Why is it that we need to go to the European papers for American news? Our news media has failed miserably in their duty to educate and inform us about the murder by spreadsheet. An estimated 45,000 Americans die needlessly because the Politicians in DC are corrupt. Period.
For more than a century, the US has slowly put some limits – too few, too feeble – on how much corporations can bribe, bully or intimidate politicians. On Tuesday, they were burned away in one whoosh. The Supreme Court ruled that corporations can suddenly run political adverts during an election campaign – and there is absolutely no limit on how many, or how much they can spend. So if you anger the investment bankers by supporting legislation to break up the too-big-to-fail banks, you will smack into a wall of 24/7 ads exposing your every flaw. If you displease oil companies by supporting legislation to deal with global warming, you will now be hit by a tsunami of advertising saying you are opposed to jobs and the American Way. If you rile the defence contractors by opposing the gargantuan war budget, you will face a smear-campaign calling you Soft on Terror.
To understand the impact this will have, you need to grasp how smaller sums of corporate money have already hijacked American democracy. Let’s look at a case that is simple and immediate and every American can see in front of them: healthcare. The United States is the only major industrialised democracy that doesn’t guarantee healthcare for all its citizens. The result is that, according to a detailed study by Harvard University, some 45,000 Americans die needlessly every year. That’s equivalent to 15 9/11s every year, or two Haitian earthquakes every decade.
This isn’t because the American people like it this way. Gallup has found in polls for a decade now that two-thirds believe the government should guarantee care for every American: they are as good and decent and concerned for each other as any European. No: it is because private insurance companies make a fortune today out of a system that doesn’t cover the profit-less poor, and can turn away the sickest people as “uninsurable”. So they pay for politicians to keep the system broken. They fund the election campaigns of politicians on both sides of the aisle and employ an army of lobbyists, and for their part those politicians veto any system that doesn’t serve their paymasters.