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July 24, 2009

For the first time in 70 years, we have a viable chance at Universal Healthcare. My friends Whole Foods, Rep. Jared Polis aren’t so sure.

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

For centuries, the heart of American idealism has rested with mercy, with compassion, with empathy. But when it comes to walking the talk, folks like to quibble? Tax the rich? Cut into my bottomline? No, thanks—let the poor and vulnerable continue to lose their shirt—nevermind that two-thirds of business bankruptcies are due to lack of health care coverage? ~ ed.

Rep. Jared Polis and Whole Foods vs. Obama & Universal Health Care? What’s next, Fish vs. Water?

Let this be a message unto all ye quibblers. Shut. The. [email protected]#$%k. Up. This is a time to pull together. Forget our petty differences. We’re the only First World Nation that doesn’t cover our poor, or needy. For years I worked on elephant without health coverage—couldn’t afford it—I was one car door opening onto my bicycle lane away from going out of business. I was one infection or sickness away from losing my business—I couldn’t stand to miss work for even a week and pay for the absence. And I, in Boulder, had a far stronger social net below me than many.

This is a time not to make perfect the enemy of the good. This is reform that Truman first (*) tried to enact, back in the mid 1940s. The costs we inflict on ourselves by not covering our weak, our vulnerable—both financial and moral costs, mind you—are immense. Get behind the man, and let’s pass healthcare reform. 80% of Americans want universal coverage, polls show. It’s called evolution. Compassion. Empathy.

Via Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, a good man with strong opinions (he’s a Libertarian):

John Mackey, chief executive of Whole Foods, said that while his company offers coverage, he worries that an employer mandate would lead to more stringent federal rules on what employer plans must include.

He said that would drive up the cost of employer benefits, motivating companies to end their benefits and instead let employees sign up for the public insurance option, figuring that paying a penalty would be less costly. This would result in eventual domination by the public insurance plan — something Mackey suspects is reformers’ secret hope.

“It’s a Trojan horse,” he said.

Excerpt: History of Health Care Reform in US:

Other developed countries have had some form of social insurance (that later evolved into national insurance) for nearly as long as the US has been trying to get it. Some European countries started with compulsory sickness insurance, one of the first systems, for workers beginning in Germany in 1883; other countries including Austria, Hungary, Norway, Britain, Russia, and the Netherlands followed all the way through 1912. Other European countries, including Sweden in 1891, Denmark in 1892, France in 1910, and Switzerland in 1912, subsidized the mutual benefit societies that workers formed among themselves. So for a very long time, other countries have had some form of universal health care or at least the beginnings of it. The primary reason for the emergence of these programs in Europe was income stabilization and protection against the wage loss of sickness rather than payment for medical expenses, which came later. Programs were not universal to start with and were originally conceived as a means of maintaining incomes and buying political allegiance of the workers.

In a seeming paradox, the British and German systems were developed by the more conservative governments in power, specifically as a defense to counter expansion of the socialist and labor parties. They used insurance against the cost of sickness as a way of “turning benevolence to power”…

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