It’s the same old song


Fans of Motown and The Four Tops will remember this song from the 1960’s. I use it today to describe the continuation of those politicians who are heavily backed by the fossil fuel industry to naysay climate change as the major concern it is and the role we play in it.

With Pope Francis here in the United States, he is following the message in his Encyclical to define the need to act now. It is a message of truth from the most respected leader on the planet. He has also showed that the world’s poor are impacted even more severely by climate change based on where they are forced to live and their fragility.

But, here in America there has been a concerted and concerned effort by so-funded politicians to diminish his message saying he is not qualified and should stick to his knitting. And, the conservative pundits and pseudo news sources are doing their best to downplay his message. A good question is why?

If you think about it, who is the outlier on this issue? Who is trying to squelch open debate by making it illegal in two states for state officials to use the words climate change or global warming? The Pope’s message is consistent with 97% of scientists and every major science organization in the United States per Dr. Michael Mann, the head of Earth Systems Science at Penn State University. The same kind of consensus resides outside this country and is held by the United Nations.

On the flip side, former Senator and Presidential candidate Rick Santorum is adamant that the 97% figure is only 56%. Politifacts, a nonpartisan fact verification group, confirmed not only the inaccuracy of Santorum’s claim, but confirmed his source as a blogger who contrived that number. There is a reason some do not want debate.

Dr. Mann says we have about a ten year window to act more demonstrably. We can ill-afford a President who does not see climate change as the problem it is. To do otherwise would be poor stewardship of our planet. But, what do I know, as I am not a scientist. Yet, the Pope is with his Masters in Chemistry.

Stop equating things you disagree with to atrocities

Earlier this week, former Presidential candidate Rick Santorum equated Obamacare with Apartheid. Obamacare has also been referred to as Nazism because in the mind of its critics they associate anything that has a hint of socialistic concern as something that should be labeled with such an atrocious label. The obvious purpose is to inflame and influence an uninformed electorate using terms representing atrocities to label something that they do not like. While imperfect, complex and rolled out poorly, to equate something that is trying to help people gain access to insurance and healthcare as akin to Apartheid and Nazism to me portrays ignorance, deception or some of both.

Apartheid was the government sanctioned version of our Jim Crow laws and culture in the US. The sad difference is in South Africa, the main perpetrator was the federal government itself as it cracked down on people of color stripping them of human rights and their dignity. It took worldwide boycotts and sanctions to shine a spotlight on these atrocities. It should be added that President Reagan did not support these sanctions, but fortunately Congress overturned his veto and we joined the rest of the world in economically condemning South Africa’s apartheid. I have yet to see sanctions or boycotts on the US for passing Obamacare, so I think it is indeed a stretch by Mr. Santorum’s to equate the two.

Nazism means far more than the socialism in its underlying name. Nazism stands for fascism and purging of those who disagree with you. It also stands for exterminating Jewish people or people of different sexual orientation. When people say Nazism to describe something, its meaning portrays malevolence. To equate anything with Nazism needs to be a very serious set of atrocities. To call Obamacare or anything that has a concern for a greater good as Nazism is just plain wrong and akin to the Santorum’s ignorant remark about Apartheid.

Setting the atrocity labels aside, socialism is getting an unfair rap. First, per a recent survey, the happiest people on the planet are in Sweden, which has a socialistic economy. Second, the US Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are all social insurance programs and they are appreciated by Americans. If you don’t believe me, just watch the fervor over any issue to decrease or cut back those benefits. Since I mentioned President Reagan above, he did several commercials calling Medicare socialism before it was passed in 1965. Does this tactic sound familiar? Fortunately for him, he did not say Nazism, as the greatest generation who fought them twenty years earlier and all Jews would have ended his political career then and there.

Third, Obamacare is actually a blend of socialism and capitalism. It is not national healthcare nor will it lead to it – the healthcare industrial complex won’t let that happen. While the Medicaid expansion is socialistic in nature, the exchanges are capitalistic in nature. The ironic part is the exchanges are a GOP idea created as an initial concept by the Heritage Foundation (yes that one) and used in Romneycare and supported by Mr. Tea Party, former Senator Jim DeMInt until Obamacare adopted the concept. DeMint even went so far to advocate the mandate on talk shows. So, for several years now, I have found GOP opposition to Obamacare fairly hypocritical.

I recognize that I will not change the minds of people on Obamacare. The public relation engines against it are quite powerful and its imperfections and poor roll out provide suitable ammunition. Yet, it does move the ball forward in spite of highly political attempts to cause it to fail – not expanding Medicaid in twenty states, not running state based exchanges in 36 states, telling young people not to sign up (what parent would do that?) and not allowing communication dollars to help promote how to use it. Even with the balky rollout, as of November 30, 803,000 people had signed up for Medicaid expansion in the states allowing it and 365,000 have signed up for the exchanges and those numbers are growing rapidly. That is on top of the 3 million young adults who have been able to remain on their parents plan before age 26 because of an early implemented feature of Obamacare.

Yet, irrespective of how you feel about the law, please stop calling it Apartheid or Nazism. You are showing your ignorance or being Machiavellian or both. Plus, it does a disservice to South Africans and Jews who died at the hands of their oppressors and that is an insult. I think Santorum owes an apology to many people, those he offended and those he tried to disinform.