Transcript #125-1

Yet More Evidence That Right-Wing Health Care Policies Are Deadly


Partially hyperlinked to sources.  For all sources, see the data resources page.



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 that is.


You may have heard of The Lancet.  It's one of the world's major peer-reviewed medical journals.


It recently published the most comprehensive study -- 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 suffering."


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 right winger.


As if the cancer information shouldn't be enough.


But then, you're dealing with a right-winger.


First, there are dead children.


The infant and child mortality rates in the United States are worse than just about in any other Western industrialized country.


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 having that.


If our child mortality rate was as good as, for example, France or Germany or Italy, 12,000 American children would live, not die.


Every year.


As NY Times columnist Nicholas Kristoff wrote:


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 population overall?


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 insurance.


These people don’t receive such necessities as


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 conditions.


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 and Canada.


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 The Right.


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?




audio: Truman

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.

Something ought to be done about that. A healthy nation is a great nation, and unless we maintain the health of this Nation, we will not have a great Nation. [text]

That was President Harry Truman.


Over 60 years ago, in 1945, President Truman proposed 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.  Johnson said that it


all started really with the man from Independence.

Independence Missouri, where Truman grew up.


So right-wing opposition to making sure every American has access to affordable health care, goes back over half a century.


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 sickening. 


Listen to George W. Bush.


He recently expressed a total lack of concern about the 47 million Americans without health care coverage:


audio: Bush

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 more 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.


George Bush's own market-based health care proposal would, by his administration's own admission, only cover 1 in 10 uninsured Americans.


The right has no plan at all to help uninsured Americans.


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 political action. 

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:


audio: Truman

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.




Transcript #125-2

Progressive Victories: Economic Justice For Farmworkers!


Partially hyperlinked to sources.  For all sources, see the data resources page.



How about some good news?  How'd you like to hear about a successful progressive campaign?


Sources you'll hear in this segment include:

The 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 Federal Reserve.


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 work.


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.  Sub-poverty wages.


Immokalee is  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.


And just recently, it's great to be able to tell you, victory was achieved.


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 decades.


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 issue.


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?


$300,000  a year.


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 dollars!


So that means, paying tomato workers a decent wage, would cost Burger King an amount eaual to one seven-thousanths of its revenue.


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.  Never have.


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 compensate by


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.

This success 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 time.  For 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 Eric Schlosser:


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.

Exactly.  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 cents now.


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.  Not right-wingers.


But that's another topic.


My  point is, progressive activism can take many forms.


To close…


I really want you to ask your friendly local right-winger, do they support economic justice for tomato pickers.


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 poverty-level wages?


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?


If so, check out and


Godspeed in your efforts.


Podcast Home Page