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marmar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 12:53 PM
Original message
Guardian UK: America's failed model for the world
America's failed model for the world
Europeans keep asking me, has America lost its mind? From healthcare to its economy, the US is looking merely average

Steven Hill
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 16 September 2009


Europeans are shaking their heads over their American friends again. Whether talking to people in the street, in the cafs or to journalists or political leaders, everyone here asks me the same question: Has America lost its mind? Town halls filled with angry citizens, shouting at their elected leaders, some of them armed with guns and threatening signs? Besides the media spectacle of these neo-1776 revolutionaries, what is doubly perplexing to Europeans is the focus of the protests: healthcare.

What's strange to a European is that everyone here already has healthcare. The place that Donald Rumsdfeld once sneeringly called "old Europe" long ago solved this dilemma, producing quality healthcare for a fraction of the price that Americans pay. Many Europeans are astonished when they find out that 47 million Americans larger than the populations of most European nations don't have any healthcare at all except a hospital emergency room.

Contrary to stereotype, most of Europe doesn't use single payer, with France, Germany and others having evolved a "third way" that combines individual choice with private, nonprofit insurance companies and Medicare-like cost controls. Even countries like Croatia, Hungary and Slovenia, with per capita incomes only a fraction of that in the United States, have healthcare for all their people. Europeans simply don't understand how a wealthy United States could remain the last advanced nation that does not have universal healthcare.

Lounging one evening in one of Budapest's elegant thermal baths larger than an Olympic swimming pool, with Europeans of all ages and nationalities soaking their limbs in relaxed leisure, I was treated to a dose of the common wisdom that is taking hold here. Introducing myself as an American evinced a swift reaction from one sweating sauna companion:

"I don't understand you Americans. You blow billions on a useless war in Afghanistan and Iraq, and billions more to bail out banks that nearly bankrupted the world economy, but you don't ensure healthcare for your own people. Even Obama can't make a difference. It's as if your democracy doesn't work anymore." ............(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2009...




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Echo In Light Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 12:57 PM
Response to Original message
1. "It's as if your democracy doesn't work anymore."
It's b/c the notion of corporate rule can no longer be denied, thus exposing the U.S. as a sham, phony Rep Democracy.
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krkaufman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 09:59 PM
Response to Reply #1
49. that was a great closing line for the snippet. n/t
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TankLV Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 12:08 AM
Response to Reply #1
61. Sadly - it hasn't for more than EIGHT AND A HALF YEARS now...!!!
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ProudDad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 01:07 PM
Response to Reply #61
106. Except for the very wealthy
who set up the USAmerican system...

For whom it's worked VERY VERY WELL...

It hasn't worked for 229 years for the rest of us...
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Threedifferentones Donating Member (820 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-22-09 06:54 AM
Response to Reply #61
124. Because healthcare reform went so well under Clinton, right?
GWB is awful, easily my worst president all time. But, unfortunately, Democrats and Republicans built this system together, which is why they are all rich. Obama has not and probably will not be a significant force for a genuinely different direction; his party likes the status quo too damn much.
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olegramps Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 10:11 AM
Response to Reply #1
92. I have become totally disgusted with far too many Americans.
Its is total madness that many of the people who are demonstrating against a national plan are recipients of Medicare and Social Security. If they had to purchase their insurance they would either be denied coverage or it would be so expensive they couldn't afford it.

Sorry to say it, but it appears that a significant percentage of Americans are just plain damn stupid. How in the hell can they support a system of private insurance companies that some of there former executives testify are nothing but scams.

I have come to the conclusion that Americans deserve just they they have; shitty medical care. This includes the vast majority of Americans who are allowing a minority to spread out right lies unchallenged. When they find their insurance doesn't cover crap they will have very little sympathy from this old goat.

Fuck you when you get sick and you are bankrupt; you deserve it. I am thankful that I have Socialized Medicare and since you don't want it don't complain when you are living in a cardboard box under the viaduct.
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Desertrose Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 01:04 PM
Response to Original message
2. I don't understand it either.....
Edited on Thu Sep-17-09 01:04 PM by Desertrose
"Even countries like Croatia, Hungary and Slovenia, with per capita incomes only a fraction of that in the United States, have healthcare for all their people. Europeans simply don't understand how a wealthy United States could remain the last advanced nation that does not have universal healthcare."

But there is money for war & corporate bailouts...hmmm.....


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Juche Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 01:15 PM
Response to Reply #2
6. Brazil, China, India
Edited on Thu Sep-17-09 01:18 PM by Juche
They all either have or are implementing UHC systems.

Our nation is really sad because fundamentally it is racial tensions that have stopped us. We could've gotten UHC in the 40s, but southern politicians feared it would lead to integration of hospitals and blocked it.

Then in the 60s when dems started standing up for minority rights and the GOP became the party hostile to black (and latino) rights, virtually all the white voters in the south became republicans. Now about 65% of whites in the south vote GOP, and in the deep south it is 80-90%.

Its an embarrassment. We don't have UHC because too many people are angry that blacks and latinos are treated halfway decently. If that weren't an issue, we would've had it in the 1940s. Its not a coincidence there are no non-whites at the teabagger festivals.

We need an honest assessment of our own nation, not mindless jingoism.
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enid602 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 03:37 PM
Response to Reply #6
23. Brazil,. China, India
A majority of the people in these countries dont even have access to toilets.
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Juche Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 04:00 PM
Response to Reply #23
25. Despite that, they are implementing universal health care
What does that tell you when nations like China and India, which combined have over a billion people living on less than $2/day, are trying to implement a UHC system and the US, with a per capita income of $50,000 is struggling to do so.

http://gulzar05.blogspot.com/2009/09/universal-health-i...


It used to be on issues like climate change, we would say 'why should we do something if nations like China won't do anything'. Now China is starting to take energy and sustainability more seriously than we do. China has pledged 20% renewables by 2020. In the US, we may not even be able to get cap and trade.

Our nation is becoming a joke. If nations like China are starting to get more serious about the environment than we are (their environment is far more messed up than ours, but they seem to be taking sustainability more seriously than we are as of 2009), or if dirt poor nations like India enact UHC before we do then our nation is really messed up.
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get the red out Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 12:05 PM
Response to Reply #25
98. China does not have universal health care
It is my understanding that people have to pay up front.
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Juche Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 12:07 PM
Response to Reply #98
100. They are implementing universal health care
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/22/world/asia/22iht-beij...

BEIJING China announced that it intended to spend $123 billion by 2011 to establish universal health care for the country's 1.3 billion people.
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Javaman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 07:47 AM
Response to Reply #23
81. um okay, and your point is?
only under developed countries are allowed universal health care?

:shrug:

that's a perplexing argument.
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nxylas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 12:54 PM
Response to Reply #81
104. I think the poster's point was....
"America is still the bestest, so there"

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ProudDad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 01:09 PM
Response to Reply #23
108. One mindless jingoist heard from (n/t)
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enid602 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 02:16 PM
Response to Reply #108
120. just traveled
Just saying that you have to put everything in perspective. If a country only has $25 a year to spend on each citizen, and does so in a fair manner, you could call that universal healthcare. Having spent time in all three countries, I would wonder how effective their versions of universal healthcare will be. I would say a good 30% of the residents in Rio De Janeiro live in large favelhas where housing is so precarious, and the streets so dangerous that the police cannot enter. How many hospitals are located in these favelhas? I lived for a month in Bangalore India in a hotel that had an empty lot next door. The fact that the empty lot was constantly full of people taking dumps would make me somewhat skeptical of any claim of Universal Healthcare on the part of the Indian Government. And China is so full of pollution, their government might have a greater impact on public health if they concentrate their efforts on cleaning up the water and air.
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ProudDad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 02:45 PM
Response to Reply #120
121. I've traveled too...
The real villain is the capitalist so-called economic "system" -- rewarding greed and perpetuating inequality and squalor.

