Letter about Deaths Due to Lack of Insurance

Organizing for America- the organizing branch of the Obama campiagn that stuck around afterwards, has a great example of using technology to rally people.

I wrote the following to Chris Carney and as I got into it I wanted to give it a broader audience.

Dear Rep. Carney,

I am here for Betsy and Lisa [Names changed]-

We must pass health insurance reform now.  Too many people and businesses face warped incentives or grim and miserable health due to the burdens of our perverse and broken system.

Betsyworks full tie in a private child care facility.  She is a single mom.  She often baby sits infants for many families and is always willing to help people with sick children or other events.  Her selflessness allows others to pursue their careers as professors, doctors, and business leaders.  Her employer, a day care center subsidized by a local employer, does not provide coverage.  She had such severe back problems she could not sleep.  Friends pooled $300 to help her see a chiropractor.  She limited coverage now, but is still an injury away from financial crisis.

Lisa has leukemia.  She works cleaning people’s homes.  She cleans and cooks for her husband every day, even when he has been furloughed or been between jobs.  She stays married to a disinterested, neglectful and nearly abusive husband because she could never afford individual coverage, or even get it with her leukemia.  Where is her freedom to live her life?  The combination of patriarchy and our health care system is deeply unfair and sexist.  I think only the strength of her personality and her adult son keeps her husband from raising his hand against her.

Millions are uninsured.  In 2009, one study found 45,000 Americans died due to lack of coverage. [1] They used a rigorous method used by researchers in 1993 who found around half that number then.  Among those 45,000 are more than 2,000 uninsured veterans.[2] On 9/11, 3,000 of our citizens were innocent victims and became iconic heroes.  We endure 15 9/11s every year through 45,000 private tragedies of martyrs to a broken healthcare system midwife by a corrupt political system.  We have marshaled billions of dollars and 100,000s of soldiers to avenge the fallen of 9/11.  Meanwhile, we engage in trivial “death panel” and “reconciliation” food fights at home while our fellow citizens are chewed up and spit out as corpses by the broken health care system.   Why should the public tragedy of 9/11 count for so much more all these years than the sum of 45,000 private tragedies year in and year out?

Where is the justice in that? How is that fair?

[1] Heavey, Susan.  Sept 2009.  “Study Links 45,000 Deaths to Lack of Health Insurance.”  Reuters.  http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE58G6W520090917

[2] Physicians for A National Health Program. Nov 10, 2009. “Over 2,200 veterans died in 2008 due to lack of health insurance.”  http://www.pnhp.org/news/2009/november/over_2200_veterans_.php


Deadly Gas

submitted by Joe Detelj

In the recent past, the good people of our Valley waged a gallant and successful protest and prevented the development of a hazardous waste incinerator from being built here. Our people ignored the pleas for short term economic gain and correctly saw their long term self interests were greatly jeopardized.

A similar but even more menacing threat exists today. Hydrofracking as a means of releasing natural gas in our deep rock formations produces millions of gallons of toxic waste water that contains approximately 100 chemicals that range in effect from unhealthy to deadly. The water is also very likely to be radioactive, contaminated by the radon that had been sequestered in the shale.

There are no regulations on the books that regulates or provides monitoring guidlines for this very recent technology. DEP staff has been cut to the bone in the last belated budget. Unfortunately, things have changed since the “burner battle”; times are leaner and meaner.

Will we swallow the poison pill for the promise of  immediate relief to a depressed economy, or will we struggle again for a sustainable , longer term legacy? I believe the defining question of our time is whether we seriously pursue a green econmy or do we become a modern Centralia sacrificed for this economy in another place?


Dresden, Hisoshima, Nagasaki ???

 1945.  We know who decided –

 -cid is the “kill” root, as in homicide, suicide, genocide,

and too many other –cides –


but were these cities

new Sodoms and Gemorrahs?


Were any bargains made?

No, we know.


Abraham, pleading for people,

talked with God.


