Alternative Medicine Versus Medicare For All?

Traditional medical providers may consider alternative medicine a rival to Western medicine, but their patients have given their stamp of approval by spending $35 billion a year on alternative medical treatments, sometimes called CAM (complementary and alternative medicine).  So it’s not surprising that some of the nation’s biggest hospitals have recognized the lucrative potential of alternative medicine and are now joining forces with alternative medical providers.

What are alternative treatments exactly?  According to an article on policymed.com

While there is no official list of what alternative medicine actually comprises, treatments falling under the umbrella typically include acupuncture, homeopathy (the administration of a glass of water supposedly containing the undetectable remnants of various semi-toxic substances), chiropractic, herbal medicine, Reiki (“laying on of hands,” or “energy therapy”), meditation (now often called “mindfulness”), massage, aromatherapy, hypnosis, Ayurveda (a traditional medical practice originating in India), and several other treatments not normally prescribed by mainstream doctors.

There has long been support in the U.S. Congress for alternative medicine.  This includes dietary supplements, which have been strongly supported by Orin Hatch among others.  However, you might be surprised to learn that this coalition is now a direct rival to Bernie Sanders’ Medicare For All proposal, and not just philosophically speaking.  This rivalry is currently playing out in the presidential campaigns of Marianne Williamson and Tulsi Gabbard, who each have an interest in holistic medicine.  Williamson has a list of alternative medical services on her website, and A Course in Miracles is itself an alternative approach to health care.  Gabbard’s bipartisan initiative for marijuanna reform, while it is an important step toward criminal justice reform, includes alternative health care interests represented by Chanda Macias, MBA, PhD, CEO and owner of National Holistic Healing Center in DC.  Marijuanna is an important ingredient in alternative therapies.  In addition, one of the closest and oldest connections to Gabbard’s family, Chris Butler, offers alternative health services centered around yoga.   In 2002 Yoga was the 5th most commonly used CAM therapy.

A survey released in May 2004  by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine focused on who used complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), what was used, and why it was used in the United States by adults age 18 years and over during 2002.

According to this survey, Yoga was the 5th most commonly used CAM therapy (2.8%) in the United States during 2002.

It may be somewhat surprising to learn that holistic practitioners oppose Medicare for All.  The explanation for this begins with the fact that insurance policies don’t typically pay for alternative therapies.  Patients pay for them out-of-pocket, and that suits practitioners just fine.  If their treatments were covered by insurance they would have to abide by certain guidelines, and they prefer to treat their patients according to their own criteria.  Furthermore, if taxes were increased to pay for medical care, in other words, if people knew their health care was already paid for, and if that care was freely available, it would seriously effect the bottom line of alternative practitioners.   So alternative medical providers have a stake the status quo, like insurance companies.   Where does that leave us as far as a political strategy is concerned?

You might be thinking that if alternative medicine is cheaper, changing the way practitioners practice might be a solution.  After all, integrative medicine, which combines traditional treatments with alternative medicine, is a growing industry and several candidates have stressed the importance of preventative medicine.  But unfortunately, chronic disease isn’t going to disappear and there is no scientific evidence that alternative therapies can address these illnesses as well as traditional medicine.

On the other hand, there seems to be general agreement that Western medicine needs to change its focus.  Its medical infrastructure was designed to combat infectious diseases, and it works well for that purpose.  However its success with infectious agents has brought complex chronic diseases into focus, such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s.  Chronic diseases now account for three fourths of our health care spending.

In other words, preventive measures are important, but there is also the problem of whether patients are able and willing to follow those preventive measure.   At some point, the effects of low-wage jobs, unaffordable housing, and the lack of clean water and healthy food will come into the picture.  In addition, alternative and integrative medicine are not free.

There are improvements to the current system that must be made, but they will take time.  In the meantime, Medicare for All is desparately needed.  And it’s favored by the majority of the population.  In this light, resistance from practitioners of holistic medicine seems rather self-centered.  And considering the other forces arrayed against single-payer insurance, resistance from alternative interests is the last thing this country needs.

Many doctors are supportive of Medicare For All, but the AMA is organizing against it.