"Health Care" is a symptom of the disease.

And the USAmerikan Empire is the major spreader of the disease...
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ProudDad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 02:46 PM
Response to Reply #120
122. Duplicate
Edited on Fri Sep-18-09 02:47 PM by ProudDad
The internet tubes' blockages are rampant today...
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evenso Donating Member (113 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 05:33 PM
Response to Reply #2
31. Racism is the reason
that America hasn't embraced universal healthcare.
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Swamp Rat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 09:04 PM
Response to Reply #31
46. Welcome to DU!
:hi:

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Syntheto Donating Member (283 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 04:14 AM
Response to Reply #31
78. No it's not.
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RUMMYisFROSTED Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 07:45 AM
Response to Reply #78
80. Correct. It's classism.
With ultimately the same effect.
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Regret My New Name Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 01:34 PM
Response to Reply #80
118. That's how I see it.
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unpossibles Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 09:00 AM
Response to Reply #78
88. maybe not the only reason, but it sure seems to be a BIG one
Why else are all of the caricatures of illegal aliens, lazy welfare queens, and the question of Obama's birth being trotted out with all of the subtlety of blackface?
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ProudDad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 01:10 PM
Response to Reply #78
109. Actually, it is...
Truman couldn't get the Dixiecrat votes for Universal Health Care...

'Cause black people in the South would get covered...
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AlbertCat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 11:30 AM
Response to Reply #31
96. Racism is the reason that America hasn't embraced universal healthcare.
Like the kind that thinks most Chinese don't have access to a toilet?


No, not Racism per se... GREED. Greed is a bigger motivator than racism on the HC front.
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GinaMaria Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 08:54 AM
Response to Reply #2
87. Not just money
OUR money and our children's is there for war and corporate bailouts, but somehow OUR money can't buy us the stuff we really need.
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ProudDad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 01:08 PM
Response to Reply #2
107. Connect the dots
It's BECAUSE of the wars and corporate capitalist dominance that we DON'T have Universal Health Care.
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Tace Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 01:05 PM
Response to Original message
3. Totalitarian State
Yeah, we're living in a totalitarian fascist state. Sorry.
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villager Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 01:09 PM
Response to Original message
4. The masks of that "democracy" started to get pulled off in places like Dallas, Memphis, L.A., etc...
And have pretty much stayed off, since...
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MrScorpio Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 01:13 PM
Response to Original message
5. America is an empire
Edited on Thu Sep-17-09 01:54 PM by MrScorpio
And the rule for empires is that they always get too big to sustain.

It's an ugly fact to realize.

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HughBeaumont Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 01:28 PM
Response to Reply #5
8. The problem is . . .
. . . Dumberica thinks THEY, "Buh GAWD Givun RAGHT", are destined to be the first nation to break this trend. NOT gonna happen. They GOTTA reverse course and FAST.
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Prophet 451 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 01:26 PM
Response to Original message
7. And annoyingly,
the responses from Americans are universally "WE'RE NUMBER 1! LA, LA, CAN'T HEAR YOU".

So many of your nation still sees Europe as "socialist slave-states" (as someone seriously posted to that article), that there is a flat refusal to even consider that Europe may do some things better.
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get the red out Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 02:30 PM
Response to Reply #7
18. You nailed it!
Our crazy version of "patriotism" prevents us from working toward ever making our country better. It is totally insane. I hope other countries keep callin us on our ignorance. I am so sick of the "we're number 1" bs that I just really want some proof that this country is very good at anything positive at this point.
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DCKit Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 06:02 PM
Response to Reply #18
33. Our "Patriotism" is actually "Nationalism" = Blind, Unquestioning Devotion to an Ideal
Those crazy Republics. They never met a word they couldn't twist and redefine to suit their agenda. We know how the inmates took over the asylum, but now, with the guards, nurses, doctors, administration and government authority seemingly on their side, it's going to be a bitch to wrest it back.

Anyone else keep wondering, "Why am I in here? I don't belong here! There's nothing wrong with me."
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Lydia Leftcoast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 08:10 PM
Response to Reply #18
41. This is why China declined during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)
They got smug about being the most advanced nation on earth and decided that no one else had anything to teach them. They kept on doing what they had always done, because don't you know? They were the Middle Kingdom, the center of the world.

By the nineteenth century, they were far behind the rest of the world, ripe pickings for European colonialists. Although China was never entirely conquered, it was unable to prevent European powers from establishing what amounted to colonies along its coast, such as Hong Kong, Macao, Shanghai, and Dalian.
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zoff Donating Member (302 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 01:49 AM
Response to Reply #41
70. Agreed that China was left behind.
Stress on "WAS." While they still cling to old ideologies, they seem to be moving forward in all other things economic. Their economy is based on manufacturing (a great majority of what America consumes.) Just today, talk on Bloomberg was of the resurgence of designer goods, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Rolls Royce et. al. in East Asia. And what does America have? Freedom. If only that could buy some decent health care.

As hard line as the communists were, it seems that their small totalitarian government was run by a few people with a good head on their shoulders. Perhaps the chinese leaders deemed it fit to change a few things and not get stuck in the past, seeing that the world around them was progressing and they were not.

All this while America is being dragged down by borrowing against the future (as if someone knows that the world will end and all this debt will just evaporate), corporate capitalism, archaic and conservative ideology, wanton spending on imperialist adventures. America has become its own worst enemy. Who needs Al-Qaeda when we have the likes of Halliburton.

Limbaugh, Hannity, O'Reilly and Beck, are examples of the hubris that infects the American psyche. We are the greatest nation on earth! We have freedom! Vapid battle cries of the right wing. We are the only country leading two wars when the entire globe is at peace. And this is something to be proud of?

If ever, our model of democracy will fail us because we have been divided and conquered. The voice of the people has been squelched. Politicians owe their corporate backers. And if our country continues on this path, it is only a matter of time, when not even the remaining wealthy can sustain the appetite for corporate profit. Squeezing millions of middle class american customers is not good business.

When will politicians realize that their job is to uphold the common good, not what is good for the few who can help them get re-elected? Change is sorely needed. If we want to rule the world with ideals, then we had better put them to practice at home first. Campaign and health care reform NOW!

