Bernie Sanders – Agenda for America

Bernie Sanders - Agenda for America

1. Rebuilding Our Crumbling Infrastructure

We need a major investment to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure: roads, bridges, water systems, waste water plants, airports, railroads and schools. It has been estimated that the cost of the Bush-Cheney Iraq War, a war we should never have waged, will total $3 trillion by the time the last veteran receives needed care. A $1 trillion investment in infrastructure could create 13 million decent paying jobs and make this country more efficient and productive. We need to invest in infrastructure, not more war.

2. Reversing Climate Change

The United States must lead the world in reversing climate change and make certain that this planet is habitable for our children and grandchildren. We must transform our energy system away from fossil fuels and into energy efficiency and sustainable energies. Millions of homes and buildings need to be weatherized, our transportation system needs to be energy efficient and we need to greatly accelerate the progress we are already seeing in wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and other forms of sustainable energy. Transforming our energy system will not only protect the environment, it will create good paying jobs.

3. Creating Worker Co-ops

We need to develop new economic models to increase job creation and productivity. Instead of giving huge tax breaks to corporations which ship our jobs to China and other low-wage countries, we need to provide assistance to workers who want to purchase their own businesses by establishing worker-owned cooperatives. Study after study shows that when workers have an ownership stake in the businesses they work for, productivity goes up, absenteeism goes down and employees are much more satisfied with their jobs.

4. Growing the Trade Union Movement

Union workers who are able to collectively bargain for higher wages and benefits earn substantially more than non-union workers. Today, corporate opposition to union organizing makes it extremely difficult for workers to join a union. We need legislation which makes it clear that when a majority of workers sign cards in support of a union, they can form a union.

5. Raising the Minimum Wage

The current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is a starvation wage. We need to raise the minimum wage to a living wage. No one in this country who works 40 hours a week should live in poverty.

6. Pay Equity for Women Workers

Women workers today earn 78 percent of what their male counterparts make. We need pay equity in our country — equal pay for equal work.

7. Trade Policies that Benefit American Workers

Since 2001 we have lost more than 60,000 factories in this country, and more than 4.9 million decent-paying manufacturing jobs. We must end our disastrous trade policies (NAFTA, CAFTA, PNTR with China, etc.) which enable corporate America to shut down plants in this country and move to China and other low-wage countries. We need to end the race to the bottom and develop trade policies which demand that American corporations create jobs here, and not abroad.

8. Making College Affordable for All

In today’s highly competitive global economy, millions of Americans are unable to afford the higher education they need in order to get good-paying jobs. Further, with both parents now often at work, most working-class families can’t locate the high-quality and affordable child care they need for their kids. Quality education in America, from child care to higher education, must be affordable for all. Without a high-quality and affordable educational system, we will be unable to compete globally and our standard of living will continue to decline.

9. Taking on Wall Street

The function of banking is to facilitate the flow of capital into productive and job-creating activities. Financial institutions cannot be an island unto themselves, standing as huge profit centers outside of the real economy. Today, six huge Wall Street financial institutions have assets equivalent to 61 percent of our gross domestic product – over $9.8 trillion. These institutions underwrite more than half the mortgages in this country and more than two-thirds of the credit cards. The greed, recklessness and illegal behavior of major Wall Street firms plunged this country into the worst financial crisis since the 1930s. They are too powerful to be reformed. They must be broken up.

10. Health Care as a Right for All

The United States must join the rest of the industrialized world and recognize that health care is a right of all, and not a privilege. Despite the fact that more than 40 million Americans have no health insurance, we spend almost twice as much per capita on health care as any other nation. We need to establish a Medicare-for-all, single-payer system.

11. Protecting the Most Vulnerable Americans

Millions of seniors live in poverty and we have the highest rate of childhood poverty of any major country. We must strengthen the social safety net, not weaken it. Instead of cutting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and nutrition programs, we should be expanding these programs.

12. Real Tax Reform

At a time of massive wealth and income inequality, we need a progressive tax system in this country which is based on ability to pay. It is not acceptable that major profitable corporations have paid nothing in federal income taxes, and that corporate CEOs in this country often enjoy an effective tax rate which is lower than their secretaries. It is absurd that we lose over $100 billion a year in revenue because corporations and the wealthy stash their cash in offshore tax havens around the world. The time is long overdue for real tax reform.

