Capitalism as a Political System = Libertarian

Try this though experiment.  You decide free markets are the best way to handle resources in you polite society.  The majority of citizens agree so it is implemented.  Now the City runs on the free market principle.  Each service is a revenue center and must justify its existence.  City utilities are booming.  Everyone wants water in their houses and the sewage and garbage taken away.  However, they do spend a bit to make sure they are your choice since there are some newcomers, so rates increase.  Two of the competitors make the case that competition is good and o they are allowed to put in their own pipes since the competitors don’t want to share resources. The library just cannot compete with the bookstores, so they sell out.  City parks now have fences and gates to collect fees as you enter.   The Streets near affluent neighbor hoods are very well kept, but those near less affluent never get repaired. It gets pretty ugly. 

The Fire and Police Department have it the toughest.  Collecting fees at the time of the call is tough since few people seem to have access to their wallets in a crisis.  Asking for payment before apprehending burglars and muggers is awkward.  So it is decided to allow citizens to subscribe to these services.  No one is forced to, however, when you call for service you have to provide your identifier or pay for services.  You can always be billed, however, should you not be able to meet your obligation, you can be sold into servitude until your debt is paid.  By the numbers, if you live in my city with 51,277 citizens, the cost to operate the Police and Fire is $18,025,718, which is about $352 per person.  For my family of five that would be $1,760.00 a year.  Marketing and profit in a free market system would easily push that number higher.

I could not care less whether the fee for not being covered under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is called a “tax” or a “penalty” it amounts to the same thing.  You are asking for services only when you need them.  In a society driven sole by the “free markets” the cost to each individual would be staggering.  As a society it is up to each of us to take care of those who cannot and compel those who use the system to at least try to pay something.  Healthcare should be a right and while the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act comes nowhere close to making that a reality, it is at least a step in the right direction.

The least of these…

The weather is getting bad again and I am again reminded of those poor souls left on the streets to get through this without a roof over their head.  I was looking for a quote about the measure of a society is not how we treat the rich, but how we treat the poor.  That precise quote does not exist, but there are others that are very close. 
Mathew 25:35-40 is a goo example:
35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did it to me.’
I also found one attributed to Mahatma Gandhi:
“A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.”
In either case, you get the point that it is important for the haves to help the have-nots.  In looking for the quote though I found some ignorant thinking.  One person pointed out the the poor here would be considered rich in other countries.  Fair enough, but a burn victim with burns over 50% of their body is better off than one with 90% burns.  It does not make the 50% any less painful.  So to say to our poor “at least you have good garbage to eat” does not reflex well on us as a society.  In fact, it should shame us that we have stores devoted to useless plastic crap and so much food we throw away about 35-50% of it. 
“In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.” ~ Confucius
The other ignorant statement I hear is that the poor will game the system and just live off the kindness of others.  They will be users and leeches.  First of all, this already happens, not just with the poor, but from every level of society.  The rich are especially adept at getting stuff for little or nothing.  The last few years has shown the very wealthy can commit terrible crimes that ruin the lives of thousands and still get a handout from the government (Thank you Pres. Bush and Obama).  They have taken so much in comparison to the pittance that might be taken by those few who just want to live off handouts instead of being productive. 
It is much like our ideal justice system.  It was created to put bad people away and keep innocent people out.  There are controls put into place to help make sure that happens.  It is unfortunate, but a consequence of trying to keep innocents out also allows guilty to go free.  I’m sure if you found yourself wrongly accused, you would be hoping we made some good decisions as a society to make sure you are set free.  The same can be said of social programs.  The rich and wanna be rich bitch about how the “others” are taking their “stuff” but if the time every came, I am quite sure they would be grateful for programs to help get them back on their feet or a house of worship opening its doors to give them a place to sleep.  
Think I’m a socialist?  That’s fine, but carefully consider why you think that is a bad thing.  Unfettered capitalism is bad for democracy and it is bad for society as a whole.  Think of those less fortunate.

