Category Archives: Policy & Trends

Kill for Peace - US and EU Deny Medicine to the Critically Ill

Michael Collins

United States and European Union sanctions against Iran prevent much needed medical care for the Iranian people.   Those with cancer, for example, have lost the option of treatment through chemotherapy while hemophiliacs are at high risk for any surgery due to a denial of essential pharmaceuticals. There are 85,000 new cases of cancer every year in Iran.  Those with cancer and the newly diagnosed will have to do without effective treatments. A large percentage of them will die sooner than anticipated as a result.  (Image:  Fergal of Calldagh)

The Iranian medical community is unable to get required medicines due to financial restrictions in the sanctions regime.  The restrictions effectively blocks pharmaceutical purchases by Iranian medical facilities.  No ticket, no laundry is the policy of big and little pharma throughout the world.  As a result, right now — as you read this — innocent Iranians are dying, sentenced to death by the U.S.-E.U. sanctions.

Who on earth would initiate and sustain such a policy?

You guessed it.  The Obama administration, the leaders of the NATO countries and other wannabe tough-guy nations are behind the comprehensive sanctions designed to get Iran to stop its nuclear program.  Here is how tough the sanctions are.  Former UN ambassador, the very right wing John Bolton, described the E.U. sanctions as “brutal.”

Iran’s banks were taken off the international financial transaction network known as SWIFT.  Without access to SWIFT, Iranian banks cannot execute purchases outside of the country.  Even though certain medicines are exempted from the sanctions regime, the inability to purchase those medicines caused by removal from SWIFT makes it as though they were banned.

The Guardian quoted U.S. Treasury Department spokesperson, John Sullivan, on the subject:

“If there is in fact a shortage of some medicines in Iran, it is due to choices made by the Iranian government, not the US government.”  December 5, 2012

Sullivan’s statement is absurd.  We’re punishing the Iranian people for what the Iranian government is doing. That makes no sense at all.  Successive U.S. administrations have denied the legitimacy of that government.  How can the Obama administration argue that the government is not representative of the people and, at the same time, punish the people by denying vital medical care?

Periodically, U.S. officials call for the Iranian people to rise up and replace their leaders.  How can the people do that if they’re sick, dead or dying?  Why would they want to replace their leaders with a U.S. - E.U. alternative when the purported liberators deny medical treatment at the very time they call the Iranian leadership inhumane and a threat to world peace?

Back to the Future - Iraq Sanctions

According to an exhaustive study by Richard Garfield, RN, D.Ph., Columbia University School of Public Health, 227,000 children under five died in Iraq due to trade sanctions from 1990 through 1998.  The Columbia study considered previous estimates and came to this figure after extensive analysis.  There were many more deaths in Iraq as a result of sanctions but this subgroup shows the public health impact of sanctions on the most vulnerable segments of the population.  Did killing any of those children ease the presumed threat to the Middle East posed by the defeated regime of Saddam Hussein?  Was their very deliberate sacrifice worth it?

The deaths of these children were no secret.  The precise number of deaths may not have been known to the Clinton administration but the fact that denying medicine caused many deaths certainly was.

Then Secretary of State Madeleine Albright captured the prevailing (and unchanged) attitude when she responded to a question by 60 Minutes correspondent Leslie Stahl in 1996.

Stahl:  “We have heard that half a million children died.  That’s more children that died in Hiroshima.  Is the price worth it?

Albright: “I think this is a very hard choice but the price, we think the price is worth it.”  CBS News, May 12, 1996

Apparently, the price of Iranian sanctions is worth punishing everyone in Iran including children, cancer patients, and hemophiliacs.

We are burdened with a ruling class in a state of moral and cognitive decline.  They purport to represent us and serve our interests.  They don’t come close to reflecting the values of the vast majority of citizens.  They serve only the interests of their patrons and their own egos fed by talking, looking, and acting tough.  They’re not even bright enough to realize that in addition to the profound moral lapse, their acts reinforce the strength of the rulers they so despise.

Once again, mission accomplished.  Unfortunately, it is the mission of ongoing ineptitude and ignorance that is applied at home as well as abroad.  It is a disgrace.

