Saturday, April 21, 2007
CORPORATE WELFARE FOR PHARMACEUTICALS
Normally republicans look with outright disdain upon entitlements of any kind. Medicare was opposed by the republicans when it passed a democrat congress some four decades ago. Even though AARP had advocated extension of Medicare to prescription drugs, their influence with republicans had been minimal.
The prescription drug law was bi-partisan in the sense of there actually being some kind of plan. However, certain features of the plan were quite partisan. Republicans insisted on private insurance companies having the business. The also borbade any negotiation by the government for discounts on drug prices. Democrats unsuccessfully opposed those features.
When the new Medicare plan hit the streets iin 2006, there was mass confusion everywhere. There were 40 or so insurance companies with different coverage, all meeting Medicare requirements. Seniors were confused. Pharmacists were confused. Claims processors were confused. It was a madhouse.
Involvement of private insurers caused confusion, and brought increased costs for individuals and for the government. Failure to use mass purchasing power to reduce the cost of drugs was reprehensible.
The inflation of drug prices in the United States has been outrageous the last two decades. This Medicare law has allowed drug prices to continue to escalate unchecked. Americans are paying higher and higher prices, compared with citizens of foreign countries importing these same drugs.
The past trips by seniors to Canada to save on drugs have been well known. Our own state pharmacies are forbidden to sell re-imported identical drugs. Medicare cannot have drug companies bid or negotiate on drugs, as does the Veterans Administration.
Headlines in some newspapers this past week read: "Senate Republicans Block Medicare Drug Discounts." In line with promises made in the last election, democrats in the senate have a bill which would allow Medicare to negotiate for drug discounts in the marketplace. They could not get the ten republican votes necessary to reach the 60 necessary to allow consideration and a vote on this reform measure.
Has anyone noticed all the TV ads, paid for by pharmaceutical companies, telling us that we should leave the prescription drug plan alone and not want changes? Wonder why? Has anyone seen the reports of huge campaign donations by these same companies, mostly to republicans? Wonder why? Has anyone heard of the travel junkets provided congressmen by pharmacy and insurance companies? Has anyone heard that there are more pharmaceutical lobbyists on Capitol Hill than there are congressmen? Wonder why?
Anyone want to guess how Oklahoma's two senators voted on refusing consideration to drug price reforms in Medicare? Who were they representing?
The voters in America should pace the responsibility for high drug prices, especially the high cost of the senior plan, squarely where this belongs. It should be attributed to the greed of pharmaceuticals, and the influence of big money on the republican party.
Pandering to corporate greed at taxpayers' expense and at the expense of the elderly and poor seems immoral to the Militant Moderate.
Dr. Edwin E. Vineyard, AKA The Militant Moderate
Saturday, April 14, 2007
THINGS I DON'T KNOW *** And Things That I do
It is supposed to be a good characteristic to recognize what one does and does not know. So, the Militant Moderate wishes to set forth some of the things he does not know or understand about our involvement in Iraq, along with some observations about what he does know.
I do not know the best way to extricate the United States from occupation of Iraq, but I do know that it must be done. And, it needs to be done sooner rather than later.
I don't know why we are still in Iraq. I do know that we are not wanted there.
It is difficult for me to remember exactly why we went to occupy Iraq in the first place. I recall being told different reasons at different times. I know that some of these were false.
It is really difficult for me to understand why we are putting more young people in harm's way to try to pacify an impossible tribal and religious internal conflict in Iraq. I do know that hasn't worked in the past.
I don't know why we pushed to set up a so-called "democracy" in Iraq. I do know that "democracy" there has meant that two ethnic and religious groups (regions) making up 40% of the population will be ruled by the other religious group (region) which is 60% of the people. I know not to be surprised by violent resistance.
I don't understand why leaving Iraq is called "surrender," "defeat," "cut and run," or similar terms. But then I keep forgetting what our goals were in going there. Vaguely I recall something first about regime change, the threat of Saddam to us, and weapons of mass destruction. Then liberating the people came later. And I recall something added later about establishing democracy.
I do not know why we are so dead set on occupying Iraq. I hear it being said that we are fighting terrorism there so they won't invade us. I do think that is a bit farfetched.
I don't know exactly what catastrophic bad things are going to happen if we leave Iraq. They tell us there will be "chaos." An answer comes to mind: "Well, duh!"
I am hard pressed to come with much good that the invasion and occupation have brought to America or its people. I can readily enumerate a host of bad things that have come about as a result of this precipitous, but enduring, conflict.
Perhaps one could continue this line of examination of things we don't know and countering with things we do know. But, I think the significant message has been conveyed.
Edwin E. Vineyard, AKA The Militant Moderate
Monday, April 09, 2007
A CONVERSATION WITH A REPUBLICAN
Perhaps the foregoing better defines a discussion than a conversation. But real republicans don't normally favor political discussions either. Verbal political interactions with real republicans tend to be a series of exclamations, a shouting match, or a one-sided monologue with the republican doing all the talking.
How often have we noted on television that so-called balanced panel discussions tend to be dominated by self-assured republican advocates who have all the answeres and keep repeating those prescribed talking points? While this is not always the case, and democrats are learning the tactic, some republican advocates interrupt to disagree, shouting if necessary. Even though the moderator may intervene, the orderly thought chain of the opponent has been successfully disrupted.
But then we stray.
The Militant Moderate was in a public place of activity in which there was a television set tuned to CNN's afternoon program. The reporter was giving the news of Speaker Pelosi's trip to the Middle East, including Syria, the White House criticism, and the democrat response pointing to the three republicans just there.
The conversation went like this:
Republican: "They ought to shoot her!"
Militant Moderate: "Maybe they should do something about Bush instead."
Republican: "Nothing wrong with him!"
Militant Moderate: "He's the cause of our problems, not her!"
Republican: "He is the only honest one up there!"
A Second Republican: "At least we don't have Hillary in charge."
Militant Moderate: "We could do a lot worse. We have worse right now!"
This was an elderly republican. He spoke loudly. So the Militant Moderate spoke loudly to be sure that he could hear. Perhaps this man thought the Militant Moderate, a bit elderly as well, was also hard of hearing.
One would surmise that this elderly republican might ordinarily behave in a gentlemanly manner. But his political outburst was not. A gentleman does not call loudly for the shooting of our nice lady Speaker of the House. Being a gentleman, the Militant Moderate did not call loudly for the shooting of the president. Nor did he call loudly for his impeachment. But he admits having the urge to do the latter.
Other than being difficult to converse with, real republicans are also difficult to reason with about politics. Their minds are made up. They were not made up today, yesterday, or last year. Their minds were made up a long time ago. And, real republicans practically never change their minds.
Facts don't matter. Experience doesn't matter. Seeing events occur before their eyes doesn't matter. The current president still runs 30 percent or more approval rating. Those are diehard republicans who believe nothing bad about another republican, even if they see it happen. A bunch of these live in Oklahoma.
Dr. Edwin E. Vineyard, AKA The Militant Moderate