Snowmageddon 2010

Yet again, Texas is hit with normally heavy amounts of snow.  My job has shut its doors again today which means I have the perfect opportunity to get on my liberal soapbox about what all this snow means to me.  How can snow be political?  Well, consider that in the US today, there are basically two main factions, the rich and the rest of us.  Many of “us” worship the rich, we want to be them, so we belong to their political party.  This same party was smart enough to leverage religion to further its agenda and bring in more followers.  This part is the group of the rich, wanna be rich and religious.  
On the other hand, you have those with a more liberal (in Texas thats pronounced Leeeeberal ) bent.  These people think that we should all strive to be better as a whole race; the distribution of wealth should be a little more even.  They believe that good healthcare and shelter should be a right. We should take care of our planet since it is the only one we get.  Finally, churches should not have a say in secular social contracts.
I hear you asking…but what about the snow?  The way we treat out planet, burning fossil fuels at a high rate, causes the environment to become unbalanced.  While this can cause and overall rise in the temp of the entire planet, it can also cause unusually cold conditions in others.  The more “conservative” group are climate change deniers since it is generally bad for business (aka the rich).  These type are also generally christian in the US and most of those have an Armageddon view of the world.  It will all end, so why bother taking care of it now. 
The snow also brings very tough conditions for those less fortunate, especially those without a home at all.  I watched a story yesterday of a man who was sleeping in a dumpster to stay warm and was almost killed when the trash truck came to pick it up.  We was treated, at a high cost no doubt to the hospital, but sent out in a patients gown.  It’s not the hospitals responsibility to make sure the person they just treated stays healthy. That’s bad for business.  So, what do we do with so many without homes?  I mean, it not my fault they are homeless, right?  Why should I be forced to pay higher taxes to make sure EVERYONE has decent healthcare (like our elected officials who generally could afford to buy it privately) and a roof over their head? These are humans and we are watching idiots drive sports cars in the snow.
Finally, one of the ways to fix much of this are churches.  It is a strange world where churches can be polling places for voting, be exempt from taxes and be politically active, yet don’t have to give back to the community where they are in equal measure.  So, how about making it mandatory that if a church is to be tax exempt, it should be required to open its doors to make sure no one has to sleep in the cold or rain or suffer under the Texas heat.  They should also not be able to enforce any candidates for political office or serve as polling places in secular elections.  
Think about the warm and dry place you are right now.  Enjoy every sip of your warm beverage, but be mindful of your fellow travelers.  They are people too and but for some twist of fate, it might have been you.

Healthcare? What’s that?

I recently received a bill for $275 from Cook’s Children’s.  One of my daughters was playing in the yard and got knocking in the noggin by a swing.  It was a pretty ugly lump, so Mel rushed her off to the urgent care to get it looked at.  The nurse spent 15 minutes taking a look and told them to go home and keep an eye on her.  That’ll be $275 please.  I am ashamed that for a moment I wanted Mel to wait a bit before taking my daughter in because I knew it was going to cost a few bucks, but of course I’d spend a million more to make sure my kiddos are alive an healthy.
I now see people (read Republicans) that want to repeal “Obamacare”.  Forgetting for a moment that the healthcare “overhaul” was heavily watered down and did not change much, it was a step towards making healthcare a right in this country.  As a group of citizens, we need to take care of those who cannot take care of themselves.  To many people avoid getting regular checkups at the doctor or forgoing treatment because they cannot afford it.  In the end, it costs us, as a society even more than if we had cooperated to begin with.  
Think I’m being a socialist?  What do you think we do right now?  Insurance is a capitalist attempt to implement socialist ideas.  The risk is spread among policy holders with some drawing more out than others.  The biggest problem with all of this is the profit motive.  I fully agree that I want my doctor well trained and well paid.  When she is happy and not worrying too much about making ends meet, she can spend time with me and make sure I am healthy.  Unfortunately, most doctors work for hospitals, that want to make a profit.  They get their drugs and equipment from companies that want to make a profit.  We pay for insurance from companies that want to make a profit.  The actual cost of healthcare goes way down when fewer want to make a profit.  
So, what’s the solution?  This is a very simple list, but our country is smart enough to make it work.

  1. Have the public pick up the tab for doctors education.  The loans those people have to take out (for schools trying to make a profit) are enormous.  If that is not a concern, doctors cost less.  We will also get a lot more doctors since it will be a more attractive profession without all the current hassles.  No waiting lines.
  2. Get rid of insurance companies and replace them with a healthcare tax with no loopholes.  Think you already pay too much in tax, think about what you pay for insurance, make it a % and have everyone pay that percentage.
  3. Cancel free healthcare for Congress and other “public servants”.  We are in this together, we need to be on the same page.
It really should not be too hard.