Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

Majority of Americans Want Universal Healthcare

UPDATE:  CNN just released a brand new poll72% of the American public want the federal government to take a large role in providing healthcare coverage for all.  I hope Congress is listening!

The following chart is from The Drum Major Institute and represents a poll conducted 08 August ’08. I have seen similar polls from the New York Times and Public Policy Poling since the election.















Now, these numbers can change.  Similar numbers in favor of universal healthcare were around when Bill Clinton was elected president, but after the lobbyists for private insurance and Big Pharma ran their distorting “Harry and Louise” commercials, public support disappeared.  The commercials so misled older Americans that one retiree pleaded with then-Sen. Minority Leader Bob Dole (R-KS), “Please, Sen. Dole, don’t let the government run my Medicare!” Who did she think was ALREADY running Medicare???

The lobbyists will likewise attempt to derail current efforts at universal healthcare, too, even though it would help get us out of the recession. (The recession is global, but in no other industrial nation are people losing their healthcare, at a rate 0f 1,400 per month, along with their jobs.  That’s placing additional strains on state Medicaid programs and on hospital emergency rooms used for primary care–which is adding to state budget crises.) I mentioned back in December that if General Moters had been a CANADIAN company rather than a U. S. one, it would not have needed any government bailout money–even with all the bad management decisions over decades. Why? Because national healthcare in Canada would have saved GM’s biggest labor cost and given it an extra $22 billion per year.

Healthcare through jobs  or individual insurance plans means that U.S. manufacturers are not competing on even ground with European, Chinese, Japanese, Canadian, etc. manufacturers. It adds thousands of dollars to every American automobile, for instance.  It hurts small businesses (and leads many of our most creative entrepeneurs to forego starting their own small businesses) and to the death of family farms.

Think how much faster we can recover from this economic disaster if companies don’t need to factor in healthcare into their labor decisions?  National health insurance also saves hospitals in billing costs–which is why after start up costs, a single payer system is less expensive in the long run.

If you are a U.S. citizen, contact your member of Congress and Senators and urge them to pass universal healthcare THIS year.  Write letters to your local papers, too.  Make some noise: the lobbyists for Big Pharma and the HMOs sure will.

UPDATE: Originally, no supporters of single-payer plans were invited to the White House tomorrow for Obama’s Health Care Reform Summit.  Thanks to thousands of petitions, phone calls, emails, etc. by citizen activists, that has changed.  Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), a longtime proponent of single payer universal healthcare and author of the current House bill that promotes such, will be there.  This is how it’s done.

March 3, 2009 - Posted by | economic justice, healthcare


  1. Michael,

    My sense is that things may go differently this time. The Clintons made the mistake of doing a lot of things behind the scenes, I think everyone understands the mistakes made last time. Besides, I think everyone understands that something must be done to get costs down, so reform is necessary now. The biggest drag on the US Auto Industry is health care costs — for employees and retirees.

    So, these numbers look good. Strike while the iron is hot!

    Comment by Bob Cornwall | March 3, 2009

  2. Bob, I think Obama has worked hard to learn from Clinton’s mistakes: 1)Gettinng Congress to have input from the beginning instead of presenting them with a finished package; 2) Identifying the key members of Congress and the Senate (Kennedy and Baucus); 3)Using the reconciliation process to prevent a filibuster. But I still see the huge forces ranged against universal healthcare and I know that without pressure by citizens, it’s in trouble. For one thing, Republicans fear universal healthcare more than anything else.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | March 3, 2009

  3. I favor healthcare for all Americans, but the phrase “redistribution of wealth” (in all honesty) puts a lot me and a lot of Americans off. It conjures up in our minds socialism and worse. Government has a part to play in making our lives better (if possible), but I don’t want the government to take care of me from the cradle to the grave, because if it comes to that end I would expect to be told how to live my life. And I can choose how to live my life on my own terms thank you Uncle Sam !!