What more can you want from a candidate for President?  An agenda/platform based on the needs of common American people (99%); honest and sincere; not beholding to large corporations, Wall Street or special interest groups; and not one of the elite (1%).

He should make the debates with Hillary very interesting.

Join Bernie’s campaign and help him fend off the Big Money candidates.

https://berniesanders.com/

Health Insurance Companies are Pirates

Health insurers have managed to hijack our health care system and are holding the American people hostage. By commercializing health care, the health insurance industry is enjoying excessively high record earnings while millions of Americans get less medical care, if any. United Health Care made $9.3 billion in profits in 2012. They used $3.1 billion of that to repurchase its own stock, which effectively boosted the earnings per share for their stockholders. Even worse, in fiscal year 2013 United Health Care reported $122 billion in revenue, with 99,000 employees, and they are just one of 1300+ health plans.

The health insurance industry is enjoying record earnings while millions of Americans get less medical care. Wall Street investors are delighted with the industry’s profits, and to health insurer executives, that’s all that counts. Health insurer CEOs want investors to buy their stock and keep share prices marching higher, and that’s exactly what has happened. To achieve excessive profits, insurers are happy to gouge consumers, do little to control medical costs, and spend billions of our premium dollars on lobbying, secret political activities, bloated executive pay and stock buybacks.

Greedy by samgrittercomThey continue to make their billions in profits, but don’t ask them to share in the cost of making affordable care available to the uninsured, aging and sick among us. Even though the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) requires us to buy coverage from them, thus generating billions of dollars in new revenue for them, they don’t want to part with a penny of that money to help expand coverage to more Americans.

I believe it’s time to focus on the value—or lack thereof—that private health insurance companies actually add to our health care system. Americans might reach the conclusion that private insurers are no more essential than travel agents (remember them?), and that by dispatching health insurers to the history books, we could reduce spending on health care by billions if not trillions of dollars.” – Wendell Potter

Taking all this into consideration, exactly what value do these health insurers bring to the table. What value do they add to our health care system?

We do know this much:

  • They take as much money as possible from people who need health insurance coverage
  • They pay out as little money as possible to settle claims from creditors for health services and products that have been delivered (not by them, a third-party)
  • They keep as much money as possible for the incomes of their executives and other employees, and to enhance share value for their owners
  • They do try to attract enough premium money from customers so that they can spread the risk of a few high-cost customers across the premiums of many low-cost customers
  • They try as much as they legally can to cover as many low-cost customers as possible, and to keep as many high-cost customers out of their plans in order to maximize revenues and minimize expense
  • They try to minimize their costs by reducing (denying) the use of expensive procedures/services and covering only profitable procedures/services
  • In addition to monthly premiums, they also require some form of cost-sharing (also called out-of-pocket costs) when customers receive a health care service covered by their plan (Copays, Deductibles, Coinsurance)
  • They have succeeded in growing their companies, making their executives rich, and rewarding their shareholders with obscene profits

I must have my dark sunglasses on because I can’t seem to see any value the health insurers add at all. They are just middlemen, skimming huge profits off the top.

At some point capitalism took over health care and it became a for-profit business, focused on bottom-line profits and shareholder value versus health care outcomes of patients. We now have health care decisions made for us by business people, based on how it affects their bottom-line.

recent report issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) found that medical debts account for a majority (52%) of debt collections actions that appear on consumer credit reports. An earlier Kaiser Family Foundation report found that 1 in 3 Americans struggle to pay medical bills, and that 70% who do so are insured.

The CFPB report confirms that medical debt frequently occurs among people with no other history of credit problems.  When it does, it can have serious and long range financial consequences. Referral of medical debts to collections damages a person’s credit rating significantly and for many years, limiting access to mortgages, car loans, and other consumer credit.  Health consequences are also possible; as the Kaiser report observed, once in debt, people may delay or forego other needed care to avoid incurring further unaffordable medical bills.

This is insane. We pay for expensive insurance that won’t cover the cost of our health care, so we go into debt while the health insurers continue to make outrageous profits.

Sounds like a monopoly to me. We are being ripped off. Big time.

So, what do we do about this out-of-control commercialization of health care?

