Like the exaggerated steps of kabuki theater — or the gyrations of walking zombies — the tea party Republicans of the House of Representatives jerk crazily across the political stage.
The point of the performance is to kill affordable health care for Americans with cancer, diabetes, heart disease or any one of a thousand other “pre-existing conditions.” Their goal up until now — to insure only the healthy — has been a scam to benefit the insurance industry and their stockholders.
After all, where’s the profit in “health care for profit” if it doesn’t come from cheating the sick out of what they need?
Lifetime caps, researching to find unreported previous conditions, denying new treatments as “experimental,” forcing hospitals into providing expensive emergency room care for the uninsured — this was the boondoggle business of an insurance industry that singularly profited on the suffering of others.
Americans who could not afford insurance at previously outrageous rates were left to hang, swinging in the wind. And who was there to do the dirty work of defending such an industry? Why, congressmen looking for lobbyists’ handouts, of course. Who else can do the dance of death with such finesse as these?
But in recent years, no one party has taken greed to such a high art form as far-right Republicans. Secure in their gerrymandered nests of aging redneck, white and blue-blooded voting communities, there is no length to which they will not go to satisfy their funders — most notably the Koch brothers and other corporate giants.
These wealthy are buying, on time, their larger goal of turning the middle class into a permanently impoverished source of workers desperate for any job, no matter how little the pay.
After all, why export your jobs to developing countries when you can instead import the developing countries’ living standards right into the good-old USA? Hey, that saves on shipping costs and also provides the 1 percent with an army of indentured servants — the next best thing since slavery was temporarily abolished.
Of course, every other democracy in the industrialized world has a form of Medicare for all — a single-payer, nonprofit system for providing their citizens with the human right to affordable health care.
Unfortunately, fewer people have rights to anything in this country these days. The right to food? Cut those wasteful food stamp programs and school lunches for needy children. The right to a taxpayer supported education? Kill the funding to schools, especially to the very poorest ones, by testing their students out of the system and breaking the teachers’ unions.
To paraphrase Scrooge, “Are there no workhouses? No prisons? Best let them die then, and decrease the surplus population.” And that’s what’s happening right now — a tea party scheme to continue to let the poor get sick without health care and thus deplete the surplus population.
A major reason to have a government is to bring a degree of fairness into a diverse society that otherwise can be easily controlled by the rich and powerful. Once upon a time, unions, the press and the church formed other influential voices in protecting the children, the elderly, the less educated, the workers, the sick, the poor, etc. from the ravages of unbridled greed.
Today, unbridled greed is bribing the government, crushing the unions, buying up the media, co-opting the pulpit and consolidating our country’s wealth in the hands of the very few.
The time to stop this power grab is here and now.
Lee Witting is pastor of the Union Street Brick Church in downtown Bangor and a former publisher and editor of the Castine Patriot.