FROM THE WEB
Manning & the Law
CROSSING THE LINE
Corruption in U.S.
Activism Not a Crime
War in Arizona
James Patrick Jordan
Hyatt v. UNITE-HERE
Medicare for All
Chamber & Capitalism
Savage Imperialism 4
"No Progressive Champion"
CULTURE & FILM
The Gay Oscars
Saviors and Survivors
Zaps - 03/11
NOTE: Z Magazine subscribers and sustainers have access to all Z Magazine articles here and in the archive. The latest Z Magazine articles available to everyone are listed in the Free Articles box at the top of the table of contents, and are starred in the list below. Questions? e-mail Z Magazine Online.
Single Payer/Medicare for All
An interview with Margaret Flowers
Dr. Margaret Flowers is a congressional fellow of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP). I recently interviewed her for OpEdNews.
BRUNWASSWER: Republican lawmakers, fresh from their November victory, are pledging to move immediately in the new Congress to dismantle the health care law that President Obama gave so much attention to. What's your take on that?
FLOWERS: As you know, Physicians for a National Health Program does not support the new health law. Overall, we find that it does more harm than good by further privatizing our health care and failing to address the fundamental problems of rising costs and lack of access to care for tens of millions of people. That said, we find the Republican plans to dismantle the health law reprehensible, given that they are willing to remove what coverage was gained under the law and offer no effective alternative to our health-care crisis.
The Republican calls to repeal the law are mere political posturing and will not succeed. In fact, the health industries, which contributed more heavily to Republican campaigns in the last election cycle than to Democrats, do not want the full law repealed. Republicans will more likely succeed in defunding portions of the bill and relaxing regulation of the health insurance industry. This will only escalate our health care crisis.
The health law passed in 2010 has already begun to unravel as the Department of Health and Human Services has had to issue multiple waivers excusing businesses and insurance companies from complying with provisions in the law that they refused to meet. A large part of the increase in coverage under the law was based on an expansion of Medicaid. However, states are facing severe budget deficits which will prevent them from implementing the expansion. Republican efforts will likely accelerate the unraveling.
This is why PNHP and the many other organizations that advocate for Single Payer/Medicare for All continue to push forward in educating and building the grassroots voice for single payer. We recognize that our health-care problems have not yet been appropriately addressed or solved.
There are millions of us who share your concern about the current health-care crisis. How do you channel that public distress to meaningful and positive change?
Civil unrest in this nation is growing. Although information about this unrest is largely censored by the mainstream media, we see that non-union workers' and anti-poverty movements are growing, as are more organized actions, such as the prison protests in Georgia, nurses' strikes, and veteran-led antiwar civil resistance. This type of unrest is to be expected if we look at what happens historically in nations that experience such severe wealth inequalities as we have in the United States.
Some of the civil unrest is turning to violence. In the absence of constructive and nonviolent avenues for social change and as unemployment, lack of access to health care, homelessness, and poverty grow, the level of violence may increase. This is why we must educate, organize, and engage in actions that change the balance of power away from corporate interests to the needs of people.
There are three important principles that can guide effective action. First, our movements, whatever the issue, must be independent of political parties. The Republican and Democratic parties are both controlled by concentrated corporate power. There are some differences between those parties, but overall they serve corporate power and not the people. We must be willing to hold all legislators accountable to act on behalf of people even if that means that they lose a few elections until the shift occurs. And independence means we will have to make our own media because mainstream media is also controlled by corporate interests.
Second, we must be clear about what we ask for and pose solutions for all our problems. For health-care it is a national single payer health system. For unemployment and the environment, it is investment in green jobs and ending oil and coal dependence. For the economy, it is developing sustainable local economies and ending Wall Street bailouts. And so on. We must educate the public through local events and independent media about these solutions.
And third, we must be uncompromising in our demands. We are too often willing to accept partial or non-solutions to our problems because we are told that what we want is politically infeasible. When we look at health care, we are told that single payer is not politically feasible. We have heard this for decades. However, the legislation that passes which is supposed to be politically feasible fails from a practical standpoint. It simply doesn't work. The number of uninsured continues to grow and soaring health-care costs are destroying our families and businesses. At some point, we have to realize that we determine what is politically feasible because we hold the power of the vote. We must learn to use that power.
