Yet More Evidence That Right-Wing Health Care
Policies Are Deadly
Partially hyperlinked to sources.
For all sources, see the data
Your sources for this segment
include: the New York Times, Reuters, the website of the American Cancer
Society, and USA Today.
You can now tell your right-wing
friends and acquaintances with even more certainty, that their health care
policies kill people with cancer. And
with other health problems as well.
Right-wing opposition to a federal
health care guarantee is deadly.
You can file this one in the folder
labeled: right-wing policies increase human misery, suffering, pain and death.
What a huge, thick, bulging folder
You may have heard of The Lancet.
It's one of the world's major peer-reviewed medical journals.
It recently published the most
-- 3.7 million patients it was -- seeking to determine if there's a correlation
between what stage cancer is diagnosed at, and the person's insurance status.
And a correlation was indeed found.
The uninsured are more likely to
receive a diagnosis of cancer in one of the later stages, than those with
private insurance. And their chances
of survival are thereby diminished.
The greatest increase in
risk of more advanced stage diagnosis …occurred for cancer sites that are part
of routine screening (e.g., breast, colorectal) or sites with symptoms present
at early stages (melanoma, urinary bladder).
This study had a wrinkle in that it
found Medicaid patients also suffered from late stage diagnoses.
If there's a problem with Medicaid cancer screening outreach or
inadequate funding or whatever it may be, that needs to be addressed as well.
But here we're focusing on having no
insurance, and being uninsured unquestionably means an increased risk of dying
from cancer unnecessarily.
This study in Lancet confirms earlier
reports focusing just on insured vs. uninsured.
With colon cancer, for example, if a
person is diagnosed at Stage I, they have a 93% 5-year survival rate.
If the diagnosis isn't made until state III, the survival rate drops by
more than half.
And if the cancer isn't found until
Stage IV, there's only an 8% survival rate.
In other words, if a person doesn't
catch colon cancer early, they have less than 1/10 the chance of survival.
If you've had a loved one diagnosed
with cancer, this is truly outrageous to hear.
The study's authors wrote that
diagnosis at an advanced stage leads to "decreased quality of life"
and "increased morbidity."
As the American Cancer Society's
chief medical officer summed it up nicely, "not having insurance increases
In past podcasts I've given you
plenty of other evidence of this, that a lack of a guarantee of health care for
every American, increases human misery, suffering, pain and death.
So let's expand the frame a bit, look
at the bigger picture.
Let me tell you three of the most
damning additional statistics you can throw in the face of your friendly local
As if the cancer information
shouldn't be enough.
But then, you're dealing with a
First, there are dead children.
The infant and child mortality rates
in the United States are worse than just about in any other Western
Might that be because every other
Western industrialized country has a guarantee of health care for each and every
one of its citizens?
Thank the right-wing for us not
If our child mortality rate was as
good as, for example, France or Germany or Italy, 12,000
American children would live, not die.
As NY Times columnist Nicholas
It is disgraceful that an
American mother has almost three times the risk of losing a child as a mother in
the Czech Republic.
You may be wondering, what about the
The number here is 18,000
deaths every year
According to the national Institute
of Medicine, 18,000 Americans die every year because of lack of health
These people don’t receive such
preventive services, a
timely diagnosis or appropriate care.
Beyond those who die, can you just
imagine how many tens or hundreds of thousands of additional people
unnecessarily suffer from non-fatal but treatable disease?
Lastly in your statistical arsenal,
how about 101,000
unnecessarily dead Americans killed by right-wing policies?
A study from a London medical school
ranked nations on their effectiveness in preventing deaths from treatable
The US ranked last, last, among 19
industrialized nations. France was
the best nation in this regard, in saving the lives of its citizens when they
become ill. We lost as well to,
among others, Japan, Australia, Norway, Germany, Britain
You would see 101,000 Americans saved
every year -- each of them would live, not die -- if our performance was on par
with these more caring, less right-wing dominated nations.
Doesn't that make you angry?
How about outraged?
Again, can there be any doubt in your
mind that right-wing policies increase human misery, suffering, pain and death?
