In This System We Have Democracy, Except When it Really Matters

Everywhere you look today, from the national level down to our cities and our workplaces, all of the decisions that impact our lives are being made behind our backs, over our heads, and without our agreement. From the decisions made by the Supreme Court about health care, to the massive attack on pensions and benefits for workers, we are on the receiving end of someone else’s decisions. And it’s not easy to see who is making these decisions – the big banks and corporations, and the politicians who serve them.

Look at the decision which was just made by the Supreme Court regarding the Affordable Health Care. First we should remember that this bill was written for the Obama administration with the help of the big pharmaceutical and health care companies. This bill provides certain protections and expanded coverage for people. But it guarantees the big health care companies’ profits by mandating that everyone must purchase insurance from them.

In the last months we have seen this bill taken to the Supreme Court. This court, a group of nine judges, sat and made a decision which impacts every single person in the whole country. Who gave them the right to do this? They weren’t elected. Supreme Court justices are appointed for life by whichever president happens to be in power when they are chosen. And here these people are deciding the fate of millions.

What did they decide? They decided that the bill would remain as law, and that people would have to buy insurance or face penalties. But they also decided that the part of the bill that expands Medicaid coverage was unconstitutional because it threatened the rights of state governments.

And we all know what that means. State governments are slashing budgets, and forcing people to pay for this economic crisis. Just look at California. Every year since 2008 we have seen drastic cuts to education, social services, and attacks on state workers. This year we are faced with an election. What decisions about the budget are we allowed to make? This November will we be able to vote to raise taxes on the corporations who profit from the wealth of this state?

No, Jerry Brown’s tax proposal is set up so that we have a choice between taxing ourselves with additional sales tax, or losing a huge amount of funding for schools and social services. A token amount will be taken from individuals who make over $250,000 per year, but companies who operate in California will keep making huge profits.

If we could actually decide on the questions that matter would we allow what is happening to Stockton? Stockton has gone bankrupt due to the economic collapse. But who is made to pay for this bankruptcy? City workers who are living on pensions. People who worked hard all their lives are being told – Now you have to pay for your own health care. Libraries are being closed. Roads aren’t being fixed. In other words the citizens of Stockton are being forced, against their will, to pay.

There is nothing democratic about how this system runs. From the federal government down to the details of our lives, we are being forced to pay for a crisis we didn’t create. The only choices we are given are false choices. It’s about time we started to say enough is enough. No one should be forced to suffer consequences that they didn’t choose themselves. We did not choose to create this crisis, and we shouldn’t be forced to pay.