Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Being a Victim Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry

In the maelstrom of claims and counter-claims arising out of Roman Polanski's recent arrest, a recurring theme amongst his supporters goes like this:

He was once a victim of the Holocaust. He escaped from the Krakow ghetto as a child, his father survived Mauthausen, and his mother died at Auschwitz. He lived off the kindness of strangers. He managed to get out of communist Poland. His wife, unborn child, and friends were brutally murdered by a cult, and the details were laid bare in a media circus. How many more ordeals must he endure? He's been traumatized by life, and now he has had to live in exile in Europe for 30 years. Hasn't he suffered enough? He's an old, old man! Even the victim doesn't want him to be extradited!

Even those I respect have taken his side. Jeralyn Merritt at Talk Left cites judicial misconduct as a reason for leaving him in peace, and Paul Campos reveals that people like Terry Gilliam, Jonathan Demme, and Martin Scorsese have come to his aid. The Washington Post, normally a running apologia for conservative flapdoodle, thinks the tormenting of Polanski is simply outrageous. Anne Appelbaum asks us to look into our hearts and consider: Isn't it understandable that a man whose early years were characterized by horror and the constant need to escape would run like a rabbit under circumstances he himself created by forcing anal and vaginal penetration on a crying child who repeatedly told him “no” and was already intimidated by his power and influence from the get-go?  Silly me, she forgot to mention the penetration part, and the crying. And the plying with Quaaludes and champagne, and the set-up of being dropped off by her mother and left there, alone. But I digress.

For some, like Merritt, the case turns on possible corruption issues, which call the entire original plea bargain into question. For them, it's wrong to haul Polanski back because he was legally railroaded in the first place, but they have no problem trivializing the rape he committed to strengthen the argument. For others, Polanski's body of work and life in exile as a rich and pampered infant terrible seem sufficient to grant him pardon. But underlying all their arguments is one unwavering tenet: “The poor man was a victim in the past. Let's not victimize him further.”

Look, if there was malfeasance, it seriously harms the prosecution's case, and the state needs to get its house in order. But it doesn't make Polanski a fucking angel, and painting him as a pitiful victim taints the good names of those who have made him a cause celebre. In a country where 18 year olds are jailed and labeled sexual predators for having consensual sex with their 15 year old girlfriends, Polanski's treatment by the court pales into pure coddling, so I'm not going to weep in the garden over this. But the the thing I have the most trouble with is the pass that people seem willing to give him because he was subject to early horrors, as though experiencing pain makes one incapable of giving it. And it's not just the Polanski case.

People trying to dodge responsibility for their own atrocities have learned this game all too well. Israel, for example, reliably exonerates itself whenever attacked for its occupation and theft of Palestinian land by raising the spectre of the Holocaust, a ghost that never fails to spook. Anyone who dares criticize their current inhumanity is roundly excoriated for attacking a people once so persecuted, and in case the Holocaust doesn't end it, they'll remind you that they were decimated in ancient Spain, and driven from place to place across Europe over the centuries, as if each and every one of them were there for the experience. Who stops to wonder what any of that has to do with those who are alive today and their behavior towards others? Despite the fact that they move through the world exercising unprecedented power compared to their ancestors, many continue to summon the demon of past horrors as if it were a defense for committing them. Jews who point out this contradiction are abused unmercifully as self-hating or worse; Gentiles are simply dismissed as anti-Semites and war criminals. And because Polanski is Jewish, many who support him soil themselves with these arguments to excuse behavior for which there simply is no excuse.

But there are other examples. Reginald Denny suffered a horrendous attack at the hands of brutal rioters, leaving him with brain damage and physical limitations for the rest of his life, but the defense leaned heavily on poverty and racism. Despite video footage identifying the accused as the attackers, the most severe charges were thrown out, and most went free. Suggesting that such a horror can be mitigated by a defense of racism proclaims to the skies that that victims simply cannot be victimizers, and paints millions of non-violent African-Americans who have also shared the institutional terrors of racism as just as likely to go off at any opportunistic moment. In Iraq, Shiites who suffered for generations under the boot heel of a Sunni-dominated government have, since our invasion, graphically demonstrated how well they learned the lessons of atrocity. Should anyone raise objections, there will be plenty who can justify it with history. And of course, even today we victorious American citizens deny to our First Nations the same ancient claim to land that we legitimize when it is made by Israel.

