We Have Met the Corporation and It Is Us

By Al Giordano

One of the more annoying traits of many of the aspiring Health Care “bill killers” on the US left that we’ve heard from of late is that they act as if the control by multinational corporations over all aspects of human existence (including governments) is somehow this big new surprise and development. Fact is, it has been an evident part of our species’ reality for decades already.

Richard Barnet and Ronald Mueller published Global Reach: The Power of the Multinational Corporations in 1976 (Touchstone Books) and 33 years later a certain political tendency among some college educated self-described progressives carries the whiff of the freshly converted. OMG! Corporations are evil! Daddy government should do something!

Meanwhile, any actual progress in improving the lives of the poor and and the working class must be, according to them, halted, even demonized, if it doesn’t simultaneously and immediately overturn the existing reality of corporate domination of our world.

The December 18 edition of the Bill Moyers’ Journal television program offered a fairly representative example of the incoherence of this position. Moyers opened a panel discussion with this question to Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibbi:

“Let's start with some news. Some of the big insurance companies, Well Point, Cigna, United Health, all surged to a 52 week high in their share prices this week when it was clear there'd be no public option in the health care bill going through Congress right now. What does that tell you, Matt?”

Moyers’ first and central “concern” was not how health care reform might affect the lives of real people, but over whether it causes corporation stocks to rise.

Taibbi’s response contained the same myopic focus:

“Well, I think what most people should take away from this is that the massive subsidies for health insurance companies have been preserved while it's also expanded their customer base because there's an individual mandate in the bill that's going to provide all these companies with the, you know, 25 or 30 million new people who are going to be paying for health insurance. So, it's, obviously, a huge boon to that industry. And I think Wall Street correctly read what the health care effort is all about.”

In both – question and response – there was zero consideration of what happens to the folks down below. Their eyes are raised - blinders attached - only to view the circus up above. And it is precisely the corporate mass media that has programmed them and others to obsess that way.

As one who has spent the past 35 years organizing and writing against corporate power - with some concrete successes, some notable failures, and a lot of trial and error - it remains a central goal of my life’s work to dismantle the “uber-State” of corporate power, which means replacing the capitalist system with, well, “something else.” (I do have a more developed view of what "something else" could be, but it is a conversation mostly worth having with those who are already thinking that far ahead. I will offer, below, some general thoughts.)

The born again anti-corporatists, however, almost universally stop short of acknowledging that capitalism is the root problem. Moyers prefaced his question with this very denial: “This is not capitalism at work. It's capital. Raw money, mounds of it, buying politicians and policy as if they were futures on the hog market.”

Sorry, Bill, but, yes, that is precisely what defines capitalism at work.

And it is how capitalism has functioned for a very long time.

As Barnet and Mueller predicted back in the seventies, wealth has increasingly concentrated in the hands of the few and, with it, corporate power over people and their governments.

The cadre of progressive bloggers who share Moyers’ half-developed vision – that corporate power must be stopped but who don’t offer a shred of suggestion or vision about what to replace it with – type their denouncements furiously on computer systems produced by Microsoft or Apple. (True, some nobly use Linux and free software, but nonetheless on components made by corporations in non-unionized sweatshops in developing world countries.) Their demands for anti-corporate purity from others are patently hypocritical from the get-go.

A case in point: Keith Olbermann – who of late has shared this born again anti-corporatism tendency - issues his ranted communiqués from the studios of General Electric-owned NBC. If we were to apply Olbermann's own yardstick honestly to him, we would ignore anything he says and simply report how GE stock rises or falls corresponding to each of Keith’s televised speeches. Ah, but that would make us as silly as the caricature of himself he has invented.

The unspoken truth is that college educated North Americans are not yet ready or prepared to live and work in a post-capitalist society. They have become weak and deformed around the corporate produced technologies and luxuries to which they have become accustomed and dependent. And so there is a vague call from these quarters for government to provide them these luxuries and technologies instead. Yet coming just two decades on the heels of the failed Soviet experiment one sees little evidence that those making the call have thought through how exactly state run health care, for example, would be operated much differently, qualitatively, than corporate run health care today.

Alternatives like workplace democracy (in which the workers collectively appropriate the means of production) have proved difficult-to-impossible to sustain in such an individualist society as the USA. Post-sixties back-to-the-landers on the hippie left and post-eighties survivalists on the Christian right both pretty much failed to develop sustainable models of getting off the grid of corporate capitalism. Despite their attempted indoctrinations and home schoolings of their spawn, both found themselves abandoned and rejected by their own children in a single generation.

More success has been enjoyed in the so-called Third World, and particularly here in Latin America where various alternative models – from Zapatista autonomy in Chiapas to Venezuela’s twenty-first century socialism to Bolivia’s indigenous-infused variations on the Venezuelan model – have emerged over the past couple of decades. I’ve considered it important work to document their successes and expose the efforts of capitalism and its empires to squash them. Still, while these models have provided glimmers of hope, it would be a terrible exaggeration to claim that utopia has surged from any of it so far.

It is almost impossible for me to imagine so many United States citizens being able to make the individual sacrifices necessary for the common good that are made in those lands. The human species, in developed world societies, has devolved far too dependently on the corporate systems and technologies to be able to unhook from them successfully, at least not very rapidly. And so, as substitution for almost any proposed models of reorganizing US society from the college educated progressives, we get these vague, mostly incoherent, demands for things like “single payer” or a “public option” on health care which would not demonstrably do things much differently than corporate insurers, except that it would be the very debilitated US State – with its own problems of bureaucracy and authoritarianism - doing these things instead.

Would single-payer and public-options still be preferable? Yes, but with the proviso that the improvement would be at the margins, and they, too, would create new problems to solve. I have yet to see a single-payer health proposal, for example, that honestly admits that removing insurance corporations altogether would cause hundreds of thousands of Americans that work for them to become unemployed. Where is the necessary plan to retrain, retool and provide jobs for those workers? Who has even mentioned it, much less developed a plan or a proposal?

In seeking to dismantle the military-industrial complex, for example, the peace organizations, think tanks and labor unions have at least paid a bit of attention to the idea that the same factories that make jet fighters could be producing mass transit systems and solar collectors and such. But in a society that needs to reduce its paper pushing and bureaucracy to reduce costs, what can be done with a class of non-unionized workers that is trained in nothing except menial paperwork? (The same considerations need to be raised for the financial services industry: the calls over the past year to stop bailouts and allow those companies to crash and burn have not included the necessary answers to the question: And what then happens to the workers in the banking and financial sectors? They’re really not trained to do much else.)

In lieu of any real plan, we are offered “feel good” solutions of lashing out against corporations. Lost in that discourse: the people down below. That is what has defined the health care debate on parts of the blogosphere. It doesn’t matter to some that 30 million people who don’t have any health insurance at all will now have theirs subsidized. To them, if the insurance corporations also benefit from it, then it is a moral “evil” that must be stopped.

