Wednesday, March 4, 2020

An Unsolicited Speech for Sanders

Friends, there are two parts to what I have to say to you today.  The first is humanitarian, the second is political—but also humanitarian.  It’s about the coronavirus silently making its way through our communities and the obligation of government to step up and protect public health.

Health professionals agree on the most important measures that need to be taken.  We need a *lot* more testing, and the testing should be free for everyone, period.  Treatment should also be free, not only for reasons of fairness, but also because it’s not in anyone’s interest to have people with symptoms avoiding or even just delaying seeing a doctor about them.  We need a big increase in government’s commitment to researching potential vaccines and therapies.  The federal government should make sure that testing kits are effective and produced and distributed as rapidly as possible.  And finally, in a country where so many of us live precariously paycheck to paycheck, we need a guarantee that no one who is laid up or quarantined has to forego the income they depend on.  In other words, we need paid leave for the coronavirus.

I appeal to President Trump, to the health officials within his administration, and to the nation’s governors to use all the powers our system of government gives them to take these steps immediately.

Now, the second part of this talk is political.  Consider again what is absolutely necessary in the face of the coronavirus: free testing, free treatment, public responsibility for comprehensive and affordable health care.  And paid leave so no one has to choose between getting care and paying the bills.  This is Medicare for All, and it’s also about ensuring that all workers in this country have their basic rights recognized and respected.  This virus has cast a piercing light on America’s fragmented, inefficient and grossly unequal health system, and what we have learned from it should set us on the path to real solutions—not just for this epidemic, but for the next, and the one after, and for all the health care needs we face as a society.  So: begin today to implement a sensible and inclusive program to meet the coronavirus challenge, and see it as the start of a new era in American life, the first pieces in Medicare for All and government support for essential worker rights.

Yes, I am making a political appeal here.  I want you to support the movement to finally deal with the health care mess, the mistreatment of workers, rampant economic injustice and the other failures that have been allowed to fester unattended in this country, decade after decade.  I’m asking for your vote, and beyond that, for your personal participation in this movement.  But, as the coronavirus reminds us, fighting for these things is also a struggle for humanitarian values.  The health of our people and the health of our economy depend not only on containing this virus and the damage it does, but also on addressing all the other preventable illnesses, the scourge of opioids, and the dental, vision and hearing problems that constitute their own epidemic among the un- and underinsured.  They also depend on providing care and support for the health needs none of us can avoid: maternity care and care for newborns, elder care, and the injuries and diseases that come with just living one’s life.  For a healthier society we also need a fairer economy, one where diagnosing and treating an illness is not a financial catastrophe for any worker.

The coronavirus is a dangerous threat, but it’s also an opportunity to see clearly what this country needs so all of us can live healthier, happier and more productive lives.

Medicare for All.  Workers rights.  Economic fairness.  Thank you.


pgl said...

This is interesting:

“February 20, 2020 Press Release - EVANSTON, IL – Today, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, a Senior Chief Deputy Whip and Chair of the Energy and Commerce Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee, led 45 of her colleagues in sending a letter to President Donald J. Trump to raise serious concerns about awarding exclusive licenses for the production of a potential coronavirus vaccine or treatment and allowing drug manufactures to monopolize drugs that have been funded by millions of taxpayer dollars.”

Of course the lobbyists for Big Pharma has pushing back hoping to make sure prices for COVID-19 treatments will be sky high!

nobody said...

Not a useful campaign strategy.

See this choice quote from Jonathan Metzl's book Dying of Whiteness:

“We don’t need any more government in our lives. And in any case, no way I want my tax dollars paying for Mexicans or welfare queens.”

This is Republican dying an agonizing death from liver failure, caused by a lack of healthcare, telling Metzl that he's happy to die because the lack of universal heathcare in America hurts people he hates.

Humanitarian speeches fail to move the needle in the electoral college states that matter because the people who live there don't share the same values as much of the rest of the human race. Speeches about collective responsibility and the need for collective empathy sound good to blue Americans, but are only preaching to the converted because "swing" conservatives care far more about preserving racial and social hierarchy than even their own lives.

America cannot have universal healthcare--even in the midst of a pandemic--because the only way to prevent the Red pod people from vetoing it is to exclude non-whites from coverage. Such a policy, of course, would be dead on arrival because it wouldn't have enough Blue (and non-white) support needed to move forward.

The impasse cannot be broken as long as the Confederate and flyover states have disproportionate political privileges.

Anonymous said...


Times Pick

I am an infectious disease practitioner. We are desperate. We have less than three weeks of masks left, and about as many gloves. We can’t order more. Other hospitals only have days of needed equipment. This is chaos of the greatest magnitude. We don’t have enough testing kits. Every lab we have spoken to laughs at Pence and his 1 million tests by the end of the week. We simply can’t do it. What is our government DOING. This is exponentially increasing EVERYWHERE in the US. The reason more cases haven’t been found is we don’t have tests!!!