To bring us full circle back to the Polanski case, let's imagine that he had actually been a poor, unimportant, unlovely man whose background trauma was a series of childhood rapes he'd suffered at the hands of his uncle. Those who have been molested may be at risk to become molesters themselves. But when was the last time you heard that raised as a successful defense in a child rape case? Ruthless American observers scream themselves hoarse for revenge in such cases, and no amount of sad story will soften their hearts. Yet Polanski draws demands for clemency dependent in part on the terrible circumstances of his childhood and early life.

We continue to see the world through the lens of our wishfulness, instead of as it truly is. Can any of us ever expect justice under these circumstances?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Smaller the Man, the Bigger the Dick

So Trent Franks, a Republican drama queen from Arizona, is all worked up about Obama as a "threat to humanity":
"Obama's first act as president of any consequence, in the middle of a financial meltdown, was to send taxpayers' money overseas to pay for the killing of unborn children in other countries....A president that has lost his way that badly, that has no ability to see the image of God in these little fellow human beings, if he can't do that right, then he has no place in any station of government and we need to realize that he is an enemy of humanity."
Never mind the blather, nor the outre suggestion from a real live elected government official that Obama is a genocidal madman.  No, it's that one phrase that caught my eye:  can't see the image of God in these little fellow human beings.  Gee, that sounds almost...Eastern, in its embrace of the Godhead-in-life, doesn't it?
Well, here's a little peek at just how "pro-life" Franks really is:
  • (Voted to) ban gun registration and; trigger lock law in Washington DC. (Mar 2007)
  • (Voted to) allow firearms in National Parks. (Feb 2008)
  • (Voted to) apply concealed carry permit to all other states where legal. (Feb 2009) 
  • Voted NO on Veto override to extend SCHIP to cover 6M more kids. (Jan 2008)
  • Voted NO on adding 2 to 4 million children to SCHIP eligibility. (Oct 2007) 
  • Voted NO on investigating Bush impeachment for lying about Iraq. (Jun 2008)
  • Voted NO on redeploying US troops out of Iraq starting in 90 days. (May 2007)
  • Voted YES on declaring Iraq part of War on Terror with no exit date. (Jun 2006)
  • Voted YES on approving removal of Saddam and valiant service of US troops. (Mar 2004) 
You see, people like Franks, who like to bawl all over your sleeve till it's sopping wet about the sanctity of life and the sacredness of the unborn, don't give a good goddam about the children they murder with their heartless warmongering, or the ones who die because they have no way to pay for medical care or because the whole damned country has a sick and mindless obsession with weapons of death.  Using taxpayers' money to kill children overseas is more than acceptable, so long as those children have already been born, you see.

And yet people like this have the gorge to accuse good and decent human beings of the very life-hating that they themselves engage in every day.  It would be laughable, if it wasn't so dangerous.  How much more of  this nonsense from people like Franks, or this yutz, (UPDATE: Newsmax pulled the column, but you can still see the cache page here must we endure before real tragedy unfolds?

And why do so many of them always seem to come out of Arizona, for Chrissake?

Monday, September 28, 2009

They Never Learn If They Don't Pay The Price

So Jon Kyl wants to have hisself a war!:
"At a certain point, talking (to the Iranians) is counterproductive rather than productive because time is not on our side," he said, adding later that "the carrot approach does not work with these people."
So true.  Which is why we should say "Screw the Republicans", and  ram through reconciliation legislation on health insurance reform as soon as possible.

As for Kyl, he can lead the charge to Persia.  We'll check in on you there next year, Jon.  Good luck with that.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

I Like To Be in America

Bonnie, Shawn, and Bruce:

You got a name for this group?"

How about "Pocket Dogs Anonymous"?

Meanwhile, I was hankering after this. Most excellent snark:

Bernstein and Sondheim just kick ass. In highlighting the tension between two cultures, they meld them seamlessly, and create a delightful new art form...just like America always has on its best days.