Article 33. No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.  Geneva Convention, 1949, Article 33


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The Money Party


Companies Rushed Special Dividend Payments Before Tax Increase

With the fiscal cliff here and higher taxes looming, many corporations, including pharmaceutical companies, are issuing dividend checks to investors early in order to beat the higher tax rates. The Bush dividend tax rates - capped at 15 percent - are set to expire on December 31, 2012. If no changes are made, dividends will be taxed at the same rates as wages.

One analyst said more than $21 billion in special dividends had been promised by the end of November.

American Psychiatric Association Approves DSM-5

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) board of trustees met Saturday to vote on a controversial new version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, also called the DSM or “the psychiatrists’ bible.”

The manual defines all mental disorders and plays a significant role in how different disorders are to be managed, including drug treatments and insurance coverage. Read more about it.

FAQs about the DSM-5 - American Psychiatric Association

Swedish Anonymous activists embark on bold trip to Syria

by Jeff Johnston, with additional reporting by Kathlyn Stone

Activists within the Anonymous culture in Sweden headed to Syria this week amidst the chaos and inhumanity to bring much needed medical supplies and equipment to help the victims of the fragmented country.

#OpTripToSyria started trending on Twitter on Feb. 9 and has been gathering worldwide support very quickly. Supporters of the operation have had the chance to donate to the cause through a link on the web site the anons have established.

For nearly a year, constant protests have been flooding Syria’s streets as citizens continue to relentlessly pressure current President Bashar al-Assad to step down. The protests have been hit with violence at the hands of al-Assad’s military force. According to the UN, the conflict has claimed more than 7,500 lives.

Motivation for Anonymous’s humanitarian mission to Syria had come from various factors, but most notably due to the attacks on the city of Homs.

“I think I had enough when I saw all the tweets from the Swedish activists @SyrienNyheter or more specifically of the babies who died when Assad’s militia shut off the power to several incubators,” said an anon who currently goes by the handle TTS.

TTS also related a common creed of the Anonymous culture: that people shouldn’t be afraid of their governments, governments should be afraid of their people.

Anonymous donations have come from all over the world and more than 50 people have contributed. “Donations have come from Swedes, Europeans, Asians, Russians, Americans – you name it,” said TTS.

As of March 4, the anons had raised $2,257 US that they will use to purchase the medical supplies they will be bringing. The supplies will include medical kits, water purification tablets, washcloths and antibiotics and painkillers.

Many followers of the twitter account @TriptoSyria have expressed concern about the safety of the individuals who are embarking on the trip.

There are a lot of concerns that things might go wrong; we could be killed, captured, arrested or robbed, but we can only aim for success,” said TTS. “Hopefully, our actions will inspire other people to do the same thing.  Risking everything for what we believe is the right thing to do. And we know that our operation will have some kind of impact whatever happens.”

The team of activists is also well trained. Some of them have gone through military training, and have experience in first aid, trauma handling and CPR. However, they have emphasized that the mission is strictly non-violent.

This mission is still a bold endeavour as the United States and other Western embassies have suspended their actions in Syria, due to the elevated security risk.

On the international scale, Russia and China, two countries that initially vetoed the military intervention, seem to be waning in their support of Assad’s regime. Both countries have decried the violence in Syria and have dispatched diplomats to the region this week. Victims of conflict in Syria can only hope that this will help bring direct action from the international community to end the loss of innocents.

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JSTOR drops charges against Swartz; US government will pursue

In July, Aaron Swartz, an internet freedom activist and former Harvard Ethics fellow, was arrested and charged with data theft for downloading millions of academic journal articles from MIT’s computer network that were behind a paywall belonging to JSTOR. JSTOR, short for Journal Storage, digitizes academic journals and sells subscriptions to  libraries and other institutions.

JSTOR has dropped its data theft charges against Swartz but the U.S. Department of Justice is pursuing wire and computer fraud charges against him. If convicted, he could face up to 35 years and prison and $1 million in fines.

