Friday, September 4, 2009

A letter to our President and Congressional leaders

Citizens have been listening to all the talking points and arguments thrown back and forth for years now. The debate about health care reform in the U.S. is nothing new – indeed it was only 16 years ago that political leaders last wasted a similarly endless amount of time and energy on the same issue. But the situation in the U.S. this time is different. Many believe the U.S. has entered into what history will call the Greater Depression when this era is compared to the 1930’s. The numbers (GDP, unemployment, housing sales, etc.) that the government agencies report are all suspect and have been shown to be manipulated for political reasons and cover. But they can only becloud for so long, as too many Americans have felt the fiscal crunch of living in the U.S. today. Indeed, it is more difficult than it has been in a very long time (for many different reasons), and as a result, people have learned to doubt what you tell them.

There are the obvious reasons for the pressure citizens feel, of course: unemployment; under-employment; higher costs of living; increased prices on essentials like food and fuel. But these realities are primarily felt by those who are not well-off. And by well-off, let’s qualify that not with numbers, but with this: if a family does not have to choose between essentials each week or pay period (i.e. “How much can we spend on groceries this week because the mortgage payment is due?”) they are better off than most. You, the political leadership in this country, as well as those who would advocate for policies that protect and maintain the status quo, fall into the well-off category.

You, our political leaders, don’t have to adjust your family budgets because essentials have risen in cost. You don’t have to cut back on the weekly grocery bill because your insurance premiums have risen as your employer continues to try and cut costs. You don’t have to worry about co-pays and out-of-pocket minimums that cut into your stagnant or declining wages. You don’t have to think about declining wages or lost hours that allow for you to pay the mortgage. In short, though you represent all citizens, you are not like the vast majority of them because your lives are devoid of the above realities.

The lower and middle classes do not have powerful lobbyists or organized industry groups. They don’t take you out for expensive meals or on trips to play golf in foreign countries. What they are, however, is the largest segment of that group you vowed to represent. Whether you like it or not, you represent the families who have taken up residence in one of the many tent cities that have become increasingly common. You represent the single parent who works more than 1 full-time job to try and make ends meet, yet just can’t seem to get there. You represent the family that struggles, not to move up the ladder, but to hang onto the rung they have called home for years. You represent people who have lost jobs, homes, work hours, take home pay and benefits, retirement and savings portfolio assets, and last but not least, a chance at the American Dream.

Your continued advocacy for a small percentage of the population – the wealthiest ones – who have been so generous to your re-election campaign coffers, is proof enough for a growing number of the rest of Americans that your votes and positions are for sale. While this is nothing new in the political system of the United States, it has become more and more dramatic as the largest corporations and financial firms continue to receive taxpayer dollars despite their contempt for citizens: as customers; as individuals; and as human beings. Simply stated, the populous has had enough. The level of contempt on that side of the fence is growing as fast as their increasing numbers.

You, our leaders, have the opportunity to implement a program that will help millions of people get and stay healthy. You have the opportunity to remove the threat of financial ruin due to medical conditions. You have the opportunity to make sure that some of their tax dollars are spent on programs that help more than just the few. The choice is not really yours – it is theirs. Polls have shown that the majority of Americans want a government funded insurance option or a single-payer system. It is not socialism (unless you consider the U.K., Japan and Germany all socialist countries and not capitalistic ones) to give the populace what it wants and needs. It is not “new” – universal health programs work everywhere else in the world. Indeed, the U.S. should be ashamed that the wealthiest nation on Earth does not provide this basic service to its citizens.

As it stands today, you have given away trillions to banks so that they can remain in business despite their poor decisions and yet demanded nothing of them. You have asked for no reforms that will prevent another disaster, yet the banks have access to unending amounts of cash from the Federal Reserve (at no interest, no less) while charging customers interest rates that approach 30%. Banks get to shed worthless assets at elevated prices because fair accounting standards and practices have been halted and the government backed entities Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac have been green lighted to purchase these worthless debts at close to face value. You have created a welfare system for the wealthiest, and left the rest of your charges to their own devices.

You have provided bailouts to everyone except your represented individual citizens. Don’t you think it’s time you did your jobs and represented the people who actually voted for you? Don’t you think it’s time to help the less fortunate and the rest of those who deserve better than what they have gotten from you and your cohorts? You should all hang your heads in shame for your petty bickering, blatant pandering and political grandstanding. You have had your opportunity to get your faces on T.V. – now go and do something the rest of the citizens of the U.S. deserve and will benefit from. Enact health care reform that will work.

If you need help, there are plenty of us out here with a solid understanding of the system’s real problems and the real solutions that will make it more efficient, more cost-effective and more beneficial. All you have to do now is your job.

1 comment:

  1. I wonder...would our political representatives accomplish better health care reform if they themselves lost their gold-plated health insurance?