In his column last week, “See April 4 Times “Wall? New Medicare? Heal storm damage first”), Mr. Bonavita rightly points at the extent of damage in the Gulf Coast communities from Texas to Puerto Rico, and the need for genuine remediation and sufficient resources from the federal government. It is the right time to pay attention to this mess and move forward to recovery of the whole Gulf system. However, he unfortunately applies some misconceptions to his analysis.
First, he criticizes the proposal of Medicare for All as a drain adding to the “$21 trillion national debt,” as if we were not going to spend that money for healthcare anyway under the present system. Currently, our system of private insurance for health care is bloated and inefficient. It leads to great profits and huge CEO salaries for the insurance industry, vastly increased paperwork in the doctors’ offices, and inflated prices for medicines and procedures. World Health Organization statistics show that America spends more on health care per person than any other country and has dismal outcomes overall. In our present health care system, we are being ripped off. Medicare for All at least attempts to remediate a broken system and has good chances of saving money (which would reduce that $21 trillion debt rather than increase it).
Second, his proposal for reordering national finances includes savings “by eliminating special interest spending.” I hope he means addressing the inordinate amount of money given yearly to the defense industry, what President Eisenhower called “the military-industrial complex.” These special interests have sucked up all of that $21 trillion and probably more in futile attempts to conquer and control the world. Since World War II, in the name of fighting communism and/or promoting democracy, our nation has interfered in nascent democracies in every continent except Antarctica. We have brutally attacked and destroyed Korea, Vietnam, Iraq (twice), Afghanistan, and Libya. We now probably spend more money on “defense” than in any time since World War II, and we spend many times more than any other country. Repairing damage caused by Hurricane Michael would be just Pentagon pocket change.