From the Left: Reform every industry, even the Constitution
Published: Friday, February 21, 2014
Updated: Friday, February 21, 2014 02:02
The U.S. Constitution is not something that we should fetishize and cling blindly to. The Founding Fathers would want us to constantly question, challenge and update the system based on the needs of the American citizens, not dogmatically worship its bureaucracy as absolute and unquestionable. If there is one thing we Americans should debate, it’s the Constitution. Federalists, anti-Federalists, progressive reformers and conservative partisans should have this rich and dynamic debate every day – whether it’s the Tea Party’s desire for a Federal Marriage Amendment that makes national same-sex marriage constitutionally illegal, or the Communist Party USA’s desire to add more than a half-dozen new civil liberties to the Bill of Rights.
The Constitution isn’t the only thing that needs to be changed, but Obama’s reforms have been half-hearted, temporary Band-Aid solutions, rather than the comprehensive economic surgery that we really need. No matter what the Republican Party (or its crypto-fascist “Tea Party” fringe) say about Obama, know that he is not left wing. The policies enacted via legislation and executive order are not what any legitimate “left” administration would enact. When the vanguard party of the proletariat seizes control of the state, it won’t look anything like what Obama, Biden, Pelosi and Reid are pushing for.
What would a real left party do? It certainly wouldn’t enact the Affordable Care Act; that is, use the federal government’s power to tax citizens as a means to coerce them into a bureaucratic, for-profit market monopolized by a handful of insurance corporations. As the Socialist Party presidential nominee, Stuart Alexander, called it, it’s “nothing more than a corporate re-structuring of the healthcare system.” Real progressives would institutionalize a universal, non-profit, single-payer Medicare-for-All national insurance program that covers every citizen from birth to death. Some laws have been introduced to do this, including Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s H.R. 676, which would cover all primary, preventative, emergency, therapeutic, dental, optic and specialist care.
The Congressional Budget Office has repeatedly estimated that H.R. 676 could save $450 billion per year by streamlining the insurance filing process, reducing administrative waste and bureaucracy, simplifying payments, and allowing the program to bargain with pharmaceutical corporations by entering into long-term prescription supply contracts with them in exchange for making them the sole provider of a given medication. This is what is done in other countries, including Britain, which also nationalized all hospitals to cut down on costs by streamlining hospital administration to further reduce the multi-insurer bureaucracy; Taiwan, which copied Britain and gave everyone a “Health IC” smart card that’s swiped when you enter the hospital, cutting down on billions lost by insurance fraud; and Canada, which left most hospitals privately-owned but required all to accept its national insurance, allowing citizens to pick which hospital they want to go to, and thus inducing a market mechanism wherein each hospital competes with each other to be the best and attract the most patients.
Healthcare reform isn’t the only thing that America needs. We need a profound, revolutionary reconstruction of our entire economy so that it works in the direct material interests of the working class. We need to nationalize higher education so that we can cut down on the wasteful, for-profit corrupt politics of privately-owned universities and save billions of dollars, which can be re-directed to subsidize the tuition costs of millions of low-income and middle-class college students. Numerous economists have repeated that if the government paid every university students’ tuition across the whole country, it would actually cost less than what it pays now via the Pell Grant and Plus Loan programs because privately-owned for-profit colleges charge more for their tuition payments because they know the government will pay the extra costs. Did Obama make the education system work in the interest of the working class, or did he re-structure the college loan payment system so that the majority of the interest payments go to the federal government instead of the corporate banks? Has Obama created a universal higher education system, or did he preserve and re-direct loan exploitation?
A healthy, educated populace should be able to find jobs via a public works program: a never-ending national re-construction program wherein we work together to constantly upgrade, modernize and weatherize our infrastructure and energy grid in an eco-friendly manner so that we are prepared for the economic challenges of the 21st century. These jobs should be able to take place in a workplace wherein the workers themselves have ultimate control over production and exchange. That is, rather than bail out the corporate banks that wrecked the economy via illegal insider trading, federal funds should support worker-owned and worker-managed co-operative businesses so that democracy would be introduced into economics, not just politics. This collective, democratic decision-making would be a powerful sociologic threat to the disciplinarian, top-down management of capitalism. It would be a means through which the seeds of a new society could be planted, and people would have control over their own financial destiny via genuine economic democracy.
What do you think? Do you think that we should leave all of our major economic decisions to the Republican and Democratic elite, or do you think that we should transfer all political and economic decision-making power to the working class via direct democracy? One path is conducive for liberty and solidarity; the other promotes economic exploitation and a hyper-partisan police state. You decide which is which.