It is important to realize that work for peace and for social and economic justice is all related. The various movements need to join together to create a healthy, prosperous, and just country. For me, this means that we must organize large acts of non-violent resistance that focus on weakening corporate power and letting legislators know that business as usual cannot continue. This is why I joined the veterans in their action against war at the White House in December.
What can you tell us about specific efforts for single payer?
There is a lot happening at the state level when it comes to single payer. Currently, 20 states have single payer health bills in some phase of the legislative process. California passed a state single payer bill in 2006 and 2008. I just returned from a large health professional student-led march, rally, and lobby day at the state capitol in Sacramento. The California single payer coalition is continuing to move forward to pass single payer. California faces such a serious budget crisis that I was told the legislature will be basing their cuts on what will result in the least number of lives lost.
We are particularly enthusiastic about Vermont. They are poised to pass a single payer health bill this legislative session. The state hired Dr. William Hsaio from Harvard to design their health system. He has designed health systems for five countries, the most recent being the single payer system in Taiwan. The new governor of Vermont, Peter Shumlin, ran on a strong single payer platform. And Vermont has Senator Sanders, who has been a long-time proponent of single payer. Even with all of the stars seeming to be aligned, it is going to be a difficult process to get single payer passed in Vermont.
Legislation will also be introduced at the national level again in both the House and Senate this year. It is important to work at both the state and national levels because we cannot predict where we will be successful first. The ultimate goal is a national single payer health program so that all people will have access to care.
Tell us about the national deficit, the commission, and efforts to cut social insurances like Medicare and Medicaid.
The president appointed a commission to look at our national deficit last April, the National Commission for Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, composed of 18 people, 14 of whom were fiscal hawks. The commission received support and staff from the Pete Peterson Foundation, which has advocated for cuts to our social insurance programs for decades. It was interesting that the president created this commission despite opposition from within the Democratic Party. During the summer and fall, there was considerable effort by the Peterson Foundation and in the media to convince people that Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid were to blame for the deficit and that they would need to be changed by either raising the age of eligibility or otherwise placing more of the cost onto the individual.
Members of the single payer community testified before the commission and built a public education campaign called Hands Off Our Medicare to counter the misinformation coming from the deficit commission and the media. The commission was required to vote on recommendations to reduce the deficit by December 1. They missed the deadline and were not able to gain enough votes to pass a package of recommendations. However, many believe that their proposed actions will turn up in legislation being put together in the coming year.
It is commonly accepted that the rising cost of health care is a fundamental cause of our national deficit, besides the wars and financial catastrophe. Several members of the commission rightly said that we must deal with the cost of health care in order to effectively resolve the deficit. Unfortunately, while the commission has made the correct diagnosis, they are ordering the wrong treatment. The commission proposed some initial cuts to Medicare including the funds that help to pay for training doctors, and proposed more drastic measures if the initial steps are not effective.
Of course, the initial steps will not be effective because they miss the cause of Medicare's difficulties. Medicare and Medicaid are not the causes of our national deficit, they are the victims of a broken health system. As our overall health-care costs rise, so do the costs of Medicare and Medicaid. The most effective way to control costs would be to expand and improve Medicare and put everybody in the country on Medicare instead of using hundreds of different health insurances as we do now.
The administrative savings alone of a single payer national health program would be around $400 billion. There are other ways that Single Payer/Medicare for All controls health care costs, such as giving hospitals and other medical institutions a global budget and negotiating for the prices of pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and services.
We will need to watch carefully to make sure that Congress does not chip away at Medicare and Medicaid over the next few years. These social insurance programs have been effective in improving the health of the population they serve and in lifting people out of poverty. It is imperative that we preserve and protect them as we continue to push for improved Medicare for All.
Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform which since 2005 has existed for the sole purpose of raising public awareness of the critical need for election reform.
Z Magazine Archive
AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
Contact: email@example.com; https://nato5support.wordpress.com.
MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; email@example.com; www.ncore.ou.edu.
MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; email@example.com; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; email@example.com http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; email@example.com; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; email@example.com; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: email@example.com; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; email@example.com; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; firstname.lastname@example.org.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; email@example.com; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; email@example.com; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.