Has your insurance company called you recently to ask you to sign up for a wellness or disease management program? Has that same company told you it’s a free service to policyholders and promised you that they do not share the information with the departments and people who administer your benefits and claims? You – like me and millions of other Americans – are being scammed.
The privatization of public goods and services turns basic human needs into products to buy and sell. That's more than a joke, it's an insult, it's a perversion. It generally benefits only a privileged group of businesspeople and their companies while increasing inequality and undermining the common good.
Imagine sitting at the kitchen table, stressing out over your family's finances. Between the student loan debt, the credit card debt, the car loan, the mortgage, the phone bill, the groceries, electricity and the water, you only have so much in your bank account to cover a few of those things. To avoid defaulting on your debt or having your car repossessed, you'll either have to forgo electricity for your home, or you can simply collect the debt owed to you by your rich neighbors, all of which totals more than you would make in 10 years.
Welcome to the abattoir -- a nation where a man can walk into a store and buy an assault rifle, a shotgun, a couple of Glocks; where in the comfort of his darkened living room, windows blocked from the sunlight, he can rig a series of bombs unperturbed and buy thousands of rounds of ammo on the Internet; where a movie theater can turn into a killing floor at the midnight hour.
Could a narrow focus on Citizens United actually set back our drive for democracy?
That's been a real worry of mine, but my thinking has been fussy. So I was relieved to see Matt Bai, the New York Times Magazine's political correspondent, take on the challenge of deciphering what can and cannot be laid at the feet of this awful ruling.
I’ve spent recent days on an island north of Huntsville pondering the death from cancer, at 71, of the Irish-American left-wing journalist Alexander Cockburn. He’s often paired with Christopher Hitchens, whose death last December got far more media attention, surely because Hitchens made a well-trod journey to the right in the final phase of his career. Cockburn never did.
The gloomy annual report of the trustees of Social Security has provoked the usual ominous predictions of big trouble ahead. Media accounts spoke of significant deterioration in the financial outlook of the system, and declared it unsustainable unless structural changes were made. The scare words might seem to justify the often-heard prediction that Social Security may last long enough to sustain our current oldsters, but that it is headed for bankruptcy and "won't be there" for our younger citizens.
RONALD REAGAN famously said, “We fought a war on poverty and poverty won.” With 46 million Americans — 15 percent of the population — now counted as poor, it’s tempting to think he may have been right.
Look a little deeper and the temptation grows. The lowest percentage in poverty since we started counting was 11.1 percent in 1973. The rate climbed as high as 15.2 percent in 1983. In 2000, after a spurt of prosperity, it went back down to 11.3 percent, and yet 15 million more people are poor today.
How is it possible for a competent and fluent person such as Mitt Romney, a man who founded a successful private equity business, saved the Salt Lake Olympics, and was governor of a state, Massachusetts – turning round its finances and, in the process, showing glimmers of enlightenment in health and gun control – to make such a complete and utter Horlicks of his visit to London on the eve of the Olympics? All that is required of any foreign personage is to speed along the line of greeters, murmuring: "Jolly good show – carry on."