Tuesday, December 08, 2009

One Percenters, Day Five: Don't tell me we don't have the money for health care.

First off, HOORAY for Harry Reid, and John Fund, you're an idiot, and a disingenuous liar.

Now, on to the substance here.

As I mentioned the other day in the context of talking about Giovanni Ribisi (that's how my mind works), the estimated cost of the current, pretty good health care plan pending before Congress is $1.055 trillion.

I hear over and over how there's no way we could ever pay for that, and how we'll be bankrupting our kids or our kids' kids or even their kids' kids' kids, or something. It'll be financial Apocalypse, with no Rapture to lift up those who had jobs before the wave of payment decimated small businesses.

(That speech, verbatim, courtesy of the deranged ramblings of Republican Mitch McConnell. Okay, maybe not verbatim, but I'm pretty sure he said something like it.)

The problem with that argument is that it's false. Patently, blatantly, whatever -ntly modifier you want to put in front of it, it's false, and those who make it (and those who believe it) are dumb.

The United States is the richest country, by far, in the world, and can easily afford $1.055 trillion. Not only could we come up with 10% of that money right now simply by tapping the 10 richest people in our country (and leaving them fine, as I pointed out in that same article) but we could come up with it a variety of other entirely painless ways.

Take movies. We all love movies, right? I know I do, and I go to them all the time. So does every other American, as far as I can tell, because movies are doing just fine, even in a recession and even in the face of a looming InsuranceApocalypse.

Last week, the top 10 movies raked in grosses (combined) of $86.16 million dollars. )$86,160,000) (And it wasn't even a very good batch of movies.) The average US movie ticket prices (as of 2008) were $7.18. Which means, using the average price applied to last week's gross, there were 12,000,000 tickets sold last week alone. (A lot of them, apparently, to teenage girls seeing Twilight 2: Vampire Boogaloo a fifteenth time.)

Put a tax of $1 on each movie ticket -- increasing the price marginally -- and you'd raise $12,000,000 in a single week. Do that for the whole of 2009, when the top 10 films so far have grossed $2,535,000,000 (or about 353,064,066 tickets) and you'd have raised $353,064,066 towards health care reform in a single year.

$353,000,000 is about 1/3 of the trillion needed to cover health care reform -- and it could have been raised without even hurting anyone; you'd go to a movie and pay a buck extra to watch Robert Pattinson glower or Kevin the Bird run.

Would that kill businesses? I doubt it. I doubt anyone would even notice it. Except for the people who could then afford to go see a doctor and go on living.

Health care reform can be paid for easily, and painlessly, and I'll continue pointing that out. That's why I came up with the concept of One Percenters: people who care enough about helping others out that they're willing to pay an amount equal to 1% of their gross income to provide universal health care. If you make $50,000 a year, that's $1.37 per day you'd pay to help someone else get health care.

So don't tell me we can't afford to reform health care. That's a ridiculous lie. We can pay for it as easily as we go to the movies and watch the latest Sandra Bullock crummy movie.

The Senate is still debating health care reform, and the House will then have to consider whatever the Senate emits as its bill. So keep the pressure on politicians to do something. Today's two are:

"Senator" Evan Bayh, who recently suggested that he'd vote for the bill before voting against it. "Senator" Evan voted to let debate continue, while being coy about whether he liked the bill. Bayh has taken in over $1,000,000 in contributions from insurance companies and health interests, so I think we all know who will be purchasing his vote in the long run -- but you can still try to get Bayh to vote in favor of protecting little kids by providing them insurance; call him at (202) 224-5623 and tell him that if America can afford to spend $15,000,000 on werewolves, we can spend money on kidney transplants for kids. Or click here to contact him through his website.

"Congressman" Jared Polis: Jared represents a district in Colorado. He recently wrote that "Health care reform is the single most important step we can take to rebuild our economy." I'm not sure what he means by that, but it seems a step in the right direction, right? But then he said this:

"I also made the difficult decision to vote against the bill" for health care reform in the House. Jared painted that as a courageous stand against health care costs; I say it wasn't so much courage as the $30,000 in campaign contributions from health concerns that he's already collected in his young career. Jared's only been in office since 2008, which means he's raising money from health concerns at a rate of about $41 per day.

(Jared also wanted to have it both ways; he voted against the bill in committee, then voted for the bill on the House floor. Congressmen, it seems, like to be both for and against things.)

Call Jared at 202-225-2161, or click here to go to his website and congratulate him on voting the right way, once, and remind him that the work isn't done: Make sure that his $41 a day in campaign contributions doesn't make him against things again.

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