Saturday, October 13, 2012

Blue Shield turns communist, says profit is bad for your health.

by Richard Mellor

Readers might wonder why I have put on our blog a video advertising Blue Shield, a health industry company. Well, in my usual round about way, I'll explain.

The US is the most powerful capitalist economy in the world. When it comes to capital and the rights of capital, it is the belly of the beast; it is the worst of the major advanced capitalist countries to be poor in.  Since their precious market was dragged from the edge of the abyss by public funds in 2008, we have commented on the nature of the mood.  The bankers are hated, the rich scorned, polls showed that 36% of the US population were favorable to socialism.

This is despite massive propaganda on behalf of the market, for private ownership of the dominant sectors of the economy and against public services in all forms from freeways to communication.  The USPS for example is an extremely efficient operation.  No matter where you are in this country and those comrades that live outside of it need to recognize that it is more a continent than a country; no matter where you live, in the most rural areas, you get your mail.  In some rural areas, the post office is a community center and mail persons have even been deliverers of medicines and other important items for older residents.

For big capitalists though, that's not efficient. It's a service they could be providing, for a profit of course. But to do that they want to close 4000 post offices, cut jobs, lower wages, reduce benefits. That's their efficiency

But I don't want to get too much in to that we have previous blogs on that issue.

Back in 2010, the US Chamber of Commerce embarked on a campaign to boost the image of capitalism as the crash had severely undermined people's confidence in the system.  The COC set up focus groups to get a sense of the mood and found unfortunately that they couldn't use the term "capitalism" as respondents overwhelmingly associated the term with the strong devouring the weak.

This reflects a powerful, inherent sense of fairness and solidarity among most US workers and the middle classes.  This also occurs during declining Union power and the lack of any kind of workers' political party, as the heads of organized Labor capitulate to the capitalist offensive.

This video, or its message, is another stark example of the anti-capitalist mood that exists in US society.  This company, a competitor in the notorious US sickness industrial complex, chooses the motto, "For Care Not Profit" to advertise its services.  What's wrong with profit? Blue Shield are saying in no uncertain terms, that profit cannot provide adequate health care. Horrors! Sacrilege! Downright unAmerican.

I just mentioned this to a friend on the phone and he said that "Well, they're lying", meaning they don't put care before profit.  That's true, but it's why they're lying that is the issue.  Blue Shield has determined that there is a strong current in US society that believes people's health cannot be provided for by the private sector, by a "for profit" system.  They found out in a very simple way----they asked people,  and people told them about their experiences, or in many cases they might have told them about their lack of experiences as they put off going to the doctors as they can't afford it. Most bankruptcies in the US are related to health care.  Many people pay for doctors visits with credit cards and they pay for food more frequently that way as well.

So despite all the hype, conservative thinking or worship of capitalism and the market, is not as dominant in US society as we are led to believe.  The confusion that does exist exists primarily because the heads of organized Labor refuse to tap in to this mood to build an offensive our own; they have the same world view as the bosses.  The Democrats can't tap in to it because on the economic fundamentals they are not much different than the Republicans, the presidential debate showed how similar they really are on what matters, bread and butter. The left has also failed for reasons this blog has explained, to build a left current in the workers' movement.  Unfortunately, for various reasons, the Occupy Movement failed to tap in to it as well and Occupy has lost much of its momentum and more importantly its support among workers; plenty of this has been due to the massive state violence waged on these courageous youth.

It is difficult to say how much longer the mood will last.  The global economy is teetering on the edge of another slowdown or more. The US capitalist class is not yet finished with the war at home that it is waging on US workers in order make us competitive and to pay for its wars abroad.  But it is clear, and lessons from the decline of the Occupy Movement teach us, that building a leadership in preparation for the next upsurge is crucial. That fighting to build militant opposition caucuses in our Unions is a necessity.

It is not just health care that the market fails us on.  It fails on all levels; its time in history as a system of producing the needs of human existence has expired.

In times of heightened class struggle, leadership can be the deciding factor. Many younger workers and students have or will draw correct conclusions from the present ebb, will have learned I'm sure, that a movement that is not rooted in the working class, our communities and organizations is more easily crushed by the state and its forces. 

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