We reached critical triage today with a single open ICU bed, no floor beds and our nurses are calling out sick with respiratory illness. We can’t even test them to see what they might have so they are safe to treat patients. By the time the government gets a clue we are going to be dealing with people dying because we have no supplies and no space.

You can threaten to use war powers all you like, but it can’t fix that we simply don’t have the capacity in the US to make the masks or the gloves. Let alone the medicine.

Do people realize the critical emergency this is?!

5h ago

Anonymous said...

Branko Milanovic @BrankoMilan

There has (unfortunately) never been a better time to show the dangers of non-universal health care. Because if I do not take care of myself, you are in danger too. As simple as that.

3:41 PM · Mar 3, 2020

Even people who do have insurance may not want to be tested because insurance will not pay the full cost. I just talked to one today. There are massive (negative) externalities in non-universal health care!

Anonymous said...

"We have less than three weeks of masks left, and about as many gloves. We can’t order more. Other hospitals only have days of needed equipment."

China had reached daily production above 115 million masks as of last Saturday, while other medical equipment products are now being manufactured with similarly rapid efficiency in China. President Xi is asking for increased manufacturing still. We need to be working as a "world" on this public health problem and that means working with China.

Anonymous said...
March 2, 2020

China's daily mask output exceeds 110 million units

BEIJING -- China's daily output of face masks reached 116 million units as of Saturday, 12 times the figure reported on Feb. 1, as production expansion moves into top gear, official data showed Monday.

By the end of February, the daily production capacity of masks in China more than quintupled from Feb. 1 to 110 million units that came in medical and non-medical calibers, the National Development and Reform Commission said.

The consistent rise in both capacity and output further narrowed the supply deficit. As of Saturday, the daily output of N95-rated medical masks reached 1.66 million units to ensure medical staff at the forefront of the battle against the novel coronavirus are well-equipped, the commission said.

China produces about half of the world's masks with a daily output of 20 million units before the epidemic. The country had to launch massive production expansion to secure supply given the explosive growth in demand.... said...

Universal coverage is clearly something important, and unfortunately Biden is not yet supporting that while Bernie is. However, while the US is the only high income nation without universal coverage, most other ones have it with mixed public/private systems, with very few doing it via single payer health insurance as does Canada.

Indeed, when one looks at why so many fresman House Dems seem to have been unhappy about having Bernie at the top oof their ticket, it has been his version of "Medicare for All" that calls for the end of all private insurance, which is massivelyy unpopular with Americans when the cessation of private insurance is made clear as being part of "Medicare for All" rather than presenting them with that slogan, when 60% support it. Given the primacy of health care as an issue, having to tun on a proposal popular with only 1/3 of the population understandably had them unhappy.

Indeed, for all the praise of single payer, it is not in fact obvious that it is all that great as it operates in Canada as compared with the mixed systems found in other high income nations that have universal coverage. There are now qquite a few rankings of health care systems out there by nation. Canada is generally ahead of the US, but there are other nations regularly ahead of Canada. The most widely cited is the now 20-year old one from the World Health Organization, which has France and Italy on top, with Canada at 30th and the US at 36th. Other more recent ranking systems regularly have nations like France, Switzerland, Japan, Sweden, and the Netherlands ahead of Canada. According to World Population Review, Canada is even worse than the US on how easilly someone can see a physician quickly, and is the only high income nation with a higher proportion of the population going to ERs than the uS.

On life expectancy, according to the UNDP, Canada is 14th while the US is 14th and the US is 36th, while the longer list reported by the CIA has Canada at 21st and the US at 43rd. Again, Japan, France, Switzerland, Sweden, and some other usual suspects are ahead of Canada. So, there is nothing obviously all that great about single payer, especially given its political unpopularity. There are probably more easily gotten-to systems in the US than Canada's that also seem to perform better than Canada's.

Anonymous said...

To Barkley Rosser: Canada has a far higher life expectancy than the US or 82.2 to 78.5 in 2017

January 15, 2018

Life Expectancy at Birth for United States, Canada and Mexico, 1980-2017

Anonymous said...

To Barkley Rosser: The US has a remarkably low life expectancy compared to other developed countries, but other developed countries have universal health care. Name a country and I will show the graph. Graphs begin at 1960 and extend through 2017. The US lags remarkably.

January 15, 2018

Life Expectancy at Birth for United States, Canada, United Kingdom,
Germany and France, 1980-2017

Anonymous said...

Showing how important a proper universal health care system is, poor beset Cuba now has a higher life expectancy than the US:

January 15, 2018

Life Expectancy at Birth for Cuba and United States, 1960-2017