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Lydia Leftcoast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 08:32 AM
Response to Reply #70
84. China has been run by intelligent (if sometimes ruthless) people since Deng Xiaoping
The original Maoists were prone to fits of ruinous fanaticism like the Hundred Flowers Campaign (declare freedom of speech and then punish anyone who actually exercises it), the Great Leap Forward (build steel mills on every farm commune, even if it means neglecting food crops), the Kill the Birds campaign (on the ground that they ate crops, forgetting that they eat a lot more insects than they eat crops), and of course, the Cultural Revolution, where everything stopped for several years while ideologically-based teen-age gangs rampaged through the country and terrorized everyone who didn't bow to their authority.
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olegramps Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 10:28 AM
Response to Reply #70
95. Americans are stupid because the are determined to remain uninformed.
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SammyWinstonJack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 09:59 PM
Response to Reply #7
50. I WISH we had the 'socialism' that the morans accuse us of having.
That would rock! :woohoo:
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LiberalAndProud Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 01:25 PM
Response to Reply #7
116. universally?
I don't think so, really. We are led to believe that the nay sayers are many, when in fact, if we measure them by numbers of Glenn Beck viewers and Rush Limbaugh listeners ... it is not even close to a majority.

When we look at who is holding the microphone, is it any wonder that we might believe that Americans are "universally" against health care reform?
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tama Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 01:34 PM
Response to Original message
9. Intellectual property
Edited on Thu Sep-17-09 01:44 PM by tama
I recently saw a document where one of Clinton's top advisers was interviewed. He told that the US made strategic economic choise of moving from manufactoring to cashing via "intellectual property", patentlaws and copyrights etc, which are being constantly applied to new areas and widened. Internationally this happened through WIPO and the TRIPS agreement:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agreement_on_Trade-Related...

Sweden had the first Pirate Party with main agenda of opposing (excessive) copyrights, in the last EU-election the Pirate party gained it's first seat in the EU-parliament. Pirate Party International (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pirate_Party_International ) is growing fast and there is a pirate party currently at least in 34 countries.


PS: Political expression of anti-copyright sentiments are of course nothing new. Practically all anarchistic material has allways been copyleft of fuck-copyright. What is actually relatively new innovation is the whole intellectual property -idea and copyright legislation that started to develop in modern times and to spread globally in its most extreme anglosaxon form.

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HughBeaumont Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 01:41 PM
Response to Original message
10. This was a telling piece of the article.
Here's a clue, say some Europeans. German chancellor Angela Merkel once was asked by then-British prime minister Tony Blair what the secret was of her country's economic success, which includes being the world's largest exporter nation and running substantial trade surpluses. She famously replied: "Mr Blair, we still make things."

"But, but, but, but, but, but, but . . . how would that be PROFFFITABLE?" "Then we'd have to PAAAAAY our workers! Chinese slaves are so much cheeeeeeaper!"

Well, durrrrrrrr. You want them to be able to, you know, AFFORD your products, right?

But hey, who cares about that boring long term survival, right? Just go back to the Pope Reagan way of doing shit, idiots, and see if this is at all sustainable.

Lessons 1 and 2, stupids. Sell more than you buy. Produce more than you debit.
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ikri Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 02:22 PM
Response to Reply #10
16. The main British industry today is pretty much finance
Successive governments, Labour and Conservative, have favoured The City and the financial sector over manufacturing.

Car industry? Sold off or bankrupt
Power generation? Largely foreign owned
Coal? Gone
Steel? Gone or going

Everything that we could once claim to lead the world in manufacturing has been sold off for scrap or off-shored and yet out politicians wonder why countries like Germany, with a thriving manufacturing base, are coming out of the recession earlier than us.
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Lydia Leftcoast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 08:12 PM
Response to Reply #16
42. Yes, funny thing, the countries worst off are the ones that based their
economies on finance and/or swallowed the laissez-faire Koolaid: the UK, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia.

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Muddy Waters Guitars Donating Member (56 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 12:14 AM
Response to Reply #16
63. Exactly, Thatcherism was UK Reaganism, and Britain got dragged down with us
Turns out that the "special relationship" has been a fiasco for Great Britain. Margaret Thatcher basically gutted British manufacturing just as Reagan did in the United States, instead favoring short-term profits-over-people, market fundamentalism. Which is why Britain has been the world's hardest-hit major economy outside of the US-- you were basically tricked into following a failed US model! Such a shame that columnists like Thomas Friedman at the NYT, who should have no better, were urging the Brits and everyone else to drink the same neoliberalist, profits-over-people Kool-Aid. Britain and, to some extent, the Australians under John Howard followed the foolish US ways, and got burned along with us. (Australia fortunately has lots of aluminum to sell to China, to stay out of recession-- Britain hasn't been so blessed in comparison.)
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Joe Chi Minh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 06:29 PM
Response to Reply #16
123. I don't know about the situation now. It's probably worse. But I remember reading some time ago
that the only British car still mass-produced was the Reliant Robin 3-wheeler.

Our super-patriot, right-wing governments over the past 30 years have sold off virtually all our "flagship" companies to foreign interests - no, don't laugh - even in the City. And they had the gall to boast about their fantastic "inward investment"!!!!! Not the least least vestige of a healthy national pride, but our "bent" press would exult when a South-African Olympic runner we'd poached excelled in her event.

The French and the Germans wouldn't sell their "flagship" companies for any amount. Anyway, they'd probably be too busy buying ours and doing all the legal work and paperwork. Then of course, our geniuses couldn't wait to decimalise our weights, measures and currency, on what has proved to be entirey specious grounds - if anyone believed them in the first place, that is. Traders incidentally always rounded up the purchase prices of their wares. The metric system was, of course, always used in scientific fileds, anyway. But the old imperial weights and measures related to human-beings, a human scale: feet, yards, etc. Can't have that. It isn't new and shiny.

Money is the filter through which the right sees everything. Poor old Agatha Christie saw that, but it didn't seem to register with her as a pathology, it was just that the greed of her monied characters would sometimes lead to murder most horrid. My wife watches those programmes all the time, but I almost long to hear of a crime of passion, as I'm tapping away at this keyboad.

We used to have a low-income, low-cost economy, but a family needed just one breadwinner. Now we have a low-income, high-cost economy. And guess who were always the winners while all this was happening?
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TommyPaine Donating Member (300 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 01:06 AM
Response to Reply #10
68. Unfortunately, pathological selfishness knows no bounds.
And neither does it know logic.
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Blue_Tires Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 08:51 AM
Response to Reply #10
85. i'm still shocked at how many people don't realize this
as wall street continues to cheerlead corporations that send jobs overseas while bringing in foreign workers...and RWers have been cheering harder than anyone about the decline of Detroit evil-union manufacturing base...
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LeftinOH Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 01:41 PM
Response to Original message
11. Hopefully, they understand that our right-wing element -while not a majority-
is potent enough to delay progress - and sometimes even stops progress at EVERY opportunity. "Americans" in general are not the problem -its our very own conservative tumor that makes it so difficult to achieve our potential.
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get the red out Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 02:37 PM
Response to Reply #11
20. Conservative Tumor
I like that! Great description of our problem.
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Romulox Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 01:56 PM
Response to Original message
12. Our Congress represents minority rule by a handful of mostly agrarian states
The fundamental structure of our government is flawed such that the people have very little say.
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tama Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 06:06 PM
Response to Reply #12
34. Agrarian states
The choice of words sound revealing: minority of rural people having say in matters of majority of urban people is much worse than minority of urban people ruling majority of peasants.
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Muddy Waters Guitars Donating Member (56 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 12:19 AM
Response to Reply #12
64. Right! Unfortunately, the problem is the US Constitution here-- especially the Senate
I'm sorry to say it, but it has to be said. The framers of our Constitution made two fundamental blunders (alongside the biggie of recognizing slavery, of course).

