Michael Albert wrote not too long ago (to the effect) that a movement of that is a third of the population would be a force strong enough to achieve a Participatory Economy/Participatory Society.
That's one hundred million people.
Right now there are over 50 million Americans who are either uninsured or underinsured.
Also, health care is one of the biggest concerns Americans face.
The Associated Press reported this over the weekend:
If the uninsured were a political lobbying group, they'd have more members than AARP. The National Mall couldn't hold them if they decided to march on Washington.
But going without health insurance is still seen as a personal issue, a misfortune for many and a choice for some. People who lose coverage often struggle alone instead of turning their frustration into political action.
Illegal immigrants rallied in Washington during past immigration debates, but the uninsured linger in the background as Congress struggles with a health care overhaul that seems to have the best odds in years of passing.
That isolation could have profound repercussions.
Many things jump off the page. It demonstrates that political power comes not from the numbers of voters but the money behind a "lobbying group." It also points out the atomization of the population.
Not only are the 50 million (uninsured & underinsured) strong potential allies for a movement for a Participatory Society, but so are the tens of millions more - like myself - who have insurance but are worried about the high costs that come with it.
Plus, addressing the massive problems of the private health care system goes along way to addressing many of the concerns of those who also advocate a Participatory Economy - and more broadly, a Participatory Society.
That access to a quality standard of health is limited to excessive costs through a market system is an illustration of why so many of us oppose private ownership of productive assets. Why should a company own our health? Why should a board of directors decide our health? Why should cancer patients pay hundreds and sometimes thousands of times the costs of production for the drugs that will save their lives? Why should someone, with insurance, pay nearly $400 for an emergency room visit?
To find out that one of the reasons our health care costs so much is administration costs is an illustration of why so many of reason want a new way of remunerating. Why should CEO's and other corporate executives be paid so much? Why should we continue watching a majority of those who file bankruptcy over medical bills crumble under the weight of the costs of their insurance while the health care industries leaders live plush, carefree lives?
Whether you are gay, black, old, female, radical or not doesn't change much for our health care situation. Not only do we share a common interest (freeing ourselves from the chains of private medicine) but if we dig deeper we see we share other interests. Our longing for freedom and justice goes beyond the bondages of our private health care system and extends into other social realms of political, economic, cultural and kinship impotence.
The point is that viewing health care reform through a non-reformist reform campaign (where we seek universal health care not as an end but as an opening to push for broader social changes) provides us with many things we need for success. It gives us strength in numbers so that we are not "lingering in the background as Congress" caters to highly concentrated centers of private power; it highlights many of the issues we face in other areas; and at a time when the health care crisis could make the ongoing financial crisis much worse we stand a much bigger chance to win - historically, there is something to change coming as we stand at a precipice. What we need to figure out is what trajectory we want the change to take and whether we can we do it before we fall off the cliff.