This Is Why We Have The Right-Wing Government We Have

While it is absolutely proper to focus on the disintegration of our democracy, in terms of how Tr-mp and his defenders aided and abetted (and still are) Russia’s attack on our electoral process and Putin’s poisoning the well of trust in the mainstream press, I think I should point out something happening here in my own state. We have our own version of Tr-mp and Tr-mpism. Our governor is a mini-Tr-mp. Our legislature is a mini-House Freedom Caucus. Reactionary forces dominate our state as if, as I have said before, we were Louisiana.

The Kansas City Star published a story this morning (“Thousands of Missourians are about to be cut from prescription drug program“) that is breathtakingly sad for a couple of reasons. Here is how the story began:

More than 60,000 elderly Missourians got a letter from the state last month informing them they were about to be cut off from a program that had helped them pay for prescription drugs.

Marjorie Prunty, 74, of Platte County, remembers what she thought when her letter arrived.

“I’m going to die.”

Now, think about that. An elderly citizen, a citizen of our state, a citizen of the wealthiest and most powerful nation on the face of the earth, fears for her life. And she fears for her life because of this:

In May, state lawmakers voted to save $15 million in the state’s $27 billion budget by cutting a state program called MORx.

Those earning between 85 percent and 185 percent of the federal poverty level, or up to about $22,000 a year for an individual, had previously qualified for MORx, which covered 50 percent of out-of-pocket prescription drug costs.

Now those 63,000 people — including more than 6,000 in Jackson County alone — are no longer eligible.

Way back in 2006, when MORx was created as a “wrap-around” benefit to George W. Bush’s Medicare Part D prescription drug entitlement program, our Republican governor, Matt Blunt, said:

We are pleased to help low-income seniors and those with disabilities continue to receive their needed medications.

Here in 2017, Republicans are no longer pleased to help low-income seniors and disabled Missourians. That’s how far we have fallen as a state, how far the GOP has fallen as a political party. And Marjorie Prunty, 74, of Platte County, now thinks, “I’m going to die.” That is pathetic. It is sad. But what is more pathetic, what is sadder than that, is how the Star story ended:

Prunty says she’s been reaching out to her representative and the governor’s office to share her story. She doesn’t believe she has much hope, but has no ill-will towards politicians in Jefferson City.

“I voted for these people. I’m not mad at them,” she said. “They just don’t understand. They don’t know what it’s like to be poor. They can’t identify with us.”

What do you say to someone who thinks that way? She fears for her life. She knows why she fears for her life. But apparently because she “voted for these people,” she isn’t “mad at them.” This isn’t a case of a low-information or stupid voter not knowing what is going on. This woman, Marjorie Prunty, knows what is going on. And despite her fear she will die, despite knowing who is causing her fear that she will die, I can just about guarantee you that when it comes time to vote next year, she’ll vote for the same people who threaten her life with their right-wing cruelty.

Whatever it is that makes Marjorie Prunty think the way she does explains why we have not only a cruel right-wing state legislature, but a cruel Republican-led national one—and why we have Tr-mp-Pence-Putin in the White’s House.

I have no words to explain this reality. I can only just walk away, head down.

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8 Comments

  1. It’s a real predicament isn’t it? I could never be a Marjorie Prunty, nor could you. Marjorie and millions of her like-minded brethren believe that democracy works, that the promises of elected officials will be kept, and that those officials will always do what’s right for all the people. Marjorie believes she’s collateral damage and the people she voted for are merely acting in the public interest, even though she’s left behind. Your article excerpts don’t say, but I’d be willing to bet Marjorie is an evangelical – and definitely white.

    And she just can’t believe that she voted for the wrong people. Critical thinking is absent from her intellect. Fact-free Fox News is her source of information. Any other news organization that contradicts Fox merely intensifies her confirmation bias – and that of millions more.

    Poor Marjorie, she has such a deep emotional and irrational investment in her beliefs – politically and probably religiously as well – that she has locked herself in to a terrible tragedy. And, sadly, she has plenty of company.

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  2. Anonymous

     /  July 17, 2017

    Maybe it will take a few Trump’ets to die before they will stop voting against their own interests! Fools……..

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  3. Anonymous

     /  July 18, 2017

    I have two words to explain this behavior: Cult-like.