JSTOR announced September 7 that it was giving the public free access to some of its earliest journals, and that it plans to do more to make content accessible or affordable to individuals.

Related article: Selling Secrets

JSTOR also stated that the content taken by Swartz was returned and that it received “confirmation that the content was not and would not be used, copied, transferred, or distributed.”

Swartz is the founder of Demand Progress, an internet freedom advocacy group, which he currently serves as an advisory board director. He also co-founded,, Open Library, Jottit, and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, and co-authored the RSS 1.0 specification and helped launch Creative Commons.

Demand Progress is raising support for Swartz. The organization states on its website, “We stand with Aaron Swartz and his lifetime of work on ethics in government and academics.”

Swartz isn’t the only one critical of intellectual property laws that prevent or severely curtail access to published journal articles, patents and metadata that are necessary to analyze and advance ideas.

His supporters include Greg Maxwell who, in protest of Swartz’ prosecution, uploaded (on The Pirate Bay) 18,592 historical academic papers he’d legally obtained from JSTOR’s Royal Society collection.

Piercing the Veil, More Drug Companies Reveal Payments to Doctors

by Charles Ornstein, Tracy Weber and Dan Nguyen, ProPublica

Eight pharmaceutical companies, including the nation’s three largest, doled out more than $220 million last year to promotional speakers for their products, according to a ProPublica analysis of company data.

For the first time, all these companies have reported a full year of payments, allowing for head-to-head comparisons of how much they spent on physicians to help push their pills. Some appear to be paring back.

Firms with the highest U.S. sales last year didn’t spend the most on physician marketers. Industry leader Pfizer, with sales of $26.2 billion, spent $34.4 million on speakers, ranking third among the eight companies. By comparison, Eli Lilly and Co. spent the most on speakers, $61.5 million, even though its sales were about half of Pfizer’s.

“We continue to believe in the benefits and value that educational programs led by physicians provide to patient care,” Lilly spokesman J. Scott MacGregor said in an email.

The data provide a preview of what the public can expect to see in 2013, when all drug and medical-device companies — potentially hundreds — must report such figures to the federal government.

Until 2009, pharmaceutical company payments to health professionals were closely held trade secrets. But several companies began reporting the information publicly under pressure from lawmakers or as a condition of settling federal whistle-blower lawsuits.

Company                          2010 Speaker Payments    2010 US Sales

Lilly $61,477,547 $14.3 billion
GlaxoSmithKline $52,755,793 $13.6 billion
Pfizer $34,382,574 $26.2 billion
AstraZeneca $31,647,101 $18.3 billion
Merck $20,365,446 $18.8 billion
Johnson & Johnson $11,712,900 $12.9 billion
Cephalon $4,241,080 $2.1 billion
ViiV Healthcare $3,975,102 Unavailable

In October, ProPublica published a database called Dollars for Docs that included information from those companies. It allows the public to search for individual physicians to see whether they’ve been on pharma’s payroll.

Today, ProPublica is updating that tool to include payments made to health professionals by 12 companies. Eight of those published data for all of 2010: Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Merck, Cephalon, Johnson & Johnson, ViiV Healthcare and AstraZeneca.

In addition to the payments made to speakers, some of the companies also disclosed how much they’ve spent on consulting, travel, meals and research.

In all, payments to doctors and other health-care providers in ProPublica’s database total more than $760 million and cover reports from drug companies between 2009 and the second quarter of 2011.

Some Docs Pull Out

The new data offer a glimpse of how the firms have adapted their strategies over time, both to changes in the marketplace and to increased scrutiny of their sales techniques.

Many experts predict physicians will back away from working for the companies once their names and pay are publicly revealed.

It’s too early to know if this is true, but ProPublica’s analysis shows that the payouts to dozens of doctors and other health professionals took a steep dive last year.

Pulmonologist Veena Antony, for example, was paid at least $88,000 to give promotional talks for GlaxoSmithKline in 2009. But last year, the Birmingham, Ala., doctor gave them up out of concern that patients might think her advice was tainted.

“You don’t even want the appearance that I might be influenced by anything that a company gave,” she said.