Such is a recurring theme on Blast
Up next: think the push for a
national health care guarantee just started with Hillary Clinton in the '90's?
Think again. The right-wing
has been doing its evildoing long before that in the health care realm.
If you bring up the concept of a
federal government guarantee of health care to every American, right-wingers
will start ranting and raving about Hillary Clinton and her effort to achieve
that in the 1990's, and what a terrible idea she had, etc etc etc.
It might be useful for you to point
out, that it wasn't the evil Clintons who first brought up such a proposal on
the national stage.
You know who it was?
Now I have had a health
program. I sent the Congress a special message on health-on health and health
insurance, and it had plenty of time to hold hearings on that, to debate it, to
go into it, and they have done nothing about it.
Now the health of this Nation is the foundation on which the Nation is
built. I have made a personal study of that situation. We have got a health and
accident situation in this country that is the most disgraceful of any country
in the world. There are only two classes of people that can get the proper
medical care nowadays, and that is the indigent and the very rich. The ordinary
fellow who gets from $2,400 to $5,000 a year, and has to raise a family and keep
up a home, can't afford to have his family get sick, because he can't afford
medical care at the prices he has to be served at now.
That was President Harry Truman.
Over 60 years ago, in 1945, President
a national health insurance plan. There
would be a fund run by the federal government.
Any American could pay monthly fees and the fund would pay for any and
all medical expenses. As well as
cover lost wages. The plan was
optional to join.
The plan came under vicious
right-wing attack. It was condemned
as -- are you ready -- "socialized medicine."
How many times have you heard
present-day right-wingers use that very term? At least in their own minds,
calling something socialized is a
conclusive argument that it's something we don't want.
If Truman's proposal sounds a bit
familiar, it's because its approach -- the government pays private doctors and
hospitals to take care of people -- was adopted in Medicare.
Indeed, President Johnson, when he
signed Medicare into law in 1965, did so at the Harry S. Truman Library.
all started really with
the man from Independence.
Independence Missouri, where Truman
So right-wing opposition to making
sure every American has access to affordable health care, goes back over half a
63 years of Americans unnecessarily
dying for lack of adequate health care. How
many millions of people has that been?
And right-wing hypocrisy is
Listen to George W. Bush.
He recently expressed a total lack of
concern about the 47 million Americans without health care coverage:
I mean, people have access
to health care in America.
After all, you just go to
an emergency room.
Now George Bush should know better.
He has regularly
scheduled colonoscopies. Last
time polyps he had polyps removed. Most
colon cancer arises from polyps. These
polyps were tested and happily for George, none had yet turned cancerous.
Bush had other polyps removed when he
was Governor of Texas.
This, George, is called preventive
care. George, you can't go into an
emergency room and ask for a colonoscopy.
As long as we're talking about health
care, let me give you a couple more quick facts you'll need in your arsenal when
debating right-wingers on the issue.
Unlike what right-wingers will
allege, Democrats are not proposing government-run health care, like in Great
Britain, where the government owns the hospitals and employs the doctors.
That truly is socialized medicine, also called nationalized health care.
Sean Hannity now repeatedly and erroneously condemns Democrats for
supporting nationalized health care.
No, Sean, what Democrats are
proposing is called single payer. Like
Medicare. Private doctors, private
hospitals. You choose.
The government pays.
Another fact right-wingers will never
tell you, is that the US spends far
per capita on health care, in other words for each citizen, than other Western
industrialized nations. Compared to
some nations, like Great Britain, twice as much.
So if a right-winger points to
seeming shortages or inadequacies in other national health care systems, or
warns of "rationing" of health care, you can just point out, that such
is the result of underfunding, not the form of system.
If those other countries' systems had the level of funding our current
one does, they would provide gold-plated care.
Finally, there's that line which may
drive you as crazy as it always drives me. The
right-winger proclaims we must have market-based solutions.
My goodness, what does he or she think we have now?
Our present-day nightmare of tens of millions of uninsured and many
others underinsured, that is the
result of the market operating.
The right has no plan at all to help
Demand a specific plan from them, not
just vague platitudes about the market. And
be sure to press regarding whatever they might propose, exactly how it would
enable people to pay for full coverage, who can't afford it right now.
