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A Public Service Message from the. American Income Life Insurance CompanyExecutive offices, Waco, TexasBernard Rapoport, Pres. A populist program to redeem television would be based on the concept that the airwaves are owned by the people, not the corporate broadcasters or the corporate sponsors, and certainly not the government in power at the moment. NBC is just a trustee of the airwaves, GM just a renter of time. First, we must decentralize ownership by using the antitrust laws to break up the conglomerates that dominate the media. RCA, a major Defense Department contractor, owns NBC, and owns Random House, which owns Pantheon and Knopf. CBS owns Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Columbia Records, Creative owns the Los Angeles Times, World Publishing Co., New American Library, The Dallas Times Herald, Newsday and some CATV franchises. Citizens must have greater access to television. One way to do this would be to provide a free hour of prime television every week to any organization of, say, 10,000 people. This would mean that the Fortune Society, block associations, women’s groups, the PBA, Health-Pac and community organizations could prepare their own programs. Other possible reforms: provide’ Federal subsidies for community newspapers; give cable television franchises to indigenous community and civic groups, instead of to conglomerates backed by Time, Inc. and Howard Hughes, as Lindsay has done in Manhattan; provide an hour of free air time each week for viewers to rebut or attack programming; require all television stations to make available free and equal time to all candidates during the election season, and refuse to sell time to candidates; develop a television equivalent of WBAI a nonprofit, listener-owner channel; and perhaps most importantly, give television licenses to local stations owned by blacks, Indians, Eskimos, Polish-Americans, etc., since there are none operating today. In short, create diversity through competition in programming and broad citizen participation. VEstablish a system of national health insurance. Only the very rich can buy satisfactory health care. The poor can’t afford doctors, and every working class family knows that one serious illness can wipe out its savings. New York City has a segregated two-class hospital system: private hospitals with modern technology and excellent care for the affluent, and dirty, rundown municipal hospitals for the poor. Life should not be for sale. Medicaid and Medicare have failed to remedy the inequities. They don’t help the almost-poor, and they have inflated doctor and hospital costs. The chief beneficiaries of these programs have been the big pharmaceutical companies, the insurance companies like Blue Cross, and the hospital-supply companies the medical-industrial complex. Last year, despite the economic chaos, the drug industry spent $800 million on public relations and advertising and still showed a 10 per cent increase in profits. The short-run answer is one class of medical care under national health insurance. A Harris poll in April showed that more than 60 per cent of the country wants it. And national health insurance would most directly help those families who are employed but don’t qualify for Medicaid and can’t afford private insurance. Ted Kennedy has introduced, with fifteen co-sponsors, the would provide comprehensive protection for every citizen, including unlimited hospitalization, surgery, preventive and ambulatory care, unlimited nursing home care, comprehensive dental care for all children under fifteen, and cover the cost of all prescription drugs. These benefits would be financed under Social Security, with the employee contributing 1 per cent out of his salary, and the employer and the federal government each paying 3 per cent. \(Nixon’s proposals in the field would just Until Kennedy’s bill is enacted, the poor will get sick, the sick will get poor, and the medical-industrial complex will continue to get rich. VICurb the power of the utilities. Con Edison is a monopoly. In exchange for this special privilege the company provides its consumers with blackouts, brownouts, power cutbacks during the summer and pollution of the air and water. \(Con Ed is responsible for 40 per cent of the exaggerated bills, and shuts off service if you complain. The New York Telephone Company is also a monopoly. For that special status the company gives consumers no dial tones, wrong numbers, busy signals far information operators, pay phones that don’t function and don’t return your dime, and exaggerated bills. It also demands cash deposits from poor people, cooperates with the FBI in illegal taps on private citizens, spends millions each year for newspaper ads and public relations, doesn’t answer letters of complaint, and bills customers for wrong numbers. The only stockholder in the New York Telephone Company is AT&T, one of the biggest Vietnam war contractors. Last year, despite deteriorating local service, the telephone company paid AT&T $202.7 million in dividends. In February of this year the telephone company asked the PSC to approve a new 29 per cent rate increase. The usual consumer tactics writing letters to legislators, trying to reform the PSC, not paying bills have been ineffective. So the answer, then, is to go to the root of the problem and end their monopoly status. The most realistic way to accomplish this would be to municipalize them. This is the way it works in Los Angeles, and their utility rates are about half of New York’s. City ownership would also pinpoint accountability. The mayor would feel compelled to improve service because the voters would hold him responsible. With a private monopoly, there is no accountability or retribution for ineptness. The programs suggested here are not meant as a fixed blueprint. They merely try to suggest redistribution of wealth and power as the pivot of social change. These ideas will not prevail without considerable social conflict. Their implementation will not be guaranteed merely by electing a Good Guy to the White House in “1972. They can triumph only as part of a larger movement that transcends party and personality and doesn’t wait for national elections to energize itself. The purest avatars of the movement I am talking about are organizers like Ralph Nader, Cesar Chavez, Jesse Jackson and Saul Alinsky. But there are also politicians who have advocated populist programs in the last three years, and who have won elections; Governor Gilligan in Ohio; Senators like McGovern, Harris, Kennedy, Proxmire and. Hughes; Congressmen like Abzug, Reuss, Badillo, Drinan and Conyers; municipal figures like Abrams and Kretchmer. All I argue is that these ideas are politically feasible, and if translated into policy, they would help a majority of people live a more humane life. That is all politics can do.