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Friday, July 3rd 2009

Health care and income security

Health care reform and income security

President Obama is in Green Bay today as part of his push for health care reform.

A story on the front page of the Washington Post has the following paragraph near the end:

Richard Cooper, professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, says he thinks the variations identified by the Dartmouth researchers — due primarily to enormous hospital expenses — are often related to patients’ socioeconomic status. States such as Wisconsin have lower medical costs because they are predominantly white and middle class, he said. The notable exception is Milwaukee, with its “poverty corridor,” he said. “Nobody wants to talk about the fact that if you want to deal with health care you have to deal with poverty.”

The complete story is here.

The last sentence deserves extra emphasis:

“[I]f you want to deal with health care you have to deal with poverty.”

That’s a point we ought to raise in every debate about health care reform. Getting people to talk about it, and do something about it, ought to be a national priority – and a personal priority for everyone who cares about health care, everyone who’s dissatisfied with the status quo.

Citizen Dividends will reduce health care costs significantly. Every adult citizen will have added income, say $1,000 a month to ensure that they can afford food and shelter at least. Some of that money could also pay for health care.

I posted yesterday about hunger and a new book by Sasha Abramsky, and here’s a quote from a review of the book:

“The failures of our policies that led to this epidemic of hunger and poverty are evident across the country. Unemployment, lack of benefits, and wage cutbacks by major employers are forcing families to the food pantries.”

Also from yesterday’s blog, some data about poverty:

  • In 2008, the official poverty line was $ 10,590 for a single person and $21,203 for a family of four. Census data shows 37 million Americans at or below these numbers.

Citizen Dividends of $1,000 a month would put everyone above that poverty line. To pay for it, and to prevent inflation, we’ll cut other government programs at the same time, and adjust the amount as necessary. We can eliminate hunger and debilitating poverty.

Here’s an earlier post about health care reform.

Income security for all, as I’ve written elsewhere on this blog and web site, updates ideas that were mainstream and moderate in the 1960s. Martin Luther King called for guaranteed income in his last book, and a plan to provide it passed the House of Representatives by two-to-one, but was blocked in the Senate. Proponents including leading economists from the left and the right.

In the 1930s, mass movements for guaranteed income security generated the political will for Social Security, and that history is document on the official web site of the Social Security administration. Mass demands for economic justice also helped power the Populist and Progressive movements of the 1890s, which resulted in many political reforms.

Give it to everyone – the hungry and homeless, you and other readers of this blog and our families, Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey – because that will minimize the administrative costs and bureaucracy, while preventing political fights about where and how to draw the lines over who’s included. That will also create a baseline of economic justice and economic equality, thus making it easier for us to work together to solve our social, cultural, political economic, and environmental problems.

We will achieve this if we individuals and We the People demand it.

The complete plan, the idea, the benefits, and how we can make it happen, is in Peaceful, Positive Revolution,.

Additional information is on the home page and elsewhere on this web site.

Please comment on this blog and help spread the word.

Steven Shafarman

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One Response to “Health care and income security”

  1. Blog Article and Video about  Health care and income security | Income Security for All - Oprah Winfrey Says:

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