Friday, November 11, 2011

State Repubs want to throw 65,000 people off Medicaid rolls

The mean season in Wisconsin continues to unfold...

I don't know, friends, when I think about that story the other day about doubling the costs of security for Guv Walker, and when I think about the undemocratic, nearly dictatorial control of the Grover Norquist no-tax-increase crowd - as if this in and by itself is some deep, profound political concept, rather than what it is, a simplistic design to collapse government services in places where they are most needed and for the people who most need them - I wonder more and more how we will like living in a society like the one Walker & Co. are creating - a mean society, a society with escalating numbers of people living in desperation and deprivation, collapsed hopes and dreams.

You certainly know why Walker might feel the kind of paranoia that means more armed protection...

So read this story carefully, if you have not already:

Lawmakers OK changes that could drop 65,000 from Medicaid

You and I know how easy it would be to avoid these cuts made by people who do not have a financial care in the world, who have no fears of losing access to excellent health care, who think it a travesty that anyone thinks they, in their privilege, have any social responsibility in this world in which the wealthy and the corporate giants take more and more of the society's wealth to themselves.

We are in a selfish, mean, season. We are in an unraveling time when it comes to the political culture of this state.

Listen to the cold-hearted cruelty (I don't know how else to name it) hidden in this statement from Walker's State Health Services Secretary Dennis Smith (the position ought to be renamed to something like the drive-more-poor-people-into-poverty-and-illness secretary):
"Under our approach, individuals would lose coverage only if they make the choice not to pay a fair share of their coverage," Smith said, adding later, "We're at least giving people a choice."

Keep in mind who we are talking about here - families that sometimes have to decide between food and medicine, paying the rent or paying the doctor bills. An example from the news story:
For instance, a single parent with two children who makes more than $27,795 a year would typically see his or her annual premiums rise to $1,390 from $120 - a more than tenfold increase. In all, the higher premiums would apply to 91,500 BadgerCare Plus participants - almost two-thirds of them children.

And then when these children go to school, the rightwing Repubs will get all upset if they don't test well!!! And then schools' funding will be in jeopardy and teachers will be blamed - not hunger, not lack of preventive health care, not the poverty into which Repubs are driving more and more of our people.

Photo: Margaret Swedish
For what? So that Wisconsin can become even more 'open for business' than it was before; so that mining companies can get tax breaks to blow open more holes in our countryside; so that more Walmarts can be opened to take advantage of the rising pool of cheap, non-union labor, to staff their stores where more and more poor people undermine their well-being by shopping there because it's all they can afford, which ensures that more poor people will be exploited by companies like Walmart.

That's the world they are creating. It's a world I organized against creating over decades in my work in Washington DC when the US and big corporate 'free-traders' (a misnomer if ever there was one) were doing this to Mexico and Central America. Now it has come home, and how do we like it? Because this is not free trade; this is rigged trade, rigged politics, taking advantage of this strain of fierce individualism that is still way too pervasive in our socio-political culture.

If we don't feel the connection between our lives and the lives of these 65,000 people, then we are living an illusion that will come back to haunt us.

This issue is not over. It now goes to the federal government which must approve it by the end of the year in order for it to go into effect. That means it goes to the President of the United States who can decide that this will not stand. If you care, you could make your voice heard in Washington.

There's another message you could send to your state politicians as well - this whole problem could be resolved with minute tax increases on corporate and individual wealth which that class would hardly feel. They could still vacation in Cancun and buy yachts; they could still afford expensive security details. If we believe they have more right to our public wealth than the poor do, we are a sorry state indeed.

And for all of you BadgerCare advocates out there, all you who provide services to these populations bearing the brunt of the politics of meanness, thank you!! Your work is tireless and often despair-inducing. You see the politics of meanness where it plays out in the lives of real human beings, something that Walker & Co. have intentionally blinded themselves from seeing. And yet you press on, pricking our consciences every day, reminding us that poverty is the underside of an economic/political system for which we are all responsible.

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