The AMA is currently allied with other industry groups in the fight against Medicare for All as a part of a group called “Partnership for America’s Health Care Future,” which is spending millions of dollars and is backed by the American Hospital Association, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and America’s Health Insurance Plans, which includes Cigna, Anthem, Centene and other health insurance giants.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is Marianne Williamson Really Saying?

Although we may not think Marianne Williamson is in the running for the nomination, she has been zeroing in on Bernie’s base.  This means that she could have a larger effect on his campaign than we realize.  It would probably be a good idea to take a closer look at her talking points before the debates begin.  The problem with her candidacy, in my opinion, is that her agenda is tied to esoteric ideology.

Esotericism is better described as an ideology than a religion in this sense, because it offers a comprehensive explanation of ‘being’ to parts of the poplation and it explains [to] them conclusively how to proceed in the world and what is their role in it.  It mirrors social being as a theory and philosophy which is, as part of the cultural Uberbau, determined by an economic, social and material background.  It serves the oppression as an ideology, because it distorts reality to fulfill a specific social function.  It tries to define a particular interest as an interest of the greater public.

I want to talk about two esoteric elements in Williamson’s speeches: organicism and elitism. She has been relatively open about these things but you have to read between the lines to get her meaning.

The problem with Williamson’s organicism is that describing society as a corporeal organism legitimates hierarchies.  This seems to be consistent with Anthroposophy.  As for her elitism, she stated in her interview with Kim Iverson that she doesn’t believe the common people can solve problems.  She thinks change can only be accomplished by those at the top.  (However this seems to have been edited out of the video.)

There is a third issue–her effort to convince voters that they must first correct their moral failings before they can hope to improve their political prospects because those failings have led them to this place.   She equates the individual with the nation and concludes that the entire country has to take stock of its defects.

It is not necessary to spend a lot of time discussing the third issue, except to say that even if it could be shown that there is a direct link between these ‘failings’ and the current political predicament,  imperfection is part of the human condition.  Said another way, moral perfection is the work of a lifetime, but a national election is never more than two years away.  We mere humans have to do the best we can with the understanding and the candidates we are given in a particular election.  Furthermore, Williamson’s approach ignores the structures and systems that perpetuate injustice and those who benefit from those structures and systems.  Williamson’s third issue seems to be a natural outcome of the first two.

In addition to her organicism and elitism she is associated with a Course on Miracles and the Waldorf School. Again, Rudolf Steiner’s Anthroposophy seems to be the closest match.

It is not clear that she supports Medicare for All.  She says she wants to keep private insurance but that she would support an option of Medicare for All.   And she has no experience in governing.  She says she’s depending on ‘crude wisdom’ to see her through. Yet she’s competing with the only candidate who does know how to get things done–Bernie Sanders–and aside from the esoteric foundations discussed above, her ideas add nothing new to the progressive conversation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bernie’s Speech

I wasn’t able to watch Bernie’s speech when it was first posted, thanks to YouTube, so I really appreciated this video when I found it. If you are distracted by the large number of Democratic candidates and their talking points, I recommend that you watch it.  As Bernie says this is not the time for despair.  I would add that you voters out there don’t have the leisure to choose between all those candidates.  If you still think there is a decision to be made, you don’t understand the problem.

You might also enjoy watching progressive responses to Bernie’s speech.

Michael Brooks: https://youtu.be/8PwfyrvTQKs

The Rational National:  https://youtu.be/w-tJUgPbDTU

Mike Malloy:  https://youtu.be/doDVc_lzaJ0

Status Coup:  https://youtu.be/230QzY-qWTU

Sam Seder’s interview with Bernie: https://youtu.be/SgGBqiPU1zc

 

 

Republicans Probably Don’t Want to Reverse Roe v Wade

Roe v Wade has been a gift to the Republican Party. A candidate can be a war monger, a corporate puppet, and eat puppies and kittens for breakfast, but if he or she is pro-life none of that will matter to conservative and religious voters.   At the same time, another candidate can have a great plan for the economy and a sterling political record, but if she is pro-choice, a large portion of the American electorate will never vote for her.   What would the Republicans do without Roe v Wade?