    Kevin Beck

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  4. ansonburlingame

     /  July 18, 2017

    Duane,

    In a recent exchange you correctly stated that personal experience should not be a basis for public policy. I agree. But it applies to anecdotal experiences as well Marjorie needs medicine and government must pay for it, end of argument. As well there is a disconnect between your blog title and the content. Marjorie’s needs, and her inability to satisfy them are not why we have an attempt at more conservative government, at least in my view.

    A general premise, for me at least, is I must “live within my means”. To a great degree that is my responsibility, not yours or anyone else’s. Normal people learn at an early age that the best way to do so is save something for a “rainy day”. Few Americans do so today and when it rains needs arise. OK, most normal people then borrow money to tide them over. But they construct a way to pay off that debt sometime in the future and include that debt payment, plus interest, in the actions to continue to live within their means with additional outlay required. Yep they have a new smart TV and everyone loves it (until the next model or tech breakthrough comes along). But when it is turned off the bills keep coming in, like the tide.

    No way can most people continue to save significant money when debt arises and they go down the Catch 22 drain hole. So here is Marjorie, maybe. She probably has a home with heat and AC, she puts some food on the table as well, maybe with food stamps and maybe with pubic housing assistance of some sort or maybe pays for some of that with SS benefits and still gets some healthcare thru Medicare. But she still needs medicine now and can’t pay for it on her own. None of us know those circumstances or maybe even how she voted. All we know for sure is she is now in a real bind.

    So pay to get her out of her bind, no questions asked as that is too “mean”. Society now has accepted the responsibility to pay for Marjorie’s medicine, now and forever more, no matter what it costs or where the money will come from to pay that bill.

    Again, in a very general sense, if all Americans lived within their own means then we have a bell curve distribution of how people live. But of course that is not fair, right, particularly for that bottom 10% (or 20%, or 50% or maybe even the infamous “47%”).

    So we have really developed a consumption society, the more the better and if you get more than I do that is not fair. Hell it is consumption that drives our GDP so obviously more consumption is better. Consumption, getting Americans to spend more money on “things” is a bedrock part of most government economic policy as growth in GDP is any President’s goal is it not?

    The problem is without such growth today we can never meet our current “social obligations” (or defense ones either). And it is only getting worse and worse and worse, my old falling off the cliff claim, which I still believe is true but am unable to quantify when or how bad it will really be. Bottom line Duane is government itself is totally unable to live within the means it created for itself over the post WWII decades. Just look at whatever that multi-Trillion dollar “thing” (unbudgeted debt or some such phrase) amounting to around $100 Trillion or so as I recall. Makes our current national debt ($20 Trillion plus or minus a few decimal points) pale in significance, along with running out of various trust funds, etc., etc.

    You and yours throw around a lot of “humanitarian statistics” as well. If the GOP “cuts Medicaid” 24 Million people will lose HC insurance by 2026 (or whatever).

    Wrong. The now dead HC approach was NOT to cut Medicaid but it WAS to limit its astounding growth. The GOP bill tried to “limit the growth” in Medicaid spending, not “cut Medicaid”. But I agree the end result is sometime in the future fewer people must be served by Medicaid OR States must bear the increased cost, not the federal government.

    Boy is that passing the buck, right. We can’t afford to pay any more but if you want it go pay for it as a State go ahead. Let State’s raise taxes but not the federal government. Makes sense to me but then ……. But you know as well as I do that someone must raise taxes, a lot, if this country is going to continue down the current path of HC, a path you believe is too “cheap”, doesn’t take care of everyone, etc., etc.

    Oh, by the way, I read today a revealing CBO predicition, one we won’t see on mainstream news probably. If ACA is left alone in the same year (2026?) 36 million people will lose HC coverage because no one can pay for it under current law. Want some spin? The current HC GOP approach “saves” 12 million people from losing HC coverage in 2026!!!!!

    We have a right wing government (facists, mini-Hitler’s running loose, etc.) because American voters called for someone else to live within their own means and keep your hands off their means. Morally that is certainly not Christ-like, but it sure looks like human nature over the eons, does it not? Show me any society in human history that gladly and willingly raised taxes up and up and up until ………

    Sure we are the “richest country in the history of the world”, etc. Now go openly and honestly run on a platform that says we must give more (in taxes) in order to help others that refuse or even try to live within their means. Think you can get elected, anywhere? Nope but you sure can get elected if you tell the majority their taxes will remain unchanged (or even go down) and someone else will bear the burden to hand out more “free stuff” to the majority!!