Other countries have figured out this whole health care problem, but America still believes that capitalism and free enterprise is the only solution to any problem. Today’s health care industry is just another application of trickle-down economics; if the health insurers make more money, that money will eventually trickle-down to a more affordable and improved health care system for all. Well, we know all too well how trickle-down economics has succeeded in taking us back to the Gilded Age, by creating an incredibly wealthy and elitist upper class (1%) while everyone else are pushed down to fend for themselves.

I don’t know what the grand solution is, maybe single-payer, universal health care. However, I do know that we can’t continue with this same model of having bottom-line focused, for-profit health insurers making billions in profit by limiting access to health care to those that can’t afford it. Letting these companies get filthy rich off of people’s health is unconscionable.

Do we want to continue with this model that puts profits before the needs of the American people? Health care should not be a for-profit business model, it’s totally unacceptable to put a price on someone’s life and well-being. I believe if we take profit out of health care, we will have a system that works for the people.

America does not have a HEALTH CARE system, we have a WEALTH CARE system.

Sources:

  • Differing Notions of ‘Affordability’ | by Wendell Potter
  • Medical Debt Among Insured Consumers: The Role of Cost Sharing, Transparency, and Consumer Assistance | by Karen Pollitz
  • Kaiser Family Foundation, KFF.org

 

Do You Want to be Made Well?

Jesus - Do You Want To Be Made WellNow in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew Bethesda, which has five porticoes. In these lay many invalids — blind, lame and paralyzed. One man was there who had been ill for 38 years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a very long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be made well?”

The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.” (John 5:2-7)

The poor man had been ill for 38 years. He obviously had some kind of paralysis. Hebrew tradition has it that every once in awhile an angel would descend from heaven and stir up the waters. The first person to make it into the waters before they stopped churning would be healed.

From time to time this man would have someone bring him on a mat to lie by the Sheep Gate, and maybe because he was leprous or possibly had a contagious disease, there was nobody who wanted to be around to help him be the first one in the water. Or maybe the temple authorities were just too busy with their religious duties to help him. Then Jesus came along, and well, he healed the man and the rest of the story is there for you to read.

When I think about this passage I’m immediately reminded of the Conservative Christian attitude towards universal heath care. Millions of people are finding that their insurance won’t cover certain illnesses. Millions more can’t afford insurance at all. Children and the elderly are hit the hardest, two particular stages of life when lack of adequate and quality health care can be a traumatic blow.

Yet Republicans and conservative Christians believe that we should not bother helping the poor man get into the pool before everyone else so that he can be healed. As a matter of fact, don’t help any of them in because they all don’t deserve it. “How did they end up there in the first place?” Like Pharaoh said of the Israeli  slaves, “They must be idle. Give them more work to do.”

Aside from important church state issues, I don’t understand how the Right can refer to our country as “Christian.” We spent trillions of dollars on two wars that were initiated on lies. After being bailed out, CEOs from our largest mega corporations continue to make 300 times more than their average employees. The rich still get richer, the middle class is disappearing, and the poor get poorer.

Yet television evangelists continue to ask people to send money in to their “ministries,” and while we have the greatest medical technology on the face of the earth the Right complains about who will foot the bill for universal health care.

When their Savior loved them so much he died on a cross for them, and while he was here on earth with no strings attached healed and fed hurting and hungry people, I am continually amazed that people of a “Christian” nation would so tenaciously cling to the Social Darwinist “pull yourself up by your bootstrap” philosophy.

I sincerely don’t believe that the Christian Right’s fear of government is so deeply entrenched that they won’t even consider that same government providing health care for its citizens.  I think it boils down to fear and greed masquerading as a pseudo morality. Why else could the late Jerry Falwell confide to his congregation that he likes what Rush Limbaugh has to say, when Limbaugh is a man who constantly maligns the homeless as people who deserve what they get. Why else would a rich politician named Michele Bachmann call herself a Christian and have town hall meetings advocating the denial of universal health care to our poorest because she thinks it will lead to “socialism?” And how else could the “Reverend” Pat Robertson call natural disasters punishment for those who are sick, have lost family members, or have lost their homes?

These are the religious people of Jesus’ day here on earth who would not have helped the lame man get into the pool as the waters churned. Their civil self-help religion would tell them to pass the man by because chances are that he did something evil to deserve his condition, and besides, he can get a job and work so that he can afford insurance.