The Priests of Amen-Reagan

Each week Charles Pierce demonstrates again that he is one of the most eloquent proponents of compassion, logic, and creative obscenity in the journalistic world.  Ending a particularly excellent rant on how the Republican party used racism to shoehorn itself into power, he's un-inclined to let the not-insane off easy, just because they woke up and began to smell the dead elephant in the room:
"Now that the national Republican party is solely the province of meathead politicians and radio maniacs, there are "sensible" conservatives who are alarmed by what they see. It should be agreed upon in our politics that these people drift into the wilderness for a while and muse upon where their movement has led them. But the first thing they all should do is apologize to the nation for choosing to take a course 45 years ago in opposition to the transcendant moral issue of America. They prospered through bigotry, and then through a deft ability to package it, and they made the ensuing four decades immeasurably crueler as a result.There's not enough sackcloth in the world for these clowns."
Mmeanwhile, Rick Perlstein, in an interview with Greg Marx at the Columbia Journalism Review, pisses in the Washington Post's punchbowl, while explaining how the current attack on ACORN, supported by nothing more than the Right's bald-faced lies, has been so effective:
"RP: The job of a newspaper is to tell the truth without fear or favor, whether that truth ends up advantaging conservatives, or liberals, or Zoroastrians or Masons.
GM: Do you find anything legitimate in the idea that trying to incorporate conservative perspectives could bring a paper closer to the truth than it might otherwise be?
RP: Sure, of course. But what does this ACORN story have to do with conservative perspectives?
Everything has to be understood in historical context. Unless you grasp the history of conservatives attempting to appeal to newspaper editors’ guilt about being liberal—which has been around since Spiro Agnew—then you can’t tell these kinds of stories, because all that is part of the story. And unless you look at the repeated pattern of smear-driven narratives in presidency after presidency—which turn out, in the end, not to implicate anyone—then you’re not telling the story...
GM: I think what’s being expressed is a sort of felt need to compensate for the perceived fact that journalists don’t see the world through the same prism as members of the conservative movement do.
RP: I would say that journalists’ job is not to see the world through the same prism as the conservative movement, or a different prism than the conservative movement. It is to tell the truth without fear of favor. And if the truth makes conservatives look bad, devil take the hindmost. And if it makes liberals look bad, devil take the hindmost. It’s just too easy—and if you read my work, it’s been too easy for four decades—for conservatives to exploit their ability to create a sense that the media are biased in favor of liberalism in order to manipulate the media, in order to get the stories they want told told in the way they want. It’s a strategy—you can see the memos in which people lay it out. And unless that strategy is reported on, and treated as part of the story, then you are not reporting on what’s actually happening in the real world."
All of which is music to the ears of those of us who fell down the rabbit hole back in 1980.  And all of which might make one damned bit of difference if anyone in this doofus Pantomime we mistake for a national dialogue was willing to humble him- or herself before the truth.  Voltaire advised, "When we hear news, we should always wait for the sacrament of confirmation." Sadly, the high priests of journalism stopped giving that long ago.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Cost Containment Is Inherent in Single-Payer

At Counterpunch, David Lindorff makes a persuasive argument for the inherent cost savings of a Medicare-for-all plan:

"Medicaid, the program that pays for medical care for the poor, and is funded by federal and state taxes, would be eliminated, saving $400 billion a year. 
Veterans’ care, currently running at $100 billion a year, would be eliminated.

Perhaps two-thirds of the $300 billion a year spent by federal, state and local governments to reimburse hospitals for so-called “charity care” for treatment of people who have no insurance but don’t qualify for Medicaid, would be eliminated.

Individuals and employers would no longer have to pay for private insurance.

Several hundred billion dollars currently spent on paperwork by private insurers would be eliminated.

Car insurance would be cheaper as there would no longer have to be coverage for medical bills.

Federal, state and local governments would no longer have to pay to insure public employees.

In short, if every person were on Medicare, the overall savings would overwhelm the small increase in the Medicare payroll tax of 5.8%."

I would add that federal incentives to make going into primary care more attractive than specialties, and requiring service in under-served areas in exchange for those incentives, might go a long way to  keeping costs down, as well as injecting a much-needed correction into the expanding gentrification of our health care continuum.

Light Bulb Screwing Fail

How many white men does it take to screw up a state budget?  If you're in Pennsylvania, exactly as many as you were stupid enough to elect to the House and Senate.  I suppose this could have been predicted in the wake of the anticlimax that was the budget resolution (BTW, just check out that paradigm of diversity in the accompanying photo):
"Work continued Tuesday on drafting the many pieces of legislation needed for passage of the 2009-10 state budget.

Meanwhile, opposition to aspects of the $27.9 billion budget deal struck Friday is popping up, as it often does after an agreement on a budget framework and before the legislation is written."

Meanwhile, thousands of people and families whose only crime has been to have worked for or needing the services of a non-profit reliant on state funding have gone without lifelines for months, while these geezers think about making a final vote in a couple weeks.

