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Bernie Sanders Takes on Capitalism

March 8, 2023

Summary: Bernie Sanders is a beacon of clarity for the pursuit of human welfare. In his new book, Bernie highlights how very American it is to confront and change the uber-capitalism that afflicts our nation. Health care is the poster child of this struggle.

It’s OK To Be Angry About Capitalism
Crown Publishing
February 2023
By Bernie Sanders

Capitalism is the problem

Some people think that it’s “un-American” to ask hard questions about where we are as a nation, and where we’re heading. I don’t. To my view, there is nothing more American than questioning the systems that have failed us and demanding the changes we need in order to create the kind of society that we and future generations deserve.

Here is the simple, straightforward reality: The uber-capitalist economic system that has taken hold in the United States in recent years, propelled by uncontrollable greed and contempt for human decency, is not merely unjust. It is grossly immoral.

We need to confront that immorality. Boldly. Bluntly. Without apology. It is only then that we can begin to transform a system that is rigged against a vast majority of Americans and is destroying millions of lives.

Confronting that reality and mobilizing people to bring about the transformational change we need is not easy. That’s why I’ve written this book. We need not only to understand the powerful forces that hold us down today but, equally important, to have a vision as to where we want to be in the future.

Health care is a human right. Period.

I’m not talking about expanding the Affordable Care Act and providing more subsidies. To the insurance companies that maintain – and profit immensely from – an incredibly wasteful, bureaucratic, and cruel system. I’m talking about all Americans being able to walk into a doctor’s office or a hospital and get all of the health care they need with no out-of-pocket costs. I’m talking about replacing a wildly inefficient system in which we spend over $12,000 per person every year, almost twice as much as any other major country, while 85 million Americans are uninsured or underinsured and sixty thousand a year die because they don’t get to a doctor on time.

I’m talking about a Medicare For All system.

The establishment – the corporate world, the politicians, and the media – tells us that this is a “radical” idea. Totally impractical. It just can’t be done. It’s not even worth discussing – not in the halls of Congress, not on radio or TV, not in most medical schools.

Really? If this is such an impractical idea then why, in one form or another, has every other major country on earth already accomplished the goal of providing health care for all – and at a fraction of the cost that we’re paying? On a recent trip to London, I chatted with a Conservative member of Parliament who told me how proud she was of the free health care the government provided. That’s a Conservative speaking!

Will Medicare For All solve all our health care problems? Of course not. But think about the profound impact it will have when the burden of devastating health care expenses is lifted from the shoulders of working families. Think of what it will mean when no American hesitates to walk into a doctor’s office because of the cost. Think about what it will mean when no one goes bankrupt because they have a serious illness.

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Real Politics Starts with Organizing

One of the important lessons I have learned from history is that real change never takes place from the top down. It always comes from the bottom up. Fundamental change is not going to happen because of fundraisers at wealthy people’s homes. It’s not going to happen because of clever TV ads or the scheming of inside-the-Beltway political consultants and pollsters. It’s going to happen when millions stand up and demand that change.

Real politics is about rejecting the establishment’s determination as to what is “possible,” “achievable,” and “acceptable.” It is about declaring, unapologetically, that we will not allow American oligarchs and their legions of publicists to shape our vision as to the kind of world we want to live in. That’s our decision.

Bernie Sanders Discusses “It’s OK To Be Angry About Capitalism”
Face the Nation (26 m)
Southbank Center (for British audience; 1 h 45 m)

Comment by: Don McCanne & Jim Kahn

Who should not have access to health care? Many of us believe, like Bernie, everyone should be included.

In this important new book, Bernie updates and elaborates on his vision for a just and generous America, one in which we prioritize fundamental human needs – like health – over capitalist profiteering. All other wealthy countries provide comprehensive health care, spending far less than we do with our expensively convoluted system.

Let’s ask the corporate and government oligarchs who are responsible for the policies that create the barriers to care whom they believe should be left out of the system, even though we could very easily afford to cover everyone. Indeed, let’s turn the tables: invite them to negotiate the portion corporations and shareholders get in a single payer Medicare for All program. (Hint: not much!)

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