Also forgotten in this born-again anti-corporatism is what Alinksy, Gandhi and others have demonstrated: To create and sustain successful political movements and revolutions, you have to turn small triumphs into ever increasing larger ones. If you don’t have victories along the way and call them that, the people lose hope and motivation to back any movement or revolt.

And yet that is precisely what the bill-killer tendency (and we will surely see them behave the same incoherent way on future battles: immigration reform will be next) is pushing: This sense that nothing is progress, nothing can be defined as a win, and that winning itself is evil if it doesn’t overturn everything. Even that might be understandable if they had a coherent plan for what winning would really look like, for what kind of society and system they would build to replace corporate capitalism. But they don't have even a skeletal blueprint yet.

My own view after a lifetime of study and praxis is that capitalism must and can be replaced not by “one big idea” or system, but by many different decentralized systems, designed by their participants, that reflect and protect the character of the different cultures on the planet on the most local level possible. Each must respect the autonomy of the other. In most, direct worker ownership of the means of production would probably be the silver bullet that replaces savage capitalism: What the anarcho-syndicalists, Situationists and others once called a society based on Workers Councils.

Are North Americans ready for that? I don’t think so. Not yet. Could you imagine Keith Olbermann as an equal member of a collective workers’ ownership of GE? Or Arianna Huffington bringing workplace democracy to her online newspaper? How many days do you think they would last as peers of equal co-workers? I don’t mean to single them out. They’re emblematic of a larger group of people that are too programmed to whine and pout and offer tantrums instead of hard work.

And so I continue in this South of the Border laboratory, learning what can be learned from movements that are more successful in defeating or at least limiting the control by the corporate uber-State, documenting and reporting their advances, recruiting and training like-minded workers of authentic journalism to do the same, waiting and hoping that someday my compatriots up North will stop thinking that bitching is itself a political stance and get to work on the heavy lifting of building the new society out of the ashes of the old.

In the meantime, I think the only way to nudge them in that direction is with incremental victories, like the one pending on health care, and the upcoming one on immigration reform, where the usual suspects will whine anew all over again (the proverbial making of perfection into the enemy of the good) and the newly resurgent multi-racial working class of the US left will be knocking on doors, putting together phone banks, and organizing instead of ranting.

There is actually a lot of progress going on in the United States, but it is hard to see amidst the smokescreens and media distortions, and even harder to hear above the din of what is now a mechanized industry of poutrage that has created its own market niche inside the capitalist system. That tendency's credo ought to be: We have met the corporation and it is us.

 

Comments

Food for Thought and Action

on where we are and where we must travail. Yes, it's the holiday season and there's much to celebrate as we look forward to what needs to be accomplished. And, you have laid out just what we needs to worked on and worked out.

There are too many money quotes in this piece, but this one struck me and may be my favorite:

Post-sixties back-to-the-landers on the hippie left and post-eighties survivalists on the Christian right both pretty much failed to develop sustainable models of getting off the grid of corporate capitalism. Despite their attempted indoctrinations and home schoolings of their spawn, both found themselves abandoned and rejected by their own children in a single generation.

 

Yep, the boomers failed in this particular arena and many now want to crab about this rather than still work on the necessary fix. And, it's hard, hard work. It means that a person has to keep organizing and talking to people; many times folks unlike oneself and facing really different circumstances. And, it also means having these conversations while looking on how to unite people on dealing and correcting and making change.

 

Onward to 2010!

Don't tell anyone, but...

... judging by manager's amendments, the current conflict between the killbillers and the passbillers seems to be a good thing. At least in the shortrun. There seems to be enough momentum going to pass the bill, yet at the same there is a large amount of pressure not to compromise any further.

But let's keep that quiet, and let everyone play their part.

Unsupported Suppositions to Justify Poutrage

Sloane - I of course have studied Markos' theories of pressure upon Congress (indeed, in general, I've praised them as stated in his book), and read Nate's olive branch to that tendency that maybe, possibly, it has been "somewhat" helpful in making for a better bill, but in this specific instance, I think it is in the realm of unsupported supposition meant to justify the EPIC FAIL of this chapter in poutrage.

It presumes that without the loud whining by the bill-killers, Bernie Saunders wouldn't have prevailed on his amendments that improved the bill, that Senators Wyden and Klobuchar and others likewise wouldn't have pushed just as hard for theirs, or that Senators Boxer, Murray, Schumer, et al, would not have prevailed anyway in dismantling the Stupak amendment.

I know something about the sausage making process of legislation. It was my job to report it for many years, in the US Capitol and the Massachusetts State House. And the claims of interest groups (and yes, the Netroots has become a kind of interest group, with many of the same vices) of their influence over the process are often grossly overstated. What happens to any kind of interest group is that its goal increasingly becomes self-justification over actual policy progress. And that, too, is happening, sadly, to so much of the Netroots seeking to make the story about them.

I frankly disagree with Nate. I don't think the poutrage moved the bill one inch in any direction. But I do know that it decreased the sense of having a "win" that is so necessary to movement building, to inspiring people to organize and do more. On that, I can measure the concrete harm done. Whereas I can't measure with any evidence at all that the flurry of bill-killing poutrage made any difference at all in the manager's amendment to the bill.

Fabulous

This is better than reading Frank Rich on Sunday morning!  I'm not sure I could subscribe to a non-capitalist world (that's not true, I KNOW I couldn't as I'm one of those who you describe as too spoiled with the worldly pleasures of this capitalistic society) but I do appreciate your fine assessment of the hypocrisy of the "bill killers". 

owning the means of health production

I hope the bill passes and I called my senators. However, as a health care provider, I am developing a 10 year plan to remove myself from dependence on insurance companies. Honestly, that means developing a product that people (rich people) are probably going to pay cash for, not using their insurance. I got my MSW so I could take insurance, but it has been so frustrating. 

What you say here is important, and I expect I will be grappling with it as I engage in my own capitalistic schemes. (Or, I might be too busy and self-absorbed in my cozy North American life to honestly grapple with it.) To take what you said further, workers, or citizens, owning the means of health care production would involve challenging hundreds of years of saying "Yes, sir" to doctors, not knowing how to take care of ourselves, heal ourselves, eat right. It even goes back to the burning of the witches in Europe. Witches were likely community organizers, teaching people how to take care of themselves and removing dependence on priests and then later the male medical profession. Women's health clinics and know-your-body workshops are some of the few attempts at helping people take back the means of health care production that I know of. 

Preach.

Thanks for this. I've LONG been asking the question, "But what do all those people do for a living when we abolish private insurance companies?" The most honest answer I've gotten was from a friend's father. Their family has been battling with insurance companies their whole lives due to multiple serious medical conditions. He snapped at me, "I don't really give a shit."