    Comment by Paul | March 4, 2009

  4. […] And they want free money and a pony in their backyard too. […]

    Pingback by Stones Cry Out - If they keep silent… » Things Heard: e57v3 | March 4, 2009

  5. Paul, this is a GOP trick: Using the phrase “redistribution of wealth” to give the picture of a thief stealing hard-earned money and giving it to people who don’t deserve it. (Apparently, Robin Hood is no longer a hero to Americans.) In FACT, ALL GOVERNMENT’s REDISTRIBUTE WEALTH. The question is from whom and to whom. For 40 years Republicans have used government to redistribute wealth FROM the working classes to the super rich. There are charts showing this clearly.

    Nothing in any Obama plans or Democratic plans have government taking care of people from “cradle to grave.” But what we currently have is government taking care of RICH people, socializing their losses and privatizing their profits! That’s “Lemon Socialism” and “Crony Capitalism” rolled together.

    Obama’s vision, as he has articulated constantly, is not of government as supernanny, but as a partner for ordinary Americans. That’s not state socialism: that’s DEMOCRACY as opposed to the Plutocratic Autocracy that has disguised itself as democracy under Republican rule.

    The TRUTH: Republicans LOVE redistributing wealth (look at the bankers lined up at the trough) as long as it is middle class and working class money redistributed to the Rich.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | March 4, 2009

  6. GM’s problems come from the expensive retirement health benefits they provide. If GM would allow their retirees to take Medicare it would cost them nothing. How do you think Toyota is doing it here in the U.S.? G.M. management knows this but the union is enriching themselves at the expense of current workers who won’t get that benefit. And now they want the rest of us who take Medicare to pay for them to stay off of it. Nice redistribution there.

    Comment by stan | March 5, 2009

  7. Toyota is now losing money, too. Toyota has no legacy costs because very few of its employees in the U.S. are at retirement age. Yes, the OTHER huge labor cost at GM is retirement, but Toyota has been getting a free ride: 1. Back in Japan healthcare is taken care of by the government. 2. In the U.S. they built in non-union states so that they could offer few benefits without rival. 3. Those states gave Toyota and other foreign automakers much welfare in terms of low taxes (in KY’s case, the Toyota plannt pays ZERO property taxes–the Ford plant didn’t get that deal–and a much lower corporate tax than Ford) and few regulations.

    Toyota’s “let them have Medicare when they retire” version helps their company at the taxpayer’s expense, too. I’ve said it before: Republicans DO believe in welfare–for rich corporations, but not for poor people.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | March 5, 2009

  8. First Toyota will NEVER have legacy costs regardless of the number of future retirees. It’s called a 401k. GM workers make GM pay for their extravagant(as a % of salary) retirement standards or if that fails the rest of us who are trying to fund our 401k’s must fund them. All while they make/made more than we do (average household income). Nice redistribution if you can get it. Especially if you can disguise it as helping the “poor”.

    You are confusing tax breaks with welfare. City/state tax incentives represent competition for jobs and the economic benefits of hosting a PROFITABLE business. When my town loses that competition, I don’t pay. With GM and Ford (who indeed do get local tax gifts in Michigan) the entire nation including those workers and residents at the Toyota plant in Kentucky are being asked to prop up a repeatedly FAILING business (even in good times) from which they don’t benefit.

    What’s more, the money is going to pay for the health care benefits the rest of us don’t get and instead go to boomers who were paid very handsomely for their high school education. This a transfer of wealth from the average non-unionized American to a failed corporation and its inefficient, overpaid, low-skilled (objectively not employable elsewhere) unionized workforce. All while they make/made more than the average household income. If one were being objective, you might call it crony capitalism- democrat style. Whatever the merits of single payer healthcare, or any reform, it is decidedly not what is wrong with Detroit. It’s the union past and present, but mostly past.

