How much is a life, a family, a community worth? Not much nowadays.
Dick Nixon had big plans, but democracy in America did not really start to die until the Reagan era. Case in point, Poletown, Michigan, 1981. A century old ethnic community centered around a church was razed in order to make way for a Buick-Oldsmobile-Cadillac plant. The Michigan Supreme Court sided with the developers who used eminent domain to seize the land, claiming that the factory would provide "jobs and taxes" and that these met the criteria of “public use” which allowed governments to take private property for things like roads. Thirteen years later, in 2004, the Michigan Supreme Court reversed itself, but next year, in Kelo v. City of New London the US Supreme Court upheld the "jobs and taxes" argument for the nation.
What does it mean when we tear down neighborhoods to generate “jobs and taxes”? It means that communities, schools, churches, families are less important than money. For taxes indicate profit. Jobs, for the capitalist, also indicate profit, since the businessman profits from the labor of the worker---otherwise, he does not hire him. In the New United States of America, the person who can turn the biggest profit from land is clearly the one the Founders intended to own it.
George W. Bush made his million when his buddies in the city of Arlington government used the power of eminent domain to seize land so that Bush could build a Ballpark that he later sold back to the city. In the same North Texas community, homes were razed so that a shopping mall could have a bigger parking lot. Taxes and jobs. Taxes and jobs. Texas Governor Rick Perry vetoed a Texas law that would have prevented businesses in his state from taking private land for their own profit. Here is a Houston Chronicle article that was reprinted in (of all places) the Free Republic. Be sure to check out the comments below the article, too, such as
Anyone know if Texas state law allows for a recall election?
I swear, it’s like the Manchurian Candidate. Both Rick and W..They seem to be up to anything but going against THE SYSTEM.
Whatever happened to limited government?
Where to go now? Damn.
Perry and his buddy Jorge are birds of a feather, once bought they stay bought.
Funny thing. The right now loves Rick Perry. Yes, indeed. He is a Tea Party kind of conservative, nothing at all like W.
Ha! Those of us who remember things that happened before last week will recall that when W. was governor of Texas, he vetoed a Patient Protection Act that would have outlawed the worst abuses of HMOs in that state. The result? Health insurers felt empowered to do whatever the hell they wanted, secure in the knowledge that they owned the governor’s mansion. What did Bush’s veto mean for the residents of the state? It meant that Juan kept getting bills for the neurosurgery to remove the brain tumor that was causing seizures. His HMO declined to pay, because they said pre-authorization had not been obtained. Try to imagine what it must have been like for Juan, slowly recuperating from brain surgery, worrying that the tumor might come back---and then getting hospital bills for tens of thousands of dollars along with threats of collection agencies and bad credit reports.
William did not even know what his HMO tried to do to him, because his family doctor ran interference. William had lung cancer. It had not spread yet, but it was the kind of tumor that would cause fluid to accumulate around his lungs, making it difficult to breathe. Because of other health problems, he was not a candidate for surgery. Imagine being completely alert and functional, free of pain---and being forced to endure slow drowning. That’s what was happening to William. His lung specialist helped a lot by using a needle to draw off the fluid every few weeks. But William’s HMO did not want to pay for these procedures, so their medical director called the family doc and insisted that William be sent to a different lung specialist---and placed on hospice. Unbelievable, right? William’s story is absolutely true. I am the family physician who slammed down the phone.
The abuses by the insurance industry were so bad that the same bill was introduced again two years later. This time, W. let the law go into effect without signing it. Then, in 2000, while running for president, he claimed credit for the Patient Protection Act that he had vetoed once and then refused to sign the second time. A lot of folks were fooled---including the Texas Medical Association, which endorsed him. They must have been unpleasantly surprised when W. had John Ashcroft go to court to have that very same Patient Protection Act overturned. The result? W. brought Texas style “health care” to the rest of the nation. Did W. kill Nataline Sarkisyan, the 17 year old patient that Cigna denied a liver transplant? He did not pull the plug on her. But he enabled her health insurer to do so.
Health insurance abuses and eminent domain atrocities are part of the same nasty trend. Right now, in America, we are no longer citizens. We are cattle, to be bought and sold and branded with the name of a Fortune 500 company---and finally slaughtered. Under W., the money we spent buying private health insurance was not ours. It belonged to Cigna, and Cigna got to decide if it would honor its contract and use it to pay for life saving procedures. The Social Security that we have all paid into—that money is not our own. No, indeed. That money belongs to China, because W. gave it to them. He used the power of eminent domain to seize our self funded pension, on the grounds that it could be put to better use funding a war for oil in Iraq that would make profits for petrochemical companies. Never mind that old folks all across the country will be homeless, starving when stripped of their retirement income. They don’t count. They are too old to work and make some businessman a profit from their labors. Even our private pensions are not our own. They belong to Chase and Enron, to be used to prop up their ponzi schemes. Our tax dollars are not our own. W. seized them, too, using his very own form of eminent domain, and gave them to the nation’s wealthiest individuals in the form of tax cuts which they neither needed nor deserved. Now that we are up to our eyeballs in debt, the GOP House wants to raise working class taxes so the rich can keep their tax cuts. Because once our property disappears into the greedy maw on the uber-rich, it is just about impossible to get it back. Medicare, the system that we created for ourselves to provide health care for those who need it most----Medicare is guilty of "stealing" profit from private health insurers. If not for Medicare, United Health and Cigna could charge seniors huge premiums---and then kill them with big deductibles and denials of care. Our schools are not our own. They are a playground where Big Business is the bully that steals the lunch money and leaves a whole bunch of kids starving for knowledge---
The way things are going now, we will soon see our government abuse the power of eminent domain for "jobs and taxes" to give land to businessmen who will then be given a tax abatement and visas to bring in foreign workers.
If you think it can't happen here, I encourage you to read the history of Northern Georgia. Land owned by the Cherokees was stolen and given to white Americans when gold was discovered. The displaced Native Americans walked a Trail of Tears. Many died. All lost their homes and property. The courts said it was wrong, but the government did it anyway. And though America has since mourned the tragedy, it has never once considered giving back that which was stolen.