An Alaskan journalist's perspective on local and national issues

Posts tagged ‘Debate’

UAA Debates: Corporate Personhood vs. Abolition Thereof

It isn’t often that serendipity gives one an opportunity to see something that is really worthwhile.  Tonight was one such opportunity.  There was a debate with the UAA Debate Team about a subject that is very pressing – corporate personhood.

Now, this debate involved three parties.  There was the side that was for a theoretical amendment to ban corporate personhood, the side that is opposed to such an amendment, and there was a panel of faculty, taken from various fields, each with their own insight into this concept.

The floor opened up to Matt Orstinder.  He will be called Matt O. from here on because he is one of two with the same name.  He stated that corporations have accumulated unimaginable amounts of wealth.  They have also overreached.  While people should be protected by rights, corporations should be regulated.  He believes they are no longer held accountable in a significant way.  He also points out that their justification for personhood is the 14th Amendment.  There is also the point that since corporations have massive amounts of wealth, they can spend more than the other groups who want to change policies and affect political elections.

After he spoke, a member of the opposition, Wiley Cason.  His first point was saying that corporations aren’t people in the traditional sense, obviously.  However, while they are not people, corporate personhood is useful.  He then goes on to say that corporations are made up of people, and with personhood, one can protect the rights of all of them.  It would also keep them accountable (in his view.  The lack of justice in the BP Gulf spill or the collapse of Wall Stree would contest that).

In a rather interesting argument, Cason believes that this would also threaten democracy.  Because corporations are involved with government, he contested that because corporations had so much influence in government, and they supposedly represent the interests of the collective of people, that would make it smarter to have them investing more money in government.  He closed saying that if we take away corporate personhood, companies will take their business to China or India.

This brings us to the other debator on the side of aboliting corporate personhood, Brittany Bennett.  She immediately countered with the fact that companies are already shipping their business to other countries.  That hasn’t changed.  A very good way to begin.  Bennett was easily the most passionate of the debators there.  She spoke eloquently, and with conviction.

Money is power.

That was a quote she made, and quite true.  She pointed out that different companies have different interests.  And since these companies don’t represent the interests of all their workers, or even all their shareholders, but rather the interests of one or a group of people (CEO and Board of Directors).  Therefore, Bennett argued that all corporat donations to campaigns should be denied.  It is pointed out that there is a significant power despairity between the heads of the company, and those underneath.  To give companies equal rights is a slippery slope to the abuse of said power.  She, like Matt O., Wiley, and Matt S. brought up the case of Citizens United.  It was quite clear in that case that money does not equal speech.  Wiley stated that it does.

Bennett went on to point out that corporate money can effect legislation and elections, and that since corporations have far more money than normal people, the unlimited donations that they can give can more, and basically buy more clout with political candidiates and politicians.

The last speaker from the debate team was Matt Stintson.  He was arguing against the proposed amendment.  Now, he was definitely the most arrogant of them.  He said in on statement, “I’ve pretty much won the argument.”  Not exactly the most professional.  His statement was that personhood is necessary.  The argument went that if they didn’t have the rights of people, then a group like the New York Times could be censored (clearly he hasn’t be following the Occupy movement).  Stintson and Cason both said that the Citizens United case was a red herring argument against corporate personhood.

In the interest of keeping this from being incredibly long, the part with the panel discussion and the audience questions will be feature in a post tomorrow.  Stay tuned, it was quite informative.

Peace out,

Lefty

The Universal Health Care Debate

This is an area which I am very firmly on the side of yes, we need universal health care.  However, I am not a completely idealistic man.  This must be a practical application.  This must be done right.  It must be done so that it can maximize efficiency, and minimize problem.  A lot of people seem to be of the mindset that true universal health care is impossible.  They are basically just dismissing it off-hand.  Not only do I believe that universal healthcare in the US is possible, I believe that it can be done fairly easily, and can benefit everyone.

Universal health care is a simple concept.  The idea is that you have a system that is built around having a system that can provide health care coverage to all members of a given society.  Some people seem to believe that this is a totally novel concept.  One of the big problems in modern society here in the US is that people don’t seem to realize that not only has this been done before, it is being done now, and in a lot of places, it is being done very well.

A study was recently published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine that says that the system that England has, NHS, is the most cost-effective and most efficient system on Earth.  And where does the United States rank?  According to an article in The Guardian, which was about the aforementioned study, we are the least cost-effective, and the least efficient.  This is not the first time that this has come up.  Article after article comes out about how the United States spends more on its healthcare than the rest of the industrialized world, and we are the least efficient.  If we were getting more bang for our buck, maybe that would mean more, we aren’t.  Instead, there are millions of Americans uninsured, and we have people in this country who honestly have to ask the question of whether or not they will eat for dinner, or get medicine.

