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Propaganda on the Rise on the Health Care Policy Front

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Reader Paul Tioxon sent the following sighting by e-mail. By way of background, it’s important to keep in mind that pretty much every place that professes simply to read research and translate into stuff journalists and the lay public can understand is generally called a “think tank” and they are Trojan horses for policy agendas. It is also worth noting that Leonard Davis founded Colonial Penn, a large insurance company.

From Paul:

http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/inq-phillydeals/Polsky-to-head-Penns-Leonard-Davis-health-econ-group.html

$100M annually for 200 fellows for Wharton econ research into health care policy economics at the Leonard Davis Institute.

“Established in 1967, LDI is one of the country’s largest health services research centers with more than 200 Senior Fellows studying the organization, delivery, management and financing of health care.” They have their own “Journal of Health Economics”. They recently hired an Ad Age journalist to head up a group of writers who will translate econ mumbo jumbo for decision makers who need guidance and make health policy.
You can read the blog piece which links to Penn’s announcement which should give you a picture of the kind of policy that goes on there. Nice work if you can get it, huh?

Which leads me to a second and not entirely unrelated piece. In Israel, or more precisely, in Gaza, which is not Israel, yet, but ruled by the IDF, army administration, a newly accredited university has been granted status by a newly developed accrediting body. The follow link show how the same ideological take over works in Israel by the neo-cons/liberals who are disgusted at the leftest domination of Israeli state funded universities. They wanted their own, where they live in Gaza, in the newer settlements, but because Gaza is not Israel, and not ruled by the Knesset, the Knesset refused to fund or recognize that certain right wing conservative university. The story shows the lengths an ideological battle goes to in transforming the institutions of society in order to achieve legitimacy.

http://www.dissentmagazine.org/blog/israeli-counter-intellectuals-take-aim-at-academic-freedom

The above Penn institute, the LDI, which spends $100M annually, with 200 scholars, is now broadcasting their findings with the help of the former Ad Age “journalist” so that policy makers will have good, easily understandable, and peer reviewed academic quality econ research to help them make critical policy choices in an informed manner. Of course, the new director was a Bush Council Economic Advisers member. So, who is funding $100M for such sage advice? Taxpayers primarily, as far as the Penn notice lists its funding sources. Tax money from the government, good enough for health care policy, just not good enough for actual health care.

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28 comments

  1. bob

    “Trojan horses for policy agendas”

    Even that is too generous. They are lobbyists, plain and simple.

    They get a giant subsidy (501c3) from the US government to lobby.

    Seeing these groups team up with health insurance companies, which are granted “non-profit” and anti-trust exemptions…Where are all those “non-profits” supposed to go? They can only pay the CEO a few million a year…

  2. Middle Seaman

    Had difficulty parsing the paragraph about Israel. “Gaza, which is not Israel, yet, but ruled by the IDF.” As far as I know Hamas rules Gaza after a coup against the Fatah (with hundreds killed). Israel used to rule Gaza, but gave it back unconditionally to Fatah. Israeli universities similarly to US universities are dominated by liberal/lefty faculty. It’s probably true everywhere.

    The link given as support for the above foggy paragraph has nothing to do with Israel; it’s about LDI.

    I don’t understand the rest of the paragraph. If Israel doesn’t control Gaza, how can it decide on funding a university there? What is the connection between Gaza and LDI?

    Was there a mix up here or someone just wanted to blame the cost of health care on Israel. Why not, it’s a great idea.

    1. digi_owl

      IDF has the place cordoned off from the rest of the world, and have the final say about who comes and goes. So while Hamas may control the internals, they are about as much in control as the locals were during the colonial age.

    2. YankeeFrank

      If, as you say, our colleges are dominated by left/liberal professors, ask yourself why. It couldn’t be that what passes for thought on the right is really just cover for neoliberal financial interests, and doesn’t actually rest on anything one could claim is a solid intellectual foundation. What passes for intellectual thought on the right? The “ideas” of a Newt Gingrich or Paul Ryan. These are hucksters at best, with no discernible intellectual identity or concrete thought framework beyond the extraction mentality of monied interests.

      Name me a single right-wing intellectual that isn’t a mediocre nonentity. The last one I can remember at all is William F. Buckley, Jr, and if you ever saw the episode of Firing Line he made the mistake of inviting Noam Chomsky to, you saw how easily Buckley’s “thinking” was shredded and filled with holes. There isn’t a single important, respected right wing intellectual in the western world. And tell me its because there is some sort of lefty cabal at work to suppress the genius insights of these intellectual giants of the right. No, it doesn’t stand up. The problem with the right is that the foundation of its thought is anti-intellectual in nature. Right wing thought always begins with its conclusions in place, and works backwards from that, building a house of cards to justify the rape of the commons and capitalist extraction of resources and labor, using ill-defined concepts like “free markets” and jingoism to build their “case” for why a select few should be allowed to amass inordinate power and wealth at the expense of entire societies and nations.

      1. amspirnational

        “The problem with the right is that the foundation of its thought is anti-intellectual in nature.

        Nah. Depending on your definitions, of course, you can attribute it to The Decline of The West.

