God help them if Obama and Romney ever had to participate in a real debate about a real issue at the Oxford Union. They would be massacred.
The “debates” revealed that not only the candidates but also the entire country is completely tuned out to every real problem and dangerous development. For example, you would never know that US citizens can now be imprisoned and executed without due process. All that is required to terminate the liberty and life of an American citizen by his own government is an unaccountable decision somewhere in the executive branch.
No doubt that Americans, if they think of this at all, believe that it will only happen to terrorists who deserve it. But as no evidence or due process is required, how would we know that it only happens to terrorists? Can we really trust a government that has started wars in 7 countries on the basis of falsehoods? If the US government will lie about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction in order to invade a country, why won’t it lie about who is a terrorist?
America needs a debate about how we can be made more safe by removing the Constitutional protection of due process. If the power of government is not limited by the Constitution, are we ruled by Caesar? The Founding Fathers did not think we could trust a caesar with our safety. What has changed that we can now trust a caesar?
If we are under such a terrorist threat that the Constitution has to be suspended or replaced by unaccountable executive action, how come all the alleged terrorist cases are sting operations organized by the FBI? In eleven years there has not been a single case in which the “terrorist” had the initiative!
In the eleven years since 9/11, acts of domestic terrorism have been miniscule if they even exist. What justifies the enormous and expensive Department of Homeland Security? Why does Homeland Security have military-equipped Special Response Teams with armored vehicles? http://www.dhs.gov/photo/hsi-using-armored-vehicles-training-ice Who are the targets of these militarized units? If eleven years of US government murder, maiming, and displacement of millions of Muslims hasn’t provoked massive acts of domestic terrorism, why is Homeland Security creating a domestic armed force of its own? Why are there no congressional hearings and no public discussion? How can a government whose budget is deep in the red afford a second military force with no defined and Constitutionally legal purpose?
What is Homeland Security’s motivation in creating a Homeland Youth? Is the new FEMA Corps a disguise for a more sinister purpose, a Hitler Youth as Internet sites suggest? https://www.dhs.gov/blog/2012/09/14/welcome-fema-corps-inaugural-class Are the massive ammunition purchases by Homeland Security related to the raising of a nationwide corps of 18- to 24-year-olds? How can so much be going on in front of our eyes with no questions asked?
Why did not Romney ask Obama why he is working to overturn the federal court’s ruling that US citizens cannot be subject to indefinite detention in violation of the US Constitution? Is it because Romney and his neoconservative advisers agree with Obama and his advisers? If so, then why is one tyrant better than another?
Why has the US constructed a network of detainment camps, for which it is hiring “internment specialists”? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0gvWkHNeQs&list=UUiqRq2mT_bBPMRhHap684Ig&index=10&feature=plcp
Why does the US Army now have a policy for “establishing civilian inmate labor programs and civilian prison camps on Army installations”? http://armypubs.army.mil/epubs/pdf/r210_35.pdf
Here is Rachel Maddow’s report on how Obama criticizes the neoconservative Bush/Cheney regime for violations of the US Constitution and US statutory law and then proposes the same thing himself. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8J_lcHwkvc
How did the presidential debates avoid the fact of Predator Drones flying over us here in the domestic United States of America? What is the purpose of this? Why are the smallest police forces in the most remote of locations being equipped with armored cars? I have seen them. In small lilly-white communities north of Atlanta, Georgia, communities of sub-million dollar MacMansions have militarized police with armored cars and automatic weapons. SWAT teams in full military gear are everywhere. What is it all about? These small semi-rural areas will never see a terrorist or experience a hostage situation. Yet, they are all armed to the teeth. They are so heavily armed that they could be sent into combat against the Third Reich or the Red Army.
Any such questions run afoul of the assumption of America’s moral perfection. No such debate will ever happen. But if “it is the economy, stupid,” why is there no economic debate?
Last month the Federal Reserve announced QE3. If QE1 and QE2 did not work, why does anyone, including the Federal Reserve chairman, think that QE3 will work?