First, they made US elections winner-take-all, "win with a plurality"-- as we learn in poli-sci, this inevitably leans to the sclerosis of two-party factions, with one of them (the GOP in this case) able to screw up progressive efforts by the other. Europe has proportional representation in most cases, so a wider selection of ideas and solutions is made available.

Second, the framers gave way too much power to the small (and often, backward) states, by giving every state two Senators. How in the world does it make any sense, for Wyoming and Nebrasks to have the same representation in the Senate as California and Florida? Essentially, it allows a couple hundred thousand people (in those states) to decide policy for tens of millions elsewhere in the country!

When you combine this with the history of the Confederacy and the cultural backwardness, lack of education and critical thinking-- and throw in a still weak-kneed Harry Reid, who needs to be pushed to fight a filibuster-- you get policy paralysis, which kills a nation. It's getting close the point when our entire system of governing requires a massive overhaul.
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Bill McBlueState Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 09:11 AM
Response to Reply #64
90. what the founders may not have foreseen
When the Senate was established in the Constitution, the most populous state had about 6 times the population of the least populous state. In that environment, two Senators per state almost made sense.

Now, the most populous state has about 100 times the population of the least populous state, which makes the Senate a travesty of democracy.
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Blue_Tires Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 08:54 AM
Response to Reply #12
86. very true
and we haven't even gotten into lobbyists, corporate donors, fundraising and campaign contributions...
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ProudDad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 01:13 PM
Response to Reply #12
111. And they are most easily bought by corporate capitalists (n/t)
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MrScorpio Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 02:11 PM
Response to Original message
13. This country places a premium on developing great wealth and corporations
And not on society.

It's the mindset that classifies a sick person as a "consumer", rather than patients.

It's the source of the notion of "corporate personhood", even though corporations can't vote, attend jury duty or hold public offices like President. (Although there are corporate whore proxies).

Everyone at the top are more interested in keeping the insurance corporation middle in gold and diamonds.

The problem is that our priorities are completely fucked up.
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raccoon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 02:14 PM
Response to Original message
14. rec rec rec rec nt
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malaise Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 02:21 PM
Response to Original message
15. Must read
K & R
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Soylent Brice Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 02:25 PM
Response to Original message
17. not shocked. we look like fucking idiots.
our fall from grace has been exponentially rocketing us towards rock bottom.

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liberalpragmatist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 02:36 PM
Response to Original message
19. Honestly, the biggest problem is our constitutional structure
It's true that there are some cultural differences that are relevant. America's strength is in our diversity, but it also results in greater divisions between people; a lot of political science research supports the idea that more homogenous societies generally have more robust welfare states. When large blocks of the population see fellow citizens as "the other," they're less likely to support social spending.

Still, even allowing for those cultural differences, polls have long shown majorities in the U.S. support things like universal health care and robust education spending. The numbers are totally comparable to other countries. In the late 1940s, when Europeans enacted their health care systems, polls showed over 70% of Americans supported government-provided health insurance.

The single biggest obstacle - which we aren't supposed to say because we're supposed to extol "the genius of the Founders" - is that we have a ridiculously creaky constitutional setup. European countries mostly have parliamentary systems - a party wins an election, and if they can cobble together a majority, they enact their agenda. That isn't to say there aren't obstacles or compromises. But the equivalent in the U.S. would be if the House could just pass H.R. 3200 and it would automatically be law. Negotiating that bill was arduous, but it's there and it's fairly progressive. Instead, however, we now have to pass a separate bill from the Senate, reconcile the two, and then get it to the President's desk.

The fact is that the U.S. constitutional setup has far more veto points and obstacles than nearly any other democracy. We have two co-equal houses of the legislature (in most countries, the upper house has more limited powers than the lower house), and a separately-elected president with veto power. Plus, congressional rules such as the committee system and the filibuster introduce even more veto points. On top of that, both Houses, especially the Senate, are tilted towards rural, agrarian interests. The result is that it is very difficult to enact major progressive changes in the country because the burden is always on those trying to change the system.

Granted, another big factor is money in politics. Most European countries use extensive public financing and have real limits on campaigns. Because our Supreme Court holds that campaign spending = speech, money plays a far bigger role in our politics than others.

But that's not really a controversial statement. Saying that our constitutional structure is really to blame isn't politically correct, but it's completely true. I honestly believe that it's a bigger factor even than the money issue.
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get the red out Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 02:39 PM
Response to Reply #19
21. Agree!!!!!!!!
I just never thought anyone was allowed to say that! thank you
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treestar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 04:31 PM
Response to Reply #19
29. +1
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Joe the Liberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 05:08 PM
Response to Reply #19
30. So true, agreed 100%. n/t
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tama Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 06:11 PM
Response to Reply #19
35. Blah
EU parliamentary representatives are just as corrupt as members of Congress. The main problem is the inherently corrupt representative system and lack of authentic democracy, not minor differences between US and Europe.
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tocqueville Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 08:27 PM
Response to Reply #35
44. the EU parliament doesn't rule the members of the Union.
the EU isn't a federation, maybe at most a loose confederation. The EU parliament is only a consultative body that can propose legislation. Legislation can only be passed after a TOTAL consensus from ALL member states (soon a two third majority will be sufficient). Besides corruption is very limited since personal campaigns CANNOT be subsidized by individuals or companies. The respective states pay for their parties campaigns and they have exact the same amount of time on TV, counted down to the second. If they fail being elected, their Party doesn't get the subsidy and has to repay it to the state from its own pockets.

Finally the EU commission (executive body) is mostly implementing issues of economical interest, common projects etc... It has very little powers regarding taxation and even less regarding social issues. For example the EU commission cannot decide if all countries will have a certain healthcare modem.It's a national prerogative. But they can fine an insurance company that hasn't respected for example competition rules.
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tama Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 02:32 AM
Response to Reply #44
71. Huh?
EU has various joint decision making procedures, depending on what powers the main institution (Commission, Counsil and Parliament) are granted in various areas of politics. Parliament CANNOT initiate legislation, it can only accept, refuse and amend what Commission proposes. Commission can give executive orders in some areas. In certain areas of policy Parliament and Council pass legislation jointly. In some areas Council has all the power.

Personal and party campaigns ARE subsidized by individuals, companies, unions etc. Both at EU election and state elections. State parliaments are just as corrupt. Same amount of TV time is not true. Maybe there's some variation from member state to member state. I remember one commission actually being forced to resign when too much filth came to surfice - much to do with a French former PM, her name escapes me now.

There is huge army of corporate lobbyist at EP throwing money at representatives. They are very effective and usually get the legislation they want.

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tocqueville Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 08:06 PM
Response to Reply #19
40. WOW, I have been saying that for years and...
of course been considered as a nice, but exotic forinner. Even in the French presidential system (the one that most likes the US system in Europe), the parliamentary part ressembles what you describe as mainstream Europe.

