Monday, October 8, 2012

The rot of the "free-market'

When Thomas Jefferson wrote in his March 17, 1814 letter to Horatio Spatford that "Merchants have no country, the mere spot they stand on does not constitute so strong an attachment as that from which they draw their gains," he was being honest and ominously prescient.

A report in the December 19, 2009 New York Times, "In Industrial Thailand, Health and Business Concerns Collide," (click here=1&th&emc=th) ruthlessly rips the scab from the festering sore that is the Asian country's industrial city of Map Ta Phut, on the northern shores of the Gulf of Thailand.

The Republican mantra has long been to leave every issue to the free market. In Map Ta Phut the free market is literally, not figuratively, killing people with pollution so extreme that the villagers cannot walk in the streets after a rain or breathe at night when the spewing stacks from the Japanese steel companies and the German chemical plants crank highest. Litigation brought by 27 villagers to halt new expansion was fought bitterly by international industrial investors and the Thai Chamber of Commerce. However the villagers won, and the proposed expansion has been halted (for now), the verdict did nothing to restrict the level of present toxins that are wafting from the stacks or being flushed into sewers, and thence into the Gulf and the Pacific Ocean.

More -- as if more might now be needed -- evidence that neither the free market nor its corporate components give the first damn what damage they do to the environment, or the peoples who live in it. After all, the executives don't have to. They reside in the rarified atmospheres that are never touched by the putrefying carnage their manufacturing schemes provoke.

Exactly as it is with American health insurers, by the way. Their Gulfstream private jets fly well above and their 110-foot yachts sail well beyond and their stretch limos with blackened windows drive well away from the cemeteries of the 45,000 who perish each year because they either cannot afford health insurance coverage, or have had their coverage canceled when they needed it most.

These are not good people, the likes of Ben Nelson, Joe Lieberman, Mary Landrieu, Blanche Lincoln, and every Republican in the House and Senate have attached themselves to. I am conflicted, whether to support the Senate's current health reform bill. Given its emasculated form of no single-payer, no public option, no Medicare buy-in, nor not even a trigger, it nonetheless is better than leaving the status quo the status quo that will consume, and therewith doom the entire US economy within a very brief period. (Simple arithmetic: By the Rule of 72, wherein the currently escalating premium rate of 10 - 15%, the present family of four premium of $15,000 will double within six to seven years, both employers and individuals will be forced to opt out of coverage altogether. And how do ya like them apples?) As bitter a pill as it is, if we get nothing, it's unlikely we'll get anything for another decade or more, which by then will be a decade too late for most, if not all, of us.

What I am not conflicted over, however is the moral obligation to strive as hard as we can to remove from office every Democratic senator and representative who put the welfare of Jefferson's merchants above that of their countrymen. Nor must we shirk from working as diligently to also separate every Republican from their offices. Let them, as private citizens, devote as much time as they wish to bed the corporate johns they hired themselves out to.