Tuesday, June 23, 2009

One World, Divided

In the United States, the ideological war is heating up over the national health care plan, between the White House and many in the Senate. In even such a wealthy nation, 46 million Americans have zero health insurance. The grim ironies of our world are heading toward a perfect storm of catastrophe.

The anti-plan forces include many Republicans and their allies among the so-called Blue Dog Democrats. These corporate-friendly politicians intend to kill the public health insurance option before it can gain traction. Their new tactic is to water it down to the point of ineffectuality. Instead of trying to kill the plan, the antis are promoting what they call "public plans," to dilute the Obama initiatives to a feeble nothingness.

The most recent "public plan" proposes many local "co-ops" to bid for health services. This concept seems equitable, on first look, until one realizes the huge disadvantage to the consumer. How could such small groups each compete for services with the giant insurance corporations?
In a "single-payer" plan, as we mentioned in our last issue, one payer would have all the bargaining chips, to bring costs way down, in collective negotiations with the big insurers, the drug companies, etc, etc.

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama keeps driving forward with a will of his own. He just cut a historic deal with the U.S. drug industry--- they have agreed to lower elderly prescription prices! That is simply an astonishing achievement by the President. He certainly means to use his leverage.

We cannot underestimate the real-world importance of this breakthrough--- indeed, the American congress must realize that Obama is making his health plan reforms more and more possible. As the President himself said, addressing the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America industry association, "This is a significant breakthrough on the road to healthcare reform, one that will make the difference in the lives of many older Americans."
Also, back in the U.S. Congress, President Obama's fight encompasses other great health issues beyond insurance, such as Industrial carbon dioxide pollution caps. Prevention is cheaper than cure, as we all know. But there are other dangers opening before us.

As the fight rages on, to preserve corporate profits, global hunger and poverty are climbing to historic disastrous proportions. Without adequate food, humans sicken, and die. Good health is mooted by poor nutrition.

We are often reminded that, on 9/11 2001, terrorism claimed over 3,000 precious human lives. However, on that same day, over 35,000 lives, over ten times the terror toll, were lost to starvation. The daily number is much higher now, and climbing drastically, with the effects of a decaying world economy.

So, as we focus on the global health crisis, let us never forget the radically increasing number of our fellow humans who have nothing in their bellies. With no hope for even the simplest meal, the starving watch their children fade away and die, one by one. That is true terror.

As human demands rise and resources diminish, our world plunges toward a vanishing point, if our leaders do not act. Adequate food, clean water, sanitation, are all essential to good health care.

We are all one people, and seem to be racing toward a precipice in world health. No national health plan, no matter how compassionate, can turn back time.

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