Another point is that most European democracies don't have Supreme Courts equivalents with such powers. Those equivalents are only the last instance for criminal or civil matters, but not constitutional. Those later matters are delegated to a separate court which isn't made of lawyers, but mostly of experienced and politically consensual laymen elected for a limited period, where lawyers if represented (in minority) are more technicians. In French normal procedures, the Assembly passes a law, Senate amends a little and the constitutionality is validated by that court. So laws are already constitutional when enforced, and since civil law dominates, "case law" is really exceptional. Controversial questions (like abortion, guns) aren't challenged all the time. Those questions result in laws voted by representatives and not in court rulings that can change to the whim of a certain judicial configuration after painful and obscure exegesis of a 230 years old document. So if you don't like the law, vote for a government that will change it, not for a rewriting of the Constitution.

Besides constitutions aren't considered in Europe as the "supreme law of the land". They are "merely" a founding document that expresses basic liberties and sets up the rules for the government's exercise of power. Period. So people are not looking in the Constitution to see if somebody has written a footnote about the right or not to have a certain SYSTEM of healthcare, because it's not the purpose of the document, but the purpose of legislation. The US uses its Constitution as a Bible (fundie way). That's why Scalia can say that it is perfectly legal to execute an innocent, since the Founding Fathers didn't write anything about it. It doesn't stand anything about it either in the French Constitution; but here it's illegal to do it, because laws have been passed to ensure a maximum of protection of the citizen, explicit laws.

Finally you have a good point in your first sentence. But big states in Europe have a much greater inner diversity than you can imagine, ethnical, religious and political. The difference is that homogeneity has been created by thousand years of internal and often bloody strifes, if not civil wars. At the same time the dominating Catholicism has always preached a sense of COMMON GOOD, transformed into PUBLIC GOOD when secularism took over. This dimension is greatly lacking in Protestantism, due to the belief in predestination and the belief of the exclusive relation between the individual and God. So the fate of HUMANITY becomes more important here. For example if a French Minister dared to say today that an illegal alien isn't entitled to healthcare AT ALL, it would create such an outrage than the guy wouldn't last two days. In the US, it's a no-brainer for the majority.
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liberalpragmatist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 09:53 PM
Response to Reply #40
48. Your point about internal diversity is well-taken
People don't often realize that Europe's neat little monoethnic nation-states are purely a result of the World Wars. It's also true that the historical European right was vastly more illiberal than even the American right, but one of the legacies of the Second World War was that in virtually all the major European countries, what had been the mainstream, pre-war Right was thoroughly discredited and destroyed by their collaboration with the Nazis. True, most of the Nazi puppet governments were led by outright fascist parties, but the mainstream right parties acquiesced and collaborated with those regimes. The result was that in the postwar era, the old "center" parties - Christian Socialists, centrist parties, etc. - became the new right. And because those parties favored a robust welfare state, there was consensus across the board. In fact, that's something else that Americans don't often realize - in most European countries, it was the right that put in place their modern welfare states.
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tocqueville Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 11:15 PM
Response to Reply #48
57. actually it started with Bismarck
Napoleon invented the Red Cross, Bismarck universal healthcare. Lincoln would be considered as a marxist today. Damned socialists.

But to be fair most European states accepted social-democracy at an early stage and tolerated communist parties and active unions after WWII. Those idea-bearers influenced the "Keynesian" right. The US killed unions and socialism in the early 1900 and demonized them.

And as pointed out in another post, the idea of "gunmint" as inherent evil (or at best a necessary one) is very old. A whole category of early founders wanted a society of yeomen, which was an historical REGRESSION compared to the parliamentary enlighted monarchies that started to emerge in Europe. In the early stages of the French revolution the King was more considered as a "referee", the power lying in the Assembly. If the yeomen concept had won, the US would be a gigantic Somalia today, since the Canucks had propably given up 1812 already. Europeans WANT government because they see it as an instrument. And if really fails, the pitchforks aren't far while in the US they are purely rhetorical. That's why US governments can behave the way they do. In France or even other European countries, the Bush regime had reasulted in a revolution. In the US it resulted in a lot of screaming at the TV, but the sucker was reelected.

Imagine a tandem Sarkozy-Merkel "ruling" the US today. The RW would start urban warfare.
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Muddy Waters Guitars Donating Member (56 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 12:34 AM
Response to Reply #57
66. That's true! In the US today, Bismarck would be considered an "ultra-socialist"
It's why I'm always dubious about US textbooks that call Bismarck a "conservative"-- it's difficult to compare the US and Europe due to different historical and policy contexts. Otto von Bismarck indeed did hail from conservative Prussian Junker stock, and some of his policies would be considered "conservative" in the United States today. Then again, he valued social cohesion and wasn't afraid to advocate for what would be considered socialism in the states. He was a pragmatist above all.

I've found it interesting that European parties on the Right and Left, tend to have a lot in common with US progressives (and also tend to be more practical)-- with the possible exception of immigration, which is looked at more skeptically in Europe. (Then again-- and I say this as an immigration advocate in the States-- I think that's fair due to different historical contexts. Europe's countries evolved organically from ancient states, while the USA was settled, from the 1600's on, by immigrants who moved into land in which native American tribes were indigenous and already resident. So European countries can refuse immigration, or limit it to co-ethnics and/or small numbers of skilled immigrants, and still have mostly progressive policies within their historical contexts. The USA by contrast, really is an immigrant nation unless one is a native American.)

It just seems that Europe, as well as Japan, China, Taiwan, Thailand, even Vietnam are a lot more pragmatic and practical about problem-solving than we are here in the States. And it's to our detriment.
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billh58 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 09:37 PM
Response to Reply #19
47. Yeah, with that
Edited on Thu Sep-17-09 10:01 PM by billh58
clunky old "God-damned piece of paper" we call the Constitution of the United States holding us back, it's a constant wonder that we've managed to grow from a small group of former British Colonies, to the most powerful nation in the world in only 233 years.

Those near-sighted "Founders" only provided future generations of Americans with the mechanisms to modify that scroungy old piece of paper, so that they wouldn't become bored with their government, and lapse back into monarchy. European parliamentarian governments are so much more refined and efficient than our Federation of United States, and it's a real puzzle that we have had to bail them out and protect them over the years. It seems a shame that they had to take a step towards emulation the US form of government, by forming the European Union (a confederation of States). I'm sure that will come to no good end.

End of :sarcasm:

That corporations have gained too much control over the inner-workings of our Constitutional government, and its electoral process is a given, but they exert just as much control over foreign governments as well. The problem, dear Libertarians, is NOT our Constitution -- it is the failure to protect it from corporate fascists and wannabe neoconservative dictators. The Founders, to a man, warned us long ago: We have given you the foundation for an adaptable form of Representative government. It is up to future generations of Americans to keep that government free, and to protect it.

An old cowboy saying also holds true: Don't blame the horse -- blame the rider.
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liberalpragmatist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 10:05 PM
Response to Reply #47
52. There's nothing wrong with criticizing our constitutional framework
Edited on Thu Sep-17-09 10:29 PM by liberalpragmatist
For one thing, the Founders themselves would have been fairly shocked at how wedded we are to the structures they designed. They threw out their own first draft - the Articles of Confederation - and fully expected periodic constitutional conventions.

It's perfectly valid to point out that, while the Founders did many good things, there are aspects of our governing structures that are somewhat antiquated. In the past, that wasn't controversial. We amended the Constitution significantly after the Civil War to correct flaws, and again went through several rounds of amendments during the Progressive Era and the '60s. If the Constitution wasn't perfect in 1861, what makes you think it's perfect now?

