Greetings from
The Publisher . . .

Death Panels Exist; Debates & Democracy


Amazing all the talk going on now about health care, isn't it? What's even more amazing is that it's called “debating” and the word “issues” is connected to it sometimes.

When does the focus come?

And now there are other issues popping up that may distract us too. The torture and abuse carried out by the CIA and the real focus killer for the media—Michael Jackson and “news” of his homicide. Mention MJ and the media can't hold another thought.

Looking closer, aren't all three related to abuse of power? Jackson was so rich he could make up his own rules about what was healthy. The CIA abuses power? It happens, they say. And with health care, for some it's so much about money and power that care for the sick and dying, far down on their list of concerns, is not even being discussed.

Former Gov. Sarah Palin was really the one to focus things for us. At the risk of using up her allotment of Alaskan midnight oil, she read and reread the health plan until she found what everyone else had missed—that “death panels” could decide to kill her parents or her child with Down syndrome.

And she's right, such panels are a concern— and exist!

(I even heard the panel identified on television one night—Jack Klugman, Nipsey Russell, Charles Nelson Reilly and panel moderator, Gene Rayburn are on it. I'd back this up and refer you to the source of this, but unfortunately I can't remember if I heard it on David Letterman or Bill Maher.)

But the threat is real and this is what the health care debate is about. It's not hard to visualize such panels could do the things Palin fears because they exist already.

Right now anyone can be denied treatment, denied tests and drugs, denied their choice of physician or practitioner, denied care or told they have reached their cap and be cut off without any care even if they have a life threatening condition that treatment might remedy. Panels and bureaucrats are making life and death decisions for people right now, every day.

They just aren't government panels. They're insurance company panels, review boards and the executives of death. It's why we need reform.

Palin has identified what the health care debate is about. The policy of non-treatment is in place— within the loopholes of our insurance policies. The job of insurance company death panels and execs is to deny. It's amazing that people can be riled up about the same things—one hypothetical and one real— and can't get on the same page about it.

It would be nice to think that we could get together on this, have a give and take, sing and dance the Rodney King and come away in agreement.

I don't think so. It requires people who want to cooperate.

One strategy for reform might be to focus on and eliminate the existing insurance death panels and death execs before we tackle the imaginary ones. That would mean 25% of us would have to give up being delusional—i.e., thinking that all Democrats, all liberals, and all of government is evil. Many Democrats are leery of the government and think it needs to be watched, as the Founding Fathers recommended.

The Far Right is more flexible, which ironically is healthier. When they're in power, it's Patriotic to say “my country right or wrong.” When they're not, it's a given that you can never trust the government to do anything right. We might need a health care system just to transform these fears and distrust that runs so deep. Isn't it incredible, though, that a government option can be viewed as a takeover?

Then again, maybe not. Not when you have a 24/7 media machine. The Far Right have their talk together—their shows—and it never stops.

Their talking points turned into marching orders for the town hall meetings. I'm sure at this point most people have heard about or seen the town hall shouts and disruptions that were called “debates.”

If you didn't hear Rep. Barney Frank (Dem., MA), it's worth googling him. He really tried to let people have their say. But over and over, after being asked a question, people yelled and shouted during his response.

One woman held up a poster of President Obama with a Hitler-like mustache drawn in. Frank questioned how someone who wanted to expand health care coverage to more people could be Nazi-like, and then asked on which planet she spent the majority of her time—and he wasn't accusing her of being an illegal alien.

Well, maybe he was. Wasn't it refreshing to hear a Congressman say what he really thought? It's worth viewing just to see the look on her face.

In another town hall meeting I heard someone comment that if the Founding Fathers were around today they would be doing everything they could to get the government out of health care.

Whether they would or not, what we should know about the FF is that they came to an agreement by listening to each other and expressing what was important to them—every colony had to agree on what they did. Their purpose was to work together and come to a solution. They had the idea that people talking about issues and looking at them in different ways would lead to mutual understanding and solutions. The recent town hall debates were an example of people with concerns who did not want to cooperate or come to an agreement. The status quo is fine, they said. As it often is, most of what went on was about doing whatever it takes to win. Can those “debating” at the recent town hall really think they are Founding Father-like?

There is a lot that can be accomplished and reformed. The generally agreed upon list of needed reforms includes coverage for the uninsured, controlling costs, no elimination for preexisting conditions and no denial of care. Keeping care when you change jobs and eliminating lifetime caps and high deductibles are other needed reforms. It's really about not having to fear financial ruin if you get sick. Having a single payer option translated means having an affordable health care option.

The nine million people who are covered by the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), often called Cadillac coverage, have the relief of not worrying about preexisting conditions.

But it's not a great model. It pays Big Parma top dollar and is not a cost-effective program. Whether we can work together to some agreement on any of the issues requires people, like the FF, who want to. So it may not be an option. It's obvious to most of us that monetary contributors can have more influence than individuals. But isn't that the great thing about our times? That this has become so obvious?

When you look at it, there are a lot of forms of government and ours is always up for review and renewal. If a government operates for the few and by the few for the benefit of a few, is it still a democracy? Is it a representative democracy? Is it a republic? It's none of the above. The realization of that makes me mad and sad. It's okay to be angry and righteously indignant when people break their agreements, their oath, to us/US and choose paths that benefit the few.

Going in the direction that 75-80% of us/US want is pretty democratic. The real question is, who do our representatives represent? What type of a government do we really have?

Will we have an affordable health care option—a public option? Tell Congress and the President what you think. www.

Have a great month,