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Mar-07-2010 16:42printcomments

Countering the Republican Ruse

I hope you remember this when the next election rolls around, and that you critically evaluate the candidates and any proposition carefully, and not take any campaign ad at face value. A large number of very wealthy people are counting on you doing just that.

Salem-News.com
Courtesy: blades-of-grass.net

(LOS ANGELES) - If you will honestly listen to what the Republicans have to say, you will begin to see an obvious common thread through all of their positions. They are smart, they have access to the best writers, editors, speech writers, etc., that money can buy. Also, they believe that Americans are not all that bright, and will not see through their tricks and deception. For the most part, they are right. Let me give you an example.

Several years ago my state had a referendum on health care. It was much, much smaller than today’s health care reform issue, but it did contain some specific issues that would affect the citizens of our state. The proposition would have set staffing ratios for nurses in our hospitals. No more than two patients per nurse in I.C.U., and so on. It would have limited an insurance company’s right to determine if you really needed a procedure or not (by electing whether or not to pay for it), regardless of what the doctors said. It would have limited the ability of insurance carriers to deny certain applications for coverage, or to exclude coverage for what they defined as ‘existing conditions’, and would have prevented today’s problem of more people not being able to choose their own doctor.

My wife, the health professional, became involved in the campaign in favor of this measure. I also got involved. The campaign had a booth at our annual state fair, and one day my wife and I manned the booth for several hours. We spoke with a lot of people about the proposition that day. Some people liked the proposition, some did not, but most did not really know that much about it. We would explain what the proposition would do, and offered literature. Yes, we wanted the proposition to pass, but we felt it was a good measure on its own merit, so we did not feel a need to embellish the facts or lie to get our point across.

I tried to always close our discussions with a question. I would say “After all the discussions are over, and you are in the voting booth, it really comes down to this: My wife is a health professional with over 20 years of experience. I am an insurance executive, with over 20 years of experience in my field. If the life of your loved one, perhaps a child or a spouse, was on the line, which of the two of us would you rather have making the final decision on medical treatment for that loved one? My wife, the medical professional, or me, the insurance executive? Every single time I asked that question, the person picked my wife. I could not convince anyone that I would make the best decision in the interest of their family. We left the state fair that afternoon thinking the proposition had a pretty good chance of passing.

The ‘Yes’ campaign for that proposition had a total budget for the election of about $1,000,000. Pretty good, we thought. Then we found out that the hospital association gave the ‘No’ campaign $8,000,000 in one day! This did not count the money from the insurance companies or other interested parties, just one special interest group on one day! Pretty soon we lost count of how much money they had taken in. Then the ‘No’ campaign started to spend that money.

They hired some really good actors, who characterized those in favor of the proposition as silly and dopey, and had them dress accordingly. The ‘No’ really tried to represent those in favor of the measure as buffoons, and pretty much glossed over the proposition itself. Then the hired “doctors”, “nurses”, and other concerned citizens to wail about how bad this proposed reform would be, that those for the proposition were all socialists (heard that before?), that the free market would work best at handling this matter, and that government intervention would be the worst thing that could happen short of nuclear war. Our side had very few ads, and they were done without incurring a lot of cost, since we just did not have the money. The result?

Public sentiment began to change, and when the election was over, this proposition failed by more than 3 to 1. Those of us who supported the proposition were called ‘alarmists’ and ‘extremists’. That was when I really learned that if you have enough money, you can convince people to vote against their own self-interests. These techniques are now very commonly used; you have seen them in recent elections I am sure.

You might find it interesting to do a little research and find out just how much profit the pharmaceutical companies, the insurance companies, the for-profit hospital chains are making today. Don’t forget these profits do not include the salaries, large bonuses, golden parachutes, the luxury cars, the corporate jets, the expensive “business trip” vacations, etc., as those are all written off as expenses.

I hope you remember this when the next election rolls around, and that you critically evaluate the candidates and any proposition carefully, and not take any campaign ad at face value. A large number of very wealthy people are counting on you doing just that.

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Lucas Blue is a Salem-News.com contributor based in Los Angeles, California.




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