And in any event, I'm not calling for scrapping the Constitution. All I'm saying is that there really should be discussion about changes to our structure. You know - amendments. Which, I might add, is a process delineated and allowed by our constitution. It is absolutely true that a presidential system with two coequal Houses is a far more veto-prone setup than most other modern democracies. Now, maybe you feel that's a feature, not a bug, but it's a perfectly valid point of debate.

In any event, if you want to know the changes I'd personally like to see I'd be happy to outline them for you. Most of them, in fact, wouldn't even require constitutional amendments. But I would advocate things like (1) enlarging the House, (2) permitting states to elect representatives by proportional representation, (3) reforming the committee system, (4) abolishing the filibuster, (5) instituting a form of judicial term limits*, (6) full public financing of campaigns.

Amendments I would like to see would be (1) abolishing the electoral college, and (2) an amendment declaring that political donations do not constitute speech.

If I were to call for anything truly "radical" it would be changing the allocation of the U.S. Senate, expanding the House term to four years and making it co-terminous with the presidency, and allowing for a no-confidence vote (say, 60%) in the Senate to remove cabinet members, with 60% votes in BOTH Houses sufficient to remove a president or vice president from office.

Keep in mind that the legislative changes I outlined, and the first two amendments I laid out, would not be radical restructurings of the Constitution at all. They would be completely comparable in effect to previous amendments. Even if the four more radical amendments I outlined were passed, the basic setup of our constitutional structure would remain the same. We'd still have an elected president, two elected houses of Congress, etc.

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billh58 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 10:21 PM
Response to Reply #52
53. I agree with
Edited on Thu Sep-17-09 10:31 PM by billh58
ALL of your proposed changes and amendments, and as I apparently misunderstood the intent of your original post, I apologize for the snarky response. I have always maintained that the US Constitutional form of representative government, and our Federation of States has many warts, but is head and shoulders above whatever is in second place. I don't believe, however, that I ever stated that the Constitution, as it stands, is "perfect." What I meant to imply, is that we have allowed it to be subverted, and undermined by corporate fascists.

I also note that Constitutional and procedural change in America comes very slowly from a Liberal perspective, and I lay that directly at the feet of the "Conservative constructionists" segment of our country, and especially the recent "neoconservative" extremists. It is gratifying to look back, however, and reflect on the many Liberal improvements, and social progress we have made throughout our short history.

Again, peace and prosperity... :toast:

Aloha,
Bill
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liberalpragmatist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 10:31 PM
Response to Reply #53
54. Good conversation
:cheers:
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provis99 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 01:15 PM
Response to Reply #53
112. wrong. The Parliamentary system of government is far better.
If you look at countries which have American style-congressional governments (usually because of American colonialism), they are all in the shitter (most in Central and South America), and are dominated by two political parties, one representing urban elites, and one representing rural elites.

The best countries in the world all have Parliamentary systems.

The US system of government was deliberately set up by the founding fathers to suck; it was just supposed to suck a little bit less than the Articles of Confederation did.
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billh58 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 01:53 PM
Response to Reply #112
119. Wow, you
are a bitter devil, aren't you? Tell you what, you live under the parliamentary system of government in whatever "best country in the world" you choose, and I'll keep what has worked very well for over 200 years, and remain in the "best" country I've seen after having traveled the world over. That way, there is no further need to argue with each other -- is there?

The exit is down the hall, and to the Far Left... ;-)
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tocqueville Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 10:53 PM
Response to Reply #47
55. Well some would disagree with you.
1787 Sept. 17: Benjamin Franklin, last day of the Constitutional Convention

In these sentiments, sir, I agree to this Constitution, with all its faultsif they are suchbecause I think a general government necessary for us, and there is no form of government but what may be a blessing to the people if well administered; and I believe further, that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic government, being incapable of any other.

so according to Franklin the Constitution, in its original form was a temporary document that might work for a while. Most democratic countries have rewritten their Constitutions to adapt them to the evolution of society in order to enrich them. The US is practically the only country that has kept the original text, with few changes over 220 years. NO document can be that perfect. It doesn't mean that the core principles can't be kept, since they are basically the same for all Enlightement based democracies. But revering the form, is idolatry and becomes counter-productive.


"emulation the US form of government, by forming the European Union (a confederation of States)"

in reality the EU was founded as an economical union between States (with Germany and Franceas as the engine). And still mostly is. I doesn't have a constitution, attempts have been rejected. It's not a real confederation, doesn't even have a President or an Army. It's a refined NAFTA with a single currency. See post above.

FYI, I am not a libertarian and find libertarianism a completely flawed ideology, which sadly is too much present in the US mindset. BTW it's another aspect of the current failure.
Libertarianism, specially in its "right-wing" form, is marginal in Europe.
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billh58 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 11:16 PM
Response to Reply #55
58. Mea culpa,
Edited on Thu Sep-17-09 11:18 PM by billh58
and I'm sure that many disagree with me. That is one of the blessings of our flawed, but venerable, Constitution.

Ben Franklin was my kind of political and social scalawag, and I suspect that much of his sarcasm and wit spilled over into his penchant for being a Devil's advocate. Our Constitution HAS changed over the years, but you need to remember that because we are a Republic, a majority of the individual States must ratify Constitutional Amendments. Depending on your point-of-view that may either be a bad thing, or a good thing. I believe that it is a good thing, otherwise we would have had many stupid Amendments such as the 18th Amendment, which required the 21st Amendment to nullify it. Two perfectly good Amendment slots wasted. Recent proposed Constitutional Amendments, such as the Marriage Amendment, or the Flag Amendment, are examples of why the Founders made it so hard to make changes.

Our Constitutional form of representative government, and participation in its change by the 50 States of the Federation, may not be pretty, but it has served us well -- so far.

I have no disagreements with you, and I too believe that Libertarianism is a flawed ideology. I also believe that "strict constructionism" flies in the face of the intentions of the Founders, and the spirit of the Constitution.

Cheers...

Bill
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Muddy Waters Guitars Donating Member (56 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 12:26 AM
Response to Reply #19
65. Great post! You should publish what you just wrote, it covers all the bases
Maybe an op-ed, or a journal piece-- it really gets right to the core of Constitutional blunders (esp. the way the Senate is apportioned), Congressional stupidities, the corporate personhood and the money in politics toxicity that is ruining our nation. I'd only add that our media is also failing in too many ways. I know some journalists try to do their jobs well, and there are some decent media outlets-- but far too many buy into the stupid idea of "false balance," that gives supposedly equal weight to some idiotic tea-bagger holstering an AK-47, who has absolutely nothing constructive to contribute (and is just causing problems), and hard-working progressives who are actually doing the hard work of trying to come up with a solution. More people in the media need to be able to say that a wingnut idiot is an idiot, and that people doing constructive things (with 70-80% of the population supporting them) simply carry more weight. Rupert Murdoch isn't helping-- if anybody should be arrested as a foreign traitor and an enemy to America (which the wingnuts are always whining about), it should be Murdoch. That Australian has done more damage to our nation than could ever be calculated.