Cancer specialist Nam Dang was a regular on Cephalon’s speaking circuit, pulling in $131,250 in 2009. But those promotional gigs stopped, he said, after he took a job at the University of Florida in Gainesville, which bans such talks. In 2010, he received $10,000 for consulting for Cephalon and Pfizer.

Nurse practitioner Terri Warren, who runs a Portland, Ore., health clinic, earned at least $113,000 from Glaxo in 2009, mostly talking about its herpes drug Valtrex. In 2010, that dropped to $300 after the drug went off patent and Glaxo no longer had a financial incentive to promote it.

“It’s a business decision, clearly,” said Warren, who felt her talks helped educate other health professionals about treating a taboo illness. “My money [from Glaxo] went into keeping this little clinic alive, and now we have to figure out some other way to do that.”

Another group of physicians has ramped up speaking engagements and consulting.

Buffalo hematologist Zale Bernstein earned $49,250 from Cephalon in 2009. The following year, his pay jumped to $177,800 (plus an additional $35,500 for travel). Bernstein did not return calls for comment.

Pain specialist Gerald M. Sacks spoke and consulted for four companies in the database and was among the highest paid. The Santa Monica, Calif., doctor earned $270,825 from Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Lilly and Cephalon in 2010, up from $225,575 in 2009. Those figures do not include travel costs and meals.

Over 18 months, Pfizer alone paid Sacks $318,250 for speaking. He did not return repeated calls for comment.

Pfizer’s new disclosure also revealed an unusual recipient. Its top-paid physician consultant last year, Dr. Christiana Goh Bardon, runs a hedge fund in Boston that bets on the rise and fall of health-care companies. She was paid nearly $308,000 to “provide input on our BioTherapeutics business development plan,” Pfizer spokeswoman Kristen Neese wrote in an email.

Bardon, who started her hedge fund after her Pfizer contract ended, was required to sign a confidentiality agreement and not allowed to invest in Pfizer or any of the biotech companies that Pfizer was looking at acquiring or partnering with for projects, Neese said.

Bardon said in a voice-mail message that she does not currently practice as a physician and her work was based on her business acumen.

Drug Companies Change Their Strategies

Some companies apparently have used fewer physician speakers and consultants since they began posting their data publicly.

Cephalon, a relatively small Pennsylvania company that specializes in pain, cancer and central nervous system drugs, paid physicians nearly $9.3 million in 2009 for speaking and consulting. That figure dropped to $5 million last year.

“There wasn’t one big thing that happened that shifted the focus,” said spokeswoman Jenifer Antonacci. Rather, the company’s marketing strategies for its brands changed.

AstraZeneca cut its spending on speakers from roughly $22.8 million in the first half of 2010 to about $9.2 million in the second half.

The company’s U.S. compliance officer, Marie Martino, said AstraZeneca typically holds most of its speaker events in the beginning of each year. But she acknowledged that the company’s spending on promotional talks has been decreasing.

“We’re in a period now where we don’t have a lot of new indications [approved uses] or new products that have been introduced in recent months, and that really is the fundamental explanation for what you’re seeing,” Martino said.

AstraZeneca, like other companies, is also replacing some in-person speaking events with teleconferences, webcasts and video conferences.

Glaxo’s spending on speakers also slowed in 2010, averaging about $13.2 million per quarter in 2010, down 15 percent from the last three quarters of 2009. (Glaxo did not report data in the first quarter of 2009.)

Company spokeswoman Mary Anne Rhyne said the company is working to reduce its speaker rolls by 50 percent. “We feel it is a better use of resources to use fewer speakers more often. This cuts down on training costs as well as lessens the number of contracts needed,” she wrote in an email.

And Lilly’s speaker payments dropped 10 percent from 2009 to 2010, which spokesman MacGregor said was likely due to “normal year-to-year fluctuation.”

ProPublica’s early analysis of the data is limited because so few companies report their spending and even then, disclose different information. Lilly, for example, reports every health professional it pays to speak, while Pfizer includes only those who can prescribe.

