Wednesday, August 12, 2009

How Much is Shouter Movement at Town Halls Manufactured.

We've all seen the images of an middle-aged to older American shouting down their Congressperson trying to answer a question on the Obama health care reform plan. Or shouting down a supporter of the plan in the audience. There has been a lot of talk about who are these people. How many are real, average Americans, health insurance lobbyists in plain clothes, misinformed Americans (thanks to the Glenn Beck's of the world) and actual, flesh and blood, average Americans who have real concerns about the bill?

Certainly there are many who are genuinely concerned about the bill and have honest questions but how many of those questions are heard over the din of the shouters and criers? It seems that the shouters are shooting their cause right in the stomach with these outburst tactics as it makes ALL opponents to the bill look like fringe radicals. I think a lot of these people just hate the government and/or just want to rant--period. Some of these folks have a whole laundry list of complaints, gripes, etc. that they list off at these town halls. So you start to wonder, what are they actually for? And how are they going to help end the out of control costs of our health insurance markets if they get their way and we just maintain the status quo? I can pretty much guarantee that costs will only increase, care will continue to go down, more and more people will be denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions, etc. So what are they for?? What is their solution because dismantling the government to the point where they want is only going to make us weaker as a Republic and soon you'll see states decide that they'd be better off just declaring independence. Dismantling the government is the surest way to ensure this country falls apart completely.

I saw two articles yesterday that added to the body of evidence that some of this is manufactured outraged. We know that the health insurance lobbyists spend $1.4 million dollars a day on lobbying and that can buy a lot of influence. One guy didn't even both to hide his Blue Cross, Blue Shield health insurance shirt while at one of these town hall meetings. So the first article is about a health insurance whistle blower:

Health insurance companies deserve “a great deal of the blame” for the sometimes violent disruptions to town hall meetings on health care, says a former health insurance company executive turned whistleblower. Wendell Potter, a former executive with health insurer Cigna who now works as the senior fellow on health care at the Center for Media and Democracy, told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that health insurance companies “are very much behind the town hall disruptions that you see and a lot of the deception that’s going on in terms of disinformation that many Americans, apparently, are believing.”

On her show Monday night, Maddow cited statistics from the Securities and Exchange Commission showing that profits at the US’s ten largest health insurance companies skyrocketed more than 400 percent between 2000 and 2007, from $2.4 billion in 2000 to $12.7 billion in 2007. “Apparently while they quadrupled their profits, the number of Americans without health insurance grew by 19 percent,” Maddow said. And she also pointed out that the average total take-home pay for the CEOs of those health insurance companies was $11.9 million each, per year, “while the number of Americans without health insurance, for whom a burst appendix can mean bankruptcy, has gone through the roof.”

Asked why health care costs are going up, Potter told Maddow: “Since 1983 … the amount of money that insurance companies take in in premiums — less and less of that is going to pay medical claims.” Potter suggested that health insurers’ fears of a public health alternative are unfounded, because they can still make money with a public plan in place. “They could [turn a profit], absolutely. I’ve seen the health insurance industry change its business models many times. The insurance companies who operate now are very different from the companies that operated a few years ago and the one thing they know how to do is make money.”

TPJ: Of course they can make more than enough money but we're talking about companies who are use to ridiculously inflated profits and who greedily want to hang on to that profit margin. This idea that they can't compete is bullshit. They will still be more than successful but just not to the tune of triple digit, record profits. And maybe a few go out of business but isn't that capitalism after all? The strong survive and the weak fall away? I find it funny that the one's being called the "Socialists" are defending more competition in the health insurance marketplace, which is pure, Adam Smith Capitalism.

However, the ones who beat their chests and yell the loudest that they are the "TRUE" Americans and defending freedom seem to be the ones standing in the way of the choice this public option would bring the most? The public option provides even more choices than we currently have, which keeps the health insurance companies relatively honest and thus prices down. Republicans call themselves the party of business but they aren't exactly the party of FAIR business practices. All too often they seem to be the party of business--gone excessive. They oppose nearly all regulation, which are measures that are supposed to help maintain a fair business environment.