October 2 is when it's going down, I'll wager, and it isn't going to be pretty.  Next year we'll be back at square one, and the Republicans who made this mess in the first place will be crowing about Democratic failure.  The good voters of PA will buy it, of course, and put in some political hack like Tom Corbett who will proceed to raise taxes like Rendell wanted to do anyway, only a year too late, and we'll all suffer the more for it.

It's time to eliminate this legislature and replace it with something that works.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Swine With Flu

One can only hope:

"Capitol alert for H1N1 outbreak; senators and staff to get masks

Senate officials are holding internal planning exercises this week to prepare for a swine flu outbreak that could hobble congressional offices."
Apparently they're under the illusion that we would know the difference if they stopped showing up for work:
"Some have expressed concern for members who have a full workload this fall, saying that if they are infected it may interfere with their ability to attend committee hearings or even vote because doing so could spread the infection."
Land o' Goshen!  Imagine committee meetings without Darrell Issa's trademark snark.  How would anything get done?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Plan B For Inner Space

Plan B, the contraceptive that can be taken up to 72 hours after unprotected sex, is now available in the greater Philadelphia area.  And no, contrary to the anti-contraception crowd, it is NOT an "abortion pill".  To find pharmacies that carry it, you can go here, but call first to make sure it's in stock.  No prescription needed.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Ineffable Wisdom of the Anti-Czarist Proletariat

This anti-czar nonsense is being fed by a Congress of no-nothings intent on using every lame-brained hue and cry coming down the pike, no matter how transparently moronic, as a means of waylaying any useful work Obama might otherwise get done. Like passing a decent environmental spending bill, which has lately been hijacked by the Klown Kar Kommune as People's Exhibit #1 for drawing the line on this "affront to the Constitution", as scholar Lamar Alexander put it.  Mark Abramson, over at Government, gives a sensible explanation of what the targets really are:
"The czar phenomenon is reflected in the rising number of White House special assistants for "x, y and z," as well as special envoys, special representatives and special advisers at the State Department. While there has long been a statutory czar at the Office of National Drug Control Policy, for example, recent appointments have followed suit. To name a few, Steve Rattner was named lead adviser on auto industry issues -- better known as the car czar. Nancy-Ann DeParle was appointed counselor to the president and director of the White House Office of Health Reform -- aka health czar. And on Friday, the president announced a new White House cyber czar would be named to work on the threat to national security from hackers or terrorists.
While the term "czar" is getting ubiquitous, these positions are a far cry from the czarist Russia image. Today's government czars lack such dictatorial authority. It is more correct to call them collaborators, since their role is to bring together people from different agencies, sectors and nations. These jobs are nonhierarchical and have no direct control over anyone. Modern-day czars must instead use persuasive, partnership skills."
Well, that's sure to scare the hell out of the righteous, I guess.  Or the brain-dead.  Because as the loyal opposition has proven by its actions of the last 8 months, we can't be having any of that there damned ol' consensus, now.   Abramson goes on:
"Government czars are designated problem-solvers who are consciously placed outside the traditional bureaucracy, giving them several advantages in getting their job done.
For starters, they aren't bogged down with managing a large organization...
Designated problem-solvers can focus exclusively on one set of issues until they are resolved. George Mitchell, appointed special envoy for Middle East peace, and Richard Holbrooke, as special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, are prime examples...
Government czars have the ability to reach across boundaries to work with the public and nonprofit sectors, state and local governments, and even other nations."
Of course, presidents going back to Nixon appointed titular "czars", and Dubya had over 30, a fact that the Right  never even raised an eyebrow at while he was illegally listening to their cocktail chatter and ripping habeas corpus out of their laws.  But this means nothing to those blinded by the Right.  Leave it to the Luddites and cranks to see it as yet another conspiracy to wrest our guns and butter away from us.  You can bet MacCain won't be having it; he's lining up with Alexander on this, and while he's at it, he's putting the kibosh on comunnistic enterprises like improving water quality for people in Illinois and cutting wastewater and drinking water infrastructure funding for rural and Alaskan native villages.  Good deal, Mac.  And while you're at it, why not add an amendment to make those damned kids get off your lawn.

