Some time this year or maybe next, Congress is likely to pass some kind of health-care legislation. It will be called "reform." It will fall far short of what Bill Clinton promised when he ran for President two years ago, or even what the task force headed by Hillary Rodham Rodham is an English surname which may refer to a number of persons or places. People
Family of Hillary Rodham Clinton
How did we get into this fix?
It's easy to blame the insurance industry, the American Medical Association American Medical Association (AMA), professional physicians' organization (founded 1847). Its goals are to protect the interests of American physicians, advance public health, and support the growth of medical science. , and other special interests that have poured huge sums of money into an all-out propaganda campaign, and surely they deserve part of the blame. And another part certainly lies with members of Congress, some of whom have had the gall to suggest that there's nothing wrong with our health-care system that a little bit of tinkering here and there won't fix. But the principal responsibility for the failure of health-care reform - and it's obvious now that it is a failure - lies primarily with the Clintons and their slavish slav·ish
1. Of or characteristic of a slave or slavery; servile: Her slavish devotion to her job ruled her life.
2. worship of the great Moloch Moloch (mō`lŏk), in the Bible: see Molech.
Ancient Middle Eastern deity to whom children were sacrificed. The laws given to Moses by God expressly forbade the Israelites to sacrifice children to Moloch, as the of American political economy, the Market.
It was the Market that made a mess of our health-care system in the first place, basing decisions about who wall receive adequate care and who won't on ability to pay, and resolving fundamental questions of life and death in terms of profitability. It was the drive for money by health insurers, pharmaceutical manufacturers, physicians, and hospitals-by the entire health-care industry - that created a system costlier by at least half than any other on the planet. And this was that system that the Clintons were determined to preserve intact.
Real health-care reform has never been on the Clinton Administration's agenda. A single-payer plan something like Canada's effective system was ruled out of bounds at the very outset-before Hillary Rodham Clinton's task force held its first meeting. It was deemed "impractical," "politically naive," "self-defeating." The presumption was that the insurance industry-which treats no patient, cures no illness, heals no wound-was absolutely essential to health care, and that any attempt to dispense with To permit the neglect or omission of, as a form, a ceremony, an oath; to suspend the operation of, as a law; to give up, release, or do without, as services, attention, etc.; to forego; to part with
To allow by dispensation; to excuse; to exempt; to grant dispensation to or for. that industry's services was foredoomed. There was no way, it was argued, that the Government's "faceless bureaucrats" could perform the tasks now handled by the faceless bureaucrats of private insurance. And there was no way that the American people An American people may be:
Once a single-payer plan - which would preserve a full measure of patient choice and assure universal and equitable coverage at significantly lower cost than our present system demands-was ruled out of bounds, it was inevitable that we would wind up with the cumbersome, complex, costly, and all but incomprehensible legislation that now has members of the House and Senate shouting past each other while a dazed daze
tr.v. dazed, daz·ing, daz·es
1. To stun, as with a heavy blow or shock; stupefy.
2. To dazzle, as with strong light.
A stunned or bewildered condition. and disillusioned dis·il·lu·sion
tr.v. dis·il·lu·sioned, dis·il·lu·sion·ing, dis·il·lu·sions
To free or deprive of illusion.
1. The act of disenchanting.
2. The condition or fact of being disenchanted. public stands on the sidelines On the sidelines
An investor who decides not to invest due to market uncertainty.
on the sidelines
Of or relating to investors who, having assessed the market, have decided to avoid committing their funds. . In an attempt to cobble together cobble together
[-bling, -bled] to put together clumsily: a coalition cobbled together from parties with widely differing aims
Verb 1. a scheme that would meet all possible objections while serving all possible special interests, the Administration built a 1,300-page-plus monstrosity monstrosity
1. great congenital deformity.
2. a monster or teratism. that commands no support and has no constituency (except, perhaps, for organized labor Organized Labor
An association of workers united as a single, representative entity for the purpose of improving the workers' economic status and working conditions through collective bargaining with employers. Also known as "unions". , which has always expressed strong preference for the single-payer approach but now gives its lukewarm backing to the Clinton plan, assuming - correctly - that it won't get anything better).
