Labor Advocate Online
Week In Review
A Weekly Column by Bill Onasch
April 8, 2007
Whose Life Doesn’t Count?
Leave it to Rose Ann DeMoro, Executive Director of the California Nurses Association, to put this question bluntly. We’ve all heard the various schemes–let’s provide funds for the children of single moms without health insurance, or let’s help destitute old folks pay for their Medicare B bridge insurance, etc. We’ll all feel better knowing the unfortunates have access to medical care–and especially grateful will be the insurance companies for sources of profit they couldn’t otherwise bleed out of stone.
DeMoro tells it like it is,
“Gradualism – extending health coverage to some – is the mantra of the day, fawned over by some politicians and advocacy groups alike. The appearance of ‘bi-partisanship’ or the staging of ‘strange bedfellows’ is often the only purpose of grand pronouncements of support for universal health care. Whether the proposals actually solves the health care crisis is irrelevant or secondary to the hype.”
She politely doesn’t supply names to such strange bedfellows as SEIU’s Andy Stern, and CWA’s Larry Cohen, who made joint appearances with the CEOs of Wal-Mart and AT&T. But don’t mistake that as a sign she’s going mellow.
“Virtually all the gradual reforms being touted would reinforce a multi-tiered health care system with as many standards of care as there are dollars to purchase them, and further lock us into a private insurance-based model that holds our health hostage to the HMOs and big insurance companies for years to come.”
She goes on to recount grim statistics about how lack of preventive health care leads to an estimated 18,000 unnecessary deaths every year as the un or under insured are less likely to get timely treatment such as surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation treatment for cancer; angioplasty for heart attacks; X-rays or consultations for pneumonia.
But Rose Ann doesn’t just speak bitterness. She reminds us that there is a genuine universal coverage plan in congress that would save both lives and money–HR 676, modeled on the Labor Party Just Health Care proposal. While acknowledging it’s currently a long shot, she leaves us with some hope,
“It's time to stop promoting inferior approaches that aggravate the healthcare crisis, and insist on real reform.
“American history is filled with examples of fundamental, democratic change brought about by mass action and public pressure against the counseling of the go slow crowd. We can and must achieve that in healthcare as well.”
High profile ICE workplace raids continued this week as la Migra swooped up 62 immigrant workers at a Cargill pork processing plant in Beardstown, Illinois. The busted workers were part of a clean up crew supplied by Quality Service Integrity Inc.
If these raids are intended to intimidate workers born elsewhere they don’t seem to be working. At least 15,000 immigrant rights defenders took to the streets of Los Angeles yesterday.
They seemed particularly incensed by a White House “reform” plan that calls for a new “Z” visa that would allow undocumented immigrant workers to apply for three-year work permits. They would be renewable indefinitely, but would cost $3,500 each time. To get a permit and become legal permanent residents, “illegal” immigrants would have to return to their home country, apply at a U.S. embassy or consulate to re-enter legally and pay a $10,000 fine. Similar provisions are contained in the bipartisan STRIVE bill already introduced in congress.
One demonstrator, an undocumented, low wage seamstress who sends 200 dollars a month back to her family in Mexico was quoted by AP,
“Last year, we were fighting for legalization, and this year we are fighting for legalization and against all these raids....We have no way to come up with that much money, and Bush knows that. He is doing this on purpose so we don't ever become legal residents.”
More mass demonstrations are planned in a number of other cities around May Day.
NBC Nightly News reports that a new poll shows big majorities of the American people find fault with both the White House and Congress for failing to end the Iraq war. It’s little wonder.
This morning Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Armed Services Committee, told a talk show, “We're not going to vote to cut [war] funding, period.”
Eleven more GIs died in Iraq on this Easter Sunday.
13,000 National Guard members from four states are saying goodbye to families and jobs, ready to join the surge in Iraq.
Clearly, the two-party Establishment in Washington will do nothing to bring the troops home now without further mass pressure from below. The peace movement remains fragmented, fixated on their own turf projects. As a step toward finding a way out of this mess several of us who attended the US Labor Against the War conference in Cleveland last December have issued an Open Letter to U.S. Peace Groups in an effort to move toward prompt unity in action. I urge you to read this letter and, if you agree, sign on.
Plenty Bad Enough
The Los Angeles Times said,
“A new global warming report issued Friday by the United Nations paints a near-apocalyptic vision of Earth's future: hundreds of millions of people short of water, extreme food shortages in Africa, a landscape ravaged by floods and millions of species sentenced to extinction.
“Despite its harsh vision, the report was quickly criticized by some scientists who said its findings were watered down at the last minute by governments seeking to deflect calls for action.”
One action not deflected are the more than 1200 community gatherings across the USA this coming Saturday, April 14. Code named Step it Up!, the events will call on congress to reduce carbon emissions by eighty percent by 2050.
The 800,000-member Sierra Club is pushing these actions. SEIU sent out a e-mail blast to their activist list urging them to get involved and the Steelworker partners of the Sierra Club in the Blue Green Alliance have endorsed as well.
In Kansas City the Labor Party chapter is mobilizing for a rally to be held in Southmoreland Park at 1PM on Saturday. You can get a sneak preview of the Labor Party leaflet that will be distributed by clicking here.
That’s all for this week.
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