From BILL MOYERS & MICHAEL WINSHIP
Living in these United States, there comes a point at which you throw your hands up in exasperation and despair and ask a fundamental question or two: how much excess profit does corporate America really need? How much bigger do executive salaries and bonuses have to be, how many houses or jets or artworks can be crammed into a life?
After all, as billionaire movie director Steven Spielberg is reported to have said, when all is said and done, “How much better can lunch get?”
But since greed is not self-governing, hardly anyone raking in the dough ever stops to say, “That’s it. Enough’s enough! How do we prevent it from sweeping up everything in its path, including us?”
Look at the health care industry saying to hell with consumers and then hiking premiums — by as much as 39% in the case of Anthem Blue Cross in California. According to congressional investigators, over a two-year period Anthem’s parent company WellPoint spent more than $27 million dollars for executive retreats at luxury resorts. And in 2008, WellPoint paid 39 of its executives more than a million dollars each. Profit before patients.
This week, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the health insurance industry’s lobby, announced they’d be spending more than a million dollars on new television ads justifying their costs.
Speaking at their annual policy meeting in Washington — and without a trace of irony — AHIP’s president and CEO Karen Ignagni declared, “The current debate about rising premiums has demonstrated that, in fact, we have a health care cost crisis in this country. Unfortunately, the path that has been followed is one of vilification rather than problem solving.”
Beg pardon? You’re lamenting a health care cost crisis and raising your premiums? Isn’t that like the guy complaining there’s an obesity epidemic in America while ordering a double Big Mac with extra fries?