  3. Carol Sterritt

    Now if you want a fun way to understand what happens in terms of “think tanks” and research centers, I highly recommend the little documentary “The Art of The Steal.” The movie focuses on a small art museum in Pennsylvannia, which housed an impressive art collection. The documentary at first simply focuses on the history of this small museum, and the lavish collection the art museum houses. But by the end of the film, you get to watch and understand how “The Pew Foundation” officials fill out an application that states how it is in charge of the small museum and will be getting money to oversee that museum. Then Voila! the state government hands over 100 million bucks of tax payer monies to the Pew Foundation, some of which it can then use to get financing to take the museum away from its real supporters.

    Such is life in criminal but capitalistic America. Why would our “health care system” be any different?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/21/movies/21barnes.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

    1. beene

      Carol Sterritt, you may find this movie of political capture and the reason contracts with private concerns are mostly secrete.

      The movie Windfall discusses the positive and negatives of wind farms; their cost to present and future taxpayers. One of the important issues to the public or 99% is the way depreciation is captured over and over again by the one percent at the taxpayers’ expense and the Nations clean up cost.
      http://www.amazon.com/Windfall-Frank-Bachler/dp/B0077QPPGO/ref=sr_1_1?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1350329864&sr=1-1&keywords=windfall+documentary

      1. Carol Sterritt

        Thank you for that movie mention. Amazon has it at an affordable price, so I will get it.

        I didn’t realize how much the depreciation charges help Big Energy companies. I do know that people in my neck of the woods are going with wind energy. From 4Pm on, we usually have plenty of wind. (And we have sunny days for solar power at least 240 days a year.) And the new designs for wind turbines mean a household can have one that is not any bigger than an attic fan, and is installed on the homeowner’s roof, where it looks exactly like an attic fan.

        I kept wondering why this idea of each home owner having their own unit was not being celebrated, but suppressed. The notion of depreciation and tax advantages offers some insight into the matter.

  4. Nick

    Quit calling a horse a mule. “Health care,” is anything but.

    Anguish, stress and robbery are not conditions of health but death.

    Although death is assured, the pillaging and monetization of the human condition is a travesty all should be utterly ashamed of!

  5. LAS

    Yes. Unfortunately, the real fight is over the money that big systemic groups feel entitled to, not over the healthcare that’s best for populations and people.

    Real demand for healthcare is practically non-existant until persons get very, very sick or very, very old. This should not be normal market economics but government sponsored economics.

  6. Systemic Disorder

    As with health care, so with charter schools. Two billionaires and one billionaire family dicate educational policy in this country, naturally to benefit the corporate elite: http://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/got-dough-how-billionaires-rule-our-schools.

    And just as education is now about corporate profit and training students to have narrow technical skills without the liberal-arts training to enable them to be independent thinkers, health care exists for corporate profit, not to provide health care. The U.S. spends at least $1.1 trillion a year in extra spending as compared to Canada, Britian, France and Germany: http://wp.me/p2cpPS-2d.

    “Think tank scholar” certainly sounds more impressive than “lobbyist” or “shill,” doesn’t it?

    1. Don Levit

      Regarding not-for-profit health insurers, the IRS looks at 2 key issues: how are profits used and how are profits obtained?
      To fully qualify for not-for-profit status, particularly a 501(c)(4), profits must be used primarily to either raise benefits for the policyholders or to further benefits for the community at large.
      In addition, profits must be used for reasonabe compensation of the employees.
      If the profits are not used in these fashions, then they are subject to Unrelated Business Income Tax (UBIT).
      If UBIT becomes “excessive,” the insurer is liable to lose its not-for-profit status.

      Regarding how profits are obtained, a not-for-profit insurer must offer distinctive products and services. According tilable commercially.
      This is the primary reason the Blues lost their federal not-for-profit status in 1986 – they had evolved into their for-profir competitors.
      Don Levit

  7. Susan the other

    Well, the only political comment on health care this season was the Third Party debate. Jill Stein is such a lucid spokesperson for national health care I’d like to see her just go for it whole hog. Create a political action committee for that specific purpose – to promote sane national health care. Eliminate “health insurance” all together. Or alternatively have a national mutual system, which sounds better than the dreaded socialized medicine, but is the same thing. It’s probably time we all put our money where our mouth is and demand it.

  8. joe

    The author mistakes the West Bank for Gaza. There is no Israeli presence in Gaza — and certainly not an Israeli university there — though Israel dominates it by military and other means. The university in question is in the Ariel settlement in the West Bank.

  9. JEHR

    After reading about all the mistakes in the article from the comments, I’m glad I didn’t read the article!

  10. Lambert Strether

    The corruption of the word “scholar” is one of the minor horrors of the neo-liberal dispensation of the last forty years or so. I come from an academic family; I know what an actual scholar is; I’ve met them, know their work, etc.

    Now “scholar” means “party apparatchik with an institutional beard.” Sad.

  11. Enoch Lemmo

    Not to hijack this thread, but, I’m looking for an agent/advisor that was named as my parents’ retirement consultant. I’m really frustrated over this at the moment because I want to use the same advisors that my parents did but, i can’t find them in any of the local directories online. Carlton Financial Group – 106 Mission Ct #701 Franklin, TN 37067 phone (615) 794-2536 Can someone recommend a way that makes it easy for me to search for them?

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