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The Ken And Barbie Show

The Ken And Barbie Show


by Mary Pitt

Yawn! It's almost time for the next episode of The Ken And Barbie Show. You know, the new television extravaganza where a bunch of very affluent, carefully groomed, coiffed, and made-up rich folks get on a stage and try to convince us that they "feel our pain". There are two groups and we are supposed to choose the best of each group and then make the final choice between the two of of them. We are asked to judge on the basis of appearance, personality, and creative thinking. On the first two criteria, all are almost equally qualified but that last one is a real sticking point.

Where both the groups part company with the average voter is the point where they attempt to show us the way to "correct" the problems of poverty, Social Security, and the health system. Both groups seem to have determined that everything can be solved without spending any public money or raising any taxes on the rich folks. The Democrats appear to have bought into the Republican philosophy best demonstrated by the Leona Helmsley quote, "Only poor people pay taxes!" Just as Mitt Romney thinks he has discovered the elixir which will cure the health care problem by requiring mandatory insurance by everybody, the President and his compadres insist that the answer to the Social Security problem lies in "privatizing" retirement. Social Security has been around for a long time and the proven answer to any shortfall has always been handled in two ways, an increase in the rate of withholding together with an increase in the level at which the payments are capped. Despite the number of rate increases that have been imposed, the cap has remained at under $100,000 per year, which even most of the candidates could pay out of their pocket change. Of couse, eliminating the cap completely would be political blasphemy, wouldn't it?

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While they strain at the gnat of solving the problems of the working class, they happily swallow the camel of class privilege. They insist that universal health coverage would "ration health care" and they choose to ignore the success of the Medicare program which has operated successfully for many years. It is simple: when you get sick, you go to the doctor of your choice, he gets you well, and bills Medicare. Medicare pays for services rendered according to their rates minus co-payment and deductible. The cost is minimal, nothing is "rationed" other than elective procedures, and the insured regain their health.

However, with the institution of Medicare Part D, the formula was changed. You are required to purchase your own "plan" from an insurance company which is free ro add or reduce coverage and rates at will. Many medications are not covered and your physician must switch you to a "generic" drug which may not be as effective or "dosage-stable" as the brand name and could even have a deleterious effect on your condition. However, it is a prime example of the privatized health care which is being foisted upon us. You know that this was begun for the benefit of the insurance companies when you consider that the corporation which, with the backing of the AARP, is the single major insurer under Part D could have a CEO who absconded with millions of dollars of company funds without the corporation suffering a disastrous loss.

There is another factor involved which the wealthy cannot seem to understand that is painfully obvious to those of us who must budget carefully just to survive the week That is the cost of the premiums which anyone who can afford it must pay to those same insurance companies. If those expenses were to disappear, how much more would you be able to pay in taxes without feeling any pain? Would not the net outlay be the same whether several thousand dollars per year were paid to the Internal Revenue Service or to a major multi-national corporation? These funds could be earmarked for the purpose of supporting a single-payer health care system which would cover everybody equally with the exception of plastic surgery which would remain the prerogative of the wealthy and presidential candidates and their spouses.

And on to major pledges to "balance the budget". How can we ever balance a budget when we are waging a war based on lies which is financed totally off-budget and under the radar? We can spend hundreds of billion dollars per year outside the budget, which is supposed to control spending, but we can't provide needed medical care for the children of working class Americans who are still working for Mexican wages? Most of the working class in this nation are able to earn just a bit less than they really need and yet just enough that they do not qualify for any of the "poverty programs". Any major health problems in any member of the family could push them over the edge into bankruptcy, except that bankruptcy has now been made all but impossible. After all, the credit card companies and international banking community are entitled to their money back, even if it costs a child or two or leaves another family living on the street in the back of an old hoopty.

Yes, my friends, the so-called Presidential debates are merely entertainment, just like "American Idol" or "The Summer Adventures of Paris and Scooter". They may help pass the time but, in my opinion, the whole lot should be given a resounding "You're Fired" while we pick up a good book.

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Mary Pitt is a septuagenarian Kansan, a free-thinker, and a warrior for truth and justice. Huzzahs and whiney complaints may be sent to mpitt@cox.net

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