single payer

In 2011, the Vermont legislature enacted Act 48, which replaces private health insurance with a state-funded health care plan covering all Vermont residents. Governor Peter Shuman, concerned about major flaws in Obamacare, made Green Mountain Care, the centerpiece of his 2010 gubernatorial campaign. In Vermont, as in the rest of the industrialized world, health care is viewed as a basic human right. Green Mountain Care is slated to become operational in 2017.

Like a growing number of Americans, Schuman feels Obama’s Affordable Health Care Act (ACA) is financially unworkable. Instead of eliminating private insurance companies that suck out  25-33% of every health care dollar for profit and administrative expense* – it guarantees them generous government subsidies.

The US is the only country in the world which allows for-profit insurance companies to insert themselves into the doctor-patient relationship by dictating the types and amount of treatment that will be allowed. Because they allow insurance and drug companies to transform health care into a profit-making commodity, Americans pay twice as much for health care than any other country. Meanwhile they enjoy much poorer health than most of the industrialized world.

In part due to skyrocketing insurance costs under Obamacare (premiums for young adults have nearly doubled), millions of low income Americans remain uninsured. The Congressional Budget estimates that 36 million people will be uninsured in 2015, 30 million in 2016 and 31 million in 2024.

Meanwhile all Americans find the private insurance plans they are required to to buy, under penalty of law, cover far less than Obama originally promised. With the high cost of premiums, deductibles and copayments, they pay more and more of their health care bill themselves.  It doesn’t help that insurance companies are extremely devious about what they do and don’t cover. As many doctors and patients are discovering, the default setting for many health plans is to deny payment.

Green Mountain Care

In 2011 Harvard economist William Hsaio estimated that removing private insurance companies from the health care equation, as stipulated under Vermont’s Act 48, would save $4.3 billion over four years – enough to cover the uninsured, offer better coverage than insurance companies and still have more than a billion dollars left over.

Under Green Mountain Care, a combination of income and payroll taxes (details to be released in January 2015) will replace the $1.9 billion in health insurance premiums Vermonters currently pay. Residents covered by federal plans, such as Medicare, Medicaid, the VA and programs for active duty military personnel would continue to receive coverage through those plans. However, for the sake of administrative efficiency, both Medicare and Medicaid would be streamlined into Green Mountain Care’s unified claims administrative system.

Vermont would be the first state to guarantee health coverage for all its residents, regardless of income. As Michael Ollove notes in Vermont is Single Payer Trailblazer, they were also the first state to constitutionally ban slavery and mandate public funding for universal education, the first to introduce civil unions for same-sex couples and the first to allow gay marriage.


*Obscene CEO salaries figure prominently in this “administrative” expense. In 2013 the CEOs of the 11 largest for-profit insurance companies received compensation packages totaling more than $125 million.

photo credit: Steve Rhodes via photopin cc

stuartbramhall:

 

 

Thomas Paine’s radical proposal for a Universal Basic Income.

Originally posted on Our New World:

Would you be in favour of a basic income?

Why we should give everyone a basic income

This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. Rutger Bregman (1988) studied at Utrecht University and the University of California in Los Angeles, majoring in History. In September 2013 Bregman joined the online journalism platform De Correspondent. His article on basic income was nominated for the European Press Prize and was published by The Washington Post.

In September 2013 Bregman joined the online journalism platform ‘De Correspondent’. His article on basic income was nominated for the European Press Prize and was subsequently also published by the American newspaper The Washington Post. In September 2014 his newest book ‘Gratis geld voor iedereen En nog vijf grote ideeën die de wereld kunnen veranderen’ came out.

Source.

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war is a racket

War is a Racket

by Major General Smedley Butler (1933)

Book Review

Published in 1933 by Retired Marine Major General Smedley Butler, War is a Racket is a historic expose of the role of Wall Street profiteering in instigating war.

The book begins with the startling statistic that World War I created 21,000 new millionaires and billionaires. President Woodrow Wilson borrowed (from Wall Street banks) the $50+ billion to pay for World War I, increasing the national debt from $1 billion to $52 billion. Of this amount, $16 billion was pure profit. Butler lists specific companies, starting with Du Pont and US Steel, and the obscene profits they made from World War I.

He also deplores the systematic inefficiency and fraud that caused the War Department paying two to three times the retail charge for equipment such as saddles and mosquito nets that had no possible use in a modern European war. This was on top of millions spent on poorly crafted wooden ships that sank when put to sea and airplanes that were technologically obsolete by the time they were delivered.

