On my way into work a few days ago, I was thinking about all this mess with the govt. shutdown and the intransigence of the Hard Right over the Affordable Healthcare Act (aka, ObamaCare). My main thought was along the lines of “Why on Earth do these folks have such a bug up their asses about affordable health care?” I mean, even from a purely selfish standpoint, even if we set aside all of the benefits to society and the nation as a whole, a labor pool of healthy workers to draw from is also good for business. Healthy workers are more productive workers, and more productive workers means bigger profits. Ergo, it is in the best interest of even the 1% for everyone to have access to affordable health care. Why fight against it so hard? Heck, why fight it at all?
My mind then turned to wishing how this had been the law of the land during my first marriage. I spent a lot of time being unemployed, and after losing a job with benefits, we had to get COBRA, then when that ran out, something even more expensive, so my first wife and I could keep out insurance going unbroken. Why? Because we both had those accursed pre-existing conditions that could have disqualified us from getting new insurance had our coverage lapsed. So, we had to pay for insurance at rates nothing short of extortion at a time when we were already struggling financially. Small wonder so many people I knew kept working at jobs where they were miserable, mistreated, underpaid and overworked – they could not afford to lose health insurance.
Then it hit me.
That status quo – the one where workers will take any job they are offered, no matter how miserable, underpaid and overworked they are, simply to have health coverage – that is what the 1% and their Hard Right puppets are fighting to protect. Health insurance has long been the most powerful negotiating chip (more like a Billy-club) corporations have had when trying to attract workers – especially skilled workers. When unemployment is high, that’s even better, because then they can offer lower wages. Take away other safety-net measures like food stamps? Now you have the trifecta of a labor force in such desperation, they will do almost anything to land, and keep, a job with health benefits. It’s a perfect storm. The only way things could be any better for the 1% is if we were living in the Feudal era, where the wealthy elite owned the land along with the people who worked the land, and they could do whatever the Hell they wanted because that was the way it was.
But once healthcare is affordable to all, and where no one who wants health insurance can legally be denied coverage, this whole sociopathic house-of-cards begins to tumble. If anyone, even the unemployed, can afford health care, and if even the folks who let coverage lapse can get it back, even with pre-existing conditions, that “We can get you health insurance!” negotiating Billy-club the corporations have had for so long no longer matters. The insurance companies are now competing for customers by offering better prices. This means that corporations will need to compete as well – with higher wages. For everyone.
History has proven that the 1% and their puppets hate anything that places collective bargaining into the hands of We The People. Just look at how income disparity has grown to offensive proportions over the past three decades while the power of labor unions has declined. The one thing the Hard Right hates the most about the ACA is that it gives We The People collective bargaining when it comes to health care, which takes that Billy-club out of the hands of the corporations, which means they can no longer use it as a bludgeon to keep We The People in line. The same logic holds true with food stamps and other “entitlements”. Anything that places more power into the hands of the people is power, and money, taken away from the 1% and their sociopathic agenda of exploitation.
In short, this goes way beyond the Tea-Publicans looking like idiots and losing face once the system they’ve fought against so hard is shown to work: ObamaCare is the beginning of the end of the perfect storm which has created a society filled with easily exploited workers. This is nothing less than a quantum shift in the status quo which has made the sociopathic 1% richer and more powerful than ever. And if there is another lesson history has taught us, it is that those in power rarely, if ever, relinquish any measure of their power, no matter how small, without putting up a fight.
And that, IMHO, is the real reason for the shutdown.