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    BRAMA News and Community Press

    BRAMA, August 11, 2009, 9:00 AM ET


    Healthcare Insurance and Military Spending in America
    By Boris Danik

    If you live in the US and lose your job, you and your family also lose the employer-provided health insurance, or must pay premiums (under so-called COBRA arrangement) that are not affordable.

    President Obama's ongoing drive for a sweeping health insurance reform is, predictably, running into a wall of resistance from the Repubican Party and all the lobbies it represents.

    The GOP think tanks are churning out the usual soundbites: "Do you want the government to tell your doctor how to practice medicine? Do you want to be denied the freeom to choose your own health insurance?"

    This stonewalling melange consists of deceptively wrong questions — and is aimed at those who have not yet lost their insurance or feel, sort of, safe from being laid off or getting sick. After all, the 50 million Americans without health insurance today (and increasing at the rate of about 9,000 a day) is not yet a majority.

    The main stumbling block (aside from ideological voodoism) against providing health insurance for all Americans is the question of who will pay for this. The government will need a revenue source to subsidize those not getting it through workplace or unable to pay otherwise — about $100 billion annually.

    Marginal tax rates can and should be raised on high-earners, e.g. those over $500,000 a year. But another very visible funding source, albeit never mentioned, can come from a 10% cut in military spending, which now is running amok at over $600 billion annually. The pentagon is like the Aegean stables of the military-industrial complex into which money vanishes as if into a black hole.

    Pentagon's spending rate is now higher than it was at the height of the Cold War, and is about one-half of the entire world's military spending, although the US has only about 5% of the world population. At this rate it is no wonder that the US has not enough money to pay for healthcare like Western Europe does.

    The military-industrial business, with its share of many scandals, is a fantastically profitable trough in America for "investor" class — because it is the money coming directly from taxpayers' pockets, at no risk to the well-connected. This enterprise is backed by a monumental media machine that tells the American public how our military protects and defends the entire planet against evil, and how our NATO allies don't do their fair share, so that we must pick up the slack.

    Remarkably, during the Bush presidency, opinion polls in European NATO countries showed that many saw the US as the biggest threat to peace. Thirty-two percent thought so, according to Harris Research poll for the Financial Times (July 2, 2007), conducted in five NATO countries in June 2007.

    One wonders how such professed diligence and magnanimity from us towards friends squares off with trickle-down healthcare for Americans.

    Dr. Boris Danik
    North Caldwell, NJ

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