I started typing a comment to last Monday's post, but it was getting a bit long. And heck, I think the issues here are front-page worthy. So here it is:
Piecemeal Reform vs. Comprehensive Reform
I think Caterpillar, and the few companies who've made similar statements (about how the health care bill will cause them to lay off lots of workers) are playing a little fast and loose in order to make a point. Here's a story today about Congress kind of calling their bluff by asking them to come defend their claims before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. But even if the claims were perfectly true, it is a conversation worth having. Is guaranteeing health care for every American worth the price Caterpillar is claiming? I think it is.
But if the health care bill did in fact cause large companies to lay off workers, it would highlight a bigger issue: It's hard to win social justice one step at a time through piecemeal reforms. As Elizabeth pointed out in comments, Caterpillar would be laying off workers while it's executives continue to make millions. Or, what if instead of laying off workers they decided to cut costs by ignoring environmental laws? Or moving to Burma? It turns into a game of whack-a-mole, with democracy and social justice trying to bop capitalist excess every new place it pops up.
What we need instead is comprehensive economic reform. Instead of a system where we try to milk universal health care, living wages, and environmental standards from entities that have no interest in such things, what if we started with universal health care and a decent life for everybody as the first priority. Then we could allow corporations to rise up, and we could treat them as luxuries that only add to the basic foundation of dignity and security for every person. And if they ceased to do that, we could dissolve them. That way, we could make corporate capitalism serve us instead of the other way around.
Name Calling vs. Truth Telling
I think almost all who followed the long health care battle closely would say it was a draining experience. Such intensity from both sides. And often our politics feels pretty removed from our basic humanity, with the harsh rhetoric from every direction. But this nasty fight over the last year just won quality medical care for tens of millions of people who didn't have it. We should be reminded that some things are worth fighting for. And health care is one of them. And I agree with new commenter, What Blue Dot?, that name calling is a waste. But I hope you'll agree that we ought to have the guts to speak the names of our oppressors. If someone is standing on my neck or my neighbor's neck, I'm going to call him out. If someone is standing on my neck or my neighbor's neck by virtue of a social or economic system, I'm going to call out the system. The question is, can we call out the oppressor or the system without turning off the people we need to stand with us? Often, no.