“It’s really unclear how much money is being spent in any one of these areas,” said Vincent DeChellis, a principal at NHHS Healthcare Consulting, which has studied the data. “As you get more and more companies participating and submitting this information, you’re going to get an initial look” at what may be a multibillion-dollar practice.

When Massachusetts required drug and device companies to report payments to doctors in that state last year, 286 companies did so.

Scrutiny of speaker programs has prompted changes.

After ProPublica reported last year that some drug-company speakers had been sanctioned by their state medical boards, the firms pledged to toughen their screening procedures and exclude physicians with disciplinary records.

Separately, ProPublica found that universities were not enforcing their own policies barring physicians from giving promotional speeches. In response, a number of schools said they would begin using the payment rosters to check for rule-breakers.

Pharma’s trade group said the focus of most companies right now is ensuring the accuracy of data that will be publicly released in 2013. But this transparency also must be put into context for patients, said Diane Bieri, executive vice president and general counsel for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

Doctors help develop new medicines, advise companies on marketing and help educate their peers about appropriate uses of new drugs, she said.

“If the only information that’s available is that company A paid doctor B $75,000 for a consulting arrangement,” she said, “that’s typically not enough information to really educate the patient about what was involved in that relationship.”

Forces Behind the Egyptian Revolution

By Michael Collins

(Washington, DC) — Two critical forces behind the Egyptian Revolution are missing from the front pages, or any pages, of the corporate media. They are the critical role of Egypt’s union movement and the universal desire of all people to live in peace, freedom and dignity. Rarely mentioned are the grievances of Egypt’s workers and their struggle to unionize. As a result, we’ve missed the connection between the struggle to unionize and the right to assemble.

The Egyptian people were poised for a mass celebration following what was supposed to be a farewell speech by former President Hosni Mubarak. For seventeen days, Egyptians massed in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. There were protests in Alexandria, Port Suez, and other cities. The G-20 sates have been tentative in their support for the full set of demands by protesters and the broader Egyptian public. For example, President Barack Obama said Mubarak needed a, “credible, concrete and unequivocal path to democracy.” What does a “path to democracy” look like? How long does it take to walk the path? Egypt’s military leaders may have acted already.

Mubarak’s contact with reality was extremely weak. He didn’t get the message from the Egypt’s Supreme Council of military leaders. Aljazeera reported that the council promised, “measures and arrangements … to safeguard the nation, its achievements and the ambitions of its great people.” The news service concluded that a military coup had likely taken place already based on the announcement that the council will be in session indefinitely.

What role did the union movement play and how was that connected to the right to assemble and other fundamental human rights?

Egypt‘s Labor Movement

The Egyptian Trade Union Federation (ETUF) has been  a part of the Egyptian government since 1957.  The anti-worker organization created problems for workers when many enterprises were state owned.  Things got worse with the introduction of a “market economy.”

Egypt began a series of reforms in the 1990′s that stacked the deck against workers and farmers.  The government sold off the large state enterprises.  New owners had little incentive to keep people in jobs or jobs in Egypt.  The government enacted new measures to protect large farmers, with peasant farmers left on their own.

When conservative Prime Minister, Ahmed Nazif, took power in 2004, the situation became desperate.  With the help of a new anti labor law, pressure mounted on Egypt’s industrial workers.  The ETUF had little to offer in support and frequently overruled the votes to strike of local chapters.

Two strikes drew the battle lines between workers and the government.  In 2006, local union officials overturned a vote by 24,000 textile workers to strike in Ghazl al-Mahalla.  When workers appealed to the EFTU, the official government union organization reminded workers that a 2003 labor reform law made it illegal to form unions independent of official government labor organization.  The strike took place but was eventually broken.

The same labor movement that staged the 2006 strike and a follow up in 2007, called for a national strike on April 6, 2008 to raise the nation’s minimum wage and protest high food prices.  Mubarak’s government sent in police who took over the factory in hopes of preventing the strike.  Conflict broke out with violence on the part of police toward the union members calling for the strike.  Police arrested workers.  Trials, convictions and prison sentences  followed quickly.  Other members continued to protest.