So, what is the solution?  Well, that’s pretty simple – scrap Medicare and Medicaid and simply give people in this country universal health care.  Rather than look at the perks first, let’s take a look at the problems.  The biggest hurdle against this, as it has been very well pointed out, is that this nation’s bureaucratic system is a total mess.  Those who make this argument are not wrong.  The next big argument is when people look at Canada, and make the argument that people have to wait for various services.  Britain has a similar problem.  This is not being argued.

Let’s address the last problem first.  While it is a problem in Britain and Canada, the fact is that, according to over 10 years of surveys, polls, and other forms of research, Canadians and the British are more satisfied, overall, with their healthcare than Americans are.  Only eight percent of Canadians want to trade in their health care system for a privitized one like the US.  According to 2005 Harris poll, 75% of responders believed that we should have a system like they have in Europe.  The numbers are totally stacked against this.

Looking at the bureaucracy problem, one thing that doesn’t get reported is that universal health care would actually aid this problem!  For real, billions of dollars are wasted every single year in the endless stream of paperwork that is required in order to make the system we have work.  Our current system is the ultimate example of the bureaucratic mess that our country is in.  At best, what we have is a patchwork system that leaves some with great health care, while others with none at all.  With a universal health care system, this would get much better.  Because things would be consolidated underneath one banner, the endless amount of mess that our current system has would be removed.  Plus, it would save money, lots of money.  According to studies that were conducted by groups like the General Accounting Office and the Congressional Budget Office, a single-payer system could cover every single person in the country, and still save billions of dollars.

Then there is the Libertarian argument, that this is encroaching on the freedom of the free market, and the socialized medicine is wrong.  Capitalism is a great thing, when a nation is coming into its own, when it is on the rise.  But America isn’t growing anymore.  We have hit a spike, and now we are leveling out.  Japan had the same thing happen to it about 20 years ago.  So, free-market capitalism is no longer palatable for this country.  Socialism, in an economic respect, is useful when growth is longer major, and a group needs to look to the people within it.  A mixed economy, of socialism and capitalism, is the only one that truly works.  And if we want to see the Libertarian argument debunked, it is pretty simple – let’s start with a public option.  Watch as the private insurance companies simply cannot compete.  If the Libertarians want to have a free market, let’s let them have it.  Instead of telling them to go, let’s introduce another player into the mix.  Free market, right?  Well, we introduce another player, and when everybody runs to the public option, and the other companies go belly-up, then we’ll know.

With this nation looking to fix our debt problem, this is an area that could save up to hundreds of billions of dollars, and is not even being looked at.  But the biggest problem to universal health care is something that is almost never talked about.  Of all the argument that I have heard, this is probably the most compelling, and I fully agree that this will be a problem, should a single-payer or public option system be implemented – ethnic medical problems.

Now, when one talks about this, there is going to be somebody who says that they are a racist.  That is not true!  In fact, looking at this is the exact opposite.  It is about realizing that certain ethnic groups are more susceptible to different medical conditions.  This is proven.  Certain groups are more prone to cancer, heart disease, diabetes, you name it.  If we are going to have a universal system, the PC liberals will have to step very far outside of their comfort zone and realize that, while science has proven that there are no different races, there are different ethnic groups who come with a different sets of medical complications.  I am not in way advocating that we deny them coverage, but if we are going to approach this, we have to have informed doctors who know which groups to watch for which conditions.  There is always somebody who will feel that this is a racist thing, but it isn’t.  Ethnobiology, in reference to medicine, means that we have to start holding our doctors to a higher standard.  If a group is more prone to cancer, you watch them for cancer.  And with universal health care, since everybody would be covered, this is definitely something that we would have to take into account.

Not only is universal health care possible, it may just be the only option we have got at this point.  America is in trouble when it comes to health care.  The costs of medicine in this country have outpaced the rise in wages.  More and more people are choosing to ignore their health in place of other crucial services, like food or shelter.  So, if it is so easy, and so simple, why hasn’t it been done?  Well, the answer to that is money.

Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent over the last few years by different insurance companies to lobby against stuff like this.  Just like how pot was made illegal, it was just good marketing against this that got us to this point.  Misinformation has been the weapon of choice by the conservatives and the Libertarians against univeral health care.  Add to that, that when Obama has a super-majority in the House and the Senate, he was unable to make anything happen, and dropped single-payer and the public option almost the first day, it was doomed before conception.  But this needs to be addressed.  We have to start asking ourselves, both as a nation and a species, how we want to treat one-another, and what kind of future we want.

Peace out,

Eli

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