Tag Archives | Economy

Healthcare ‘Oligopoly Wave’ Continues As Anthem Gobbles Cigna

Image from Maryland health care justice march in October 2013. (Photo: United Workers/flickr/cc)

Image from Maryland health care justice march in October 2013. (Photo: United Workers/flickr/cc)

This post originally appeared on Common Dreams. See more of Sarah Lazare’s articles here.

The health insurance giant Anthem announced Friday that it is buying its behemoth rival Cigna for $54.2 billion, launching the largest such merger the country has ever seen and reducing the number of major U.S. insurers to a paltry three.

Analysts and human rights campaigners warn that the move is poised to further slash access to healthcare and hike prices across the country, illustrating the problems with the for-profit model in terms of delivering vital services.

The mega deal comes less than a month after insurance giant Aetna acquired Humana for $37 billion, part of a nationwide push to consolidate in what the Wall Street Journal referred to earlier this year as an “oligopoly wave.”

The Anthem and Cigna merger is expected to be finalized in 2016, after which the joint company will provide coverage for at least 53 million people.… Read the rest

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Pope Calls on World Youth to Rise Up Against Global Capitalism

This post originally appeared on Common Dreams. See more of Lauren McCauley’s posts here.

The latest call for a youth uprising against global capitalism came not from grassroots groups, but from the leader of the Catholic Church, who on Sunday gave a rousing speech during which he told a crowd of young people in Paraguay that it is their time to “make a mess.”

The address marked the end of Pope Francis’ week-long pilgrimage to Latin America, during which he also assailed the prevailing economic system as the “dung of the devil,” saying that the systemic “greed for money” is a “subtle dictatorship” that “condemns and enslaves men and women.”

During Sunday’s rally, which was held on the banks of the Paraguay River outside the capital Asunción, the Argentinian pontiff went off-script as he addressed tens of thousands of local youth.

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The Value of Public Universities

Sean MacEntee (CC BY 2.0)

Sean MacEntee (CC BY 2.0)

Mike LaBossiere explores the importance of public universities, sky-rocketing education costs, and the cutting of public funds.

via Talking Philosophy:

One stock narrative in the media is that the cost of attending college has skyrocketed. This is true. There is also a stock narrative that this increase, at least for public universities, has been due to the cutting of public education funds. This certainly is part of the truth. Another important part is the cost of sustaining the every-growing and well paid administrative class that has ensconced (and perhaps enthroned) itself at colleges and universities. I will, however, focus primarily on the cutting of public funds.

The stock media narrative makes it clear why there was a cut to public education spending: the economy was brought down in flames by the too clever machinations of the world’s financial class. This narrative is, for the most part, true.

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‘Holy Grail’ of Leaks Claims TISA is a Detailed Plot for Corporate Takeover

At a protest in Geneva last year. (Photo: Annette Dubois/flickr/cc)

At a protest in Geneva last year. (Photo: Annette Dubois/flickr/cc)

This post was originally published on Common Dreams. See more of Deirdre’s posts here.

Days ahead of another round of secret international negotiations, WikiLeaks on Wednesday released what it described as “a modern journalistic holy grail: the secret Core Text for the largest ‘trade deal’ in history.”

That deal is the Trade in Services Agreement, or TISA, currently being negotiated by 52 nations that together account for two-thirds of global GDP. Those nations are the United States, the 28 members of the European Union, and 23 other countries, including Turkey, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Pakistan, Taiwan, and Israel. According to WikiLeaks, TISA “is the largest component of the United States’ strategic neoliberal ‘trade’ treaty triumvirate,” which also includes the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Pact (TTIP).

“Together, the three treaties form not only a new legal order shaped for transnational corporations, but a new economic ‘grand enclosure,’ which excludes China and all other BRICS countries,” declared WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assangein a press statement.… Read the rest

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Leaked TISA Docs Expose Corporate Plan For Reshaping Global Economy

"It’s a dark day for democracy when we are dependent on leaks like this for the general public to be informed of the radical restructuring of regulatory frameworks that our governments are proposing," said Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now. (Image created by Common Dreams)

“It’s a dark day for democracy when we are dependent on leaks like this for the general public to be informed of the radical restructuring of regulatory frameworks that our governments are proposing,” said Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now. (Image created by Common Dreams)

This post was originally published on Common Dreams. See more of Sarah Lazare’s posts here.

An enormous corporate-friendly treaty that many people haven’t heard of was thrust into the public limelight Wednesday when famed publisher of government and corporate secrets, WikiLeaks, released 17 documents from closed-door negotiations between countries that together comprise two-thirds of the word’s economy.

