JIM HIGHTOWER A Second Look For Single Payer “Now that the flaws of President Clinton’s and other [health] reform plans have become evident and the debate has veered toward gridlock, it’s time to give the [Canadian-style] single-payer plan a hard second look.” That quote comes not from me, Jim Hightower, not from Ted Kennedy, not from some stereotypical knee-jerk, thumbsucking, softie, leftie, pinko publication…but from Business Week magazine. My, my. You never know who common sense will strike next. Business Week, a no-nonsense, pro-business weekly, reports that while the singlepayer approach seems radical at first glance, it actually “would serve some profoundly conservative purposes. No other plan would do more to preserve two traditional bedrocks of American medicine: the freedom to choose your own doctor and the autonomy of physicians to order care as they see fit.” Hmm. So much for the right wing’s blathering that the Canadian system is that old bugaboo, “socialized medicine.” Of course, a lot of those gumflappers are working with a five-pound tongue in a four-pound head, so don’t expect much rationality from them. Let me just quote right from Business Week: “…single-payer is not ‘socialized medicine.’ Rather it’s by far the best way to control costs while preserving the freedom of choice and physician autonomy that made American medicine great.” The magazine points out that because of the paperwork, redundancy and complexity of private insurance companies, the administrative costs of America’s current system sop up nearly 25 cents out of each health-care dollar we spend, while the Canadian system is administered for little more than a dime on the dollar. Business Week notes that by cutting out the insurance companies, we could trim $100 billion a year in overhead costsenough to provide full health coverage for all Americans, including the 40 million folks now without any coverage. To learn more about a health plan that’ll really work for America, contact a group Jim Hightower, a former Observer editor and Texas agriculture commissioner, does daily radio commentary. May 14 he will begin a weekend talk show on ABC Radio Network called SPAN \(Single Payer Across the NaAH, SPRING! The wildflowers are blooming, the songbirds are chirping, baseball season has started…and all’s right with the world. Well, almost all is right. Have you been to a ballgame recently? Check with your banker first. For you, your spouse and two kids, you’re looking at a typical ticket price of twelve bucks each; parking is at least five dollars; a hot dog and a soda for each of you is fourteen dollars; a couple of beers is six more; and two souvenir caps for the kids take your final twenty-dollar bill. A hundred bucks might be pocket change to lawyers, doctors and other upscale fans, but for the majority of folks who are working stiffs, the national pastime is passing them by, financially speaking. And that’s a shame, because so many great new fan-friendly ballparks are being built in places like Baltimore, Cleveland, Arlington, Denver and maybe in Milwaukee and Cincinnati. But while ordinary people mostly can’t afford to take their families out to the game anymore, they do get to help pay for most of these new stadiums. The Texas Rangers, for example, built a beauty, costing $189 million. Former president George Bush’s son owns the Rangers, and he assured fans that he could afford to build a first-class ballpark. Sure he could, since local taxpayers were having to pick up 71 percent of Bush’s costs on the stadium, financing it with a hike in their city sales tax. Baseball’s owners might be picking the pockets of us fans and taxpayers, but they can’t keep us from cheering for the players and the game itself. EVERY TIME YOU think that govern ment surely can’t get any more inept or silly, along comes our very own CIA to stumble onstage like a slapstick combination of Inspector Clouseau, Detective Frank Drebbin and The Three Stooges. Their latest is Rick Ames”the spy who came in from the mall.” Ames was a shopping fool, but his higher-ups apparently didn’t think it even slightly suspicious that, for nigh on a decade, this midlevel bureaucratic spook was living in James Bond luxury. He drove a $65,000 Jaguar, bedded down in a milliondollar house and made regular deposits in Swiss bank accounts. Yet our top espionage officials were totally surprised when Ames finally was exposed as a Russian mole in their own headquarters, having been paid two-anda-half-million smackers by the Rooskies since 1985. Never fear, though, Inspector Clouseau is here. CIA director James Woolsey says he’s investigating whether someone might have “performed poorly” in letting the Ames case go unchecked for so long. Performed poorly? Is a pig’s butt pork? Someone give this pipe-smoking deadhead a clue. Well, Woolsey says from now on he’ll require all CIA staffers to make “annual financial disclosure statements.” That’ll trap those moles, won’t it? A disclosure form! Woolsey isn’t aware that spies sometimes tell fibs, especially on disclosure forms. SHHHH! Don’t wake him, he gets grouchy. It’s time to admit that the CIA has been running on dieselpowered arrogance and stupidity for decades. This is the same wacky gang that attempted to put thallium salts in Castro’s combat boots to try to make his beard fall out. And they’re the same seriously dangerous outlaws that spied on American citizens, subverted our own universities and conducted LSD experiments on unsuspecting psychiatric patients. It’s time to stop wasting twelve to twenty billion of our tax dollars every year on a CIA that no longer has the Soviet KGB as an excuse for such exploitsand can’t seem to keep track of its own staff, much less of foreign intrigues. HERE WE GO again. Our foreign policy seems to be based on “Winkin, Blinkin’ and Nod.” Aren’t we supposed to stand for certain basic principles in the world? Things like liberty and justiceold-fashioned principles maybe, but still at the heart of who we Americans are. So why can’t Bill Clinton stand firm on his China policy? He had a good one, telling China’s rulers: You don’t get preferred treatment in our markets until you stop enslaving hundreds of thousands of your own citizens in brutal labor camps to produce your goods. But “Oh golly, oh faint, oh quaver and quiver!” American Big Business and Big Bankers almost passed out at the very idea of Clinton’s principled approach to China. You see, they want to build new manufacturing plants over there and reap the profits from that cheap labor. If Clinton insists 12 MAY 6, 1994 .744..4.4.e+
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