Social Services, Inequality and Democracy

 

gini-index-usa

Gini Index showing inequality in the US

Nov 24 2017 (San Diego). There are several stories that have emerged over the last few months that seem disparate. However, they are very connected. By now you probably heard that the Children’s Health Program (CHIP) is getting ready to shut down in nine states.

Via the Washington Post we learn:

 Officials in nearly a dozen states are preparing to notify families that a crucial health insurance program for low-income children is running out of money for the first time since its creation two decades ago, putting coverage for many at risk by the end of the year.

Congress missed a Sept. 30 deadline to extend funding for CHIP, as the Children’s Health Insurance Program is known. Nearly 9 million youngsters and 370,000 pregnant women nationwide receive care because of it.

This program serves poor children. Not only does it keep a child healthy, but it is a solid investment in public health. In the short term, it will mean a lot more visits to the Emergency Room. This is the least efficient means of Health delivery. It will lead to unnecessary deaths as well.

Then there is the tax bill. It not only favors the uber-rich (Yes, if you own a private jet, you can deduct some of the costs to operate that jet. I am sure this will benefit all of us. Wait, you don’t have a jet?).it is a direct transfer of wealth from the working and middle class, to the top earners. It is truly a scam.

One deep desire of the Republican donor class is to gut the Affordable Care Act (ACA). On the surface, this is a mystery. But philosophically this donor class prefers to protect their property as they understand it. It is also about not sharing with others what they have. This is about those deserving and those not deserving. It is about saving what they understand as capitalism and avoiding a fate worse than death, a more egalitarian society. In many ways, they draw from a philosophy of property first developed by James Calhoun, who argued for slavery on the grounds that was property.

They believe that taxes, public goods and services, and other means to a more equal society, are directly on their property rights. Regulations are also an attack on those rights. Both run against the heart of what they believe to be capitalism and an unfettered market.

For Calhoun:

John C. Calhoun, the South’s recognized intellectual and political leader from the 1820s until his death in 1850, devoted much of his remarkable intellectual energy to defending slavery. He developed a two-point defense. One was a political theory that the rights of a minority section — in particular, the South — needed special protecting in the federal union. The second was an argument that presented slavery as an institution that benefited all involved.

Replace slavery with the rights of carbon mines and fracking. Replace it for those who argue that schools should be private, as they will not impinge on the right of students going to a nonexistent public school. It was Brown v Board of Education that led to the rise of charter schools.

All these disparate policies have one goal in mind. That is to protect the rights of a few people to amass as much wealth as they can. They also will increase inequality in the United States.

Then comes Net Neutrality. What does this have to do with all this? A lot actually. For the companies such as Verizon and AT&T this internet should never have been treated as a utility. As such, they cannot play traffic cop. Ergo, never mind it was developed by Darpa, and for the use of the Department of Defense, it is theirs. They should be able to do as they wish and milk it for all its worth.

It adds to that inequality, but it also allows them to play idea cop on the net. The narrow range of political and economic discussion that already exists in the US, will become even more narrow. Oh, never mind that this will hurt American economic competitiveness. It is on their property, not yours or mine. Your ability to get a startup going on their pipes is actually a threat to them.

Here  comes to the final critical point. If you have ever been told by anybody, on or off the net, that we are a republic, not a democracy, likely they are followers of an idea that is at the heart of the sickness. You can thank Calhoun, and later every person who has ever tried to limit access to the vote in the United States. Widespread democracy is dangerous. Why? It will challenge these ideas, and demand a fair distribution of resources. It will require an egalitarian level of distribution, This is why these people say that there is the worst fate for them. This would be the United States following the road to statism, or the European way.

In other words, their fear is that we will go down the path this country abandoned long ago. That is that of social democracy. This was the vision of the Second Bill of Rights, as envisioned by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1944.

  • The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the Nation;
  • The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
  • The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
  • The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
  • The right of every family to a decent home;
  • The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
  • The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
  • The right to a good education.

This path is possible. It is part of a new economic paradigm for the country. However, that should be the beginning and not the end. We must emphasize, this will be fought, tooth and nail. With climate change, these changes will be forced upon us.

 



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