We Could Use Some FDR These Days

Some days it would be nice to see some FDR channeled. His times were not that much different than today. But he was often more head on in his approach. Here is an FDR speech at the 1936 Democratic convention where FDR takes on the economic royalists (3.5 minutes): 

Name an issue of great importance today and research where it came from. At the bottom we almost always find what FDR called “the economic royalists.” As in his day, today’s wealthy will do almost anything to maintain power. See January 6th for instance.

Climate change has to be in everybody’s top three issues. For most it is issue #1 simply because our life raft in the universe, the earth. When we trace the origins of climate change back we hit a major upswing with the beginning of the Industrial Age. Few realized what was going on then as factories and productivity were the driving forces of those days.

However, as we move into the post WWII age, science comes to the fore. The potential heating of the planet became an area of study. Among those studying planet heating were oil companies. They were among the first to realize their product was central to what would become known as climate change. 

This should have created a crisis of conscience. Should they blow the horn on themselves or should they muddy the waters and divert attention from themselves while continuing to sell a product that would make things worse. Oil companies chose to muddy the waters while making large piles of cash. When confronted with evidence of their part in climate change, their answer was more of the same plus ‘buying’ some politicians to buffer the outcries against them.

Race issues have defined America from day one. When the first settlers came to America, the first slaves were not far behind. It was hardly a revelation that using free labor can make a few people very rich. It also became very apparent that using race as a friction point could keep the lower classes at each others throats for ever. Thus diverted, wages and recompense were kept low while upper classes reaped huge profits from keeping wages low.

We may finally be seeing some cracks in the low wage cycle. However considering how the ‘economic royalists’ have been able to keep workers at each other’s throats for centuries, I suspect this is only a temporary setback.

Today the final example will be health care for all in this country. Many people are surprised to find that national health care for this country was first proposed by Theodore Roosevelt over a hundred years ago. Germany had universal health care in 1883.   

So here we are in the early 21st century standing alone as the only country in the industrialized world that does not have universal health care for its citizens. We also pay a hefty premium for that with our costs often well over twice as much as other countries. Why?

This Hartmann recently had this as the subject of his daily rant. Here is an excerpt of his take on the situation:

In my new book The Hidden History of American Healthcare: Why Sickness Bankrupts You and Makes Others Insanely Rich, I lay out how the average American is paying around $3000 a year more for healthcare and health insurance than Canadians, Europeans, Japanese and South Koreans.

That money is lining of the pockets of the literally thousands of health industry executives who each “earn” over a million dollars a year (some “earning” tens or hundreds of millions a year). We pay 18-20 percent of our GDP for healthcare and healthcare insurance.

By comparison, Taiwan’s singly-payer healthcare system in its entirety, including doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, all care facilities, all billing and payment operations — everything — costs that country just a bit over 6 percent of GDP.  In most developed countries it’s 6 to 14 percent.

Insurance premiums make up 24 percent of gross US payroll, while a Canadian-style nonprofit Medicare-For-All system would cost between 10 and 14 percent depending on how it was implemented.

And every effort Democrats make to deal with the problem — including their most recent “infrastructure” bill that would cut drug prices and expand Medicaid to those 12 states that have refused to do so themselves — faces 100% rigid opposition from bought-and-paid-for elected Republicans.

We are at a time when it feels like great change can be accomplished. Changing the power of the wealthy in this country should go a long way toward restoring our democracy to what it should be. Repealing the awful Citizen’s United SCOTUS decision would be a great start.

And maybe somehow resurrecting the ghost of FDR would help.

About Dave Bradley

retired in West Liberty
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