Sunday, January 17th, 2010 @ 1:50 pm | Health Care, Politics

Protect the mafia!

You’re a social worker or a parish priest in a poor urban neighborhood that lives under the malignant, if stable, stewardship of an organized-crime protection racket. The small business owners all have to pay a protection fee, which most of them can afford, but a significant portion of bodegas and nail salons operating on razor-thin profit margins struggle to come up with the money. When they fall short (which is often) they are subjected to beatings, harassment, vandalism and other petty cruelties.

Now, it turns out that you can raise enough money through your organization so that you can reliably cover the protection fees for the struggling shop owners operating on the margins. Whenever they can’t come up with enough money, you can make up the difference. The improvement to residents’ lives would be massive: no longer forced to live in fear, they would be allowed to transact their business and go about their lives free from the constant, degrading fear of physical violence. But by taking this action you would also be channeling revenue into the pockets of the protection racket and, perhaps more insidious, further entrenching its power by conceding its central premise: that all local businesses must pay up in order to survive.

This is, of course, the solution to our health care problem forced on us because of the “centrists” and the Republicans. It’s a short term solution, and it gets the idea right of ending the beatings, but by forgoing price negotiations due to rightwing economic “principles” that have been absorbed by the centrist dipsticks, we give the health care mafia the right to jack up the prices whenever they feel like it.

There are some great cost control seed programs in the bill that can make a difference in the long run, but without price negotiating power, we’re leaving the back door wide open. Thank the Blue Dogs and the teabaggers for that one, folks. Having at least 55 Senators in favor of real change and a president willing to sign the bill doesn’t get jack squat done anymore.


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