The lessons of history.

Yesterday was December 16th. The date of the original Boston Tea Party was December 16th, 1773. On that day the colonists decided they could no longer put up with taxation without representation. A day which became the symbolic shot across the nose of the British government and the East India Co. The shot eventually led to the American Revolution.

Why is this important today? It's important because this moment in history is being invoked by those who would dupe citizens who care deeply about their country. Abusers and corporations are using this bit of history as the platform to convince patriots that healthcare reform automatically means all care becomes government run. They are even duping people into believing that Medicare, which many of them love, is somehow not a government run healthcare plan.

Now, I applaud the Tea Party cause of lowering taxes and watching how and why dollars are spent. I believe there should be more accountability for where my hard earned money goes. However, it seems that this one unifying factor is being manipulated and branched into other areas for the purpose of creating noise. For making the original will of the majority seem unthinkable.

When this whole process began, almost 60% of citizens and 70% of doctors supported healthcare reform. Among the citizens, that number has dropped dramatically. But consider that the healthcare industry now represents a full sixth of the United States' GDP. That's simply unsustainable. From personal experience, there is no doubt in my mind that we must have reform. For example, a physical that used to cost me $40 with blood work, now costs over $300. Out of pocket. This is personally unsustainable. Costs have spiraled out of control and I have never spoken to anyone that is happy about it. Including healthcare professionals. Doing nothing only perpetuates the ridiculous climb in prices.

So, what can be done? Sadly pure capitalism isn't working the way it's supposed to. Rather than lowering costs and increasing quality, things are going the exact opposite way. Why? Because there is no real competition in the market. The current condition of healthcare has become too much like four gas stations on a corner. One raises its price a penny. The others do the same. Another one raises its price a penny. They all do the same except one. Now he has the advantage, but it's only a penny. This process continues until gas is a full 15-20 cents more expensive on that corner and all the brands are within a penny or so of each other. This is basically price-fixing. Nothing is said, no coordination is involved but it's price-fixing. Which is illegal.

While unprovable, the same thing seems to be happening with healthcare. Costs continue to climb at an astronomical rate compared to history. Every provider has figured out they can charge more because others are charging more. And must charge more. Providers' focus has shifted from providing a service to their customers to providing a dividend to their investors.

The needs of the patient have become less important than the demands of investors. Which means Wall Street is effectively standing between you and your doctor rationing care. If you are profitable, please, by all means see a doctor. If you are not, please by all means die.

What's interesting about the gas station mini-monopoly is the parallel to the East India Company who had a monopoly on providing tea to the colonies. As the price climbed, because of both the monopoly and outlandish taxes, the people revolted. And the Tea Party was thus born. What's interesting though, is that the modern-day Tea Party is effectively trying to stop the actual tossing of the tea into the harbor. The only organization with enough power to stop the absurd price increases is the government. Short of going to actual war (American Revolution) against companies, the law, and thus real competition, is the only way to fix this mess. And yet the Tea Partiers are the ones attempting to stop the revolution.

How ironic.

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