    I suppose that is the monumental Ponzi Scheme, I pay you a little, I get more and more in return, until……… and then …….. I call the last series of dots the “cliff” and still see it somewhere out their but I won’t suffer the consequences. However God help my grandchildren.

    Believe it or not, Duane, some people consider that a good, moral position. Stop the craziness so that future generations will not suffer consequences. Sounds like Global Warming arguments and, yep, many (not me) say the predictions are fake news. I believe Global Warming could now become part of the “cliff” and you probably agree with that part as well.

    But to predict such horrendous financial consequences of long term human behavior (spending more money than is “reasonable” to avoid short term pain and ignore the benefits of long term gain) makes me seem ………., a right wing nut job that does not care of anyone other than himself, period, four letter words to follow, right?

    One other incidental point, in today’s “news” along with Marjories (who lives I believe in KC, MO). A recent “study” by Wall Street Journal listed the 50 worst cities to live within in America. Poverty level, unemployment, crime rates, etc., etc. (along with Detroit-like pictures) were used to document that sad state of affairs around America. KC, MO was number two, a democratic political strong hold in terms of city government, like Detroit. Draw your own conclusions how local politics affects (or not) sad human conditions.

    On the other hand take some of those fast growing and thriving cities in that right wing stronghold called Texas, land of cowboys that hate everyone else, right? Some people actually believe Trump could make that happen all over America, even in West by-God Virginia!! Now that is DUMB, but then read Herb’s critique (and yours) of the “average American voter”.

    Anson

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  5. ansonburlingame

     /  July 19, 2017

    To all,

    On HC I now rest my case, for a while at least.

    I close my observations with the following. Last night on PBS News Hour Bernie was interviewed and laid out his plans for the short and mid-term future given the recent GOP failure. Nothing new for sure except one revealing remark.

    He was asked how much more money would be needed from the federal government if all his plans became real. He said, “No one knows the answer to that question”.

    I give him an A for honesty in that regard.

    I also note it restates what Pelosi said regarding ACA, the old “we won’t know what’s in it until we pass the bill”. Bernie now admits he has no idea the cost of his version of HC reform until we implement it and begin to pay for it. That is exactly why we are currently in debt to the tune of $20 Trillion with no idea how to resolve or even mitigate that debt issue, which I believe will “kill us” someday, as a thriving nation.

    I for one and probably another 50 Million of so “deplorables” need more information than that before I (we) will ever willingly agree to just do it and figure out how to pay for it later.

    Anson

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    • I think you are too quick to pounce on Bernie’s answer, Anson. A better answer would have been, “roughly half of what healthcare costs now.” That’s because we have real examples in the systems in Canada, Australia, Germany and the U.K.

      And speaking of healthcare, by the way, have you noticed the medical ads that support the evening news? Their numbers are increasing lately, suggesting meds for less-common but more serious conditions. This is Big Pharma, America’s most profitable industry, leveraging money from the desperate middle and upper classes. (The poor have all they can do just to stay alive.) The message is, never mind the long list of possible horrific side effects, just envy the smiling healthy people in this ad and then go twist your doctor’s arm to get our latest fix. This shows why a single-payer system can halve the cost. Doctors would tailor the meds, often cheaper and more-effective meds, to the condition rather than having patients play whack-a-mole with the latest medical fad.

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  6. Anonymous

     /  July 19, 2017

    Jim-I couldn’t agree more with your observations. Big Pharma has paid nearly 1 Billion dollars on lobby efforts since 2006. One only needs to see the commercials that you speak of to see the results of their efforts. They are clearly winning this battle. My favorite is the anti-depression medicine that MAY CAUSE SUICIDAL THOUGHTS! I also like the diet pills that warn you that you may actually shit your pants.That’ll work I guess, but WTF? Why can’t people in this country read through the lines of such craziness? I laugh to keep from crying when I see this.
    However, I did see something encouraging yesterday. Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota stated that her and John McCain are working on a bill that would allow the purchase of Canadian drugs here in the US. That would be such a huge start. The question is though, will the Canadians spend enough to beat out the American drug companies? Stay tuned!

    Kevin Beck

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