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Air America’s Mike Farrell: Isn’t Healthcare a Basic Human Right?

In the debate over healthcare reform, why are those who are supposed to be representing the will of the people so eager to take the single-payer option off the table? What are they so afraid of?

I think it’s obvious—especially in light of the health insurance industry breaking its promise to President Obama in record time. (Seriously, what was that—like, a day?) The rich want to get richer. The powerful want to stay in power. And dissent must be swept aside swiftly.

There’s only one problem with that: this isn’t some third-world Communist dictatorship. Sometimes, the government actually has to listen to what people want.

Thanks, Air America’s Mike Farrell, for writing about this crisis in leadership:

30 years ago I was out in Montana campaigning to get Max Baucus elected to the U.S. Senate. That was back when he was a Democrat.

It was interesting to see the metamorphosis, watching a video of him gaveling the Senate Finance Committee hearing to order the other day – you know the scene, a group of healthy, wealthy, well-dressed, powerful, mostly men sit and harrumph importantly about an issue. This one was a hearing where “stakeholders” were invited to discuss the problems facing our healthcare system. I thought it seemed odd that the panel was all insurance company executives, lobbyists and business-types and didn’t include a single-payer proponent; aren’t they “stakeholders”? But odd quickly became bizarre when a single-payer advocate rose from the cheap seats to speak to this august group, only to be quickly escorted out of the room under armed guard, apparently a threat to order. Then, after His Chairmanship gaveled the room to silence and tried to dismiss the single-payer supporter as a crank, another quickly stood to raise the same questions. As she was pulled from the room, yet another rose to speak, and another. Finally, the number that ultimately stood to express their support, only to be escorted out grew to the point that the chagrined Chairman found himself reduced to grimly voicing a fear that there might not be enough police.

It occurred to me, watching the poor man grind his teeth, that perhaps, like the lepers of old, single-payer proponents should have to wear a bell so he’d know as they approached.

During the tumult, with the gavel crashing and the police taking away the unwelcome citizens, someone in the crowd whispered to another, “How many are there?”

“Lady,” I wanted to shout, “there are millions of us!”

I thought someone might have become confused, watching that tone-deaf display of entrenched power, about which country we were in. It’s an odd thing to watch those who have been elected to serve the people become so wedded to the levers of power and money that they are somehow able to free themselves of the burden of vision.

Read the whole article here.

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