Despite the Clintons' exertions in behalf of the sorry compromise that is now the Administration's official health-care plan, it is slipping steadily in the public-opinion polls. It seems, in fact, that the more the Clintons push their program, the fewer people back it. Though there is all but universal agreement that something needs to be done about health care in the United States Health care in the United States is provided by many separate legal entities. The U.S. spends more on health care, both as a proportion of gross domestic product (GDP) and on a per-capita basis, than any other nation in the world. Current estimates put U.S. , fewer than 50 per cent of those polled now see any kind of relief in the Clinton plan. In a comment echoed by many members of the House and Senate, Representative Richard H. Lehman Richard Henry Lehman (born July 20, 1948) is a former member of the United States House of Representatives from California and former member of the California State Assembly. Lehman served as a member of the United States House of Representatives between 1983 and 1994. , a California Democrat, told The Washington Post, "I don't think we can pass a plan without broad public support, and I don't think that's there now."
One of these years, when Americans are ready to insist on it, we'll have real health-care reform in the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. . We'll have universal coverage that provides equal care to everyone, regardless of ability to pay, or medical history, or current prognosis. We'll be able to afford it because we will have stripped from the system the parasites who feed on it now. Until then, we'll have little more than hype and hustle and health care in abundance for the rich.
It's maddening to watch the Clinton Administration Noun 1. Clinton administration - the executive under President Clinton
executive - persons who administer the law toying with plans to help the poor, moving money around in the Federal budget like a pea under a shell.
At times the President's words indicate he understands the problems of impoverished Americans, and might even be prepared to do something about them. No one hates the welfare system more than the people who are trapped in it, Clinton said in his State of the Union address “State of the Union” redirects here. For other uses, see State of the Union (disambiguation).
The State of the Union is an annual address in which the President of the United States reports on the status of the country, normally to a joint session of Congress (the . Despite the stereotypes and stigma attached to being on welfare, most recipients are people who work hard at low-wage jobs, living precariously from paycheck to paycheck until they are pushed out of the work force by illness or accident or a lack of affordable child care. Clinton has described how people who are stuck at the bottom of the economic ladder find themselves slipping off and climbing back on and slipping off again - never able to get ahead. Their problems are compounded by an irrational welfare system that spends most of its time and money making sure people don't have jobs that make it illegal for them to collect benefits, and that penalizes them for working - sometimes taking away a dollar in benefits for every dollar earned - and offering health care only to those who don't work.
Meaningful welfare reform has to tackle the problems of the working poor. We have to do something about the vicious cycle Noun 1. vicious cycle - one trouble leads to another that aggravates the first
positive feedback, regeneration - feedback in phase with (augmenting) the input of poverty, and we have to "make work pay," to use Clinton's words. Fair enough. So what does the Administration propose? Now on the table is a plan to finance work and job training programs by taxing welfare checks, food stamps, and housing assistance, and cutting off Social Security to elderly immigrants - that is, reducing social services social services
welfare services provided by local authorities or a state agency for people with particular social needs
social services npl → servicios mpl sociales and increasing the tax burden on the poor.
The cuts Clinton is proposing are comparable in scale to the trimming social programs took under President Reagan in the 1980s, according to Jason DeParle of The New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of Times. The Administration argues that the hardship caused by pulling away social services will be offset by the new opportunities offered under Clinton's welfare reform plan. But there is little reason to believe it.
For the most part, Clinton's "reforms" amount to expanded job training and work programs for the poor, which entail heavy administrative costs administrative costs,
n.pl the overhead expenses incurred in the operation of a dental benefits program, excluding costs of dental services provided. . "You're taking money away from poor people to hire social workers," Representative Robert Matsui, Democrat of California, told The Times. "It's foolish for them to even consider these alternatives."