I love my job. I don't want to do anything else. But if I'm going to keep doing it, it's hard to imagine making a living at it with out collecting checks from News Corp or Disney or GE (soon to be Comcast)... I've had to continually work to be at peace with this. It takes engaging in my community in a productive way. Quitting my job to work for Obama, say. Or volunteering for a local charity. But you're correct. I admitted long ago this broken system provides a life I'm not prepared to give up. What I haven't been able to articulate until now is that it's this perspective that's rendered me incapable of communicating with the absolutists on this issue, and others for that matter.  It seems so obvious reading this but it hadn't clicked into place before. Thanks for helping me crystalize my thoughts. Hopefully, I can argue more productively now.

Some of us

Have been fighting corporations since before Barnet and Mueller's book was published.

And some of us who have serious problems with the healthcare "reform" emerging from this Congress don't find your drive-by swipes to be at all amusing.

I haven't had health insurance since being permanently laid off by Firestone in 1982. The only reform here is that I will now be forced to pay insurance premiums to the same insurance companies who refused to take my money for over a quarter century.

Rip on those who disagree with you all you like Al, I for one do not appreciate a bill that turns my ass into a bicycle rack for the insurance banksters.

Our Dixified Republicans aren't afraid to break the system to get their way. How does compromise between all the various corporatized members of Congress further the cause?

Any more "wins" like this one and progs might as well just give the country back to Cheney.

Limits to Growth

Also written and dismissed in the 70s was Limits to Growth by Meadows.  It correctly predicted the inevitable consequence of an economic and social system that required infinite growth on a finite planet.  They were dismissed at the time, but their projections have held up well, and they updated their book a few years ago:

http://www.amazon.com/Limits-Growth-Donella-H-Meadows/dp/193149858X/ref=...

The takeaway is twofold - that the economic system cannot function much longer because the infinite growth paradigm has exceeded the carrying capacity of the planet (both in terms of natural resources like oil and in terms of environmental sinks like pollution).

I think that's another important piece of the macro picture here.

Please cross-post this at Kos

Pretty please? This is a discussion that needs to continue in parallel both here and on less friendly ground.

It is frightening that so much of the left wants to scrap a year's worth of work by the most liberal Congress in over 30 years (one which will almost certainly inch rightward with next year's elections, particularly if the pouting by the base continues) over the notion that the 30 million mostly poor and working-class people who would finally receive health-care as a result should be refused this care because they would "only" get to choose from an expanded, better-regulated range of the same corporations that provide health-care for Jane Hamsher, Howard Dean, Arianna Huffington, Tiger Woods, Bill Gates, and the majority of people in the country.

If the well-insured left succeeds in getting progressive House members to vote against a conference bill because it has no public option, they will have done the same thing the insurance companies have been doing for decades (and would no longer be able to do): denying people coverage based on their pre-existing condition... of being unable to pay!

The luxuries of digital activism

Al,

You have perfectly captured the arguments I have been making to anyone within earshot, except you do so more succinctly and with greater writing finesse. I originally come from the African continent, the beneficiary of bitter wars/struggles for liberation. And I must tell you that throughout my graduate education here in this country and well into my professional teaching career here, I have often been dumbfounded by the way some of the socalled progressive left misconstrue how real progress is achieved. Yet, in fact the long tortuous histories of the African American and latino/a civil rights movements readily provide glaring clues for the "poutrage" class on how painstakingly slow real movement forward is.

Case in point: I lived in Austin, Texas during the rise of Whole Foods Market from its modest days into a huge conglomerate, and was amazed at the ideological invesment many had in the "progressive" stature of this company. They believed that buying lettuce from a gleaming wooden table rather than Kroger's steel and plastic tables, or buying a bag of peanuts with raffia-wrapped rather than mylar packaging somehow made them conscientious objectors to crass capitalism and contributors to the livelihoods of the world's poor. But they do not question the very structure of American consumerism that vacuums up 70% of the world's resources for just 300 million people. As you rightly ask, how prepared are we to REALLY give up our lives of relative comfort in order that the rest ofthe world's peoples can have true equity?

Meanwhile, when I went back to the continent this past summer during President Obama's visit to Ghana in July, a spirited taxi driver said to me after Obama's speech, that he wonders whether ALL Americans are seriously prepared to work with the rest of the world to solve the intractable problems plaguing it.  He asked whether Americans are prepared to give up their lifestyles. I did not have an answer. He smiled and said he fears President Obama will have more friends outside his own country than inside it. Well, here we are...

 

 

Thanks, Al

I'm struggling to understand how the health of the community could be improved in a manner that respects deomcratic values. I think the best models go back 100 years or so ... to a time when voluntary mutual-aid associations were much stronger, and many of them provided basic health care for their members. But, as you say, Americans really aren't prepared for that sort of conceptual leap at this point.

http://mason.gmu.edu/~ihs/s92essay.html

One question would help to clarify your reasoning for me: Would you still consider this bill successful if it increased the percentage of the economy controlled by private insurance companies by another 3-5%, thereby increasing their power and influence?

Another great blog entry! I

Another great blog entry! I couldn't agree more. It seems on dailykos that all the concern is over the health insurance companies and them getting all they wanted (which of course is not true). Furthermore, it is very difficult to find ANY concern on dailykos over people with pre-existing conditions. This is not great bill. But it is a start. If we didn't start, then we would have to wait until 2024. What good does that do?

@ Mark

Mark - If my writing merely amused those who I'm criticizing it wouldn't really be making its point, no?

I also don't have health insurance. And see enough loopholes in the legislation to continue not having it without legal problems. Your portrayal of it as something that will "force" you to get it ignores the complete unenforceable nature of its mandates, even if they do survive until 2014 when they would kick in.

Truth is, nothing, absolutely nothing, will happen to you or I for not signing up in that system. That's been the experience in Massachusetts, where nonetheless a higher percentage of the population has chosen to sign up for insurance that was made available to them than in any other state of the union. And they didn't do it because of unenforceable mandates. They did it because they wanted insurance for themselves or, often, their kids.

And if you keep calling progress that brings more options - not fewer - to poor and working folk "defeats," well, then you've already handed the country back to Cheney. So, yes, my goal wasn't to amuse folks like you, but, rather, afflict you in your comfort to care more about comforting the afflicted.

An early Christmas present

My inbox was jammed with links to this Bill Moyers program featuring Taibbi, as well as the latest poutrageous statements by Hamsher, Dean, Olbermann, and Moulitsas.

 

I was ready to hit reply and tell them that all of these arrogant, paternalistic "progressives" can suck it but I will send this piece instead.

 

And, thank you Al for pointing out the flaw in the argument that all of the kill billers have made the Senate bill more progressive.  Do they really believe that all of their self-important whining made a difference as opposed to the work of Jay Rockefeller, Chuck Schumer (a good, good guy on this issue), the White House team including the constant  pushing of President Obama, and others?