Let me close by reading you this bit
of an email I received.
Andrea from Ohio, you wrote:
I think it is those people
-- otherwise compassionate, caring people who haven't thought through the
implications of the right-wing agenda -- who we need to reach. And I think
we can. Following Katrina, my mom, who nearly got in a fight with me the
summer before because I was saying ...awful
things about Bush and the theocons, was so outraged she wrote to her legislators
demanding answers ... she, who up to that point hadn't been all that involved in
Our job as progressives is to create
more Katrina teaching moments by pointing out to the undecided, exactly how
deadly right-wing policies are.
The cancer study I just told you
about, as well as those additional numbers
-- 12,000 , 18,000, 101,000 -- however many Americans it is that are tragically
because unnecessarily dying from lack of medical insurance every year-- bringing
these facts up is one way you can create Katrina-type conversion moments.
Here's Harry Truman again:
This audio isn't the greatest
quality, but it's worth hearing:
I asked this Congress to
do something about the health of the people of this country. I asked them for
health insurance. I asked them for hospitals… I wanted an insurance program
that would work, so that a fellow would have a little money saved up, when it
came time to pay medical and hospital bills, and the doctor and the hospital
would get paid promptly. But the Republicans are against that. They say that's
socialized medicine. Well, it isn't. That's just good commonsense, and some of
these days we are going to get it, because the Democrats are going back in
power, and we are going to see that we get it. [text]
Be heartened: a solid
majority of Americans already support a federal guarantee of health care for
all Americans. We just need to make
that a super-majority, and have that sentiment reflected in Congress and the
White House. Then the right-wing can be overcome, and a life-saving universal
health care plan enacted.
Progressive Victories: Economic Justice For
Partially hyperlinked to sources.
For all sources, see the data
How about some good news?
How'd you like to hear about a successful progressive campaign?
Sources you'll hear in this segment
Nation magazine, the
New York Times, the website of the
Coalition for Immokalee Workers, the United
Farm Workers union website, the Napa
Valley Register, the British newspaper The Guardian, and the website of the Minneapolis
Right-wingers often throw out at me a
Biblical passage that essentially says,
if you don't work, you don't eat.
The right-wing's point is, that
economic justice is a handout, it's just giving money to people too lazy to
No, economic justice is largely about
fairness to those who do work.
How ironic, in light of right-wingers
utilizing that passage, that the very people who make it possible for us
to eat, who work so hard picking our food, they live in abject poverty.
Farm workers have the highest ratio
of hard work for low pay of any one I can think of.
Backbreaking labor in sweltering fields often saturated with pesticides.
a small town in Florida where many tomato pickers live and work.
In terrible conditions. For
obscenely low pay.
15 years ago the Coalition
for Immokalee Workers was formed. The
CIW. This worker-run organization,
in conjunction with other groups and individuals, has had success after success
in improving conditions for farm workers in the tomato industry.
They utilized at various times
petition drives, demonstrations, marches, boycotts, hunger strikes.
Well, while Taco Bell and McDonalds
agreed to fair deals, Burger King was a holdout.
So the campaign turned to pressuring
Burger King to do the right thing.
Senator Bernie Sanders even held
Congressional hearings on the issue.
Burger King agreed to a fair deal.
Burger King agreed to increase the
amount it pays for tomatoes, enough to give the tomato workers a one cent
increase per pound they pick.
You many be wondering, what does this
translate to in dollars and cents terms, to the workers.
For each bucket of tomatoes weighing
32 pounds, a worker will now be paid 77 cents, not 45 cents.
That's a 71% raise, the first in
How wonderful is that!
Congratulations to the CIW, and to
all the individuals and groups who, in true progressive fashion, joined with the
CIW to fight for economic justice in the tomato fields.
Now check this out.
You may be shocked at what was at
Before this deal, the pickers
averaged only $10-12,000 a year.
The settlement was such a big boon to
the workers. How much is it
going to cost Burger King, that they fought so vehemently against it?
You heard me right.
$300,000 a year.
You want to now what Burger King's
revenues were last year?