Yet, the utterly irrational financial markets, which haven’t a clue about anything, were overjoyed at QE3. This can only be because what rules the equity market is propaganda, spin, and disinformation, not facts. The vaunted stock market is incapable of making any correct decision. The decisions are made by the fools in the market operating on a short-run basis. The only safe path to take is to run with the lemmings. This strategy insures that a portfolio manager is always in the middle of his peers and, therefore, he doesn’t lose clients.
How wonderful it would have been for Obama and Romney to have confronted in a real debate how QE3, designed to help insolvent “banks too big to fail,” can help households operating, with two earners, on real incomes of 45 years ago, which is where the current real median household income stands.
How does saving a bank, designated as “too big to fail,” help the family whose jobs or main job has been exported to China or India in order to maximize corporate profits, executive performance bonuses and shareholders’ capital gains?
Obviously the working population of the US has been sacrificed to the profits of the mega-rich.
An appropriate debate question is: Why has the livelihood of working Americans been sacrificed to the profits of the mega-rich?
No such question will ever be asked in a “presidential debate.”
In the 21st century, US citizens became nonentities. They are brutalized by the police whose incomes their taxes pay. They, for protesting some injustice or for no cause at all, are beaten, arrested, tasered and even murdered. The police, paid by the public, beat up paralyzed people in wheel chairs, frame those who call them for help against criminals, taser grandmothers and small children, and shoot down in cold blood unarmed citizens who have done nothing except lose control of themselves, either through alcohol, drugs, or rage.
Brainwashed Americans pay large taxes at every level of government for protection against gratuitous violence, but what their taxes support is gratuitous violence against themselves. Every American, except for the small number of mega-rich who control Washington, can be arrested and dispossessed, both liberty and property, on the basis of nothing but an allegation of a member of the executive branch who might want the accused’s wife, girlfriend, property, or to settle a score, or to exterminate a rival, or to score against a high school, college, or business rival.
In America today, law serves the powerful, not justice. In effect, there is no law, and there is no justice. Only unaccountable power.
What is the point of a vote when the outcome is the same? Both candidates represent the interests of Israel, not the interests of the US. Both candidates represent the interests of the military/security complex, agribusiness, the offshoring corporations, the suppression of unions and workers, the total demise of civil liberty and the US Constitution, which is in the way of unbridled executive power .
In the US today, the power of money rules. Nothing else is in the equation. Why vote to lend your support to the continuation of your own exploitation? Every time Americans vote it is a vote for their own obliteration.
In the guest section there is a new contribution by Dr. Robert S. Dotson. He points out that Obamneycare is two versions of the same thing. A person has to be gullible and uninformed to believe the claims of Obama and Romney that their replacements for Medicare will save money and improve care. What the schemes do is convert public monies into private profits.
The exploding costs described by Dr. Dotson and the rising profits for private corporations are paid for by reducing health care. For example, Betsy McCaughey, former lieutenant governor of New York, writing in Investors Business Daily reports that “On Oct. 1, the Obama administration started awarding bonus points to hospitals that spend the least on elderly patients.” The result will be fewer knee and hip replacements, angioplasty, bypass surgery, and cataract operations. These procedures transformed aging by allowing the elderly, who formerly languished in wheelchairs and nursing homes, to lead active lives.
Obamacare rolls back the clock. “By cutting $716 billion from future Medicare funding over the next decade and rewarding the hospitals that spend the least on seniors, the Obama health law will make these procedures hard to get and less safe.” Doctors will be paid less to treat a senior on Medicare than to treat someone on Medicaid, a poverty program that is not financed by the payroll tax. McCaughry reports that doctors will be paid only one-third as much for treating Medicare patients as for treating a patient with subsidized private insurance and that Obamacare means that hospitals will have $247 billion less over the next decade to care for the same number of seniors.
According to McCaughey, prior to Obama raiding Medicare in order to subsidize the price of health policies sold by private insurance companies, Medicare was already paying hospitals only 91 cents for every dollar of care provided. The way Obamacare saves money is by cutting back care for the elderly and shortening their lives. As I pointed out in my last article, Obamacare is a death panel.
This doesn’t mean that Romneycare is any better. Conservatives like to pretend that the private sector is always more efficient and less corrupt than the public sector, and that replacing Medicare with vouchers toward the purchase price of a private insurance company will lower costs and improve care.