 

I am also tired of hearing that the President should have pushed more, done more, supported the public option more, started with single payer, not let Congress run the process, been more vocal, blah, blah, blah.  How did managing the process and writing the bill work for the Clintons?  Bill even pounded his healthcare reform publication on the podium before a joint session of Congress.  More importantly how did that strategy work for the millions of people who were un and underinsured? The fact that we are about to get major legislation through the House and Senate and into conference committee tells me that the White House has managed this just fine.

@Erik

Erik: I am not our host to whom your question is addressed, but in my own reasoning, it does not matter to me at all if the percentage of the economy that is controlled by the health insurance industry were to go up by 5%. The numbers have to add up to exactly 100% in any case, so this would only mean that the share of the economy controlled by the huge banks, energy multinationals, defense contractors, and service industry would have dropped incrementally. Are these corporations more virtuous than the health insurance companies? Is this marginal shifting-around of capital among large business interests really a concern that makes it worthwhile to scrap a reform bill whose largest effect is to distributes wealth to the nation's neediest?

Is it the fault of the

Is it the fault of the so-called "netroots" that the effort for movement building has been harmed?  Can't some blame rest on the White House for not managing its message better?  I think what has been most disheartening for me over this long, arduous year has been that Obama, who was a master of the political narrative over the election season, has seemingly lost this ability once in office.  Regardless of the political necessity of capitulating to Lieberman's narcissistic demands, the White House handling of that incident appeared very weak (and indeed was the trigger for the wave of cascade failure among progressive circles.)

 

That being said I'm optimistic about this health-care-foot-in-the-door bill, and look forward to using it as a springboard for further organizing, and further progressive reform for this country.  I just hope that for 2010 (bound to be as difficult a year for everyone as the last) the White House can regain its ability to lead the narrative effectively.

HC Debate Raising Awareness of Need to End Capitalist Control.

You write:

In lieu of any real plan, we are offered “feel good” solutions of lashing out against corporations. Lost in that discourse: the people down below. That is what has defined the health care debate on parts of the blogosphere. It doesn’t matter to some that 30 million people who don’t have any health insurance at all will now have theirs subsidized. To them, if the insurance corporations also benefit from it, then it is a moral “evil” that must be stopped.

Will those "30 million people who don't have any health insurance at all" actually get real access to health care or will they be eligible to pay for partially subsidized health insurance premiums for policies which charge unaffordable co-pays and deductibles, while capping yearly maxes and offering no reductions in obscenely expensive drugs?

I fail to see how mandating that Americans buy health insurance from private insurance companies, in which the government actually subsidizes premiums to private insurers for financial hardship is a " victory" which will energize the masses to putting an end to the capitalist economic system. It gives more money to private insurance companies to further entrench their profit-motive driven power.

Exposing Obama's pledge for "change" as being only a marketing tool to hide his DLC corporatist loyalties -- and those of the Democratic congressional representatives -- is a pre-condition to developing a deeper awareness of how ruthlessly capitalism exploits the majority.  This, in turn, is a pre-condition for thinking about, talking about and elaborating a plan to replace capitalism with an economic system that works for human beings.

As an American expat living in Venezuela, I have a front row seat on the development of a new template for organizing a socialist economic system.  The Chavez government is truly visionary, and implementing new forms of economic and social organization in face of the fierce opposition and constant obstruction of the capitalist oligarchy, both internal and global.

Thanks to the 1999 Chavez led Constitutional reform, Venezuelans now have a constitutional right to free health care, free education to the doctoral level, housing, nutrition, unionization, and community level democratic decision-making.

The simple existence of these rights and the programs to implement them here in Venezuela are a damn sight better inspiration and motivation to the working people of the U.S. than having the privilidge of buying crappy insurance which will not provide affordable health care.  Passage of this travesty of reform instead of taking private profits out of health care will demoralize the U.S. working class, make them give up political action, not inspire them.

The increasingly wide-spread criticism of the corporate ownership of the U.S. government, of which the so-called health care reform is a glaring example,  is an important step in generating the needed thinking about what a new, human society should be.  We should welcome it and expand upon it, pointing to the models of Venezuela, Bolivia, Brazil and Ecuador

 

 

 

@ Justina

Justina - While I wholeheartedly agree with your praise for the Bolivarian system in Venezuela (and this publication is one of the few in English that has pointed them out again and again over many years) I think your analysis of what is supposedly best for the workers and the poor in the United States is heartless to their own needs and desires. It's as if they're supposed to suck it in and suffer until revolution comes to their own land.

What is wrong with giving people more options than they have today?

I can tell you what is wrong with not doing it: That would leave an even more miserable status quo in place.

My writings are filled with reporting that demonstrates my defense of the poor and the workers in Venezuela. You would do well to do the same for the poor and the workers everywhere! We don't all have the luxury of waiting for the revolution to come. In the meantime, life can still be made better - or at least not worse - through step by step organizing and change.

@ Erick

Erick - Andrew beat me to it. The question is, where is that 3 to 5 percent market share coming from? Most probably it is coming from the current health care, pharmaceutical and banking industries (including that prey upon those who go bankrupt because of illness). Saying one group of corporations is somehow better or worse than another doesn't really pass the smell test.

Excellent post.

I just want to add one thing.

The President has had incredible successes and is being torn down by white liberal anticorporatists with no foundational thinking on the state of the world today. They basically are whinning and spending money to hurt themseleves. A case in point, Jane Hamsher going after Joe Liberman's wife for working for the Susan Koleman foundation. Wow. That right there, IMO, is why the Medicare expansion died. And she has a history of screwing things up; see her putting Joe Lieberman in blackface and hurting the Lamont campaign.

She has misrepresented the situation on her blog and made it worst with her campaigns IMO. And she's screwed progressives from the inside; but yet she's hailed. It's frustrating.

30 million people will have a better life, the exchanges will create real regulations on the insurance companies and help those with insurance get good coverage. Instead of fighting to bring this on line in 2010, we had a stupid fight over a public option that was too weak to do anything!

The weakness of the netroots manfiested itself in this fight IMO. And it shows in the lack of wins on the board.

Linux and free software

Al, here's a small point to agree with you from someone who has been using and writing about Linux and Free Software for a long time.  Most of the work on Linux gets done by corporate developers "on the clock," working for large IT companies such as Intel and IBM. And the same is true for other key Free Software projects such as Mozilla Firefox, whose primary source of revenue is Google ad money.  Even the print server software on your typical Linux system is developed at Apple.

The big difference is that a sweatshop employee can't quit and get a different job making the same product for a better employer, and thanks to the "reciprocal license" terms of the GPL, and the norms that go with it, many Free Software developers can.  Part of "Linux-izing" the economy will have to include re-writing some of the contracts under which individuals agree to exchange work for money.

