Category Archives: Forbes.com

>Sunday Must Reading

>

I’ve come across a few articles posted on different websites over the past couple of days that should be must reading for those that support the rights of union members, both public and private, to engage in collective barganing.

They deal with what is going on in Wisconsin and public opinion on what’s happing, not only in Wisconsin , but also across the country. These posts can be found on Forbes.com’s Policy Page blog by Rick Ungar, ThinkProgress.org and from the Washington Post’s Plume Line blog by Greg Sargent.

Rick Ungar’s post over at Forbes is titled “The Wisconsin Lie Exposed – Tax Payers Actually Contribute Nothing to Public Employees Pensions” informs us that public employees in Wisconsin fully fund their own pension system… the state adds no tax payer money to the fund contrary to what people have been hearing.

“Gov. Scott Walker says he wants state workers covered by collective bargaining
agreements to “contribute more” to their pension and health insurance plans.
Accepting Gov. Walker’ s assertions as fact, and failing to check, creates the
impression that somehow the workers are getting something extra, a gift from
taxpayers. They are not. Out of every dollar that funds Wisconsin’ s pension and
health insurance plans for state workers, 100 cents comes from the state
workers. “

Over at ThinkProgress they post, “Top 10 Disastrous Policies From The Wisconsin GOP You Haven’t Heard About” where they talk about how:

“…Walker’s assault on public employees is only one part of a larger political program that aims to give corporations free reign in the state while dismantling the healthcare programs, environmental regulations, and good government laws that protect Wisconsin’s middle and working class. These lesser known proposals in the 144-page bill reveal how radical Walker’s plan actually is…”

And Finally Greg Sargent’s Plume Line post over at the Washington Post, “Public employees not such an easy scapegoat after all” informs us that according to recent Gallup Poll “…Public employees are turning out to be far harder to scapegoat in the public mind than many predicted…”

* Among those who make less than $24,000 annually, 74 percent oppose the proposal, versus only 14 percent who favor it.
* Among those who make $24,000 to $59,000, 63 percent oppose the proposal, versus only 33 percent who favor it.
* Among those who make $60,000 to $89,000, 53 percent oppose the proposal, versus only 41 percent who favor it.
* Among those who make $90,000 and up, 50 percent favor the proposal, versus 47 percent who oppose it.
Sargent concludes:
“…For all the attention being lavished on the likes of Chris Christie and his supposedly successful formula of targeting public employees as the new “welfare queens,” the bigger and more interesting story is that they aren’t turning out to be such easy targets, after all.”
Take a look at these articles and see what you think, I really believe they are must reads. If the radical right-wing and the GOP are successful in stripping public workers of their rights, it wont be long before they attack private sector worker looking to eliminate overtime, health, pension and other long standing rules.

Leave a comment

Filed under Forbes.com, Gallup poll, Gov. Chris Christie, Gov.Scott Walker, Greg Sargent, labor unions, public employees, Rich Ungar, Think Progress, Washington Post, Wisconsin

>Congress Passes Socialized Medicine and Mandates Health Insurance -In 1798

>By now everyone must know that the Republicans in Congress voted to repeal the health care law by a vote of 245-189, mostly along party lines (3 Dems defected and voted for repeal).

The reasons given for this push for repeal are many, from being to costly and a jobs killer to being unconstitutional and not what the founding fathers of our country would have intended when they drafted the Constitution.

While many of the reasons for repealing the health care law may or may not have a modicum of truth behind them, the one reason that does not is addressed in a blog entry by Rick Unger of Forbes.com, who found that our founding fathers in the 5th Congress did believe in the benefits of health care and mandated that governmental marine hospitals be constructed and funded by privately employed sailors who would be require to purchase health care insurance.
The law was signed by then President John Adams.


The ink was barely dry on the PPACA when the first of many lawsuits to block the mandated health insurance provisions of the law was filed in a Florida District Court.

The pleadings, in part, read –

The Constitution nowhere authorizes the United States to mandate, either directly or under threat of penalty, that all citizens and legal residents have qualifying health care coverage.

State of Florida, et al. vs. HHS

It turns out, the Founding Fathers would beg to disagree.

In July of 1798, Congress passed – and President John Adams signed – “An Act for the Relief of Sick and Disabled Seamen.” The law authorized the creation of a government operated marine hospital service and mandated that privately employed sailors be required to purchase health care insurance.

Keep in mind that the 5th Congress did not really need to struggle over the intentions of the drafters of the Constitutions in creating this Act as many of its members were the drafters of the Constitution.

And when the Bill came to the desk of President John Adams for signature, I think it’s safe to assume that the man in that chair had a pretty good grasp on what the framers had in mind.

Here’s how it happened.

During the early years of our union, the nation’s leaders realized that foreign trade would be essential to the young country’s ability to create a viable economy. To make it work, they relied on the nation’s private merchant ships – and the sailors that made them go – to be the instruments of this trade.

The problem was that a merchant mariner’s job was a difficult and dangerous undertaking in those days. Sailors were constantly hurting themselves, picking up weird tropical diseases, etc.