Our government has been twisted to serve a narrow set of economic interests. Which conflict with the general interest of the nation. If we can't fix this, our country will continue to collapse into a Third-World nation.
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Amaya Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 07:56 AM
Response to Reply #19
82. YES!
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ProudDad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 01:15 PM
Response to Reply #19
113. To go one step further
this state of affairs was intentional...

The "founding fathers" were more afraid of the common herd (that's us) than they were of the King or Church.

Therefore they created an undemocratic "republic" to insure that their power and wealth would remain unchallenged.

The USAmerikan Empire has NEVER been a democracy...
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Selatius Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 02:48 PM
Response to Original message
22. The United States is a bankrupt imperium that is spending itself into decay.
You have a nation that literally spends 600 billion dollars a year on war, and it doesn't want to spend anything to give health care to its poorest. That's an empire. Infrastructure and people be damned. Let them all rot and die. We want to hold onto all our "colonial" possessions in the world.
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Solly Mack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 03:58 PM
Response to Original message
24. K&R
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truedelphi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 04:26 PM
Response to Original message
26. No the USA has not lost its mind - it is an oligarchy, and all the pieces of the
Edited on Thu Sep-17-09 04:27 PM by truedelphi
Matrix style puzzle that really count in the formation of policies, from the legislators to the media, keep the PR spin around the major policies slanted so that the needs and whims of the upper 1% is fulfilled, while the spin states that "Freedom" is being accomplished, or Health Care, or whatever..

And unfortunately there is always 20% of the populace willing to support whichever tyrant is in charge, be they with an R or a D after their name.

So we are sold a sack of shit, but as long as it is presented with decent PR, like Iraqi Freedom Campaign, or Health Care Reform, a solid 20% base tries to see that everyone else accepts the sack of shit.
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treestar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 04:29 PM
Response to Original message
27. It's the Senate
Does any of these countries have a body like it? it gives disproportionate power to low-population states. Liberals tend to be in the big cities. So in the Senate NY and Cal. have equal influence with WY and Idaho.

That red-blue map might explaint it. If you do it by counties the election could appear very red.
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wolfgangmo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 04:30 PM
Response to Original message
28. Watching American's flounder on this issue has convinced me of one thing.
That no one on this planet, not Osama Bin Laden, not North Korea, not anyone hates Americans as much as other Americans.

The self loathing is pathological.
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BlueMTexpat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 01:29 AM
Response to Reply #28
69. Did you read through any of the very thoughtful posts and conversations
following this OP? Or did you just come here to post this little tidbit of "wisdom?" If that's all that you have to say, please move on.

I see no "hatred" towards Americans expressed here by other Americans, or anyone else. What I see here for the most part are thoughtful discussions, with some agreement and disagreement about what might/could work to make our Constitution a better and more workable document and our political system more functional for all of its citizens, with some proposals for learning FROM what works in European systems rather than rigidly adhering to our own mindset because we're "#1" and so no one else can possibly teach us anything.

Personally, I love my country and the overwhelming majority of my fellow citizens. I do not love our corporations in their current fascist and totally non-productive, self-interested and short-sighted incarnations, with an emphasis on obscene profits for the few who are well-placed at the top, nor do I love their control of our mass media and our political outcomes. I do not love fascists who inspire the most bigoted and rigid among us to act uncivilly towards others (stating this mildly) or to invade other countries to steal their natural resources while ensuring that their "friends" walk away with large chunks of our taxpayer money without any controls. I do not love those who manipulated our financial system and ensured no regulation and oversight of their actions so that they could very nearly wipe out our country altogether. I do not love ANYONE, American or otherwise, who considers any people or group to be "lesser" either by virtue of their ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, political or economic status.

In fact, I love my fellow citizens so much that I would love to see all have them have access to quality and affordable health care, and to anything else that will help us all to become a truly Great Society.
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ProudDad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 01:17 PM
Response to Reply #28
114. I'll admit that I am a citizen of Mother Earth
I loath all "nationalist" fictions...

Piss on All Flags!!!
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Libertas1776 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 05:56 PM
Response to Original message
32. Well,
in all fairness to the Guardian and the rest of Europe, our national infrastructure wasn't completely and utterly destroyed by a continental wide genocidal war of aggression and expansion that eventually spread throughout the world, allowing for most of the current European infrastructure to be rebuilt from the ashes from the bottom up, much with aid and assistance from a certain country across a certain "pond."

At the rate things are going over here, would United Europe return the favor when our entire infrastructure come crashing down, or will they just sit back and watch us burn? Just wondering, is all. :shrug:

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Zix Donating Member (881 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 06:16 PM
Response to Reply #32
36. So you want to be invaded by Europe?

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Libertas1776 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 06:22 PM
Response to Reply #36
37. Hey,
Edited on Thu Sep-17-09 06:23 PM by Libertas1776
if this country is degraded to a battle scarred shit scape (more so than usual)and you come bearing health care... :)
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tama Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 02:33 AM
Response to Reply #36
72. Again?
Last time Europeans invaded America, it was not good for the natives.
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kleec Donating Member (117 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 08:13 AM
Response to Reply #36
83. We
don't need to be invaded by anyone, we've already been taken over by corporate. This happened with Raygun!
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tocqueville Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 08:48 PM
Response to Reply #32
45. been there, done that...
Europe isn't interested in a "burned down" USA

1) after all you are our children (at least most of you)
2) we share common values (at least we hope so)
3) more crass, we need you to buy our stuff. We'd rather be paid in a decent valuta than in peanuts.
4) an unstable and desperate USA sitting on 1000 nukes isn't a happy configuration

so we'd probably intervene one way or the other

PS : the Marshall plan has been either repaid or written off. It was never considered as a loan to be completely repaid, but more as an investment beneficiary to every part. Which it was, creating a lot of productive wealth in the US. So please skip that old canard.
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cornermouse Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 08:01 PM
Response to Original message
38. If I could afford it, I would absolutely move to Europe tomorrow.
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Canuckistanian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 08:03 PM
Response to Original message
39. To outsiders, the US is looking more and more like a monarchy
Not so much with the government as rulers, but corporate interests.

And the financial disparity has always perplexed us. Slums, poverty and homeless people seems to be common in the cities, coexisting with multimillionaires who ride past them in their Mercedes.

Isn't the pride of a society that EVERYONE is taken care of, even the lowliest floor sweeper? No, in America it's dog-eat-dog, you're either clawing your way to the top or you're nothing.

We just don't understand that kind of disconnect.
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Prometheus Bound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 08:15 PM
Response to Original message
43. Since I was a child I've always believed that the US is just too damn big.
Split it into 4 or 5 countries and make it manageable, each one learning from and competing with the others. My 12-year-old impression hasn't changed much. (I'm not American.)
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proteus_lives Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 02:38 AM
Response to Reply #43
73. Same thing could be said of China.
Tibet, Taiwan and the muslim areas would love to be free and clear of Beijing.
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Prometheus Bound Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 02:47 AM
Response to Reply #73
75. Absolutely. It's just too big to be manageable.
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ProudDad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 01:24 PM
Response to Reply #43
115. Actually the EU is larger
more people, larger GDP...

It's the different history...

Europeans had the occasionally useful concept of Noblesse Oblige going for it. The Europeans nearly self destructed during the great 20th Century War (from about 1905 through 1945)...and got to "start from scratch".