Andrew and Al

Thank you, you've provided an argument that I'll reflect on and consider more carefully.

This is a terrific post, and

This is a terrific post, and a terrific discussion in the comments. The "anti-coporatism" of many on the left today seems to extend no further than "revenge". They aren't concerned about what is the best economic and financial policy we can expect to achieve today, they want revenge on Wall Street. They aren't concerned about what is the best healthcare policy we can achieve and the best outcome for the poor and uninsured, they want revenge on insurance companies. Apparently just because it makes them feel good.

In some of the more extreme cases it become nihilism, where the result is to destroy without putting anything in its place. The Republicans have come to embody this nihilism. If they can't govern the country, they want to make it impossible for anybody else to do so. But some on the left, with their blind lashing out, apparently also want to make it impossible for any progressive change to occur at all. It worries me if this tendency on the left begins to have an actual impact.

Still...

Even though watching you ream beautiful losers is my favorite spectator sport (and really, people who are so committed to losing, even when they win, develop a stunning virtuosity about it -- Glenn Greenwald: the Horowitz of losers!), the MOST outstanding feature of this political moment is how much our politics has grown up.  The Eyeores can't take it away from us.  This is going to pay huge dividends in the long run.

I noticed even Markos admitted on MTP (around the 3:00 mark) that the bill was "marginally better" than the status quo and a "first step".

There is plenty of good ammunition for organizers to march forth with from this great victory.

We are making progress

Ezra Klein's column 12/19/09:

This is a good bill. Not a great bill, but a good bill.

Imagine telling a Democrat in the days after the 2004 election that the 2006 election would end Republican control of Congress, the 2008 election would return a Democrat to the White House, and by the 2010 election, Democrats would have passed a bill extending health-care coverage to 94 percent of Americans, securing trillions of dollars in subsidies for low-income Americans... It is, without doubt or competition, the single largest social policy advance since the Great Society.

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/ezra-klein

 

Paul Krugman in a column titled The Insincere Center also praised the bill, commenting "....it represents a rejection of the view that the solution for all problems is to cut some taxes and remove some regulations. In that sense, what’s happening now, for all the disappointment it represents for progressives, is a historic moment."

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/12/19/the-insincere-center/?src=tw...

 

 

Can you repost this...

over on DailyKos?  I'd do it, but if I could only copy and paste 3 paragraphs, it wouldn't cover many of the points you make, unless I rephrase it all, and my specialty isn't writing.

 

Yes, you'll probably get a lot of flack for it, but a lot of praise too.  Right now the top recommended diary is one from Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) on why he supports the Senate bill, and a LOT of Kossacks did recommend it.  Another rec list diary is about Yale professor Jacob Hacker, credited with coming up with the public option, saying he's supporting this bill too.  So there's a lot of divided opinions among the netroots, and perhaps more support for passing this crappy bill than you would think.

 

And if you won't go over there, then give me permission to repost your entire post, LOL.

@ BruinKid

BruinKid - You have my permission to post it in full. Remember to indent the blockquotes and include the few links there are in it, as well as a link back to The Field.

I myself am on vacation from arguing with so many anonymous commentators, both trolling infiltrators and those who are so easily manipulated by them. But if you want to use my words to have at it with them, be my guest!

Best thing i've read in months

Just terrific piece. Very very well done.

 

Thank you.

 

I'd suggest that you post it on places like the Daily Kos, but i fear for your life...

Daddy has to do something

Thanks Al, for being a voice of reason in the storm of pouting whiners.

 

 

a) Sheldon Whitehouse's brilliant speech on the Senate floor calling out the open fascism of the Republicans - the allies of our nitwit self-selected "progressive leaders"  in attempting to stop this bill

http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/ID/217151&start=6430&end=7371

 

b) http://www.eurotrib.com/story/2009/12/15/18342/018

"So the "anger left", which has been fuming about Obama since the primaries naturally incorporates ambient prejudice its critique -- to make up for the missing analytical content. There's a lot of anger that sounds a lot like the "knife-in-the-back" so beloved of the far right. There is a good deal of dishonesty in that the goals of some of the most prominent Anger Leftists are clearly to climb the policy/pundit hierarchy. But there is no real effort to understand how economic policy is driven by the imperatives of the corporate and military elites, and delegated to a small insular group of "intellectuals" who inhabit a tiny ideological spectrum (from Krugman to Hayek). Instead, we learn that Tim Geithner is a bad man. Rather than examine how the ideology and raw power of economic and military elites shapes congressional processes, the media, and who can get jobs in the Administration, we are asked to demand that Ben Bernanke be brought to justice for, shock, operating the Federal Reserve to benefit banks. In fact, people who do attempt to look at structural issues are derided as "stooges" or paid White House staff."

 

Well, I just posted it...

on DailyKos, along with some comments of mine interspersed about.

 

All I can say is, "fire in the hole!!!!!!!"

A Port in the Storm

Thank God,  I could no longer hear myself think amidst the din of those shouting "kill the bill".   This bill will actually help my family and several other individuals I know who are currently uninsured, it is not exactly what I hoped for but it is better than I thought it would be.  Having been involved in progressive politics for 36 years, my experience has been that every single move forward requires a first step. 

 

Always got the feeling...

...that what a lot of folks were looking for was an anti-corporation bill and not a health-care bill. I always saw that as the primary motive for an insistence on the PO, particularly during its last throes.

I have a feeling these ideological proxy wars are very common on the left. Would've been easier to say that this wasn't about insurance companies, wasn't about corporations, but about healthcare (no shit, right? Nope!) At least there'd've been a talking point to balance things out.

Ideological wars on the right too, but backwards: liberals have a tendency to believe legislation is a trojan horse when it isn't, and conservatives have a tendency to make legislation a trojan horse because it is (unless you're conservative; then the argument is likely vice-versa and equally valid. Huh...)

Anyway, this kind of raises the question: if it isn't really about healthcare, what are people actually arguing over? I don't have nor do I really want health insurance (bill collectors either way, right?), so I never really cared. It's crass, but true... and I also got sucked up into Hamsher's arguments for a while. Was that even ever about healthcare?

I guess this whole thing is wanting for a little honesty above, really, anything else. We can blame Lieberman et al, or we can blame ourselves for an almost wanton lack of clarity. Touché.

(...said the preached to the preacher...)

A Kos diary

This is a very interesting post and I will digest it and comment on it later - I agree with much, but not all of the analysis, so I've been converted to a "pass the bill"

Here's a Kos diary from deoliver, on Hamesher from an organizer's perspective. Currently on the rec list

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/12/20/817242/-Sorry-Miz-Jane-Hamsher.-No.-

Point: the community is far from monolithic.