The troublesome reductions in manpower caused by back strains, twisted ankles and strange diseases often left a ship’s captain without enough sailors to get underway – a problem both bad for business and a strain on the nation’s economy.

But those were the days when members of Congress still used their collective heads to solve problems – not create them.

Realizing that a healthy maritime workforce was essential to the ability of our private merchant ships to engage in foreign trade, Congress and the President resolved to do something about it.

Enter “An Act for The Relief of Sick and Disabled Seamen”.

I encourage you to read the law as, in those days, legislation was short, to the point and fairly easy to understand.

The law did a number of fascinating things.

First, it created the Marine Hospital Service, a series of hospitals built and operated by the federal government to treat injured and ailing privately employed sailors. This government provided healthcare service was to be paid for by a mandatory tax on the maritime sailors (a little more than 1% of a sailor’s wages), the same to be withheld from a sailor’s pay and turned over to the government by the ship’s owner. The payment of this tax for health care was not optional. If a sailor wanted to work, he had to pay up.

This is pretty much how it works today in the European nations that conduct socialized medical programs for its citizens – although 1% of wages doesn’t quite cut it any longer.

The law was not only the first time the United States created a socialized medical program (The Marine Hospital Service) but was also the first to mandate that privately employed citizens be legally required to make payments to pay for health care services. Upon passage of the law, ships were no longer permitted to sail in and out of our ports if the health care tax had not been collected by the ship owners and paid over to the government – thus the creation of the first payroll tax in our nation’s history.

When a sick or injured sailor needed medical assistance, the government would confirm that his payments had been collected and turned over by his employer and would then give the sailor a voucher entitling him to admission to the hospital where he would be treated for whatever ailed him.

While a few of the healthcare facilities accepting the government voucher were privately operated, the majority of the treatment was given out at the federal maritime hospitals that were built and operated by the government in the nation’s largest ports.

As the nation grew and expanded, the system was also expanded to cover sailors working the private vessels sailing the Mississippi and Ohio rivers.

The program eventually became the Public Health Service, a government operated health service that exists to this day under the supervision of the Surgeon General.

So much for the claim that “The Constitution nowhere authorizes the United States to mandate, either directly or under threat of penalty….”

As for Congress’ understanding of the limits of the Constitution at the time the Act was passed, it is worth noting that Thomas Jefferson was the President of the Senate during the 5th Congress while Jonathan Dayton, the youngest man to sign the United States Constitution, was the Speaker of the House.

While I’m sure a number of readers are scratching their heads in the effort to find the distinction between the circumstances of 1798 and today, I think you’ll find it difficult.

Yes, the law at that time required only merchant sailors to purchase health care coverage. Thus, one could argue that nobody was forcing anyone to become a merchant sailor and, therefore, they were not required to purchase health care coverage unless they chose to pursue a career at sea.

However, this is no different than what we are looking at today.

Each of us has the option to turn down employment that would require us to purchase private health insurance under the health care reform law.

Would that be practical? Of course not – just as it would have been impractical for a man seeking employment as a merchant sailor in 1798 to turn down a job on a ship because he would be required by law to purchase health care coverage.

What’s more, a constitutional challenge to the legality of mandated health care cannot exist based on the number of people who are required to purchase the coverage – it must necessarily be based on whether any American can be so required.

Clearly, the nation’s founders serving in the 5th Congress, and there were many of them, believed that mandated health insurance coverage was permitted within the limits established by our Constitution.

The moral to the story is that the political right-wing has to stop pretending they have the blessings of the Founding Fathers as their excuse to oppose whatever this president has to offer.

History makes it abundantly clear that they do not.

Leave a comment

Filed under Forbes.com, founding fathers, heath care reform, John Adams, Rick Unger, socialized medicine

Fill ‘Er Up With Human Fat


Just when you thought you have heard it all, Forbes.com has a story about how a Beverly Hills doctor powered his SUV using his patients’ spare tires.

Beverly Hills doctor Craig Alan Bittner turned the fat he removed from patients after liposuction into biodiesel that fueled his Ford SUV and his girlfriend’s Lincoln Navigator.

Read all about it >>>Here

Leave a comment

Filed under Berverly Hills, biodiesel, cosmetic surgery, Dr. Craig Allen Bittner, Forbes.com, Ford, human fat, Lincoln Navigator, Liposuction, spare tires, SUV's

Fill ‘Er Up With Human Fat


Just when you thought you have heard it all, Forbes.com has a story about how a Beverly Hills doctor powered his SUV using his patients’ spare tires.

Beverly Hills doctor Craig Alan Bittner turned the fat he removed from patients after liposuction into biodiesel that fueled his Ford SUV and his girlfriend’s Lincoln Navigator.

Read all about it >>>Here

Leave a comment

Filed under Berverly Hills, biodiesel, cosmetic surgery, Dr. Craig Allen Bittner, Forbes.com, Ford, human fat, Lincoln Navigator, Liposuction, spare tires, SUV's