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Retirees for Single Payer Health Care Blog

“From Sit-Down Strike to Lead Poisoning – Part 3”

by In My Opinion on 04/22/16

“From Sit-Down Strike to Lead Poisoning – Part 3”
April 1, 2016


While politicians are ranting and raving about building walls, deporting immigrants and closing our borders to refugees from the middle east, let’s take a look at the reality in Flint, MI and the rest of the country.


Flint, MI, with its rich tradition in union history, is exposing not only poisoned water but the condition of fear that immigrants face in the city of being deported if they get bottled water from the distribution centers located in the city.  Michigan is a state that refuses to issue drivers licenses or state identity cards to people who cannot prove their “legal” presence in this country.  Republican Governor Snyder has "temporarily" suspended the requirement that everyone must show their driver license or state ID card to get bottled water.


It does not make the fear go away.  Since 2001 the federal government has deported over 4.5 million people.  That is more deportations than took place from 1892 to 2000.  The last two administrations have set records with the number of deportations they have implemented.


Let’s look at how their status affects that fear and the conditions they live in.


Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) businesses having more than 50 employees must offer healthcare insurance to those employees.  Farm labor includes planting, cultivating, harvesting and preparing crops for market or storage.    


There are 2 to 3 million migrant farm laborers in the United States.  Fifty-three percent of those migrant farm workers cannot provide proof of “legal” presence in the U.S.  Twenty-five percent are U.S. citizens and twenty-one percent are legal permanent residents.


Migrant workers earn approximately $11,000 a year.  A migrant family earns around $16,000 a year.  They are often paid by the bucket.  In other words, migrant workers have to pick around two tons of sweet potatoes to earn $50. Only domestic labors get paid less.


Only 1% of migrant workers are eligible for general assistance, 2% are eligible for social security and 15% are Medicaid recipients.


Only 10% of migrant workers have employer provided health insurance.


These conditions are general throughout the low wage occupations open to undocumented immigrants. 


“Nationwide, unauthorized immigrants are clustered in a few occupations, notably farming, fishing and forestry (26 percent of the workforce), building and grounds (17 percent), and construction and mining (14 percent). They comprise 24 percent of all groundskeepers, 23 percent of domestic workers and 20 percent of those in clothing manufacture.” (Majority of undocumented immigrants work in low-skill jobs, report finds)


The American working class is made of up of all residents who have nothing to sell but their ability to work.  Undocumented immigrants are part of our working class.  The poisoning of Flint’s water affects all residents of that former industrial city.


We are sick of being told by billionaire and millionaire politicians that “white” workers are the enemy of “black” workers, that “undocumented” workers are the enemy of “white” workers, that “Muslim” workers are the enemy of “Christian” workers.  The American working class did not poison the water in Flint, MI.

Editorial - Retirees for Single Payer Health Care, Detroit, MI

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Medicare For All 
(HR 676)

Everybody In, Nobody Out Health Care - Gives every resident of the United States and the U.S. Territories access to all medically necessary health care services, including vision and dental as well long term care with no copays or deductibles regardless of employment, income or health status.  Private insurance companies may not duplicate coverage under this bill.

Non-Profit Health Care - Converts all healthcare providers to a not-for-profit service where illness is no longer a source of wealth for a few.

Single Payer Health Care – Medicare today is a social insurance program for those 65 or older and the disabled under 65.  Medicare for All improves and extends that social insurance program to all of us. This gives us all the collective ability to control the out of control costs of the healthcare industry in this country.  Pays for that expanded coverage by maintaining the present level of federal government revenues for Health Care as well as increasing personal income taxes on the top 5 percent income earners, instituting a modest and progressive tax on payroll and self-employment income, on unearned income, and on stock and bond transactions.


“People need to believe that social change is possible.  If they think their only option is to exchange one oppressor for another, they will usually choose to accept their victimization and try to make the best of it.  That is why counter institutions are so important, because they are living demonstrations that better social relationships are possible and within our grasp.  They are possible because, besides the seeds of the oppressor within us, we also have the seeds of mutual liberation within us, the instincts of cooperation, of sharing, democracy, equality, extended family.”  John Curl, Poet
‘There was no formal interview like I imagined but the day turned out to be even better.  There was lots of gumbo ya-ya about politics then (60s) and now with a bunch of us sitting around a conference table eating what had to be KFC.  There were a few people there from a group called Retirees for Single Payer Healthcare, most of whom were north of 60.  They spent a good 15 minutes arguing what commerce would look like in a post capitalist society as if this new arrangement was coming next month and they were teenagers planning out the rest of their lives.  It was a freedom dream in motion with General Baker at the helm – a powerful lesson in hope.’  Robyn Spencer, from “Rest in Power, General Baker”