Al, I think many of

Al, I think many of your comments on the country already being controlled through a corrupt corporate hierarchy is a good point.  However, I would like to think that we can channel this blogospheric anger into something productive-- like movement to single payer or a public option or, even more importantly, towards social democracy as opposed to the neoclassical economic model we have now. 

As to another part of your post, I'm wondering if you have read Roberto Unger's theories on structuring local egalitarian communities loosely bound together.  His theories seem similar to yours in many ways.  I think,  however, its difficult to see how complex organizations (like the nation-state) can be successful using this framework.  While you can have communities small enough to be bound together solely by egalitarian solidarity; it seems like there is a real problem coordinating complex tasks in a large organization without authority/hierarchy.  Have you seen any models in Latin America which overcome this problem ?    

i have yet to see

“I have yet to see a single-payer health proposal, for example, that honestly admits that removing insurance corporations altogether would cause hundreds of thousands of Americans that work for them to become unemployed.”

Simply untrue.  Well, it may be true that you haven’t seen it, but it’s definitely there.  HR 676 has provisions for retraining and hiring displaced Insco employees as well as extended unemployment benefits .  (see Section 303(e)).

Additionally, estimates show that if 676 were passed 2.5 million new jobs would be created overall.  That’s 2.5 million net, including the losses in the insurance industry.

So no, critics of the bill aren’t ignorant of the needs of working people.  A lot of us are working people (even with corporate-made computers and college educations!).  And a lot of us still think this is bad idea for very substantive reasons.

But hey, name-call away!  If the Dems lose elections, there will always be us “poutragers” to blame for it.  In the meantime I’ll be scraping together my unemployment money to buy shares in Cigna.

Well..

I think a big problem is that it entrenches corporate interests making single-payer - if was ever a posibility - nearly impossible. It's also politically tone deaf, if, as I believe happens, the mandates kick in immediately but protections don't kick in until 2014.Not to mention it's simply doomed to failure because the business model of private insurance is incompatible with life.

 

The GOP will run on repealing the mandates and subsidies (which they'll call welfare) and will win the middle.

 

Bill killers aren't saying no bill. They're saying get to work on a good bill.

 

This artificial deadline imposed on the process shows that Congress doesn't take it very seriously.

You hit the nail on the

You hit the nail on the head. The socio-economic make-up of the kill-bill leaders is the glaring elephant in the room, and their opposition to it is almost predictable. These people have benefitted from the current system. I have seen Taibbi brag on television about the luxuries showered upon him and other journalists during the primary season by their corporate employers. It is quite funny that he became such a vocal advocate of killing the bill. Why should he care if the plan covers 30 million people? He’s got his.

They are not interested in real change because they and their children would actually have to compete with others. The sad part is some of their followers are not in the same position should the window of opportunity close and the status quo continue. As wealth is consolidated into the hands of a few, competition is wiped out on many levels and in every sector. These people have carved a niche for themselves, so they can afford to have existential and symbolic arguments while the status quo is unacceptable for most people.


It is no surprise that as we are getting closer to covering 30 million people in need and finally passing a rather imperfect something, these are the same folks who are ready to kill the bill over writing that was on the wall 3 months ago. It is not anyone’s fault that they just figured out there would be no public option and discovered the downside of mandates, except their own. They never had the votes for the public option, not with Lieberman and Nelson in our caucus of 60. If you thought Obama could just karate chop Lieberman into voting for the public option (especially when he has nothing to lose), then I have a bridge to sell you.

But, but it’s all Obama’s fault that Lieberman and Nelson are crooked, and the leadership made a deal with them anyway to get something done and not play purity games. He’s a corporatist -- like our complex problems start and end with Obama. And where were their anti-corporatist rants when the Glass-Steagall Act was actually being repealed? Or this doozy . . . I didn’t get what I wanted, so I am a teabagger now -- it’s easy to leap into bed with reactionaries when you’re a PUMA at heart.


You really can’t make this stuff. Thanks Al for finally addressing the giant elephant in the room.


@Rhoda – You are on to something. It cracks me up how she whips up some of the Netroots into fool’s gold expeditions. They defend her when her actions are indefensible. I watched her two paid goons on DailyKos run off a diarist over a health care discussion over patents. She brought an alternative view to the discussion, and the FDLers impugned this woman’s character over nothing. “Blackface” Jane seems to have the personality type of a demagogue but is kind of a giant boob at actually being one. It is kind of funny how she tries to step into the middle of an issue, and it quickly backfires. She really makes Al’s takedowns too easy. We need to handicap his future takedowns in some way. If she were smarter, she would actually be quite dangerous.


@rootless-e Nice post. I like how you take on some of their intellectual dishonesty and their choice of language. It also annoys me to no end when people say he was a progressive when he was always centrist. The actual political trajectory of fundamental change is another annoying one of their greatest hits of dishonesty. My current favorite is when they downplay the risks and problems of reconciliation in the healthcare debate.

@ Bruinkid Thanks for posting

Thanks for posting this on Dkos.  The comments are an interesting mixture of egos, light thinkers and some good posts.  But I've noticed that while it looks superficially like it's about 50/50 for and against Al's viewpoint when you actually look at the anonymous tag lines it's really only 2-3 anti provacateurs that keep the ball rolling with repeated argumentative posts against many more that are supportive.

There was some hilarious back and forth on the subject as to whether or not Al Giordano is a "centrist" with one of the commenters responding that "Giordano is to the left of Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro".

I liked commenter Norbrook's description of "progressives".

The reality is that most progressives do not constitute a "base."  In political terms, a base is a steady, dedicated, reliable group which has one or more issues in common.  They show up to vote at elections.  They work - and often run - the party apparatus.  They run the local elections and for local offices.  They donate money to those elections, as well as doing campaign work.  They're the ones who show up, day in and day out.  You can count on them - and you know you have to consider what they want to keep them.

Progressives?  Progressives aren't a base.  From what I've seen here, I wouldn't rely on them.  They jump from issue to issue.  They leave when they don't get their way, and they don't want to be bothered with all the small stuff.  They're "big picture" and they'll let you know that as they move their show around.  They'll jump candidate to candidate, depending on what the particular issue is "hot" with them at the moment.    Sometimes it's useful when they're with you, but no one relies on them to get elected - at least more than once.   For that, you look to a real base.

 

@ Nancy

Yeah, I love this claim that the Netroots are the Democratic "base". They also think they are much more numerous than they actually are.

Currently (Sunday evening) the Senate is debating with the first of six votes scheduled for 1 am on Monday. This is the cloture vote on the manager's amendent and requires 60 votes. Two more votes will come around 7 am on Tuesday, the final vote on the manager's amendent (which requires only 51 votes) and a cloture vote to end debate on the healthcare bill itself (as updated by the manager's amendement). The second of these votes requires 60. There is another set of two votes at 1 pm on Wednesday. These are the final vote on the healthcare bill (51 votes here) and a cloture vote (60 votes) on a procedural move to merge the healthcare bill into a House bill that is serving as a legislative vehicle. The very last vote is Thursday at 7 pm, the final vote on the legislative vehicle (51 votes).

