This morning on my way to the gym at around 4:28 I was listening to NPR and they were discussing healthcare for folks with mental problems. A mother described an event that occurred with her daughter at an emergency room. Her daughter has manic episodes and she was kept in a closet size room in the emergency room for 24 hours. The mother was then called to pick her up. The hospital emergency room had no place to hold mental patients.
The part that struck me was when the hospital administrator said that there was no money in holding mental patients in a room because the reimbursement rate was too low. That said, they found a solution in Denver. They would build rooms that may lose money because it would free up space in the emergency room for more profitable patients.
After listening to this I really felt physically ill. The narrator was matter a fact in his statements of the problem. Was the immorality of his statements only obvious to me? It is immoral to leave certain human needs to the market. It is immoral that humane services are denied because it is less profitable. We have societies and governments to mitigate humane issues. There is a place for the market but we must acknowledge that the replication of this story and many others is a perfect illustration of leaving humane issues to the market. The market does not know and cannot understand humanity. The market only understands demand, profit, and loss.
Over the last 30 years we have slowly made selfishness and inhumaneness vogue. We have made the disregard for the poor acceptable. We have blamed unemployment on the unemployed and on government even as businesses have exported our jobs to slave labor countries to increase the profits of a few. We have chosen to disregard business extortion of the middle class “work harder for less or we will export your job”.
Now the government “we the people” have jumped in to work against “we the middle class”. A narrative has been in development over the years to vilify unions. Many times they argue that unions cause the loss of jobs with their demands for higher wages. Many on the Right attempt to create non-union envy by claiming union wages are too high compared to non-union workers. The fact is non-union rates should go up. After all, the American worker wages have been stagnant for 30 years.
Wisconsin’s Governor Scott Walker is intent on making the destruction of unions a good thing. He has even bragged about it as reported in The Progressive.
Last February at the height of the massive protests and the three-week occupation of the Wisconsin State Capitol, Ian Murphy made a prank phone call to Governor Scott Walker posing as David Koch. In that call, Walker characterizes the introduction of the Budget Repair Bill as “dropping the bomb.” Thus began what Democratic Party candidate for Governor and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett calls Walker’s “ideological civil war.”
Barrett was given a potent piece of ammunition with which to fight back on Thursday as a clip from Brad Lichtenstein’s soon-to-be-released documentary, As Goes Janesville, was released. It shows Walker letting billionaire campaign donor Diane Hendricks in on his strategy to deal with labor unions. By Friday morning the video had been taken up by the Barrett campaign, and hundreds of media outlets blasted it out across the country.
In the clip taken nearly a month before the public unveiling of the infamous Budget Repair Bill that launched a popular uprising, Hendricks asks Walker, “Any chance we’ll ever get to be a completely red state and work on these unions – and become a right-to-work (state)? What can we do to help you?”
Walker replied, “Well, we’re going to start in a couple weeks with our budget adjustment bill. The first step is, we’re going to deal with collective bargaining for all public employee unions, because you use divide and conquer.”
The middle class must take a stance. The middle class must show that no longer will they allow money to buy their vote in order to support policies that materially affect their families and their country. The middle class must help our brothers and sisters in Wisconsin recall Governor Scott Walker. It will begin our reclaim of morality and humaneness.