USAmerica was stolen from the people who lived here in sustainable equilibrium with Mother Earth by the most rapacious of conquerors from the old world -- the criminals, the sadists and the religious fanatics who decided that the continent was "empty" and they could steal it all!

Now USAmerika thinks that they can steal all of the resources of Earth for the sick consumerist "society". They're 1/4 right...

It's not a short leap from that to the libertarian nonsense that passes for a societal imperative -- "I've got mine, Jack. Go get your own!"
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MissDeeds Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 10:02 PM
Response to Original message
51. That's it in a nutshell
United States of Stupid...or if the USA logo works best, United States of A**holes. What a mess this country has become, that we allow senseless killing, but not health care. Pathetic.
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earcandle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 11:04 PM
Response to Original message
56. Thanks! This will live in my newsroom at Noodle Brain dot com
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burning rain Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 11:17 PM
Response to Original message
59. "Mr. Blair, we make things."
I liked that line of Merkel's.
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Muddy Waters Guitars Donating Member (56 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 12:06 AM
Response to Original message
60. Rethugs have indeed made the USA a laughingstock-- filled with corruption, corporatism, extremism
Steven Hill's piece is right on the money, as is his headline. I've been doing overseas work for decades, and the perception of our country is as low as it's ever been-- we're basically seen as a massive Third-World Country in the making. FWIW, people overseas clearly recognize that the prime culprits are George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, the neocons, the wingnuts, and the corporatist/Friedmanist market fundamentalists, whose predator crony capitalism has brought our country's economy to its knees. They respect Barack Obama, but they suspect there's little he can ultimately do to overcome the mess that the Rethugs have put us in--their short-term, profits-over-people, "screw the little guy to make the super-rich even richer" economy is simply unsustainable. Now, idiots like the teabaggers and the other disruptive fools are making us look like an ungovernable basketcase.

I used to conduct all my meetings in English overseas. No longer-- in many industries, Americans are being expected to speak some Mandarin or especially German, since the countries using these languages have more sustainable economic practices, and lack the ridiculous Rethug-led polarization and "politics of the stupid" we have here. Japan, China, most of the EU (though Britain has taken on some of our dumbest practices)-- although they maintain capitalist systems, they do so within the broader context of community cohesion and mutual responsibility for the common good. It's a much healthier way to run a society, and much more effective.
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billh58 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 12:13 AM
Response to Original message
62. In my estimation,
Edited on Fri Sep-18-09 12:14 AM by billh58
here is the paragraph in the Guardian article that sums up the reason for the economic collapse, and general decline in civility of the United States and its people:

But in the United States, for decades under the sway of the Reagan revolution's economic philosophy, which favoured corporate finance over manufacturing, the economy has seen a stark decline in manufacturing. Since the second world war, the financial sector in the United States has tripled in size as a percentage of the overall economy and of corporate profits. That increase accelerated during the eight years of the Bush administration, even as the US lost 5.5 million manufacturing jobs.


This neoconservative-inspired decline into pure greed, and the subversion of our Constitution by the criminals who sold our government to corporate fascists, can be laid directly at the feet of Grover Norquist, Lee Atwater, Newt Gingrich, William Kristol, Ronald Reagan, the Bush family, Karl Rove, Tom DeLay, Dennis Hastert, and many other "Republican" un-American traitors to the American people.
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anonymous171 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 12:39 AM
Response to Original message
67. America is ground-zero for the global corporate empire. We are its source
The only reason the corporations keep us around is because they like how they can use our military to open and secure new markets for them. They don't give a shit about the American nation or its ideals. All they care about is profits.
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Libertas1776 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 02:41 AM
Response to Reply #67
74. Bingo!
If it was more profitable and easy to operate out of Switzerland or Swaziland, they would move in a heartbeat.
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ProudDad Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 01:31 PM
Response to Reply #74
117. Too late. A lot of them have already moved here:
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valerief Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 12:06 PM
Response to Reply #67
99. That's our raison d'etre. You nailed it. nt
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Enthusiast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 04:05 AM
Response to Original message
76. There is no "as if" about it.
When you give the corporations free rein this is the results.
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Syntheto Donating Member (283 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 04:13 AM
Response to Original message
77. Well, if an expert such as a newfound sauna companion...
...says it, why, it must be true.
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Christa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 07:34 AM
Response to Original message
79. K & R nt
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evenso Donating Member (113 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 09:05 AM
Response to Original message
89. America is not a fully modern nation...
We have yet to let go of our imperialist tendencies and seek to take care of our own people. Until enough Americans understand that there is a public good, and put away the urge to remake the world in their image, we will not fully mature into a modern nation.
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jpljr77 Donating Member (580 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 09:39 AM
Response to Original message
91. To all of those freaking out about h'care co-ops...
Edited on Fri Sep-18-09 09:40 AM by jpljr77
Contrary to stereotype, most of Europe doesn't use single payer, with France, Germany and others having evolved a "third way" that combines individual choice with private, nonprofit insurance companies and Medicare-like cost controls.


That's how the co-ops will look. It's not that the private sector is inherently bad at delivering healthcare, it's the profit that those at the top try to extract from it. Take away the profit and all of the associated overhead needed to generate it (rescission programs, investor relations, marketing and extravagant bonuses tied to, you guessed it, profit) and you'll see an automatic drop in premiums and other costs.
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BREMPRO Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 10:21 AM
Response to Reply #91
94. good post- DUers should be informed about how other systems work- no excuse.
If the coops can be set up as regulated NON-PROFIT exchanges where there are large pools to distribute risk and create healthy competition and choice, just as they are and work in some European countries, I would support it. The devil is in the details. I still would like a public option, but the coops have been shown to work in other places- learn from that and don't allow the private insurers to interfere. gov. Dean says they are a sham here in this country, because they got infiltrated by the private insurers. If we can create a firewall, where they can't be run or bought by any private, for profit entity, then lets consider it.
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grantcart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 12:38 PM
Response to Reply #91
101. not true

Europe has strict controls over industry and doesn't allow private companies to personally lobby for regulation changes.


So the same type of system that works there will not work here because the health care industry has literally thousands of lobbyists that will effectively gut the regulations by millions of administrative changes that are done out of site.

If you really believe this is true then how do you account for the fact that the HC companies promote cooperatives but are fighting tooth and nail against the public option. If they were really scared about the public option they would oppose that too, but they don't.
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BREMPRO Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 10:13 AM
Response to Original message
93. ?Obscene corporate profit, Republicans, Faux news, talk radio, RW evangelicals, morons that vote.
"you can't reorganize a village to suit the village idiot" -Frank Schaeffer.
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Time for change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 11:58 AM
Response to Original message
97. It's true -- Democracy does NOT work here any more
Not much, anyhow.
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Cha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 12:40 PM
Response to Original message
102. Yeah, we have a lot of
Fucking Assholes in this country.
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and-justice-for-all Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 12:44 PM
Response to Original message
103. Unbelievable..
"Even countries like Croatia, Hungary and Slovenia, with per capita incomes only a fraction of that in the United States, have healthcare for all their people." BUT TRUE!
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onlyadream Donating Member (821 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 01:05 PM
Response to Original message
105. Oh please...what's there to understand?
America is run by BIG corporations.
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paparush Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 01:11 PM
Response to Original message
110. Virtually Unregulated Capitalism - When unchecked greed is the driving principle.
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