Abraham is dead.



from Spaces and Lines

by Karl Patten

 Commentary:  I think what struck off “We Know” was the fact that I know a survivor of the Dresden bombing, a young woman then, who told me in detail her horrible experiences – and my long-time guilt about the bombing of the Japanese cities.  Apart from Hitler’s Holocaust, the three greatest horrors of the World War II, and perpetrated by us, the “good guys”.  But the cid root played a part, too, turning the guilt directly on us.  But two cities had been destroyed in Genesis.  There, God destroyed them, but only after giving Abraham a chance to argue and save a few lives; our leaders didn’t think of asking God first or giving any warning, which shows his irrelevance in our time.  Perhaps the last line should be “God is dead.”  I suppose I did not shoose it to avoid sounding like Nietzshe.

Freeways to Rails

Submitted by David Hafer

A prominent ecologist was once asked at an Earth Day event to name the most serious environmental problem facing the United States. His answer was General Motors.

To anyone familiar with monumental pollution problems created by cars and trucks, his answer was right on target. General Motors symbolizes the giant corporate members of the highway lobby – the powerful interests who have pushed the United States to abandon its energy efficient rail system in favor of an abysmally inefficient, polluting and socially disruptive highway system.

Beginning in 1925, GM, along with Standard Oil and Firestone Rubber, conspired to buy out more than a hundred streetcar systems in forty cities. Then dismantled and paved them over to make room for automobiles. This systemic campaign to destroy the electric trolley systems lasted until 1949 when GM was indicted for criminal conspiracy.

The corporate conspirators eventually pleaded guilty and paid a fine of five thousand dollars for destroying a non-polluting mass transit system that would cost billions of dollars to replace. The dismantling of rail transit followed by decades of unrestrained government spending for highway construction has left the U.S. with a legacy of pollution and an insatiable need for petroleum.

Consider the pollution problems created by our unhealthy dependence on motor vehicles. Cars and trucks produce thirty percent of the carbon dioxide that contributes to the greenhouse effect, causing global warming. The average car on the road today gets twenty seven and a half miles per gallon and produces thirty eight tons of emissions over its lifetime. The emissions for motor vehicles include forty percent of the nitrogen oxides that contribute to acid rain, and eighty percent of the carbon monoxide that creates smog.

Massive air pollution is one problem; the highway system’s impact on land use is equally destructive. Sixty percent of our urban areas are paved for highways and parking lots. So much land area is devoted to highways that automobiles seem to be pushing people out of their living space.

In addition to the destruction of open space, wildlife habitat and farmland, highway development fragments communities. Neighborhoods are divided and highway strip development takes retail business away from downtown contributing to economic decline in cities and towns. Continue reading

Ned Ludd

(submitted by Karl Patten)

This little poem is not intended to affront anyone or to assail the project of radical blogs. It simply presents a minority opinion, expressed with a concern for language.William Blake (a contemporary of Ludd’s) is behind it, who made “dark satanic mills” a familiar term. But Blake also said “without contraries is no progression” and “opposition is true friendship” and even “the tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction,” though I hold no wrath or wisdom. And one should always be aware of Socrates’ notion of the gadfly.

The immediate inspiration is, of course, Wordsworth’s sonnet “Milton thou should be living at this hour,” in which he sees England as a fen and yearns for a return of Milton’s powerful, clear language to cut through the fetid swamp. Wordsworth was another contemporary of Ludd’s, so I guess I’m dating myself at about 1800. So be it.

I do not intend to offer this as a blog, just something for lunch.


Ned Ludd, by God, destroyed
The stocking-frames
By shooting his boot
Into their turning, turning.

Tormented by the foreman
To faster, faster, faster
Spin, Ned Ludd threw awry
The wool-works, unwound
Them to full stoppage.

Saboteur Ludd’s my man,
Wrecker of the spinning
Of the system, provides
Us outstretching hopes.

Never, never process one.
Each has a body, a thickness,
A feel rough on the palms,
That’s lost on green screens
Clacked out in square letters.

How can words breathe
In those machines?

Idiot boy perhaps, we need
You now. You’re not a god,
But smashing stocking-frames
Instructs us how to act:

Make fuses blow, pull plugs,
Scramble wires, twist red
To yellow, both to blue,
Unhook the jacks,
Put boot to screen,
Unscrew or screw up
Whirring, grinning machines.

from Spaces and Lines
by Karl Patten