So, six votes, of which three require 60 votes and three require 51.

Then after the Senate has finally passed the whole thing, the House and Senate have to have a conference to reconcile the differences between the two. The conference will produce a "report" which is the final, compromise bill. The House and the Senate each vote on this, with no opportunity to amend it. The Senate will need 60 votes to end debate (cloture) on the conference report and put it to a final vote.

Only after both the House and the Senate have voted in favor of the conference report does it go to Obama.

So there is a lot still to do, and we will not likely see the final bill signed into law until mid or late January. But getting a solid bill out of the Senate is one of the most important steps and Christmas Eve will be a time for celebration.

Thanks for this, a needed kick in the ass

Thanks for a well-considered contribution on the reaction of the left to the senate healthcare debate.  You really made me think and reconsider my angst about the outcome of the senate process.  I was one guilty of focusing on how this benefits Cigna et al. and hardly thinking at all about how it helps those down below.  Thanks for giving me the kick in the pants I needed to view this from another perspective.

Thanks, Al.

Your clearly articulated perspective got me through the most depressing moments of my temporary [but proud] career as an Obama for America field organizer. I'm so glad that you've weighed in on the HCR situation- the self-righteous, self-immolating "left" is driving me totally crazy. I do wish you'd post directly on DKos, so that your voice would be heard with the maximum amplitude.

Well speaking of bizarro

Well speaking of bizarro world!!

Jane Hamsher now joins forces with Club for Growth Grover Norquist, anti-feminist Phyllis Schafly, Robert Borosage and the teabaggers in tehir new "populist" opposition to this administration. Well as they say when you lie with dogs you get fleas. Here are her words in response to the diay on dailykos.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/12/20/817242/-Sorry-Miz-Jane-Hamsher.-No.-

"I’m not afraid to join cause with the libertarians if they’re right about something, as I wrote the other day — new and interesting alliances are the lifeblood of change.  We have a difference of opinion over what we think the role of government should be, but I think they’re coming from an honest position."

Republicans Want to "Kill the Bill", Not Progressives.

It's the Republicans who are trying to kill the bill, not the progressives.  The progressives of all stripes are trying to improve it.

When the Senate Finance Committee passed its bill, Governor Howard Dean and the AFL-CIO's Richard Trumka set out their criticisms very clearly.  Dean gave his suggestions for using reconciliation to pass a better bill. Then, only two days ago, Senator Reid disclosed his "Manager's Amendment to the Senate Finance bill. Dean's review suggested it was an improvement on the original.

But, there is, as yet, no final bill, so no one of us knows for sure who will be helped and who will be hurt by this legislation.

Initially, after the Senate Finance Committee passed its bill -- without a public option or a medicare buy-in, but with the mandated purchase of private insurance -- many of us on the left were enraged that the Obama administration had pandered to the private insurers and drug companies by not fighting for a bill which gave full coverage and reduced costs to all the 47 million people who don't have insurance -- and to the 50 million who are under-insured.

Many of us yelled long and loud about it.  As a result of that outrage, Reid's "managers bill", some 385 pages of it,  contains some provisions which seem to improve the Senate Finance bill, but it is still not easy to see what and where those improvements are.  The original bill is reportedly over 1000 pages.  It still potentially deprives one half the population of the ability to access abortion services, by allowing individual states to prohibit payment for abortion services, a terrible retreat from the 2008 Democratic Party platform, not to mention Roe v. Wade.

Hopefully, if we keep yelling about the need for affordable access, including co-pays and rescission rules, a conference committee version will improve the bill for the benefit of 99.8% of us who are not millionaires and not corporate managers -- and the 50% of us who are not male.

Jane Hamsher, who I don't always agree with, has done a tremendous amount of work to get decent health care legislation passed.  As a victim of three bouts with cancer herself, she is well aware of many of the problems with private insurance.  Indeed, we are all aware that ultimately only a single-payer, Medicare for All type bill or the absolute removal of profit-driven private insurers are the answers to reducing costs and providing full, affordable coverage to all Americans.

Before his presidential campaign Obama acknowledged the necessity for a single-payer system. During his campaign he watered it down to an ill-defined "public option".  Upon his election, he and the Democratic Party leadership refused even to allow single-payer to be discussed, let alone be scored by the CBO to provide an accurate estimate of just how much money would be saved by a Medicare for all type plan. By refusing to allow informed debate on single-payer to cover all Americans, Obama and the leadership deprived the majority of Americans of what they needed while depriving all the taxpayers of a real cost savings.

Having reviewed the proposed "Manager's " 385 page amendment to the Senate Finance Committee bill, I'm still not clear on its real impact for those 47 million uninsured and the  50 million who are under-insured.  I trust Howard Dean when he says its represents an improvement.  But clearly, we are still not yet close to providing affordable health care to all those who need it.  Until we know whats in the final bill, we on the left need to keep yelling so that any further changes aren't just more gifts to the private insurers and the conservadems they've bought and paid for.

Logically, no one who cares about providing the broadest possible coverage at the lowest possible price should be shouting "Pass this Bill"  or "Kill this Bill" until we have gotten the best possible deal in the final bill that we can.

We have one more shot if we can push for a conference committee to reconcile the best parts of House and Senate Manager's Amendment bills.  At the conclusion of that process is the time to decide whether we should support passage, try to get the best parts passed through reconciliation or advocate killing the bill and starting over.

In the meantime, exposing the Democratic Party's sell-out to, and control by,  corporate interests is extremely important to generate support for electing progressives to replace the "Blue Dog" conservadems and, hopefully, to remove the power of the DLC to further pervert the Democratic (and democratic) agenda.

 

 

 

 

 

the obama kool-aide

Al,

When you talk about winning, the Mercury Cafe in Denver comes to mind during the dem convention and me yeling at Larry Everest. Man was I pumped up.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05Y1rMkdFLw

 

Great article, some comments

 

First of all, I agree with most of what you're saying, and it is making me feel better about the messy bill in Congress.  I especially agree with: Meanwhile, any actual progress in improving the lives of the poor and the working class must be, according to them, halted, even demonized, if it doesn’t simultaneously and immediately overturn the existing reality of corporate domination of our world,” I have personally confronted this thinking in comments on diaries I’ve written on a number of different issues. And “making perfection the enemy of the good” is the best summary of some people’s argumentation I’ve heard.

