Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Your Vote Counts. It Just Doesn't Matter.


Right now, every union official and most activists in the country who have dedicated their lives to expanding voting rights and getting out the vote, are thinking I have completely lost my mind. So, allow me to explain the title of this piece before serving my head on a platter.
 
My last blog inspired a few people to send emails stating that I sounded like a typical union hack, and that my singular motivation is to simply elect Democrats. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth, because right now, in this country, when it comes to so many of the biggest issues confronting us... how you vote matters a lot less than many people would like you to believe.
 
Granted, Republicans are currently gutting organized labor and worker protections like a fish. As I write this, they are in a blood thirsty frenzy to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and replace it with something else that will further benefit the wealthy. So, let us more closely examine healthcare as a primary example for my argument (meh... healthcare and numbers ALERT.. please bear with me!).


 
From the beginning, Republicans labeled Obamacare as socialized medicine, complete with "death panels" and invoked images of Soviet era breadlines for near death citizens. In reality, it was little more than a minor restructuring of the current capitalist health insurance system. Republicans are going to jockey a few things around again and make sure to throw in some tax gifts to the wealthy, but at the end of the day, it will be a slightly repackaged version of the same shitty for-profit capitalist system we have been suffering under for decades.


The age old argument of the right was that healthcare costs are the direct result of patients and doctors who game the otherwise perfect free market system, and the high costs of greedy lawyers filing lawsuits and the resulting costs of malpractice insurances.

But those numbers do not add up at all, because while the BLS pegs the average physician at earning $187,000, and the average attorney pulling in just a little over $77,000 per year, all of that AND for profit hospitals and clinics still fail to account for where all that fucking money goes.

Where all the money goes is no secret. It goes to the insurance providers and pharmaceutical companies, and the numbers are absolutely staggering.

Of the one hundred or so major healthcare insurance providers in the United States, I pulled the financial reports of just four (UnitedHealth, Anthem, Humana, and Cigna). A look at the compensation of the top five senior executives of each revealed total compensation of $132.5 million... for just twenty people. That came out to an average of $33 million per insurance provider. If you multiply that times just 70 companies (for those who argue that not all 100 are created equally) that amounts to $2.3 billion.

In the Pharmaceutical Industry, I did the same thing using the public financial records of just four companies (Pfizer, Merck, Amgen, and Gilead), and their rounded average came out to $47 million per corporation for the top five executives. Multiplying that by 30 to account for the major industry players, and you get top five officer total executive industry compensation to the tune of $1.4 billion.

But even all of that is peanuts compared to the profit margins of those corporations, and the returns that investors have been experiencing. Using those same corporations as an average, then multiplying them by the same conservative factors, you get a total annual combined PROFIT margin of $1.5 Trillion. That's Trillion with a capital T.

And that, boys and girls, equals $4,717 for every single one of America's 318 million citizens. And with a 2014 national average per capita spending of $7,025 on healthcare, that means that the cost without private for-profit insurance and pharmaceutical companies would really be about $2,308 per person. That means that these fat cat capitalist fucks are raping the American citizens to the tune of over three times the actual cost of healthcare.

In fact, if you had only taken between $70,000 and $100,000 at the beginning of Obama's presidency in 2009 and invested it into these stockholder cash cows, right now, you would literally be a millionaire. That's right. While every other conceivable aspect of the American economy was in the tank, and only the richest of rich had money to invest, and during the awful, horrible forced supposed profit killing insurance pooling of Obamacare, the CEO's and investors in these corporations still managed to rake $1.5 trillion a year, every year, right off the top. Think about that shit next time you are choosing between canned Spam and your heart medication, or not taking your kid to the doctor because you have to fix the alternator on your car this week instead so you can get to work just to pay for your family healthcare plan this month. 

$1,500,000,000,000.00...in PROFIT and EXECUTIVE PAY EVERY SINGLE YEAR.  

And if that didn't piss you off, then maybe this will. According to Opensecrets, in the 2012 cycle alone, the healthcare industry as a whole dumped $260.4 million dollars into campaign contributions and lobbying, and just to be fair, and to make sure that neither party would really be working for we, the people, they split it almost right down the middle between the two major parties.

That amounts to one cycle expenditures of $468,728 for each and every US Congressperson and Senator. And that, boys and girls, is why I say that you can vote, and your vote will probably be counted, but when it comes to things like healthcare, we are fucked no matter who we vote for until we find a way to take back our country from complete corporate domination.

Healthcare is one of the ways they (the 1% or whatever you want to call them) are literally killing the working class for the profit motive. Retirement savings are right up there and will only get dramatically worse under Republican control, and deregulation ALWAYS eventually leads to some financial collapse or another.

But right now, the worst case scenario for progressives and labor unions and working families is already upon us with complete Republican control. So, right now is the time to finally stop worrying about the worst case scenarios, and choosing the lesser of two evils and saying that things could always be worse. Now is the time to start working toward something better for the future. We literally have almost nothing left to lose.

We need to recognize that unless we dramatically change the way we do business as citizens, then fighting to get out the vote, or keep your right to vote, or get your right to vote, or making sure your vote is counted... well, none of it will really matter that much, will it?

If you have to ask yourself if your best interest is more or less important to the person you are working to elect than $468,728 then you are already completely fucked before you even start knocking on doors, or phone banking or anything else. And healthcare is just one example. Just one. Then you've got Banking, and Wall Street, and the Military Industrial Defense Complex, and the Payday Loan Industry and Gambling, and all of them with their own Trillions in profits coming out of your ass somehow, and each of them with their own $468,728 to doll out to "your" elected official.


It's like you've made the final three at the World Series of Poker. You have a pile of say, 50 chips, and the guy to your right has 2 chips. The other guy is telling you that the guy on your right is screwing you because he wants more chips in the form of welfare, or a raise in the minimum wage, or free healthcare or he is an immigrant trying to steal your chips or some bullshit, and meanwhile, this prick has chips stacked all the way around him that reach to the vaulted ceiling, and every card in his hand is a fucking ace.

And if you're pissed about that, then don't worry, we've got another election cycle coming up in two years and you can shove all of your angst and worry and anger and fear and energies into that great big election funnel, and if you're really lucky, you'll get a brand new dealer. But unless we do something, the cards will all be the same, and so will the chip count and absolutely nothing will really change.  


It's time, right now, to organize, to mobilize, to change the rules of the game, or kick over the card table, and take back our cities, our counties, our states, our workplaces, our government, and our nation. If not now... then when?

    
"If you can't fly, then run. If you can't run, then walk. If you can't walk, then crawl, but whatever you do, keep moving forward." -Martin Luther King Jr.-

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