Of the three most significant events to affect our national life in the last decade, two hurt us badly, and one was good for us. The first event was the 9/11 attack, which justified two wars, drastically increased governmental surveillance, and limited our freedoms. You feel the pain when the TSA guy is patting you down.
The second was the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, declaring corporations to be people and allowing them to make fairly unfettered donations to political causes. This decision will probably result in the end of democracy in the United States, unless it is overturned by a constitutional amendment.
The third and best significant event occurred on June 21, when the Supreme Court ruled that the Affordable Care Act is constitutional. There has been some grousing about the law, but polls show that Americans want its provisions, such as preventive care, the prohibition of penalties for pre-existing conditions, cessation of the dropping of insureds when they get sick, allowing young people to stay on their parents’ health insurance until they are 26, halting lifetime benefit limits, and closing the Medicare doughnut hole. In the beginning, some people complained about Social Security, too, but now it is widely desired by the populace.
The Affordable Care Act moves us toward becoming one of the last civilized countries to recognize and formalize that medical care is a right for all citizens and not just a privilege. And, as this legislation is refined, we will have the opportunity to actually lower our national and individual healthcare bills by figuring out how to reward providers, not by the number of procedures they perform, but by their wellness outcomes.
The Department of Environmental Conservation’s duty to conserve and protect natural resources conflicts with its now-or-never outlook on moving forward with a gas drilling technology that has not been proven safe. In contrast, by taking the time to gain the full scientific understanding of hydrofracking we might avoid an environmental or public health disaster.
In spite of this, the DEC justifies advancing hydrofracking by saying it must protect New York’s interests and abide by its law, which provides for the development of natural resources. The law, however, also requires everyone’s rights be protected.
The extracting of all-natural gas reserves at a time when there is an overabundance and prices are at an all-time low does not benefit the people of our state. The planned exportation of natural gas to China and India means global profits to the gas industry, which puts our financial security and future energy needs at risk.
The sheltering of New York City and Syracuse watersheds by the DEC from hydrofracking operations, and at the same time allowing it in upstate New York, does not provide equal protection under the law. Imagine living in an area without clean drinking water.
DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens recently said in deciding the issue of hydrofracking, he will respect the law and protect special places. To ensure our clean water and energy future, the only just law is a ban on hydrofracking everywhere, not in just a few special places. Let the governor know: call (518) 474-8390.
The Need for Greed
We regularly hear about the coming fiscal cliff that the United States will tumble over if Congress does not soon find a way to act together on several major issues. The effect of inaction or inappropriate action will be disaster for millions of citizens and many institutions. The result of not dealing with this properly could adversely affect retirees, the sick, investors, businesses, home owners, students and families of every type.
At the moment, both political parties are busy lining up arguments to make their opponents look bad. Both are demonizing the other and both vow to take just the opposite view and to not budge. Aren’t the ordinary citizens of this country sick of this? Isn’t it time for them to jump on their representatives, insisting that they arrive at reasoned positions through compromise like any family, town council, school board or corporate board has to? Isn’t it time we realize that our representatives have come to vote the interests of major money, as opposed to our interests?
What good, then, is our vote? What is driving this intolerance and stubbornness? I’m afraid it is greed in the system—greed for power and greed for money by interests that manipulate us and our representatives. Interests that want a free ride for themselves while everyone else pays, that want and get unheard-of compensation, that are able to sell us what we do not need, and that are addicts of incredible materialism. Interests that need to make us addicts of what they sell, in order to profit. Interests that are addicts of power because that is used to make the system work for them.