Wilson had been elected to his second term based on a campaign promise to keep the US out of the Great War. War is a Racket also discusses his secret White House meeting with a European commission that caused him to reverse himself. After informing Wilson the allies were losing the war, they warned that they couldn’t repay the $5-6 billion they owed American bankers, manufacturers and munitions makers if they were defeated.

Butler maintains the real reason the US entered the war was to protect these Wall Street interests. Obviously this isn’t what Wilson and his Committee on Public Information (run by Edward Bernays, the father of public relations) told the American people. They would be barraged with incessant propaganda about the Germans being monstrous barbarians and the Great War being the war to end all wars that would make the world safe for democracy.

 

War is a Racket: free PDF

Major General Smedley Butler is best known for foiling the 1933 Bankers’ Putsch. This was a failed military coup, instigated by America’s leading bankers and industrialists, to remove Roosevelt from office and replace him with a Mussolini-style dictatorship. Butler, who was recruited to lead the coup, blew the whistle to the House McCormick-Dirkson Committee. They responded by launching a cover-up. Details of the Bankers’ Putsch only became public knowledge in 1967, when journalist John Spivac uncovered the committee’s secret notes.

john adams quote

All Wars Are Bankers’ Wars

Michael Rivero (2013)

Film Review

The purpose of war, according to this brief documentary by radio host Michael Rivero, is to force central banks on countries that try to issue their own money.He makes a compelling argument, illustrated by numerous historical examples. The film’s main value, in my view, is in dispelling common misconceptions about where money comes from. Contrary to popular belief, western democracies don’t issue the money they use to run government services. They borrow the money at interest from privately owned central banks. In the US, this private central bank is called the Federal Reserve.

The American Revolution

Rivero begins by quoting Benjamin Franklin, who saw George III’s Currency Act as the main trigger for the American Revolution. The Currency Act prohibited colonists from using colony-issued currency. Instead they were required to use English bank notes. The latter were borrowed at interest from the England’s private central bank, the Bank of England. This interest payment amounted to a de facto tax on each and every financial transaction.

After the Revolution, the new American government returned to issuing its own currency. This ended in 1791, when Alexander Hamilton persuaded Congress to appoint a private central bank to finance government services. The First Bank of the United States was funded (at interest) by the Bank of England, which was controlled by Nathan Mayer Rothschild.

The War of 1812

Plagued by inefficiency and corruption, the First Bank of the United States was so unpopular that Congress ignored Rothschild’s threats and refused to renew its charter in 1811. Rothschild, whose control over British money enabled him to control both the economy and Parliament, had warned that Britain would declare war to re-colonize the US unless Congress renewed the charter. Although the US won the War of 1812, they were forced to charter the Second Bank of the United State in 1816 to repay their massive war debt. American’s second central bank lasted until 1832, when voters returned Andrew Jackson to a second term based on a campaign promise to shut it down.

The Civil War

From 1832-1862, the so-called “free banking era,” all banks were state charted. In 1862 Lincoln created a national system of banks to fund the federal government and issue currency. When he authorized the US Treasury to issue $150 million in interest-free “greenbacks,” the London Times called for the destruction of the US because of the major threat this posed to the global economy (i.e. international bankers). To punish Lincoln, England and (and France) would provide financial and material support to the southern Confederacy.

Government-issued currency ended for good in when the Wall Street banks conspired with Woodrow Wilson to create a permanent (private) central bank. The Federal Reserve Act was  written in secret by the US banking establishment and rammed through Congress during the 1913 Christmas recess.

World War I and II

According to Rivero, World War I was also a banker’s war, intended to punish Germany for the strict limitations it imposed on its central bank. At the end of World War I, the Treaty of Versailles forced Germany to repay all the war debts of the other European countries, even though Germany hadn’t started the war.

Crushed by this war debt, the only way Hitler could salvage the German economy was to abolish Germany’s central bank and return to interest-free government-issued currency. This move, which infuriated international bankers, resulted in rapid Germany re-industrialization when the rest of the developed world was mired in deep economic depression. It was lauded internationally as the “German miracle.”

Meanwhile in 1933, American bankers and industrialists plotted a “Bankers’ Putsch,” an attempted military coup against Roosevelt. Their goal was to install corporate fascism in the US, along the lines of Mussolini’s government in Italy. General Smedley Butler, the war hero they enlisted to lead the coup, foiled it by exposing it to the House McCormick-Dirkson Committee. The largely pro-business committee instituted a cover-up, until journalist John Spivac uncovered their secret report in 1967.

