Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Archive for May 8th, 2009

Walking the walk

Posted by Charles II on May 8, 2009

One of my perennial complaints is that white collar professionals– college professors, lawyers, doctors, and politicians– are not willing to put themselves on the line for their convictions. A group of eight single payer advocates, including three doctors did just that before Max Baucus’s committee in the Senate and were arrested.

Welcome, Dr. Flowers. You must be exhausted after your ‘adventures’ on Capitol Hill Tuesday. Tell us how you and your colleagues came to be rounded up by the police.

It started last week. We, meaning some of the people who advocate for a national health system based on single payer financing, learned who the Senate Finance Committee had invited to the Roundtable on the Expansion of Health Insurance Coverage and it wasn’t very reassuring. Those invited represented either a conservative viewpoint or the interests of the private insurance industry and big business. None of them represented single payer – the most efficient way to expand coverage by expanding Medicare to everyone.

Several of the national groups organized call-ins to members of the committee by constituents in their states. Other groups organized having faxes sent. Despite thousands of phone calls and faxes, we learned on Monday that Sen. Baucus’s office had said that there would be no more invitations to speakers for the event.

The Roundtable was planned as a public event, but the public was not allowed to speak or to ask questions. In addition, it was the type of event that you must get to early and stand in line for hours just to get in. It sounded like it was going to be one more in the series of very scripted and controlled events that has characterized this “health care debate.”

We decided that we would try to attend and request that one of us, all knowledgeable about single payer, be allowed to have a seat at the table. We arrived around 7 am and waited in line. We were allowed into the Committee Room at around 9:45. We took seats in the audience.

As I sat there looking around the room, what I saw saddened me. We had decided to wear black to symbolize the death and suffering of thousands of Americans every year who can’t get needed health care. As I looked around and saw the Senators and staffers and guests of the Roundtable, I saw people who were well-off and who were smiling and laughing. Their demeanor did not match what I felt was supposed to be a serious discussion of our nation’s health crisis and how to address it.

Shortly before the meeting started, one of the people in our group, Russell Mokhiber, stood up and said something to the effect that there were no people representing single payer at the table and that there were doctors in the room who were willing to take a seat. He was arrested.

Following that, we rose, one by one, and spoke out for single payer. Each of the eight of us were arrested. We were handcuffed and held for around seven hours. We were charged with Unlawful Conduct and Disruption of Congress.

It is estimated that eighteen thousand people die every year from lack of health insurance. These doctors did something very honorable by getting themselves arrested trying to stop that mass murder. I am reminded of Henry David Thoreau, jailed for refusing to pay taxes to suppport the Mexican War. A friend, visiting him, asked him “What are you doing in there?” Thoreau answered him, “Rather, my friend, what are you doing out there?”

Posted in Good Things, health care, hearings, walking the walk | 5 Comments »

Friday Cat Blogging

Posted by MEC on May 8, 2009


Posted in Friday Cat Blogging, Lady Lightfoot | 2 Comments »

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