Nor does a recent Wall Street Journal story inspire confidence. Under the headline, Ticket To Nowhere: Job Programs Flunk at Training, But Keep Washington At Work, The Journal reports, "No area better illustrates the sprawling, redundant Federal bureaucracy than job training." Job-training programs around the nation are a joke on participants, according to the story - they are costly, they train people for jobs that don't exist, and most participants end up no better off after enduring the often humiliating hu·mil·i·ate
tr.v. hu·mil·i·at·ed, hu·mil·i·at·ing, hu·mil·i·ates
To lower the pride, dignity, or self-respect of. See Synonyms at degrade. , superficial curricula. But "myriad committees, Cabinet secretaries, and bureaucrats" keep the programs alive, for the sake of the power they confer on their sponsors in Washington.
The bitter truth about many Federal antipoverty an·ti·pov·er·ty
Created or intended to alleviate poverty: antipoverty programs. programs is that they are a political game, played out in Washington at the expense of the poor. It's not that the Government can't do anything about poverty - it can. But addressing unemployment and the need for a living minimum wage is a lot more difficult than moving the shells around, and letting the chumps pay.
Violence in Colombia
The worst massacre in five years in Colombia has been followed by a new military crackdown in the banana-producing region of Uraba.
Colombian officials blame infighting in·fight·ing
1. Contentious rivalry or disagreement among members of a group or organization: infighting on the President's staff.
2. Fighting or boxing at close range. among leftist left·ism also Left·ism
1. The ideology of the political left.
2. Belief in or support of the tenets of the political left.
left rebels for the massacre. But past investigations into political violence in the area have indicated that the Colombian military and right-wing paramilitary soldiers are responsible for much of the bloodshed.
In any event, the crackdown - including the arrest and imprisonment Imprisonment
See also Isolation.
former federal maximum security penitentiary, near San Francisco; “escapeproof.” [Am. Hist.: Flexner, 218]
German prison ship in World War II. [Br. Hist. of the mayor of Apartado, where the massacre took place, and two other members of the popular Patriotic Union party - is cause for grave concern. Colombia's president, Cesar Gaviria, has announced that he will appoint military mayors in the area, and troops are now occupying Uraba.
Human-rights monitors in Colombia fear that Mayor Nelson Campos Nunez, party leader Naun de Jesus Urrego, and Jose Antonio Lopez, a candidate for the regional Chamber of Deputies, are in danger of their lives. The three men were taken into custody on the strength of testimony by anonymous witnesses (a practice permitted under Colombia's new constitution) and are now being held in isolation in Bogota. Their detention follows a long pattern of persecution of local officials who belong to the leftist Patriotic Union.
Members of the Patriotic Union have frequently denounced military death-squad activity in Colombia, called for land reform, and insisted on an end to the government's neoliberal ne·o·lib·er·al·ism
A political movement beginning in the 1960s that blends traditional liberal concerns for social justice with an emphasis on economic growth.
ne economic policies, which excerbate the misery of the rural poor. In return, the government has repeatedly sent in troops to deal with protesters and "subversives," and a pattern of arrests, assassinations, and disappearances has decimated the leadership of the popular political party. In this election season, it seems that the pattern is continuing.
The Permanent Committee for the Defense of Human Rights-a respected human-rights group in Colombia-is calling for international observers to attend the upcoming elections in Uraba, and for the international community to keep a close eye on the fates of the local officials now in custody in Bogota.
Political pressure from within the United States can also significantly affect the human-rights situation in Colombia. Colombia is the largest recipient of U.S. military aid in this hemisphere. Several members of Congress, concerned with the poor human-rights record of the Colombian military, have supported efforts to shut off U.S. military aid.
But our Government is a long way from taking responsibility for its part in the violence in Colombia. Recently, the State Department expressed willingness to back President Gaviria for the position of Secretary General of the Organization of American States According to the Charter of the Organization of American States:
Free Speech for Rappers
Congress has a lot of serious business to deal with this year-the Federal budget and the deficit, health-care reform, welfare reform, dismantling the huge military apparatus that America built up during the Cold War years, rebuilding the infrastructure that we allowed to decay and crumble while we were pumping money in to the military. With all that on its plate, why is Congress wasting time on things that are none of its business in the first place?
In recent weeks a House committee has been holding hearings on whether to require rating labels on "gangsta rap gang·sta rap also gangster rap
A style of rap music associated with urban street gangs and characterized by violent, tough-talking, often misogynistic lyrics. " records, discs, and tapes. Even those who dislike this particular art form are entitled to wonder what right our national legislature has to set standards for music lyrics. There is, after all, the First Amendment, which protects freedom of speech.