Breton Woods

In 1946, following World War II, forty-four nations signed an agreement at Breton Woods New Hampshire for the US dollar to replace the British pound as the world’s reserve currency. This was done with two stipulations: 1) that the US dollar would be redeemable for gold at a price of $35 an ounce and 2) that the Federal Reserve wouldn’t issue more dollars than they could redeem in gold.

Because the Federal Reserve is a private banking network, the federal government has no control whatsoever over the quantity of US dollars they issue. In 1971, it became obvious that the Fed was issuing far more dollars than it could redeem (the vast majority of money the Fed creates is electronic money – only about 3% is in notes and coins*). When France asked to redeem its dollar reserves for gold, Nixon unilaterally suspended the gold standard agreed at Breton Woods.

The Birth of the Petrodollar

At this point the US dollar became a “fiat” currency, theoretically back by nothing. In reality, it was backed by oil, through a complex agreement whereby the US agreed to “defend” countries (i.e. not destabilize or declare war on them) if they committed to buying and selling oil in dollars, aka “petrodollars.”

According to Rivero, the US invasion against a long list of Muslim countries is an indirect result of this agreement. Islam prohibits lending money at interest. As Rivero points out, none of seven Muslim countries retired General Wesley Clark has identified as targets for US military aggression (Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Lebanon) had private central banks prior to US invasion and occupation.**

Historical Inaccuracies

Apart from several minor historical inaccuracies (eg the purpose of Executive Order 11110 that John Kennedy signed in 1961 and Nixon’s alleged pledge of the National Park system as security on US debt), the film serves as an excellent introduction to the hidden role played by private banks in issuing and controlling the global money supply.

 


*See 97% owned
**Retired General Wesley Clark first revealed the existence of this campaign to conquer the Middle East and North Africa during a Democracy Now interview in 2007.

photo credit: Serfs UP ! Roger Sayles via photopin cc

Also posted at Veterans Today

stuartbramhall:

 

Makes you wonder if Mr K will be soon seeking asylum in the Moscow Airport transit lounge. He faces indictments in a number of jurisdictions for past war crimes.

Originally posted on Amanah Satu - Malaysia:

17.11.2014 | 12:26

Strategic-Culture.org

Kissinger: Ukraine should forget about Crimea and NATO membership

kissinger

Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger spoke about global threats, the secession of Crimea and Ukraine’s NATO accession.

Mr. Kissinger said that there currently is an urgent need for a new world order, but its coming into being will be long and complicated. “There are no universally accepted rules,” said Mr. Kissinger in an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel. “There is the Chinese view, the Islamic view, the Western view and, to some extent, the Russian view. And they really are not always compatible.”

Speaking of Crimea’s accession to Russia, he noted that this is a special case, as Ukraine and Russia were one country for a long time. In his view, the West must recognize its mistakes. “Europe and America did not understand the impact of these events, starting with the negotiations about…

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Smile or Die
Barbara Ehrenreich
RSA Animate (2010)

Film Review

Smile or Die is a clever animation of a Barbara Ehrenreich talk on the ruthless cruelty of “positive thinking” in an era of economic misery.

The video highlights how positive thinking is actually a form of pernicious psychological manipulation that shifts the blame for extreme income inequality from the greedy 1% to the working people they exploit.

Examples include the cynical cruelty of rebranding layoffs as a “growth opportunity.”

Ehrenreich is especially critical of the branch of positive thinking which maintains you can change the world (and get rich) merely by thinking the right kind of thoughts.

stuartbramhall:

 

 

Oops. There’s fracking waste in California’s tap water. Sorry about that.

Originally posted on peoples trust toronto:

Dear California readers: if you drank tapwater this morning (or at any point in the past few weeks/months), you may be in luck as you no longer need to buy oil to lubricate your engine: just use your blood, and think of the cost-savings. That’s the good news.

Also, the bad news, because as the California’s Department of Conservation’s Chief Deputy Director, Jason Marshall, told NBC Bay Area, California state officials allowed oil and gas companies to pump up to 3 billion gallons (call it 70 million barrels) of oil fracking-contaminated waste water into formerly clean aquifiers, aquifiers which at least on paper are supposed to be off-limits to that kind of activity, and are protected by the government’s EPA – an agency which, it appears, was richly compensated by the same oil and gas companies to look elsewhere.

And the scariest words of admission one can ever hear from…

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