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Is "Fair Share" fair?
From: "RPA" rich071886@hotmail.com

YES, I KNOW, Wal-Mart pays lousy wages and the benefits they provide are lousy too. Wal-Mart is a lousy corporation. Moved, seconded and carried.

Now that that is out of the way, I feel compelled to comment on an AFL-CIO program entitled "Fair Share". I know what I am about to write will piss-off some die-hard supporters of every AFL-CIO idea that has ever come down the pike, but oh well.

"Fair Share" is designed to require employers of 5,000 or more workers to pay at least 9% of their payrolls on employee health care. Hey, that doesn't sound too bad! Not on its face it doesn't. Not if you work for an outfit that employs 5,000 or more people. "Work for an outfit that employs 5,000 or more people" are the key words here. What do you get if you work for someone who hires 500 people? 1,000 people? What if you don't work? Well, "Fair Share" leaves those folks behind. That doesn't seem "fair".

Incremental, band-aid approaches for dealing with this nation's health care crisis may actually stall the real reform that is so sorely needed. If "Fair Share" is passed by State Legislators it will give large employers an alibi to later exclaim, "I've done my part. It is up to someone else to worry about the people who are still uninsured. Just don't ask me for any more money to help them."

To my way of thinking there is an even more important reason for casting a wary eye on "Fair Share". It is devoid of the social conscience that organized labor used to practice. Where is the justice in "Fair Share" for the over 46 million poor souls lacking medical coverage? Where is the justice in "Fair Share" for another 45 million people who, for at least part of each year, have no health insurance?

Ah ha! But the guns are out! A smear campaign is underway to discredit anyone who speaks out against "Fair Share". Never mind if you are a real worker, the suits and ties pushing "Fair Share" will accuse you of siding with unscrupulous employers like Wal-Mart. Never mind if you are an avid hard working proponent of a national single-payer health care program that will cover every person living in the U.S. and its territories. Never mind if you advocate for a health care system that will provide everyone the same access to quality care that is now only available to those lucky enough to have good health insurance. No, never mind all that. You will be painted as an enemy.

Whose enemy? Surely not the enemy of the downtrodden and dispossessed. Surely not the enemy of the hundreds of thousands of families forced into bankruptcy because they couldn't pay their staggering medical bills. Oh, the insurance companies will call you an enemy. So will pharmaceutical conglomerates. So will fee-for-service hospital administrators. So will the American Medical Association. But really now, they don't count, do they? Will you lose any sleep if those barnacles on the butt of humanity view you as the enemy?

If as much energy went into real health care reform as is currently being expended on simply tinkering with a broken national health care system we would have single-payer.

So let's turn the tables a bit here. Why are so many movers and shakers - including some in labor- unwilling to step out and call for real reform? What are they protecting? Their own status quo?

Labor has a chance to be the real hero. It has the opportunity to embrace those who otherwise are forgotten by the health care industry and a mean-spirited government. Think about how popular labor would be if it advocated for everyone, not just those who work at places that employ 5,000 or more people.

Well, it looks like that won't be the program handed down from on top.

It has got to be rank and file union members demanding that social justice for all be included in labor's agenda And guess what! It is happening. Unions and labor councils throughout the land are endorsing single-payer despite the fact that national leaders are willing to settle for "Fair Share".

Incremental tinkering with health care will delay real reform. Don't be bullied into supporting a program that falls far short of what is truly needed.

Oh, and Wal-Mart and its ilk can all go straight to hell. If single-payer were in place today, Wal-Mart and other outfits like it would be required to financially support it. Isn't that a better way to get back at Wal-Mart? Isn't championing a program that will provide quality heakth care to everyone better than incremental approaches that in the end do nothing to hold down medicval costs? Isn't that better than parcelling out health care to only the fortunate?


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