Greed Versus Poverty.

“For the first time in history it is now possible to take care of everybody at a higher standard of living than any have ever known. Only ten years ago the ‘more with less’ technology reached the point where this could be done. All humanity now has the option of becoming enduringly successful.” – Buckminster Fuller, 1980.

I recently spotted this quote on Facebook and it made me think: What is the true state of the world in 2014? How far have we come since 1980?

Well, here are the sobering statistics:

– According to the human rights group, Walk Free, 36 million people live in slavery worldwide.
– In the US, approximately 250,000 women and children are held as sex slaves.
– In the US, nearly 2.5 million children were homeless at some point in 2013.
– In the US, 48 million people live in poverty.
– Worldwide, more than 3 billion people – nearly half the world population – live on less than $2.50 per day.
– In the US, 1 in 6 children don’t have enough to eat.
– Worldwide, 1 in 8 people suffer from chronic malnourishment and approximately 5,000,000 children die of malnutrition each year.
– Worldwide, many millions of people don’t have access to clean water.
– Worldwide, billions of people don’t have access to modern medical care.
– In the US, approximately 12 million people don’t have access to affordable health care even after implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
– Worldwide, climate change causes 350,000 deaths each year and that number is certain to grow.

As Fuller stated, it is now possible to solve these problems. Yet too many voters still believe in the fraud that is called “trickle-down economics”…a trickle that never comes. Too many politicians would rather give the wealthy and large corporations another tax cut than help these “freeloaders.” Others are too busy campaigning for office to be troubled with real problems. And the political problems aren’t just in the US. The rest of the industrialized world is not much better. Much of Europe has fallen back into recession as the result of economic austerity programs. In response, their populations have taken a nasty turn toward fascism.

We should all strive to avoid blaming others for our lack of progress and, instead, look for solutions.

Imagine what could be done to improve lives if the US corporations that have $2.1 trillion stashed in offshore tax havens paid just 10 percent in taxes on that money. Imagine if corporate CEOs devoted just a portion of their multi-million dollar annual salaries to pay their employees a living wage. Imagine if all of the world governments agreed to cut in half the $1.75 trillion in annual military spending and dedicated it to giving people access to health care, food and clean water. Imagine if our politicians weren’t bought and paid for by corporate lobbyists who are rewarded with billions in government contracts…more than $4 trillion between 2007 and 2012. Imagine if the billions dedicated to lobbying was used, instead, to help end human suffering.

We certainly have the means to achieve Fuller’s vision. All we need is the will (and the heart) to demand it.

A Healthcare System Only The Mafia Could Love.

Actually, I should offer my apologies to the Mafia. ┬áBecause not even the Mafia could create such a blatantly expensive and inefficient system as the one we have in the US. In fact, when Singapore recently decided to create a national healthcare system, they first looked to the US…in order to learn what NOT to do.

We spend $2.7 trillion a year on healthcare with astoundingly poor results. Per capita, we spend more than double that of other any other advanced nation. We also spend $300 billion on pharmaceuticals…nearly double the amount spent by the the rest of the world combined!

The ugly truth is that Americans are addicted to pharmaceuticals. But we’re certainly not addicted to health. We overeat. We eat all of the wrong foods. We refuse to exercise. And we lead overly stressful lives. As a result, we die sooner…our lifespan ranks just 50th in the world!

Not surprisingly, most medical schools don’t teach nutrition, and most don’t offer courses on pharmaceuticals. (They rely on the pharmaceutical manufacturers to teach doctors after they begin practice.)

Our doctors and clinics are paid for the number of patients they see and the number of procedures they perform. Because of the cost, many Americans, especially those who lack insurance, delay going to the doctor until they can put it off no longer. They then go to hospital Emergency Rooms…the most expensive providers of healthcare. That causes healthcare costs to rise for those who do have insurance.

Many doctors hate our healthcare system. Many nurses and other medical workers hate our system. Many medical clinics hate our system. And many hospitals hate our system. If that’s true, then why doesn’t the system change? The answer is simple: Health insurers, medical equipment providers and pharmaceutical manufacturers are making billions at our expense.

Their greed is bankrupting Medicare and Medicaid, not to mention the thousands of Americans who have been forced into bankruptcy as the result of medical emergencies. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will have some effect on our staggering healthcare costs. It will also add 30 million uninsured patients into the system, so it will improve the overall health of our nation.  But these new patients will help to further line the pockets of insurers and pharmaceutical companies.

Not satisfied with their spectacular profits, the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries are spending millions on congressional lobbyists to squeeze even more money out of the system.

The only way to stop the corporate profiteering, to cut costs and to improve healthcare is by creating some form of a single payer system similar to those in Canada, England, France, and most of the civilized world.