They use abortion to get votes the same way they use the bad behavior of foreign leaders to justify military intervention.  Their rhetoric implies that pro-choice voters are baby-hating monsters while it promotes suspicion of  every woman of child-bearing age.   And votes are just one part of the story.  The abortion issue allows them to coopt the conversation with constant threats, horror stories, and authoritarian legislation.  As a result, reasonable people find themselves fighting for the right of women they don’t know to have an abortion, as if it’s some kind of prize.

Some judges have said they will not enforce Alabama’s law, and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) is on record saying the legislation is so severe he is concerned that it won’t be effective in overturning Roe v Wade.   But maybe that is the purpose of Alabama’s extreme approach.

 

 

 

 

What’s a Nice Guy Like You Doing in a Place Like This?

I’m pretty sure that when you chose your vocation you were an idealist.  How long was it, I wonder, before you realized they groomed you to help them keep their wealthy donors happy?  And that’s not even the worst of it.  They expect you to make nice with a bunch of silver-tongued dingbats who are doing the same thing you’re doing but without your scruples.  Unless I’m terribly mistaken about you, your association with one such dingbat must be excruciating.  I’m talking about the guy who refuses to say if he believes in God and then while he’s dancing around the question it gradually becomes clear that he’s congratulating himself for being more moral than people who profess their beliefs–like you.

He argues that it’s audacious to say one believes in God because one must live a perfect life in order to make such a claim.  (I would like to hear you address that claim by the way, but you’re not free to do so, are you.) He references Nietzsche and Slavoj Zizek and Jesus on the cross as justification for his prevarication and then he expounds on what it really means to believe–according to him.

I assume you see through him; that you would like to tell him that he’s got it wrong, that humans are not supermen.  I really think you know he’s got it backwards–that part of believing is acknowledging one’s weakness.  But then it must also have occurred to you that he doesn’t necessarily mean what he says.  He just wants to keep the money rolling in, so he frames his hollow cynicism as existential anguish.  And you keep your thoughts to yourself.

 

 

 

 

 

The Republican Party’s Male Supremacy Problem

Republican tax cuts mostly benefit the very rich.  At the same time, Republicans claim that the inevitable reduction of revenue justifies cuts in social programs for the not-so-rich, and then they order American women to have more children.  When it is pointed out to them that families, and mothers in particular, perform a valuable service to the state and should be compensated rather than penalized, they legislate draconian anti-abortion bills.  We can only assume their behavior is not an oversight.  It is probably motivated by doctrines of male supremacy.

Male supremacy has always been one of the main components of fascism.  It has been argued that one of the triggers of fascism in the 1930s was the sudden inability of religion to control the female population.  Today, alt-right pundits claim great antiquity for their ideas, but they are no older than the early 20th century.  They would have to go back as far as the story of Abraham to understand the true parameters of male existence in this world–parameters including human sacrifice.  But it might be too late for us.

Abraham was spared the necessity of sacrificing his son, Isaac, but strictly speaking human sacrifice had not been necessary since the time of the covenant, which coincided with the circumcision of Abraham, Ishmael, and the other males of his household.  Circumcision is a substitute for human sacrifice.

Today, many non-believers are outraged that God would ask such a thing of Abraham.  Or it would be more correct to say they are outraged that anyone would believe in such a religion.  However the story of Abraham and Isaac was probably a reminder of the continuing indebtedness of the human race.

In ancient times women practiced small agriculture, or horticulture.  It was men who dug canals, changed the course of rivers, and ploughed large tracts of land.  And it was men who were sacrificed.  Human sacrifice was practiced by agricultural societies because agriculture was perceived to be an imposition on the earth.

The real problem that today’s alt-right men must address is the drastic mismatch between unrestrained male ambition and the natural world. They might say excess male ambition and energy indicates male ‘superiority’, but that claim can’t be justified in a time when we face the unavoidable consequences of this mismatch.    The precarious state of human existence on this earth indicates that the chief burden of being male is restraint.