An Egyptian writer noted, “In the 6 April uprising, the demands of the workers and the general population overlapped. People called for lower food prices as workers called for a minimum wage.”

In addition, the April 6 Youth Movement emerged as a key player advancing the aims of the national strike.  This is the same organization that has been central to rallying crowds throughout the country.

Food was a critical issue in 2008. The solution to that issue would have addressed food and other problems of economic exploitation in Egypt, a national living wage.

We didn’t hear about the 2008 strike, however.  We did about the 2008 “food riots.”  CNN News reported, Riots instability spread as food prices skyrocket, April 14, 2008.  The words “strike” and “union” were never used, nor was there any reference to the basis for the strikes, a demand for a living wage.  Huffington Post carried a lengthy article on the events, Egypt Grants Bonuses After Deadly Food Riots, April 8, 2008.  The word “strike” appeared just once but the article failed to include anything mentioning a “union” or labor conflict.

Food is critical.  But the desire to earn a living wage to afford food is more fundamental to the Egyptian people.  They don’t want a handout from their leaders, they want the right to determine their own future by organizing an independent labor movement.  That desire flowed into the streets of Egypt in a movement larger than the union effort but the history of worker struggles is a key part of the history of this revolution.  On January 30, 2010, workers in Tahrir Square formed the Egyptian Federation for Independent Unions.   The organization is separate from the official union and in full defiance of current labor law adopted by the Mubarak regime.

Why Fundamental Rights Matter

The Egyptian people didn’t require any special training to know what they deserved.  The ability to assemble, plan, organize, and attempt to effect change in a civilized fashion emerged before conditions became intolerable.

The workers in Mahalla didn’t need a year at the Harvard School of Government to learn their rights.  The desire was fundamental.  No study of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs was required to tell them that there was more than just survival at stake.  They knew that meeting the basic needs required an exercise of the more fundamental rights of freedom of association and action in a society that respected their rights as citizens.

Finishing the Work

There are great powers and commercial interests lurking at the edges of  this remarkable movement.  The call for an “orderly transition” is just another form of paternalism.  What is orderly?  Time enough for Mubarak or his proxy to stay long enough to rig another election?  Time enough for things to cool down enough to walk just a few steps forward rather than a revolution?  Time enough for U.S. and European Union leaders to install a new leader to deliver what Mubarak did so well for 30 years?

The fundamental rights and the exercise of those rights by a sovereign people should be inviolable, particularly in a part of the world where the West claims that it is promoting democracy.  The Egyptian revolution has at it’s core, the demand for the elimination of a massively corrupt government and the opportunity to  create an honest one in its place.  That is a goal of people everywhere, a goal that will be met if those few obsessed with control for their own purposes would just step aside.


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Oxfam Report: Pakistan flooding crisis could worsen

Malnutrition and homelessness are a continuing threat to victims of the July 2010 floods that stuck Pakistan. The flooding covered one-fifth of the country and put 14 million in urgent need of assistance.

In a report released today, six months after the floods, Oxfam said the disaster exposed the vulnerability of Pakistan’s poor and that reconstruction and comprehensive reform could be a “transformative moment” for the country. However, current government policies, relief organization coordination, and level of international financial help are not heading in that direction and more health emergencies loom. Oxfam is urging the government of Pakistan to reconsider its plan to end emergency relief operations in most areas as of January 31, 2011.

“Pakistan could salvage a new beginning from the debris of this disaster. If the country invests in disaster risk reduction then the devastation wrought by this disaster could be consigned to history. With bold steps - like redistributing land - a fairer and stronger country could emerge. We must seize this chance to address the causes of inequality and poverty to build back a better and more resilient Pakistan.” - Neva Khan, head of Oxfam in PakistanAchievements of the relief effort

The relief effort was substantial according to Oxfam. More than 1.5 million people were rescued by military and civilian personnel, and aid — in the form of money, food, tents, water, hygiene items, and other essentials — was distributed to more than 1.4 million households by aid workers, troops, government staff, and Pakistani volunteers as of November 2010.

