Current Events Write-Up: 8/11/2018

Time for this week’s Current Events Write-Up.

The Nation: “How Medicare Was Won,” by Natalie Shure

The subtitle says, “The history of the fight for single-payer health care for the elderly and poor should inform today’s movement to win for Medicare for All.”  Shure disputes the idea that Medicare passed because not many private insurance companies covered the elderly and thus did not mount a massive opposition to it.  On the contrary, about half of the elderly were covered by private health insurance, plus there was massive resistance to Medicare, from the AMA and the right-wing.  What led to Medicare’s passing was grassroots support for it, as people wondered what would happen to their elderly or aging relatives.  Organized labor was inclined to support it due to its own struggle to provide health insurance to the elderly.  Plus, it was a time of social change, with the Civil Rights Movement.  Is the time ripe for Medicare-for-All?

The Epoch Times: “Trump Administration Uses Competition to Drive Down Drug Prices for Millions on Medicare,” by Holly Kellum

You hear a lot about how Medicare should use its size and leveraging power to negotiate lower pharmaceutical prices, or how single-payer would enable the government to negotiate lower pharmaceutical prices.  What this article taught me (and I am sure this is obvious to many) is that private health care companies already do this, on some level.  You have, say, Kaiser Permanente, which covers a lot of people, using its size and large customer-base to negotiate pharmaceutical discounts.  Trump’s plan is for Medicare Advantage to do the same for Plan B drugs.  This article was saddening because it illustrates how there are seniors who skimp on necessary medication because of its financial cost.  Again, many people already know about this, but it was still sobering for me to read about it.

The Epoch Times: “Trade War Turns Out to Be a Boon for Some Companies,” by Emel Akin

Essentially, China is buying soybeans from South America as it puts high tariffs on American soybeans.  But that frees up others to buy soybeans from the U.S. (though the decreased demand from China initially resulted in plummeting soybean prices, to the consternation of American soybean farmers).  Plus, South America has a shortage, due to drought, so China may resume buying American soybeans.

Townhall: “Are Trump’s Tariffs Actually Increasing The Trade Deficit?”, by Veronique de Rugy

What happens is that other countries ramp up their production to make a killing before the tariffs take effect.  de Rugy also argues that, contrary to protectionist claims, trade deficits are not necessarily bad.  Other countries use the money that they make from American purchase of their goods to invest in the United States.

Mintpress News: “Is Oily Econo-Politics Behind Saudis’ Crude Canadian Diplomacy?”, by Whitney Webb

Canada and Saudi Arabia are having a spat.  What is really behind it?  Webb speculates.  The United States imports a lot of oil from Canada.  Is Saudi Arabia targeting Canada’s economy, so that Canada will use more of Canada’s oil domestically, influencing the U.S. to buy more oil from the Saudis?  According to Webb, the Saudis have used those sorts of shenanigans in the past.

LeftVoice: “No, Venezuela Was Never Socialist”

Marxist Milton D’Leon disputes the idea that Venezuela’s economic troubles are due to socialism.  He states: “In Venezuela, it isn’t ‘socialism’ that failed. What failed is a policy that kept Venezuela dependent on oil revenue, a policy that guaranteed the profits of bankers and businessmen, while the people suffer from hunger.”  Also: ” From the beginning, the Chávez government always had frictions with US imperialism because it wanted more elbow room in economic questions. But Chávez never broke with imperialism. The big oil multinationals have always been active here, and they repatriated their profits as they would in any other country. The international financial sector is active here as well.”  There are solid critiques in that article, but I am not sure what Venezuela, or Venezuelan social programs, would do without oil revenue.

Mintpress News: “An Interview with Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega,” by Max Blumenthal

Some things I got from the interview: Ortega has helped the Nicaraguan people and the economy, but organized and violent insurgents and U.S. sanctions are undermining progress that has been made.  The result is illegal immigration from Nicaragua to the U.S.  Plus, according to Ortega, the U.S. is hypocritical when it comes to human rights.

Truthdig: “Three Reasons Why ‘Fire and Fury’ Won’t Work With Iran,” by Scott Ritter

According to Ritter, Trump’s playbook for North Korea (fire and fury followed by openness to negotiation) will not work with Iran.  This is an interesting (albeit brief) article on North Korean and Iranian motivations, and Iran’s religious democratic system.

ThinkProgress: “Republican Gerrymandering Wall Is Starting to Crumble,” by Ian Millhiser

State Supreme Courts and ballot initiatives have undermined Republican gerrymandering.  The question is, will that survive the U.S. Supreme Court, particularly if Kavanaugh gets on it?

Federalist Radio Hour: “Policy Impacts on Women and Families: Paid Leave, Housing, and Social Engineering”

Vanessa Brown Carder is a policy analyst with the Cato Institute.  She makes the usual conservative critiques of paid leave: it will discourage the hiring of women who use it, it will result in an entitlement that adds to the government debt.  At the same time, she offers ideas for reform: removing the requirement that child-care providers have high school diplomas, for example, can result in more child care providers, bringing the cost down.  I think libertarians have good ideas, here and with zoning reform to solve high housing costs.  But I question whether such reforms will pass.

Chicago Tribune: “Not Just a Feel-Good Step: Businesses Are Increasingly Hiring People with Disabilities, and It’s Helping the Bottom Line

This is good news, though more work remains to be done.  The article is uplifting because it talks about how people with disabilities are good workers when given the chance, and how their presence helps the workplace.  People with autism, for example, need clear directions, and that can benefit everybody, not just them.

Fox News: “Dem Revolt against Pelosi Grows, amid Fears her Shadow Could Cast Pall over Midterm Hopes”

And, like Hillary, Pelosi blames sexism.  I feel that I have to support Democrats for the sake of the vulnerable, but, honestly, I do not like Democratic leaders and politicians.

Fox News: Macaulay Culkin Reveals He Turned Down ‘Big Bang Theory’ 3 Times

I can’t picture him on it, but this article was informative about how grueling the acting business can be, and why one would want to retire from it.

Washington Post: “Five Myths about the Atomic Bomb,” by Gregg Herken

August 6 marked the anniversary of the U.S. dropping the atomic bomb on Japan.  Was it necessary?  There was the option of conditional surrender.

 

 

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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