 

 

 

 

 

The Venezuelan Embassy and Conservative Internationalism

The traditions of American foreign policy that most people are familiar with are realism and liberal internationalism.  Realists are usually conservatives or Republicans, for example Eisenhower and Ford, while liberal internationalists are usually liberals or Democrats, for example Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, and Carter.  However, these divisions broke down during the Reagan administration.  Conservative internationalism was not exactly the result of this breakdown however.  According to one author, this school of foreign policy has been a constant, if unrecognized, presence in American politics.  The arrest of the embassy protectors at the Venezuelan embassy in Washington DC seems to be straight from the playbook of this elusive  school of American foreign policy– Conservative Internationalism.  This might seem like a stunning revelation, until you realize that conservative internationalism sounds suspiciously like neo-conservatism.

Reagan is one of the heroes of conservative internationalists.  He opposed both the realist containment strategy of Richard Nixon and the liberal internationalist human rights campaign of Jimmy Carter. Instead, he adopted a strategy that used force or the threat of force assertively, as realists recommended, but aimed at the demise of communism and the spread of democracy, as liberal internationalists advocated.  But although Reagan’s policies didn’t adhere to either of these foreign policy traditions, he was not unique among American presidents.  According to a Hoover Institution article, conservative internationalism draws historical validation from Thomas Jefferson, James K. Polk, Harry Truman.

So how does this school of foreign policy explain the arrest of the embassy protectors contrary to international law and the Geneva Convention?  The Hoover Institution lists eleven tenets of Conservative Internationalism. The first tenet, the goal of expanding freedom, asserts that free countries achieve legitimacy in foreign affairs by taking decisions independently or working together through decentralized institutions.

Thus, conservative internationalists give priority to liberty over equality and work to free countries from tyranny before they recognize these countries as equal partners in international diplomacy. Jefferson and Polk were unequivocal about expanding liberty, even if it involved imperialism, because they believed that liberty would eventually bring greater equality. By contrast liberal internationalists give priority to equality over liberty and grant all nations, whether free or not, equal status in international institutions, because they believe treating countries equally will eventually encourage liberty. For conservative internationalists, legitimacy in foreign affairs derives from free countries taking decisions independently or working together through decentralized institutions; for liberal internationalists, legitimacy derives from all countries, free or not, participating equally in universal international organizations.

The remaining tenets continue the doublespeak we have become accustomed to since the Iraq war, justifying the tendency of conservative internationalists to combine realism or liberal internationalism, or both, with unrestrained aggression.   Take for example the statement that poverty and oppression are not enough to trigger intervention.  There must be a physical effect on the United States, such as the threat posed by terrorism or oil disruption.  This may not sound like a problem until you add the assertion that because it’s hard to predict these events, preemptive and preventative actions will sometimes be necessary.

Because their goals are more ambitious than liberal internationalism or realism, conservative internationalists expect to use more force.  Consider their use of the now familiar accusation hurled against leaders who use force against their own people as ‘proof’ that they can’t be expected to cooperate with the United States either.  This has been used in the past to justify unilateral force.  Liberal internationalists preferred to work with the League of Nations and the UN, whereas under conservative internationalism, diplomacy is just another word for reconstruction.

To sum up, the arrest of the embassy protectors, a brazen violation of international law, might be explained by the fact that conservative internationalists dislike internation institutions, especially if they are successful.  They want small government, not centralized government.  Actually, it would be more correct to say that they don’t like governments at all–they favor self-reliance and civil society institutions over governments, whatever that means.

A review of this book in the American Conservative identifies this school of foreign policy as ‘old wine in new bottles’, or the rebaptism of neo-conservatism.  This review was refuted by Henry R. Nau, the author of the Hoover Institution article.  Now here’s the really interesting thing about this discussion.  One of Nau’s arguments against the identification with neo-conservatism is that the neo-conservatives started out as Democrats.

Many neocons, however, were liberals not conservatives, advocating social engineering at home and abroad; and some democratic realists were imperialists, seeking to gain or maintain American hegemony.