    We could talk teacher unions and government worker unions as well. The story is much the same but gross failure there is more hidden due to lack of competition. Again more transfers to overpaid, inefficient, but this time slightly better-educated workforce from the average less-well-paid non-unionized workers. Again it’s who-you-know crony capitalism-lite – change we can believe in.

    Comment by stan | March 5, 2009

  9. 401K’s are the reason why SOOO many people are now glad that GW Bush wasn’t successful in privatizing SS on the stock market. 401k’s have been gambled away by the greedy Wall Streeters. I’ll bet GM’s retirees are glad they still have defined-benefit pensions. Alas! I fear that they are some of the last who will have them.

    I am a union member and the grandson of a union organizer, Stan. I hate anti-union people as the enemies of workers everywhere.

    And TAX GIVEAWAYS to special companies ARE CORPORATE WELFARE. They are also why so many state budgets are in chaos, now.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | March 5, 2009

  10. But Michael, the GM’s retirees don’t have solvent pensions anymore. They may brag all they want about those pensions but they get them by welfare now (from U.S. gov’t). I’ll be damned if they get guaranteed benefits better than I do at my expense when as I say they made/make more than the average worker. This is babyboomerism run amok.

    If you don’t want to give out tax subsidies vote against them, but some communities can rationalize it as a good tradeoff. But at least there is someone who will be responsible if they don’t pay off in a balanced budget. I however don’t recall me or any of my representatives making any of these concessions to union members, yet now I must pay and get no benefit. They make more, wreck companies, suck off me -“the poor” and you defend that?

    This is no time for nostalgia when unions propped up salaries for the high school educated or those who didn’t compete. This is wally and beaver world where women and blacks could make no salary and good old boys commanded their salary without competition from the third world. Anti-union is not anti-“worker”. Unless “worker” is code for guys like Ward.

    Comment by stan | March 5, 2009

  11. Stan, your revisionist history is just that. Yes, there were racist unions, but unions also played a strong role in the civil rights movement–especially the UAW. Many of the early leaders of the Civil Rights movement, before MLK, Jr, were union leaders.

    I am not for nostalgia. I am for a strong middle class–and it won’t come without unions. Ask yourself why Europe and Canada are in better shape during this recession than we are: 1) Better regulated markets. In Canada sub-prime mortgages and ARMs are illegal. And they did not destroy the wall between investment banks and regular banks like we did, so the damage is contained. 2) Universal healthcare. When workers lose their jobs, they are NOT losing healthcare, too. Currently, 1,400 Americans per DAY are losing their healthcare which could lead to losing their home, etc. Over 38 million Americans, the most ever, are now on food stamps. 3)Unions.

    It’s not union salaries that have hurt American business its these !@#$%% WALL STREET salaries and bonuses and golden parachutes for people who screw up and run their companies into the ground!!! They have stolen and defrauded the country, then taken our money and used to lobby for more sweetheart deals. Right now, Wall Street bankers are less popular than used car salespeople–and union membership is increasing since the recession. About time.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | March 5, 2009

  12. Some of that is fine. Like I said the arguments for health care reform are entirely different than diagnosing the problems plaguing the big three. Unions want to hide behind other issues.

    I’m not sure Europe is faring better. They are generally getting destroyed by similar garbage in the financial and real estate sectors. Of course they have also had persistent unemployment for many years at levels above even our current levels. They also are beginning to economically feel the mismatch between their liabilities in the welfare state and their declining birth rates/need for massive immigration to sustain it. All in all I don’t think its nirvana.
    Here we have health care that still cares for everyone (basic and inefficient), but economic opportunities beyond what Europeans enjoy generally speaking. Social mobility is lessened in Europe. The entire system is a stealth tax on the future. In a few generations it will be unworkable when there are 2:1 retirees for every worker. Watch Italy first. It’s a generational transfer no one should stand for. And apparently the Europeans work so much for it they forget to make babies.

    In any case, the market will soon render its verdict on union run business. GM – $1.85. And bloated federal state – DOW 6500.

    Comment by stan | March 5, 2009

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