Yolande Whitaker, a performer better known as Yo Yo, delivered some sensible testimony to a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee. She said, "Being from the 'hood-neighborhood-I can tell you that violence didn't start from a cassette tape that might have been popped into a home or car stereo system. We are the product of America." And Don Cornelius, a music producer, said he thought we should be far more concerned about eliminating poverty, violence, despair, and hopelessness from low-income African-American communities than about gangsta rap.
It would be comforting to know someone in Congress was listening.
The Ultimate Insult
Here's a curious detour on the famous high-tech information superhighway: As more and more individuals, organizations, and business enterprises communicate with each other by computer, official law-enforcement and surveillance agencies are finding it difficult to tap our telephones or read our mail. Computer messages, transmitted by digital code, are much harder to intercept than regular telephone or postal communications.
The Clinton White House has a solution. It wants Congress to enact legislation that would force telephone and cable television companies to install special computer software on their networks that would make it easier for the spy agencies to tune in.
For obvious reasons, civil-liberties organizations and other public-interest groups aren't crazy about the idea. Marc Rotenberg, director of Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility - (CPSR) A non-profit organisation whose mission is to provide the public and policymakers with realistic assessments of the power, promise and problems of Information Technology and the effects of computers on society. , says Congress has no right to enact a law that makes it easier to wiretap wiretap n. using an electronic device to listen in on telephone lines, which is illegal unless allowed by court order based upon a showing by law enforcement of "probable cause" to believe the communications are part of criminal activities. . And others point out that it's not just a matter of eavesdropping Secretly gaining unauthorized access to confidential communications. Examples include listening to radio transmissions or using laser interferometers to reconstitute conversations by reflecting laser beams off windows that are vibrating in synchrony to the sound in the room. but of keeping tabs on the movies we watch and the merchandise we order.
The New York Times reports that the kind of technical changes demanded by the Clinton Administration would cost the electronics industry about 300 million, and that cost would inevitably be passed onto consumers.
That's the ultimate insult-we're going to wind up picking up the tab for having our own privacy invaded by our Government.
'Machinery of Death'
Better late than never. Since Justices William Brennan and Thurgood Marshall left the Supreme Court, there has been no principled voice raised consistently in opposition to the death penalty. Now there is.
Justice Harry Blackmun, a veteran appointed by Richard Nixon in 1970, has changed his mind. From this day forward," he wrote in late February, "I no longer shall tinker with the machinery of death."
He declared, as Brennan and Marshall did before him, that capital punishment capital punishment, imposition of a penalty of death by the state. History
Capital punishment was widely applied in ancient times; it can be found (c.1750 B.C.) in the Code of Hammurabi. is unconstitutional. And while this has no legal effect, since the rest of the Court disagrees with him, it offers the hope that sometime in the Twenty-first Century, the Court will enter the Twentieth. Among industrialized in·dus·tri·al·ize
v. in·dus·tri·al·ized, in·dus·tri·al·iz·ing, in·dus·tri·al·iz·es
1. To develop industry in (a country or society, for example).
2. nations, the United States stands alone with South Africa and Japan in extracting the ultimate punishment for crime, and American courts do it with stunning irrationality. In a nation that suffers tens of thousands, probably hundreds of thousands of murders each year, fourteen people were executed in 1991. Thirty-one in 1992. Thirty-eight in 1993.
There never has been a doubt that the death penalty is "cruel." Dead is dead, after all. How can there be a doubt that it is "unusual," with statistics like those?
A majority of Americans continue to support the death penalty, but that shouldn't stop the Court from upholding the Eighth Amendment. The Justices should follow the lead of the people closest to victims. The Buddhist monks in Phoenix prevailed in asking for life for the murderers of nine of their colleagues (On the Line, March issue). And David Gunn Jr. successfully pleaded that a Florida court not consider death for the anti-abortion murderer who shot his father in the back last year outside a Pensacola clinic.
When will the Court, and society, listen to Harry Blackmun, David Gunn Jr., and some Buddhist monks?