Human Rights

Do Corporate Media Need to Lie to Promote Trade Deals?

Common Dreams - Fri, 08/11/2017 - 09:12
Dean Baker

I understand people can have reasonable differences of opinion on trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), but why is it that the proponents have to insist, with zero evidence, that not doing the deal was an economic disaster? Yes, I know the political argument, which seemed to arise late in the game, that US standing in the world has collapsed because we didn’t follow through on the TPP. But let’s just stick with the economics.

Categories: Human Rights

Corporations Complain Their Taxes So High, But New Study Busts That Myth

Common Dreams - Fri, 08/11/2017 - 09:06
Jake Johnson, staff writer

Corporate profits are up. Wages remain low. And, as always, the richest are angling for ever-lower tax rates.

Categories: Human Rights

8 in 10 Americans Fear Nuclear War as Trump Says US 'Locked and Loaded'

Common Dreams - Fri, 08/11/2017 - 08:07
Jon Queally, staff writer

New poll results released Friday, provided exclusively to Axios, show that more than 8 in 10 Americans are fearful of nuclear war breaking out between the United States and North Korea.

And why shouldn't people be afraid? Early Friday morning, the president said the U.S. military is "locked and loaded" regarding North Korea.

Categories: Human Rights

Don't Privatize the Afghan War—Just End It

Common Dreams - Fri, 08/11/2017 - 07:11
Sonali Kolhatkar

Erik Prince, the notorious founder of the military contracting company formerly known as Blackwater, has been making the rounds of media outlets to promote his idea for privatizing the U.S. war in Afghanistan. Prince, whose company was renamed Academi, and who now chairs a Chinese-owned company named Frontier Services Group, is unabashedly vying for a lucrative Pentagon contract that would turn over military operations in Afghanistan to a private corporation.

Categories: Human Rights

Trump vs. Blumenthal and the Ironies of Opportunism

Common Dreams - Fri, 08/11/2017 - 07:02
Jerry Lembcke

President Donald Trump has the fake veteran story all wrong.  The President attacked Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal as a “phony Vietnam con artist” after the Senator expressed support for investigations into Russian involvement in the 2016 election campaign. The President said Blumenthal had lied about having bravely fought battles Vietnam. There is merit to the President’s allegation because Blumenthal was outed during his 2010 campaign for having misrepresented his military record.

Categories: Human Rights

A "No Nukes" Nation to Trump: Resign!

Common Dreams - Fri, 08/11/2017 - 06:51
Harvey Wasserman

In the shadow of Santa Monica’s legendary “Chain Reaction” monument, a clear message was sent to the unelected interloper in the White House: RESIGN!!!

Wednesday was the 72nd anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki, and the 43rd of the resignation of Richard Nixon. Nixon was the last president to seriously threaten the use of nuclear weapons. Amidst the debacle of the Vietnam war, Nixon told then top advisor Daniel Ellsberg that he wanted to drop atomic bombs on Southeast Asia, but that he feared the response of the global anti-war movement.

Categories: Human Rights

Little Kids, Big Fears: How to Talk About Nuclear War and Donald Trump with 2nd-Graders

Common Dreams - Fri, 08/11/2017 - 06:32
Rethinking Schools Editorial

Recently, a Rethinking Schools editor was a chaperone on a field trip when he overheard a 2nd-grade student talking about how he wanted to “nuke the world.”

Taken aback, he asked the child what he meant.

“Everything is just so bad. We should just nuke the world and start over.”

Categories: Human Rights

Experts Available: President Trump to Declare National State of Emergency on Opioid Crisis

Brennan Center - Thu, 08/10/2017 - 17:03
Experts Available: President Trump to Declare National State of Emergency on Opioid CrisisAugust 10, 2017

The move was one of the major initiatives recommended by the President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis.

Categories: Human Rights

Labor Organizer on Single Payer

DSA: Talking Unions - Thu, 08/10/2017 - 16:56

Michael Lighty ,August 8, 2017
Common Dreams

Ironically, healthcare reform efforts have sought to “improve and expand” every element of the present system, except the program that works best: Medicare. The Clintons tried to expand HMOs, Obama expanded private health insurance and Medicaid, the GOP tried to expand “individual purchase. Medicare—if improved and expanded to all—could confront the industry, contain prices and restore the values of caring and community to our healthcare system.

With the explosive growth of the movement for single payer healthcare, it should not be a surprise to see the Empire Strike Back.