Analysts warn that preliminary review shows that the pact, known as the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), is aimed at further privatizing and deregulating vital services, from transportation to healthcare, with a potentially devastating impact for people of the countries involved in the deal, and the world more broadly.… Read the rest

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Learning from Limbaugh

(Photo: Brett Tatman/cc/flickr)

(Photo: Brett Tatman/cc/flickr)

Christopher Brauchli writes at Common Dreams:

“At length I recollected the thoughtless saying of a great princess, who, on being informed that the country people had no bread, replied, ‘Let them eat cake.’’” Jean Jacques Rousseau, Confessions

In 2008 Rush Limbaugh was paid $38 million. In 2014 Rush Limbaugh earned $66 million. For terrestrial navigation he drives, among other things, a Mayback 57S that costs $450,000 fully loaded. For celestial travel he flies in a Gulfstream G550 that cost $54 million.

April 2015 was noteworthy for reasons having nothing to do with the income tax. On April 19, 2015, Dan Price, the CEO of a company called Gravity Payments, a credit card processing company located in Seattle, Washington, announced that he was cutting his own salary and raising the minimum annual salaries for everyone in his company to $50,000 immediately and over the next three years, years, to $70,000.

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Ten Shocking Facts About Baltimore

English: Riot police form a line to push back protesters and media, Baltimore, April 28, 2015. via VOA

English: Riot police form a line to push back protesters and media, Baltimore, April 28, 2015. via VOA

Bill Quigley writes at CounterPunch:

Were you shocked at the disruption in Baltimore?  What is more shocking is daily life in Baltimore, a city of 622,000 which is 63 percent African American.  Here are ten numbers that tell some of the story.

1:  Blacks in Baltimore are more than 5.6 times more likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana than whites even though marijuana use among the races is similar.   In fact, Baltimore county has the fifth highest arrest rate for marijuana possessions in the USA.

2: Over $5.7 million has been paid out by Baltimore since 2011 in over 100 police brutality lawsuits.   Victims of severe police brutality were mostly people of color and included a pregnant woman, a 65 year old church deacon, children, and an 87 year old grandmother.

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The Asshole Factory

Surian Soosay (CC BY 2.0)

Surian Soosay (CC BY 2.0)

Umair Haque via Medium:

Our economy doesn’t make stuff anymore. So what does it make?

My good friend Mara has not one but two graduate degrees. From fine, storied universities. Surprise, surprise: the only “job” she was able to find was at a retail store.

Hey—it’s only minimum wage, but at least she’s working, right? And at a major-league, blue-chip company, An American icon; an institution; a name every man, woman, and child in this country knows; an historic company that rings of the American Dream the world over, besides. Surely, if nothing else, it’s a start.

Perhaps you’re right. Maybe it isn’t the start she always dreamed of…but at least it is one. If so…then awaits her at the finish?

What is Mara’s job like? Her sales figures are monitored…by the microsecond. By hidden cameras and mics. They listen to her every word; they capture her every movement; that track and stalk her as if she were an animal; or a prisoner; or both.

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Police Chief Magazine: Possible New Revenue Streams For Law Enforcement

Elvert Barnes (CC BY 2.0)

Elvert Barnes (CC BY 2.0)

In the April edition of The Police Chief magazine, Paul LaCommare, Commander of the West Covina Police Department in West Covina, California, discusses new ways for law enforcement to raise money in light of dwindling revenue streams.

This article was sent to us by a reader who said, “If war is a racket, policing is even more so…”

via Police Chief Magazine:

The common reaction to a budget crisis is reducing personnel and cutting services. The focus of this article is to provide police agencies with an alternative to personnel and service reductions. This alternative could help the survival of a city and maintain or expand police service through generating new revenue streams as a proactive approach to meet the fiscal crisis of today and the uncertain future of tomorrow.

Possible New Revenue Streams

A group of experts in the fields of city government, business, real estate, and entrepreneurship assembled in April 2008 to identify possible new income streams that could be initiated by law enforcement.

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How Privatization Degrades Our Daily Lives

Jason Lawrence (CC BY 2.0)

Jason Lawrence (CC BY 2.0)

Paul Buchheit analyzes privatization at Common Dreams:

The Project on Government Oversight found that in 33 of 35 cases the federal government spent more on private contractors than on public employees for the same services. The authors of the report summarized, “Our findings were shocking.” 

Yet our elected leaders persist in their belief that free-market capitalism works best. Here are a few fact-based examples that say otherwise.

Health Care: Markups of 100%….1,000%….100,000% 

Broadcast Journalist Edward R. Murrow in 1955: Who owns the patent on this vaccine?
Polio Researcher Jonas Salk: Well, the people, I would say. There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?

We don’t hear much of that anymore. The public-minded sentiment of the 1950s, with the sense of wartime cooperation still in the minds of researchers and innovators, has yielded to the neoliberal winner-take-all business model.

In his most recent exposé of the health care industry in the U.S., Steve Brill notes that it’s “the only industry in which technological advances have increased costs instead of lowering them.” An investigation of fourteen private hospitals by National Nurses United found that they realized a 1,000% markup on their total costs, four times that of public hospitals. … Read the rest

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