censor, census

29 08 2007

Before I launch in: My hiatus from upside down again is mostly due to my recent decision to post only “happy” news and opinions articles, and nothing happy has really been happening lately (except for the resignation of Mr. Gonzales, which deserves a Rove-like round up pretty soon). So nix that idea. I’m going to write about today’s release of the 2006 Census Report.

When I picked up the paper today, I wanted to launch into a tirade against the New York Times. The headline, “US Poverty Rate Declines Significantly” is an enormous misnomer and an egregiously erroneous contribution to the Bush Administration’s still-miraculously-inflated communal ego. And Bush did seem rather pleased with the newest statistics, which show a 0.3 percent decrease in the poverty rate since last year:

“”When we keep taxes low, spending in check, and our economy open — conditions that empower businesses to create new jobs — all Americans benefit.”

Sometimes I wonder if Mr. Bush reads. I mean, obviously he doesn’t read a lot, but I wonder if he even really looks at reports like this one, or if he just sees some numbers on a page and draws his own ludicrous conclusions. For if he had just perused and probed the report just a teensy bit more he might find that there has also been an increase in the number of Americans without health insurance, from 44.8 million in 2005 to 47 million last year.

Furthermore, the decrease in poverty rate is not, as might have misguidedly been assumed, due to an increase in wages across the board (in fact, wages  have dropped since last year on a whole); it’s due to an increase in jobs created last year after oil prices momentarily went down because our president felt that millions of human lives in Iraq and Afghanistan were just a price we’d have to pay. If anything, the man finally has an excuse to parade his success abroad: “Look! I’ve created jobs by killing civilians for oil!” But instead he makes it about taxes. I could go on and on about how wrong this is, but I’ll restrain myself.

So, as noted, I was going to berate the New York Times for headlining this front page article so spuriously… until I got to the unsigned editorials. The lead article, hearteningly, is titled “A Sobering Census Report: Bleak Findings on Health Insurance.” There we go. That’s more like it. Keep it coming.

The piece rightfully launches:

The Census Bureau’s report on the state of American health insurance was as disturbing as its statistics on poverty and income. The bureau reported a large increase in the number of Americans who lack health insurance, data that ought to send an unmistakable message to Washington: vigorous action is needed to reverse this alarming and intractable trend.

Yes, New York Times. Good. Well done. Go forth then.

This time, thankfully, the job has been done for me. The Census report today is like that scenario that everyone and their mother falls for on Let’s Make A Deal. It’s like, “You could choose what’s behind door number one… or you could take this wad of cash.” And you don’t know what’s behind door number one, but you see the wad of cash, and on the OUTSIDE, there’s a crisp $100 bill, and you think, “Well, this looks good, there could be MORE $100 bills in there, nestled beneath the first,” so you choose the $100 bill because it LOOKS so good on the surface, and then, of course, buried beneath are just $1s. And behind door number one is, like, a $1 million boat or something.

Bush’s “no more tax” policy LOOKS good… and his $100 bill (for now at least) is the sharp decline in poverty last year. But beneath the surface, there’s bad news: poor wages, bad health insurance, wider gaps between classes. Progressive policy changes are the $1 million boat this country will never receive because they’ll never be able to see past the wad of money Monty Hall is waving in our faces.





fair care

23 07 2007

Another heartening article in The Times today: The House is attempting to push a bill that “calls for major changes in Medicare and promises to intensify the battle with the White House over health care.” While the Senate had recently passed a bill that would increase coverage for lower-income children (provided, brilliantly, by tax increases to the tobacco industry), House Democrats flexed their ever-expanding political muscle today and said that the bill just wasn’t good enough.

And if there’s a time to do it, now is that time. Following the overwhelming success of Michael Moore’s latest documentary endeavor Sicko, the American public has finally received a blunt awakening to the frankly embarrassing statistics of our country’s medical inferiorities. With more doctors and nurses than ever standing behind a more universal health care plan, and with Republicans floundering at large in the face of an increasing progressive majority, the Dems should take advantage of their power on Capitol Hill.

The American people want a change. The regime under Bush has not fared anyone (excluding, of course, a handful of billionaires and Fox pundits) well. If the Democrats fail, it will really only end up making Bush look worse — and more like a dictator in a supposedly Democratic nation — than ever.

Plus, his argument is flimsy:

President Bush has threatened to veto what he sees as a huge expansion of the children’s health care program, which he describes as a step “down the path to government-run health care for every American.”

His argument has a pretty gaping hole: America is no longer terrified of socialized medicine. Major political voices are too young to remember the blood-chilling threat of Communists infiltrating America — and even those who do remember have come to realize that the whole movement was a bit of sham (McCarthyism anyone?). What we as a people want more than anything — Conservatives and liberals alike — is for our families and friends to be safe and healthy. It is obvious that the current middle-man-oriented, insurance-driven Medicare system is not doing that. We need a change.

What the Democrats are currently suggesting may seem controversial, but it’s a long time coming. They could even up the ante a little bit — as they may be planning to do later. They are wise, however, to try to push this through Congress before the summer recess. We want to look at the last half-a-year and see that the Democratic-controlled Congress has done something we can be proud of. And if they do, that could be just what the Democratic ticket could need to secure that coveted spot in the Oval Office in ’08.