With the explosive growth of the movement for single payer healthcare, it should not be a surprise to see the Empire Strike Back.

In the name of political reality, some liberal pundits, politicians and policy wonks are scolding progressives to give up on Medicare for All. There are many ways to achieve “universal coverage,” we’re told. “Overhauling” the entire system is too hard, healthcare is too big a part of the economy, and politicians will not take out the health insurance companies.

Yet, the alternative approaches to reform pose the same political problems: the insurance industry is likely to fight the elimination of their profits (Dutch and German health insurers, for example, are non-profit), and the severe reductions in executive compensation, elimination of shareholder dividends, and rate setting, all of which go away under European-style health insurance. The benefits and rates are government mandated, the companies are essentially payment administrators.

Either this regulated system of private health plans lowers prices through government—by setting rates and negotiations—or it fails to do so and costs shift to individuals. But it is still the government role as rate setter/price negotiator that matters. Wouldn’t it be more straightforward and simpler to improve and expand Medicare?

Still, the pundits say it’s best to search for incremental reform of the insurance-based system, and live (or not!) with the results. In other words, the best health reform we can do is a version of what we have. Worse, it props up and reinforces a profit-focused system that is antithetical to the very concept of healing. Advocates of Medicare for all, and other non-reformist reforms, are looking to solve problems immediately, not accommodating the status quo.

Progressives are badly served by shallow political advice from the likes of Paul Krugman. It obscures the reality working people actually face and undermines the fight for our values and program.

Our health is not a commodity—it doesn’t belong in the “market”—it is a human right. Those who advise us to settle for models of national health systems in other countries are missing the fundamental difference from the broken U.S. scheme. What Australia, the Netherlands and Switzerland all have in common is they do not conflate “coverage” with healthcare. Those countries guarantee healthcare.

Having health insurance in America doesn’t prevent medical bankruptcy or denied care. In the U.S., employer based healthcare creates great uncertainty for workers, as premiums and out of pocket costs increase, reflecting costs shifted from the company to workers to fund the profits of the insurance companies.

Only 55 percent of employers offer coverage. Why would we try to buttress a system that is failing workers, hurting business, and shrinking? From 60 to 70 percent of healthcare spending comes from taxes. We’re just not getting our monies worth. We are wasting 20 cents on the dollar when we pay for private health insurance, wasting huge resources that could go to higher wages, child care, and pensions.

Alternatively, single payer is the reform that establishes health security and enables greater equality and freedom—values worth fighting for.

Ironically, healthcare reform efforts have sought to “improve and expand” every element of the present system, except the program that is popular and works best: Medicare. The Clintons tried to expand HMOs, Obama expanded private health insurance and Medicaid, the GOP tried to expand “individual purchase,” so we’d all be on our own when dealing with insurance companies, drug companies and hospital corporations.

It is precisely profit-focused healthcare industry that has caused the problems of escalating costs and restricted access. Rising premiums pay for rising prescription drug costs, which hospital corporations pass on to patients and drive up their own rates as they leverage their market share. As a result, each sector’s revenues and profits increase. The industry imperative of revenue and profits has replaced caregiving as the basis of healthcare in the US (see Elizabeth Rosenthal’s book, “American Sickness.”)

We are not “starting from scratch,” as Krugman contends (which he did not in 2005) but instead there exists a model in the U.S. for how single-payer financing could work: Medicare—which if improved and expanded to all—could confront the industry, contain prices and restore the values of caring, compassion and community to our healthcare system.

Alternative approaches to universal coverage (though even with the Affordable Care Act, 28 million people remain uninsured) depend on using huge tax subsidies to enable individuals and businesses to buy insurance coverage. Without those subsidies—in California alone they amount to over $100 billion—health insurance is a failed business model. Taxpayers prop up the insurers profits for the honor of paying $2000 in deductibles and potentially under the ACA over 9.5 percent of our income in out of pocket costs. In California, this means 15 million people are uninsured or underinsured.

Truly controlling costs requires eliminating the waste and inefficiency of the private payers – Medicare administrations are cost 4-5 percent compared to up to 12 percent for insurance companies (before profits). The inherently wasteful insurance company bureaucracy doesn’t go away when everybody has to buy one of their health plans.