We have an opportunity through our government  to stop and help and not pass by the lame man; To help one another carry him in to the waters when the angel descends to stir them up; To get him back on his feet and praise the Lord, because god can do miracles through government too.

So if conservatives really believe they are followers of Christ, if we ourselves really believe that we are so, then we should all keep protesting and pushing for universal health care. I’m not talking about reform. Chances are that today’s insurance industry would have denied coverage to the lame man at the Sheep gate because of the preexisting condition of “invalidism,” and despite Obama’s reform, they would hire the best lawyers to locate loopholes for denial of coverage. We need to bypass the insurance industry altogether. It is rich enough for it’s employees to be well remunerated until they find other jobs to do.

Shout it from the house tops that free universal health care is a God given right for every man woman and child. That God is not so lacking in omniscience that he can’t use government to help us. If he used the state of the art highway system and government structure of the Roman occupation to advance the gospel and spread civilization in the first century, then today he can use our modern “secular” government to help us with our health care and provide us with coverage. After all, this is a big part of the good news, or gospel. The lame man at the Sheep gate shouldn’t have had to wait 38 years for someone to come along and help him. Neither should we.

By Keith Goss, for The Christian Left

What Happened to My America

Statue of LibertyGive me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

I am lucky enough to have grown up in America in a time when it was truly the model for the rest of the world of what a freedom-based, democratic country was all about. A country where everyone had the opportunity to live a good life; everyone was provided a good public education; a society that cared about its citizens; health care was available to all; your home was your castle; your privacy and rights were golden and protected; church was what Sunday was all about, where you could go to practice your religion of choice; people were civil to one another; we welcomed freedom-seeking immigrants from other countries with open arms; we had an environment where you felt safe and secure; and we had a government that represented the people and protected all of these freedoms for us. What happened to my America?

Statue of Liberty CryingFast-forward to today. America is no longer the model that the world wants to emulate. We have become a country that is divided into two classes: the “haves” and the “have nots”; public education is in shambles (not because of the teachers); higher education costs are putting students into long-term debt; our society is morphing into a “you’re on your own” mentality”; health care has become capitalistic and almost unattainable for most; our rights and privacy have been totally eroded – all in the name of security; religious fanaticism and intolerance has gone rampant; civility and proper societal behavior is gone; immigrants are now just fodder for cheap labor and abuse; being safe and secure is evolving into a “Police-State”; and our Government has become totally corrupted by big-money and controlled by corporations. What happened to my America?

What Happend to My America pic - 555x365How did “we the people” let this happen? How did we let our government turn into such a totally dysfunctional entity that does not hide the fact that it favors the rich and corporations over the needs of “we the people”? How did we let our rights and our privacy be taken away so easily? How did we get so enamored with guns and the rights to carry them openly in society? How did we let religion transition from worship, prayer and all things good into being an apparatus for politicians and fanatical ideologists to manipulate? How did we let our television, radio, and newspapers become propaganda and misinformation tools? Obviously, this list could probably go on-and-on, enough to fill a book. What happened to my America?

The point is that all these changes have happened in small, incremental bits over time. Until you can stop and take the time to look back to see how far, and how much, things have changed, you won’t see the big picture and really understand. Analogy: what if you hadn’t looked in a mirror in thirty years; then one day you take the time to stop, and look into one. The first reaction would be…who is that? Then…that can’t be me. Then…I couldn’t have changed that much…Then…how did I let this happen to me?

Sheeple Image“We the people” have become gullible, submissive, and intellectually lazy.  Everyone is running so hard and fast just to survive, they don’t have time to pay attention to what’s going on around them. We have become a populace of sheep, such that we just follow along, don’t ask questions, and do whatever we’re told to do by the talking heads on television and radio. Case in point: Teabaggers and their followers.

Consider this: the next generation, today’s young adults and children, are not going to know anything different. They are growing up in today’s society and will only have this time as their “point of reference” when looking back in the future. Today will be their “good old days”…

This is my first in a series of blogs on this topic. I really want to hear your comments on this blog and the topic.

What do you think about the status of our country and the direction it’s going?

[ All images used in this blog can be found in the public domain ]