Update:  I almost forgot this gem in Abramson's comments:
"It seems like a bad idea to have individuals that are not overseen by our elected officials."
and this:
"It's concerning that the "czars" only report to the President and are not accountable to anyone else!"
 And of course, this, which I swear to you that I did not make up:
"The use off Czar which takes us back to a mid-evil time doesn't sound like progress. Czars were also the name used to address the Sultons of time past. I think its a ploy to get the minds of the people off a true democracy and embrace the easter ideas as well as their religion. Look at the Czars and who they were and what they did. And you'll be glad they aren't honored any more. They were Horrable dictators. I think Obama I a Video gamer and doesn't understand what he's headed for or who's leading him. He's been deceived and hasn't made an intellegent puposefull decession since he took office. His affiliation with the Ratcal Wright who thinks he's a minister has damaged his ability to think. He about as smart as Kerry and Edwards if you know what I mean. How do people like that even get on the Bar let alone become learders."

Setting aside the troubling easter ideas that Obama has foisted off on us in this untimely season (but thank God not during mid-evil times), we know we certainly wouldn't care to have anyone in government who was not overseen by our elected officials---officials like, say, the President who appointed them in the first place.  Then, on the other hand, we wouldn't want people in government who are only accountable to the President---people like the Secretaries of the Cabinet.

Methinks these folks aren't worried about the form of government they already have.  They just want a whole NEW form, one that more closely resembles the authoritarian Daddy-figure in their nightmares, one that will sit them down, shut them up, waste their liberal siblings in a satisfactory manner when they step out of line, and lay down  a suppressing line of fire on any scary-looking strangers that dare wander by.  Yeesh.  We're definitely ready for The Road.

The Clown Car Is Never Full Enough

In The Wall Street Journal, of all places, Thomas Frank reflects on how the Ridiculous Right has turned the concepts of freedom and tyranny on their heads.  It's a crazy-making world to live in, especially for those who engage in independent thought and logical deduction, but at least we have Frank, among a few others, to remind us we aren't mad.  He sums it all up nicely:
"Today, of course, we know that the right's tyranny-fears were nonsense. Most of Roosevelt's innovations have been the law of the land for 70 years now, and yet we are still a free society free enough, that is, to allow tens of thousands of protesters to gather on the National Mall and to broadcast their slogans and speeches to the world via C-SPAN.
Even such pits of statism as Britain and Canada remain free societies, generally speaking, despite having gone skipping blithely down the universal-health-care road to serfdom decades ago.
For the sort of people who gathered on the Mall last weekend, however, I doubt that such observations would matter in the least. Their conception of freedom soars on by a force all its own, carried aloft on the wings of pure abstract reasoning: Government intervention equals tyranny. Liberalism is forever a form of despotism-in-waiting.
The reality of misgovernment, meanwhile, is not something you can grasp simply by donning a tricorn hat and musing on the majesty of Lady Liberty. It requires, among other things, close attention to the following irony: That many of the most destructive and even corrupt policies of the past few decades were engineered by exactly the sort of people who claim to be motivated by freedom and liberty. Our friends on the Mall no doubt imagine themselves as guiltless accusers, but if they really want to understand how our country got to this sorry state, they need to take a long hard look in the mirror."
 I think I'll pull out my old Ouija board and see what Orwell is thinking.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Media Must Be Trembling in Their Stamford Loafers

Over at the NY Times, Tobin Harshaw is having a field day examining the ACORN fallout and the angst some in the media may be feeling about being "scooped" by a couple of kids playing dress-up and parlaying their particularly unconvincing drag into a so-what Allan Funt piece with the co-operation of a few dimbulbs.  For some reason I hesitate to anticipate that this will be the end of mainstream media as we know it. If this is the worst the fringe right can come up with to prove the rot at the core of liberal philosphy, I think we can all sleep tight tonight.  But it certainly gave our Congress something new to posture about, and hey, only a million or so poor people will be hurt, so it's not like it did any harm, eh?  This was my comment on the Opinionator website:
"So have you asked yourself, during this gleeful tirade, “Why ACORN, if the goal is uncovering wrongdoing amongst private groups getting public funds?”
Because this is truly small fry, toss-it-back-in-the-water stuff. The amount of funding, compared to where much taxpayer money goes, is paltry. Huge corporations engaging in criminal conspiracies, in-your-face ripoffs and outright murder and rape (Goldman-Sachs, AIG, Halliburton, KBR, Blackwater for starters) not only have not been held to account, but continue to siphon billions off the public tit with impunity. So why all the pearl-clutching about a few boneheads making bad decisions out of an organization of thousands?
Oh, silly me…the faces of ACORN are poor and black and the goal of the group is to help the weak. That makes them easy to grind into the dust. Those others? Well, they have powerful white men running them, don’t they? And they pull the strings in Congress, just as they always have.
The fact that the mainstream media failed to “uncover” what was hardly worth a couple paragraphs at the back of Section B is not an embarrassment to them. Rather, it’s an embarrassment to the whole country that we can get so worked up about this, while we once again beat up the poor and venerate the growing plutocracy that is our government."

