Social Justice

Profit Motive Underlies Outbreak of Immigration Bills

Immigrants for saleJuly 29 marked the one-year anniversary of Arizona's controversial immigration law, a year that has seen similar anti-immigrant bills emerge across the country. Thanks to the release of over 800 pieces of "model legislation" by the Center for Media and Democracy, we can now pinpoint the source of the outbreak to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a bill factory for legislation that benefits the bottom line of its corporate members. While it has been reported that more immigrants behind bars means more income for ALEC member Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), less discussed has been how immigrant detention benefits commercial bail-bond agencies, an industry represented in ALEC through the American Bail Coalition.

Because of Two Determined Women, Vermont May Be First Single-Payer State

Dr. Deborah RichterWhile several states are suing the federal government to block health care reform and dragging their feet on implementing any part of it, Vermont this week will be taking a giant leap in the other direction -- toward universal coverage and greater cost control -- when Governor Peter Shumlin signs legislation putting the state on the path toward a single-payer health care system.

The Vermont House last week voted 94-49 to approve legislation that has been years in the making. The Senate approved the measure a few days earlier. While it will not establish a government-run system right away, work will begin almost immediately to lay the groundwork to create a state health plan -- called Green Mountain Care -- that could be up and running as early as 2014.

Insurers Getting Rich By Not Paying for Care

If I had stayed in the insurance industry, my net worth would have spiked between 4 p.m. Wednesday and 4 p.m. Thursday last week -- and I wouldn't even have had to show up for work.

Mr. MonopolyI'm betting that just about every executive of a for-profit health insurance company, whose total compensation ultimately depends on the value of their stock options, woke up on Good Friday considerably wealthier than they were 24 hours earlier. Why? Because of the spectacular profits that one of those companies reported Thursday morning.

Among those suddenly wealthier executives, by the way, are the corporate medical directors who decide whether or not patients will get coverage for treatments their doctors believe might save their lives.

America's Inefficient and Ineffective Approach to Border Security

Border fence

Last week, the Senate refused to approve the DREAM Act, a bill that would have offered a path to citizenship for children brought into the country illegally if they attend college or serve in the military. Opponents stated that no immigration reform will happen without first "securing" the 1,951 mile U.S. border with Mexico. America's current approach to border security is wasteful and ineffective, and "securing the border" will never be achieved until we redefine our approach to, and definition of, border security. With many in Washington expressing concern about fiscal responsibility, reining in the billions wasted annually on current border security policies should really be a priority. But America's xenophobic preoccupation with an "invasion" by brown-skinned "illegals" may keep us pursuing an expensive and unreasonable approach to border security.

Build Settlements, Be Intransigent, Get Weaponry

Op-ed by Steve Horn--On Dec. 9, 2010, Haaretz, one of Israel's top newspapers and news sources, reported that the United States would allocate some $205 million for something called an "Iron Dome anti-rocket system." As a reward, then, for the non-stop building of settlements, Israel was showered with weapons by the U.S., thanks mostly to the Pro-Israel lobby, which has remained a huge obstacle in solving the Israel-Palestine conflict from time immemorial.

What's The Matter With America?

The Village Voice coverAfter the November, 2008 general election, former House Majority leader Tom Delay commented that rather than hold a formal inauguration, Barack Obama should have "a nice little chicken dinner, and then we'll save the $125 million." Then rumors emerged that Obama wasn't born in the U.S.

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Will the NAIC Be a Hero for Consumers, or Insurers?

Health insurance costWendell Potter is a former health insurance company executive, and he knows exactly how health insurance companies maximize profits at the expense of policyholders. Now Wendell is putting his inside knowledge of the industry to work -- for policyholders.

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Israel's Spin Machine: It Keeps Spinning, and Spinning, and Spinning

Gaza flotilla (Reuters)As per usual, when push comes to shove, the right-wing Israeli government, along with the Israel Defense Forces spinmeisters, have gone back to the simple formula: when they do something illegal and barbaric, blame the victim, for the United States will obligingly agree and stand by that narrative. Like always, while the rest of the world protests in condemnation and speaks out against Israel's actions and crimes, the U.S. government stands by complicitly, continuing to shower Israel with over $3 billion per year in military aid into perpetuity.

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