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Socialist Party (USA)

United States: Healthcare `town hall' meeting a charade of democracy

By Billy Wharton

August 19, 2009 -- The were two big winners at the recent “town hall” healthcare meeting held in the North Bronx, New York City, neighbourhood of Parkchester on August 17 – the lunatic right wing and the private health insurance industry. These victories came despite the fact that the vast majority of those who lined up to participate in the meeting supported either a single-payer system or a public option. Most came away disappointed. I got kicked out.

The right wing won this contest without even participating in it. Sure there was one woman with a “Freedom Isn’t Free Shirt”, but there were certainly none of the antics that have come to typify other ``town hall'' meetings. Not even one “Death Panel” sign. How then did the right wing win? Democrat Representative Joseph Crowley, the organiser of the event, guaranteed this by closing off all space for public discussion.

Lipstick on a pig: The failure of Obama’s health-care reform

By Billy Wharton

July 19, 2009 -- Consider it a symptom of a larger disease. A fervent commitment to defend the profit margins of private industry seems to be a national religion for politicians in the United States. No matter how deeply the private sector mucks up society, some senator or representative or, if things get really out of control, president will appear to rescue the day for the corporations all in the name of justice for the citizens of the US. Like any religion, this process has highly crafted rituals. First a confession, then march the sinners around at one hearing or another, then mete out acceptable penance and then all is forgiven.

Selling Iran: Ahmadinejad, privatisation and a bus driver who said `no'

Mansour Osanloo, the bus driver who said `no'.

By Billy Wharton

June 26, 2009 -- A creeping assumption lies just beneath the surface of arguments concerning the disputed election in Iran. Incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is cast as an anti-US populist crusader resisting the materialistic advances of the West. His opponent, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, as his foil – a Western-backed liberal intent on implementing free-market policies. Violent street battles have been presented as a reinforcement of the Western disposition to see the two idealised positions as the limit of what is politically imaginable. Such arguments conveniently avoid a third force – the people of Iran, whose street politics threaten to move well beyond the confines of the electoral campaigns. Questions remain. Is Ahmadinejad really a populist – the only force preventing a wave of pro-market policies in Iran? Does Mousavi’s campaign mark the limits of the reform movement?

Swine flu and the case for a single-payer healthcare system in the United States

By Billy Wharton

June 3, 2009 -- On April 13, 2009, 39-year-old Adela María Gutiérrez Cruz became the first victim of a new virus that would become known as the swine flu (H1N1). By the time Cruz arrived at a local hospital on April 9, she had already entered acute respiratory distress due to an “atypical pneumonia”. Further investigations led to a town outside of a factory farm, run by a subsidiary of the US meat conglomerate Smithfield Foods, in the neighbouring state of Vera Cruz. Causalities began to mount. Yet, nearly two weeks after the first deaths, none of the families of the dead had received anti-viral medications.(1) Mexican health officials claimed to not have the resources to visit the families.

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