Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The National Asylum: a note to Alexander Cockburn

I refer, of course, to your column in The Nation: "Welcome to the National Asylum" which is a delightful instance of your incisive wit.

Nuttiness is a side effect of the allegedly "intelligent design" of the human mind, to which full rationality is an acquired taste rarely achieved. This gives you ample opportunity to torment and to crack the nuts in all political directions with gay abandon. So far so good.

When the giggles fade, it is time to consider things more soberly. Let me focus on just your final dart: about the president "trying to pass off as 'healthcare reform' a gift to the insurance industry of 30 million new customers, to be required by law to pony up insurance premiums and then be cheated."

If this is what he is really trying to do I shall join you on the barricades but, to be fair, the law has not yet been decided. Let's look at the circumstances.

There are a few sectors of commercial activity in which corporate fingers are squeezing the main arteries of the American economy. Surely, banking and insurance are among them. These same interests also have enormous clout in the Congress of the United States. The task of loosening their grip needs to be undertaken delicately unless one has truly dictatorial power. It seems that Obama does not have that kind of power and he is trying to achieve an incremental reform that can eliminate the worst abuses.

Does Obama have the skill and the spine to succeed at this? Only time will tell. I do not envy him the task. My preference would be for no bill and a good fight in the primaries and in the year 2010 elections rather than a bad bill.

fishing banks: making a withdrawal

What has happened to us?

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