So why would they be interested in seeing the truth about this health care reform bill be known? Of course they're going to want to muddy up the water. Doesn't it strike you as odd despite Obama saying time and time again during the campaign that he was going to reform health care, which in part led to his election, that now there are these "masses" rising up against it? Why would so many people vote for him only to not support his plans, which were well outlined in the campaign?

Because health insurance money is being spread around to agents willing to muddy up the water like hardcore activists and unscrupulous radio talk show hosts who make a living on saying the most radical things that they can think of. Do you honestly think that Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly want to see anything Obama proposes pass? Of course not--they are the very definition of an ideologue, which is someone who sticks to their views regardless of the evidence. And they exist on the left too but the right has more of a history with this kind of radio propaganda campaign. So these radio hosts (most by the way aren't journalists though many people think they are) are experts at manipulation of their audience because if they can't hold an audience and keep them tuning in then they lose listeners, then sponsors, which in turn hurts their pay check. So of course they're going to repeat the most outlandish things they can find regarding this health care debate such as Obama is going to set up
death panels, euthanasia, fund abortion and insure illegal aliens, etc.

All it takes is for a talk show host like Limbaugh who has a huge microphone influence to confuse enough people with shameless misinformation because he's a foot soldier, remember? He is such a believer of his ideology that he believes conservativism is the only way to go and the only way America can survive and succeed. So like many he doesn't mind bending the truth if what he perceives as the "right" political views get pushed in the end. In other news, some town halls are being over-crowded with people
either not in a Representatives district or even state:

In what became an emblematic scene, Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), faced a hostile crowd at a packed health care town hall in Michigan on Thursday. Dingell, a major sponsor of health care reform legislation, was repeatedly shouted down. But who was actually populating this angry mob? Although town-hall meetings are intended for constituents of congressional members' districts, some if not a majority of attendees seemed to have come from further away. Members of Congress routinely ask constituents to sign in when they attend town halls so they can contact them later and gauge where people are coming from.

Dingell spokesman Adam Benson estimated that roughly 500 people showed up for the meeting, and half didn't sign in at all. Of the 262 who did, 80 listed addresses inside Dingell's district; 100 listed addresses outside the district; and 82 didn't put down an address at all. Sign-in sheet breakdowns provided to the Huffington Post in two other congressional districts indicated a similar pattern of outside agitation. In short, the sign-in sheets lend credence to the accusation that the protests are the product of Washington-based "Astroturf" organizations, rather than evidence of a groundswell of popular resistance to health care reform.

TPJ: As I said in earlier in the post, not all by any means are plants, insurance activists or brainwashed less informed voters. However, there is enough evidence to show that there is more of that going on than is being admitted by opponents. I just hope that everyone is getting the accurate information--whether it supports Obama's plan or whether it doesn't. I also hope that people aren't purposefully misinforming others because that is just down right shady, dishonest and disturbing. That kind of behavior shouldn't be tolerated.

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(O)CT(O)PUS said...

A damn GREAT article you wrote here ... which mirrors my own thinking. A few more facts for the gristmill:

When the Bush administration passed the prescription drug add-on to Medicare, provisions were sneaked under cover of darkness (literally in the middle of the night on the eve of passage). One prohibited the government to negotiate discount prices for drugs (the VA is not constrained by this provision and one wonders why the Constitutionality of this provision remained unchallenged).

Another provision banned the government from importing cheaper drugs.

Yet another provision gave insurance companies a $177 billion bonus payment over 10 years to "level the playing field" between private insurance and Medicare.

In fact, these payments are nothing more than extortion or protection money that allowed the government to pass the drug bill. All givebacks, of course, to the industry.

The sad part, the healthcare robber barons started astroturfing the public debate, and now all the malcontents and misfits have crawled out of the woodwork, including some good people whom I counted as friends.

And some of these friends are so caught up in the adrenaline rush of the debate, they have disavowed our friendship and vowed never to return to the Swash Zone (blog). So I have lost quite a lot this week.

Handsome B. Wonderful said...


Thanks for the compliments and thank-you for bringing up the prescription drug add-on. It seems they wanted to use it to cloak their nefarious goals of crippling future reform. Nice.