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What IS Affordability?

So now attention is being been paid to the Senate Finance Committee memo linked to in The New Republic by Jon Cohn. In 4 mildly-worded pages, it lays out a fantasist's idea of health insurance affordability that only cossetted, in-the-tank boneheads like Max Baucus and his ilk (which is to say, your average well-insured legislator) could find “affordable”. The maximum premium cap laid out in this plan is 13.9% of income. Bear this in mind for later.

But the best thing about it is that it begins to quantify what has heretofore been merely a slogan. What does affordability mean?

There has been no secret about the model on which these changes would be crafted; it's the Massachusetts Mess, and a simple exercise worked out on its convenient Commonwealth Connector website offers anyone who wants it, the opportunity to be a Bay Stater for a moment. A moment, I'd add, that once past, you will wake from in sweaty terror, clinging in sheer relief to the knowledge that you are free from that nightmare, for the nonce at least. Let's take a look at what the plan offers to an older couple not yet ready for Medicare, making a decent but not excessive living of about $86,000 per year.

First, we know the couple will not be eligible for Commonwealth Care, which is basically a public option, because it is only open to couples making less than $43,716 per year. We also know, from using the handy “affordability tool”, that our couple makes $1000 per year too much for subsidies, and so is considered fair game for any insurance plan offered. (Better hope your income doesn't vary from year to year, or the headaches won't be the kind your prescription drug plan can fix.) So let's go straight to the private insurers.

The plan offers 3 levels: bronze, silver, and gold, just like Olympic medals. See that? Don't you already feel like a winner? First, be aware that out of pocket spending in all plans is limited, to a mere $10,000 per year. Whew! Dodged a bullet on that one, eh?

Let's examine the highest and lowest cost plans offered. First, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care:
$960.12 per month, or $11,521.44 per year. 13% of total income.

What do we get for this princely sum? Well, first, the deductible: $3500. Then:
Doctor visits: $25 copay for up to 3 medical care office visits per individual (or 6 per family); the next visits are subject to the deductible; then 20% co-insurance thereafter.

ER visits: $250 (watch those kitchen accidents!)

Hospital stays: Deductible first, then 20% co-insurance

Prescription drugs: Separate deductible of $500, then $15 for generics, 50% co-pay all others

In a bad year, if our couple should have to use up their deductible, the total cost including premiums would be $21,521.44, or 25% of total income. And that doesn't even include the co-pays, drugs, or other spending, which will raise that percentage much higher.

For the highest cost, leave it to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts:
$2,293.73 per month, or $27,524.76 per year. 32% of total income.

Ah, but here's the diff—NO deductibles. None. Nada. Nil. The co-pays are rare and much more reasonable, and involve no nasty surprise balloon payments:
Doctor visits: $15 co-pay (no limits on visits)

ER visits: $100

Hospital stays: $100

Prescription drugs: $10/$25/$45

In a bad year our couple will not pay much more than their premium payments, or $27,524.76 per year. 32% of total income. In other words, the same amount that they paid out in premiums, not counting a few small co-pays that, unlike the "cheap" plan, will not add up to anything worth sweating.

The difference between costs of the plans in a worst case scenario year is about $6000. But the problem is that with those hospital and drug co-pays in the “cheap” plan, a serious illness or accident could easily end up bankrupting or impoverishing a family, while that $6000 will be mostly all the family with the expensive plan will have to eat. Another safety valve, that of preventive care, also gets cocked by the “cheap” plan. The family that takes it out gets raked over the coals by premiums, and finds the co-pays and hoops so onerous and difficult that it may forgo treatments altogether. So those who go for the lowest cost end up feeding the corporate beast with little security to show for it, and are 13% poorer for the privilege.

But don't take my word for it. Public Citizen looked at the real-life situations of Mass citizens this past February, who had very little good to say about it. People are still falling through coverage gaps, still finding themselves unable to access care, worse off with less money to spend as the insurance companies rake in profits from their captive market. This is not the model for national health care. This was an experiment, and experiments are done to learn from mistakes.

Let's learn from this one.