As Romney’s scheme has not appeared in federal legislation, we don’t know all the ways the interest groups would game the voucher system. However, the voucher system would add to costs by adding another level of profits. Unless the private insurance companies are to become administrators for the government and be protected from Wall Street organized takeovers for not earning high enough profits, the policies sold by the insurance companies will have profit in them.
Also, conservatives make a great deal to do about Medicare being unfunded, but what is there to fund Obamneycare except the payroll tax that funds Medicare? Obamneycare depends on the government handing out subsidies or vouchers for the purchase of private insurance policies. Neither scheme is any more funded than Medicare.
Some conservatives seem to think that because private policies are involved that health care becomes funded. What Obamneycare does is to steal from Medicare in order to finance Medicaid and private insurance policies. Both plans raise costs, reduce care for the elderly, and divert tax dollars away from health care to private profits.
Let’s examine the erroneous conservative belief that if health care is provided privately, without any government subsidies, it is funded, whereas Medicare is not funded. To pay the premium on a private policy, a person has to have an income. The premiums are thus funded by the earned income stream. If the person loses his or her job, or becomes incapacitated and cannot work, the person cannot pay the premium and the policy can no longer be funded. If the person is elderly and lacks sufficient retirement income to pay the high cost of private health insurance for the elderly, the person’s health care is no longer funded.
Medicare is funded by the same earned income stream that funds private insurance policies. Instead of paying a premium to a private company, the worker pays a payroll tax that funds his health care regardless of his employment or level of retirement income.
Conservatives claim that under Medicare, the young have to pay for the elderly. However, the young become old in turn, so the intergenerational aspect is simply a part of the human life cycle. It is the same with private medical coverage. The healthy (usually the young) pay for the sick (usually the elderly). Private insurance has an actuarial basis. Actuaries calculate premiums and risk so that the total premiums can accommodate the claims of the percentage of policyholders who become ill. The notion is false that a person with a private policy is paying for his own health care unlike a person on Medicare.
A favorite “cost-saving” scheme is to raise the retirement age for Medicare. As Dave Lindorff points out in CounterPunch (printed edition, Oct. 1-15, 2012), 90% of the cost of the Medicare program each year goes to pay for the care of the oldest 10 percent of Medicare patients. Those aged 65-70 are the most fit and cost the least. Moving the retirement age up doesn’t save any real money. It just violates the contract and takes away the coverage for which people paid during their working life.
Obamneycare takes decisions out of the hands of patients and health care providers. It reduces care for the elderly. It imposes intrusive controls and data collecting and reporting. As care providers witness care withheld and the elderly confined to wheelchairs and nursing homes and early graves, health care providers will have to become as hardened as workers in slaughter houses, or the system will implode.
Already 59% of US doctors say that they prefer a single-payer national health care system to the corporate form of medicine that has turned them into wage slaves who have to ration the time they spend with patients and the amount of care that they prescribe.
If Obama’s subsidies and Romney’s vouchers are not indexed to medical inflation, Obamneycare will provide diminishing care as the years go by. As jobs offshoring has stripped the country of middle class job growth, the incomes earned by waitresses, bartenders, hospital orderlies, and Walmart’s part-time workers will not cover shelter, food, transportation, and health care.
When Obama sold out his supporters to the insurance companies, Obama supporters lined up with the pretense that diverting Medicare money to private profits was an improvement over the current system. Obama supporters have now invested so much emotional capital in Obama’s assault on Medicare that they pretend there is some meaningful difference between Obamacare’s government subsidized private insurance policies and Romneycare’s government subsidized private medical insurance vouchers.
While the two sides yell and scream at one another, the concrete hardens around the new common policy of shorter lives for the elderly and more profits for private corporations.
Although no one in either party can define the US mission in the seven countries in which the US is conducting military aggression, wars of choice that according to Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes have already cost US taxpayers $6 trillion in out of pocket and already incurred future costs, there is no discussion of halting the wars and diverting armaments industry profits to the health care of the US population.
Thus, we are left with Dr. Dotson’s conclusion that Americans are governed for the benefit of corporate profits. Americans’ lives, health, incomes, careers, prospects, none of this matters. Only corporate profits.
About Dr. Paul Craig Roberts
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following.