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Letters to the Editor

August 28, 2009

Facts are missing from health care debate



To the editor:

It seems to me that the most salient facts are missing from the so-called debate on U.S. health care.

The corporate media consists of no more than a conglomeration of four to five mega corporations. For instance, Rupert Murdoch owns The Wall Street Journal and Fox News. This media represents corporate interests, not human interests; its views represent the ruling class, not those of the working class. One must maintain a healthy skepticism about anything that circulates in the commercial media. We must learn to distinguish opinion from fact.

For instance, according to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, 20,000 lives are lost to the existing "for-profit" medical system each year in this nation. Contrast this to the fictitious horror stories that are in wide circulation, most of them propaganda issued by the insurance companies, regarding the single-payer systems featured by every Western nation but our own. The source of these bogus stories was indirectly identified by journalist Bill Moyers in a recent article. Moyers disclosed that insurance company lobbyists are spending $1.4 million every day on Capitol Hill to kill single-payer health insurance.

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In the United States, corporate profits are sacrosanct, whereas the needs of the people are not. This is the Holy Grail of Milton Friedman's hyper-capitalism, which is the source of contemporary economic policy in this country, both Republican and Democrat, liberal and conservative. According to documentary filmmaker Robert Greenwald, the CEO of United Health Care, Stephen Hemsley, makes $3.2 million a year. As a result, one of every $17 paid to United Health Care goes to paying Hemsley's salary. This is one of the reasons why 50 million citizens cannot afford health insurance.

The World Health Organization ranks the U.S. health care system among the worst in the industrialized world. Here, you get the least bang for the buck. That is because CEOs such as Hemsley are raking in millions by capitalizing on the misery and suffering of their fellow human beings. As the systemic failures of financial institutions make clear, there is no invisible hand of the market that imposes economic Darwinism on big business. It is the least ethical and most predatory that survive. As always, the criminal financial aristocracy has their hand in the public till. That is all that keeps American capitalism afloat. We need a single-payer system, but we have to fight for it.

Charles Sullivan
Hedgesville, W.Va.

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