About 2 and a quarter billion
So that means, paying tomato workers
a decent wage, would cost Burger King an amount eaual to one seven-thousanths of
For every $7000 of revenue, Burger
King would pay an extra $1.
Why on earth would Burger King fight
such a pitifully small expense, so vigorously?
A Whopper costs about 3 bucks here in
Santa Monica. So raise the price of
the darn Whopper a few cents to make up for the now outrageously expensive
tomatoes you have to buy. Explain to
people, apologize for the price rise, saying it's to allow tomato pickers to
escape abject poverty.
Of course, raising the price of a
Whopper a few cents would more than make up for the tomato settlement.
I just don't get it.
I guess Burger King here is just
another example of a reflexive, corporate, quintessentially right-wing, fight
the workers tooth and nail, no matter what, ideology.
Up next: beyond the tomato fields.
This type of progressive victory is
significant on a couple of levels you should be aware of.
It shows the exploited workers
they're not alone. The co-founder of
CIW, Lucas Benitez, recalls
that 11 years ago a grower bragged that they would never even have to talk to
the workers, let alone agree to any demands.
But we aren’t alone
anymore. Today there are millions of consumers with us willing to use their
buying power to eliminate the exploitation behind the food they buy
This progressive victory also shows
you that we can take an end run around a hostile government.
Eric Schlosser is an investigative reporter and author of Fast Food
Nation. As he put it, when a
right-wing government fights against the interest of workers, workers can
putting pressure on the
corporations at the top of nation’s food chain. The strategy clearly works and
can be emulated by other workers in other states. In the absence of a government
that cares about the people at the bottom, here’s a way to achieve change.
sets the stage for taking the fight to other restaurant chains and grocery
retailers, like WalMart and Whole Foods.
Indeed, let me make you aware, that
the successful efforts of the CIW are being matched all over the nation, in many
agricultural realms, by one organization that I regularly contribute to, and
whose mailings never fail to move me.
I'm talking about the United Farm
Workers, yes, the group founded by Cesar Chavez.
The UFW achieves victories all the
example, recently against the Charles Krug/Mondavi Winery.
The company fired 24 employees in
2006 after a 7 month standoff over a new contract.
The UFW called for a boycott.
Now, sweet victory.
24 employees have been reinstated.
And the company signed a new 4 year contract with the UFW.
These employees get an 18 percent pay
increase, and back pay. There are
other good provisions.
Here's a really good final point from
The exploitation of farm
workers should not be tolerated in Florida. It should not be tolerated anywhere
in the United States. There are many social problems that are extremely
difficult to solve. This is not one of them.
This is an easy problem to solve.
And not just for the farm workers.
For all the working poor.
Raise all their salaries, by raising
the federal minimum wage.
Wouldn't you see it as a major
progressive action to raise the wages of the working poor by 40%?
That's just what the Democratic
Congress did in its first 100 days. Republicans
will never on their own raise the minimum wage.
If the federal minimum wage had
simply kept pace with inflation since 1968, it would be $9.91
The Democrats only raised the minimum
wage from 5 and change to 7 and change. More
needs to be done.
In fact, way beyond $9.91.
To a living wage level.
Democrats can be pressured to do so.
But that's another topic.
point is, progressive activism can take many forms.
I really want you to ask your
friendly local right-winger, do they support economic justice for tomato
If they don't, condemn them in no
uncertain terms. The people who pick
their food shouldn't be paid enough to live at least a minimally decent life?
If they do support economic justice
for tomato workers, then ask, what about everyone else working full-time for
The successful efforts against Burger
King and the Krug/Mondavi winery, are prime examples of progressive activism.
Helping the downtrodden above all by fighting for them to be treated
fairly: not charity, not handouts, as a goal, but for fair and just treatment.
In direct contrast you have
right-wing activism, which is vehemently anti-union, anti-worker.
After New Deal legislation empowered unions, the right-wing fought back
and began an unfortunately very successful counter-movement, starting with the
Taft-Hartley Act. Right now, the
union-busting consultant industry rakes in $4
billion a year.
So now you see some of the trench
warfare aspect of progressive activism.
You want to enlist as a soldier in
this part of the battle?
Godspeed in your efforts.