigns” and freely furnished, misleading television propaganda.

An exaggeration? Media Matters produced an insightful “Fact Check” on a typical Blue Cross Blue Shield operation in North Carolina. ( http://mediamattersaction.org/factcheck/200905190001 ) There, in that hill billy paradise of illiteracy and corruption well populated with Republican Neo-Con miscreants and other bigots with ambitions of destroying the President because he is black, every nasty aspect of the stinking game emerges into daylight.

It turns out not to matter so much. The Republicans and their Blue Dog (lap dog) Democrats have already said they will never vote for a Co-Op health care plan either.

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