International donations did not keep pace with other disasters

Oxfam called the international donor response “patchy” and “disappointing.” According to the report, the United Nations appeal for emergency assistance  garnered aid equal to about $3.20 for each flood survivor. In contrast, about $495 was donated per capita for the victims of Haiti’s 2010 earthquake.

The UN appeal for $2 billion to rebuild Pakistan remains only 56 percent funded.

Continuing threats

  • Many homes and agricultural lands in the south are still under water
  • High malnutrition rates
  • Widespread lack of adequate shelter and many in the north are displaced with nowhere to go due to the violent conflicts
  • Food crisis looms due to severely damaged farmlands

Oxfam briefing paper: Six months into the floods: Resetting Pakistan’s priorities through reconstruction, January 26, 2011

The Plot to Destroy Social Security

Michael Collins

(Washington, Dec 10)  Bill Clinton showed up at the White House for an “impromptu” press conference to discuss the president’s tax compromise with the Republicans.  Clinton disclosed that “I make a lot of money now” and, as a result, he would benefit from the program.  Then he endorsed the compromise calling it the best deal Obama could make.  Clinton was particularly high on the Social Security payroll tax reduction.  “According to all economic analysis, [this is] the single most effective tax cut you can do to support economic activity. This will actually create a fair number of jobs. I expect it to lower the unemployment rate and keep us going.” (Image)

Across town, United States Senator Bernie Sanders was telling the simple truth that Obama and Clinton avoided.  Reducing the Social Security payroll taxagree that ending the tax holiday will be portrayed as a tax increase. from 6.2% to 4.2% as a one year tax holiday presumes that the normal rates will be restored at the end of the one year period.  Who would restore those rates?  The very same party that passed the Bush ten year “temporary” income tax reductions.  That same party, the Republicans, now claims that ending the Bush temporary tax cuts represents the greatest tax increase ever.  Just as they forgot that those tax cuts were temporary, the new Republican majority will forget the payroll cuts were temporary.  Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and Mike Johanns (R-NE)

Social Security has a dagger at its heart.  In 2011, we will have a president who won’t even fight for Social Security when he has a majority in Congress and a House of Representatives with a veto proof majority that won’t repeal any tax cut until Hell freezes over.

The citizens of this country have been betrayed by the smoothest con artists around for the benefit of the ultra rich, with the ultimate demise of Social Security assured by a rock solid majority of Republican extremists waiting in the wings to occupy the 112th Congress.

Where’s the opposition?

The nation’s largest organization for seniors, AARP, endorsed the Obama payroll tax cuts.  The organization did this despite the fact that the Obama compromise offers little in the way of benefits for seniors.

The allegedly liberal publication, Mother Jones, just ran a piece by Obama apologist Kevin Drum claiming that there’s every reason to believe that the payroll tax holiday will be over in just one year promised in this deal.  It’s another example of tortured logic listing Republican avarice and concluding they’ll honor their word.

The self styled advocates for a FDR revival, New Deal 2.0, ran two opinion pieces supporting the Obama deal.  One argued it was that the presidentpraised the deal claiming that this was the “best deal” that Obama could get.  A third piece noted that Obama didn’t know much about FDR’s Social Security proposal but left the president untouched on the Trojan Horse payroll tax reduction.  What would FDR do?  Capitulate and equivocate.  Hardly.

The largest organization representing seniors, 40 million strong, just caved.  They and the president got some  cover by two organizations that advertise as being of the left who also caved.

That leaves Senator Sanders, those who will support him for real filibuster, focused advocates for the program, and citizens of the United States.  The House Democratic Caucus rejected Obama’s proposal to some fanfare.  But their objections were on how the bill was rolled out and specifics like a $5 million threshold for any estate tax.

Addictions 101

Two key features of the bipartisan political establishment are an addiction to stealing money from the people for their patrons, the corporate and ultra rich elite, and total denial that taking the peoples’ money to satisfy this relentless craving is both harmful and morally unacceptable.

The Money Party is at the peak of its craving for more money earned their old fashioned way, through expropriation from the masses.  They will not be denied.  They are Hell bent on making their once false prophesies that Social Security is bankrupt into a living reality.

We are nothing to them.


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