But I think you’re taking some aspects of the progressive blogosphere a little too far, and painting things with an overly broad brush. So I just want to pick at a couple of things. I read the Moyers Journal transcript. I disagree that his first concern isn’t everyday people. First, Moyers’ reporting has a running theme of the outsized influence of corporate money on America, and his introduction to that segment of the Journal, which set up the Taibbi segment, was consistent with that theme. Why would he jump into something that wasn’t what the segment was supposed to be about? In any case, Moyers’ underlying assumption is that corporate interests run contrary to the interests of the people. The mention of polls indicating that 30% of the public was in favor of a medicare buy-in, but that the Democrats killed it anyway was indicative of that. Also, further down in the transcript, there is talk about Congress members hearing about all the financial pain people in their districts are going through right now, and about how Obama is too disconnected from that. Pick apart the assumption about corporate interests if you like, but I think Moyers’ concern with the interests of regular people is implicit. So I’m wondering why you started with Moyers instead of something like the New York Times.  I also think people really need to be reminded about corporate manipulation -- otherwise, as I’ve seen teaching college students, they are very easily manipulated by the media, including manipulated into voting for Congressional reps who vote against their interests.

I also think Olbermann has to be credited with giving people a lot of hope and an outlet for frustration during the darkest days of the Bush Administration. He was a voice in the wilderness for many of us, and the caricature of himself that he invented was part of his appeal. Yes, the show is now entirely too formulaic, but he and Rachel Maddow provided a counter to Fox News at an important time. I don’t think they’re emblematic. Rather, we need them in addition to the boots on the ground. It’s not one or the other.

But I see your point, and a personal example comes to mind. While we were doing the fundraising push to buy a house for Pretty Bird Woman House, somebody started insisting, and I really mean insisting over and over, that we build our own house out of STONE in the middle of the prairie. I guess that was his idea of being off the grid or something. The only way I stopped this person, and a small chorus of followers, was to ask whether he was willing to go out there with a truck and organize all this rock collecting he was advocating (not to mention whether he was going to actually find any rocks, since he didn’t know anything about the environment or the population). He was totally unwilling to actually DO anything. All he wanted to do was insist that he knew what we should do, and then complain when we were just getting a normal house. No matter what the women we were helping actually wanted (a nice little ranch), the coolness and nontraditionalness of a stone house had to be promoted at all costs. So, I do see where you’re coming from.

On the issue of a single payer system putting the insurance industry out of business, you missed some conversations. There was consideration at Kos about what to do with those employees. One thing discussed was that the industry could still be used to process medical claims, since medical system would be so much bigger under a single payer system. Right now, much of the place has degenerated into name calling so it’s a waste of time to pay too much attention to it, but things weren’t always like that. In fact, right now, Mcjoan has an informative piece on the major provisions of the bill. http://dailykos.com/hotlist/add/2009/12/20/2221/7666/main//.

Also,  it seems to me that some people are indeed just starting to recognize the extent to which corporations dominate everything, and are trying out their analyses. Yes, I understand your larger, very coherent point, but I think it is very good that this social fact is being place so front-and-center in the discourse. We are not going to replace any systems unless people become aware of the nature of their reality. When that book was written in 1976, people had to be educated about the nature of corporate America. There is much more awareness now, and it will be reflected in the discourse.

The other thing I want to point out is how organized the Republican disinformation machine is, and has been since Reagan. We really need prominent voices to counter it, and call it out on its motives. The progressive blogosphere and associated commentators do perform a useful service in this regard. Does it get excessive at times? Yes. But I’m not terribly bothered by the excess.  That's because I’m more worried by the thought of what happen if everyone suddenly shut up.

 

I'm one of those multi-college degree folks,

but I agree with you 100%. This whole "corporatist" BS I see at Kos all the time drives me crazy. There are a couple of diarists over there that even take money from a corporation with one hand and gleefully hammer Obama with the other for taking the corporation's side over "the people", for "selling out" the Public Option (that in it's House incarnation would have provided insurance coverage to 1.5% of the population). It's insanity.

Thanks for taking the time to post about northern America and giving a perspective that makes me think hard about my place in it and my responsibility to those with whom I share it.

 

Excellent analysis

as always, Al.  No one seems to understand how incrementalism works.  I've been reading Glenn Greenwald for a while, but I'm about ready to give it up.  I like his media criticism, but whenever he talks about the Obama administration (on civil liberties, health care, or nearly any other issue), his complaint is the height of predictability: It's not enough.  Well, we'd all like things to change overnight, but that's just not the way the world works.  His latest post fits your above post to a tee- shouting aobut the evils of "corporatism" and how this bill strengthens that idea, while barely paying lip service to the idea that it might help others.  Worse, even- he acknowledges that it might help others, but says that the "creeping corporatism" is a more important issue.  It sounds like an unrealistic idealism is driving his objections, and that's probably true for many.  I'm sure most of the people who disagree on the left envision roughly the same dream world, but the complainers seem to insist that it happen all in one step.

 

On the other hand, he has made one good point that I have trouble refuting: If you say, up front, "anything's better than the status quo," aren't you giving away your leverage?  By telling people that you'll vote for a bill, any bill, no matter what's in it, doesn't that tell them to feel free to muck around with it, because there's no downside?  I'm not sure...

 

By the way, anyone who wants a levelheaded look at the dangers of corporations taking over the government should read Robert Reich's Supercapitalism.  I can't recommend that book enough- he appreciates the dangers of unfettered capitalism without giving in to hysteria.  And the main point is that attacking corporations for making money is completely counterproductive.  They are in business to make a profit, and they can't cut into their profits for the "public good," because if they do so they'll simply be undercut by more ruthless competitors (this was different in the 1950's- the change is structural, not personal).  So railing at companies who abuse workers, the environment, etc. is dangerous, because the people who do it expect corporations to be shamed into cleaning up their act.  Instead, they need to be forced to do so- making every company follow the same rules would eliminate the problem of competition preventing social good.  Reich goes much deeper than I can in one paragraph, but again, I can't suggest it enough.

First cloture vote passes with 60 votes

Just finished watching on C-SPAN as the Senate voted 60-40 to invoke cloture in the first of six votes needed to pass healthcare reform. Times like these I am glad to be on the West Coast, as it is just after 10 pm here.

Now we just have to pass through all the procedural hoops to bring this baby home!

Thank you, Al. Thank you, BruinKid.

It's late; I'm tired; I'm writing from rural, working-class West Virginia where two feet of snow are on the ground at the lower elevations. I'm also weary from a weekend of digital "combat." I will link to a dialogue from dkos this morning which began with my reply to kill-biller who, in the course of arguing the evil of mandates and absence of cost controls in the Senate bill, said the kill-it tactic could open the door to seizing a crippled Democratic Party and purging it of corporatists. "Nothing to lose," he/she chortled gleefully.

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About Al Giordano

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Publisher, Narco News.

Reporting on the United States at The Field.

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