My problem with this argument is that I suspect the neocons have not been straight with us about their history.  There is a very important interlude in the history of conservatism that no one seems to know about, or at least the media never mentions it.  That would be the German Conservative Revolution.  The following summary is from a description of a History 330 course at Amherst.edu, German Conservative Revolution and the Roots of the Third Reich.

It is asserted that Germany’s right wing intellectuals, who identified themselves with a German “Conservative Revolution”, played a fateful role in the ideological formation of national socialism in the wake of the Great War.  They ‘defied’ traditional divisions between the Left and Right, opposed parliamentary democracy and royalist reactionary ‘Wilhelminian’ conservatism, as well as Liberalism and Marxism.  They attempted to reshape theology, legal thought, race biology, geography, and political philosophy.

I’ve done a little reading about this ‘revolution’.  Although many of its members criticized the Nazi Party, this had nothing to do with the Party’s anti-Semitism.  Although some collaborated with the Nazi state and shared its fate, the dissenters were able to escape condemnation and wield a continuing influence. I would argue that current attempts to cordon off Nazism from contemporary right-wing theorists is a result of the failure to understand how they related to each other in the interwar period.

Now, if you’re uncomfortable about the edginess of neo-conservative foreign policy but you can’t quite figure out how former Democrats got so…uncharitable, this might explain it: there was a neocon presence in the German Conservative Revolution.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ‘Intellectual’ Dark Web

By following these links to YouTube videos you can observe the public implosion of conservative talking heads who have been lurking in the dark web of wannabe-eggheads.  Enjoy!

The first one is Ben Shapiro’s interview with Andrew Neil.

https://youtu.be/72kAibX4dJU

The next one demolishes the lies and errors told about socialism by these dark boy-wonders.

https://youtu.be/hUFvG4RpwJI

Here’s one that showcases Jordan Peterson hoping no one notices his idiocy.

https://youtu.be/b8AcmzqFdPM

And here’s Stefan Molyneux happily baiting everyone he can think of.

https://youtu.be/BHW3Y_p2llo

In my opinion, even though these videos are critical of Molyneux, Peterson, Shapiro, and Crowder, they show respect by providing detailed refutations of their conservative talking points.  Considering the fact that these so-called intellectuals would not be saying anything at all if they weren’t being paid to do so, we have to assume that their ‘ideas’ are probably not coming from their own experience or from a desire to solve problems.  Therefore, when their critics take time to listen to them and carefully answer them, it is an act of great generosity.

No Country for Messiahs

After Ilhan Omar reported receiving a death threat, President Trump made a point of repeating the same types of remarks that encouraged previous threats against her life.  He may as well have gone after her himself.  Our president is a vicious bully and irredemable gutter brawler.  Congratulations establishment!  Congratulations for putting him there and congratulations for leaving him there.

Fortunatley, he may not be there much longer.  Last week I was given the following revelation: “I will show that he is not the messiah.”

I wasn’t given a name, but Donald Trump is the only person I know of whose supporters believe he is the messiah.  On the other hand, if it turns out that some other messiah is waiting in the wings, you can consider this an all-purpose not-a-messiah revelati0n. (This sentence was my own speculation, and I’ve decided that it goes too far. Hope in the coming of a messiah is an important part of three major religions.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Seducer State and the Free Labor of Mothers

This video argues that a birth strike is in progress as a result of American family and tax policies.  I wrote an article about this issue when the new Child Tax Credit was in the news.  This was the period in which Paul Ryan lewdly (yes, lewdly) told American women in a televised speech that they must bear more children.  Because this speech closely followed the passage of the scandalous tax bill that reduces taxes for the rich and therefore endangers funding for social programs that help mothers, Ryan’s proposal was indecent.

I regretted tying that article to the story of Adam and Eve.  I will write more about this connection, or lack thereof, in another article, and address the question of whether you can separate social policy from Christian theology.  However, in this article I don’t want to overshadow the undeniable effects of family and tax policy on American families.

The following video from Chris Hedges’ On Contact discusses government policies, which are meant to increase the birthrate in the face of decreasing financial support for families.

https://youtu.be/ZeY8p5rdy9M

 

A Message to the World From the Yellow Vest Movement

This was published February 12, 2019.