Ultimately, what we must face is an issue of power. Can we collectively organize a healthcare system without the imperatives of revenue and profit? Only if we build a movement for health justice that demands guaranteed healthcare for all as a human right. Only collectively through government do we as a society have the resources and standing to secure that right. Only through an Improved Medicare for All can we achieve health security, not subject to the market power of healthcare corporations.

Michael Lighty is the Director of Public Policy for National Nurses United, where he has worked since its founding in 2009, and for the California Nurses Association since 1994. Follow him on Twitter: @mlighty60

Categories: Human Rights

More Than 60 House Dems Denounce Trump for 'Raising the Specter of Nuclear War'

Common Dreams - Thu, 08/10/2017 - 16:51
Jake Johnson, staff writer

"Trump must immediately cease talk of pre-emptive war—which must be authorized by Congress—and commit to the diplomatic path advocated by both American experts and the South Korean government."
—Rep. John Conyers

Categories: Human Rights

60 Percent Drop in Fines Shows Corporate Polluters Have Little to Fear From Trump

Common Dreams - Thu, 08/10/2017 - 15:51
Julia Conley, staff writer

"President Trump campaigned on a promise of 'law and order,' but apparently law enforcement for big polluters is not what he had in mind."

Categories: Human Rights

We Still Have A Lot of Work To Do On Healthcare

Common Dreams - Thu, 08/10/2017 - 14:50
Jean Ross

With liberals across the land breathing a huge sigh of relief after the abrupt collapse of the Senate scheme to repeal and somewhat replace the Affordable Care Act, all is good again with healthcare in America. Right?

Well, there have been a few troubling signs if you can dig past all the news about Donald Trump’s latest tweets.

"The Medicare for all movement is growing, climb on board."

Categories: Human Rights

We Should Support Medicare for All

Common Dreams - Thu, 08/10/2017 - 14:36
Judy Dasovich

Americans know we need affordable, accessible, quality health care. Our current system relies on private insurance which provides none of these things. Improved and expanded Medicare for all can give us the tools we need to move towards these goals. 

Categories: Human Rights

Denier-in-Chief Trump Should Read NOAA's Frightening New Climate Report

Common Dreams - Thu, 08/10/2017 - 14:26
Jake Johnson, staff writer

Categories: Human Rights

Corporations Pay Between 13 and 19 Percent in Federal Taxes—Far Less Than the 35 Percent Statutory Tax Rate

Common Dreams - Thu, 08/10/2017 - 14:14
Economic Policy Institute

As the GOP push to pass “tax reform” starts to heat up, policymakers will debate whether the corporate tax rate is too high or too low. A standard but misleading talking point for those wishing to give more tax breaks to corporations is that the United States has one of the highest statutory rates in the world at 35 percent. This is misleading because what corporations actually pay (their effective rate) is far lower.

Categories: Human Rights

Members of Congress Fail to Disclose Future Employment Negotiations; Revolving Door Continues to Spin

Common Dreams - Thu, 08/10/2017 - 13:24
Public Citizen

Retiring members of Congress are largely failing to disclose their negotiations for future private-sector employment, despite a reform law that intended for them to do so, a new Public Citizen report shows.

Categories: Human Rights

Analysis Shows Trump/GOP Sabotage to Blame for Coming Insurance Premium Hikes

Common Dreams - Thu, 08/10/2017 - 12:22
Jessica Corbett, staff writer

In a report released Thursday, the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) found that President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans' recent actions on healthcare legislation will likely cause double-digit insurance premium hikes for millions of Americans in 2018.

Categories: Human Rights

Statement by National Low Income Housing Coalition President and CEO Diane Yentel on HUD’s Worst Case Housing Needs Report

Common Dreams - Thu, 08/10/2017 - 12:03
National Low Income Housing Coalition

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) published on August 9 its Worst Case Housing Needs: 2017 Report to Congress, showing that 8.3 million unassisted very low income households in America spend more than half of their income on their housing, live in severely substandard housing, or both. The number of households experiencing this “worst case housing” has increased by 41% since 2007 and by 66% since 2001. We are experiencing an affordable housing crisis of unprecedented proportions.

Categories: Human Rights

'Slippery Slope to Dictatorship': Majority of GOP Would Back Trump Postponing 2020 Elections

Common Dreams - Thu, 08/10/2017 - 11:39
Julia Conley, staff writer

Identifying it as part of the "slippery slope to dictatorship," critics are pointing to a new poll as evidence that Trump's base would likely support him even if he were to propose postponing the 2020 elections.

Categories: Human Rights