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Elevating Greed Over Need

Tommy Thompson, Secretary of Health and Human Services in the Bush administration, has now joined the growing list of Cabinet members who are “resigning” their posts as Bush’s first term makes way for his second term in office. Thompson’s farewell address was a scary script — not just about health and human services but also, and more importantly, about the Bush philosophy of the role of government in shaping America’s present and future.

Thompson warns that there might well be a global flu epidemic in the days ahead, and he also fears that anti-American terrorists will attack our food supply. He is surprised that they have not already tried to do so. While these are ventures regarding what might be, Thompson also deals with what was — what has been happening — while he was serving in his sensitive post.

Apparently he now dares to reveal what he felt he could not, or should not, reveal while serving as a loyal member of the Cabinet. In doing so, intentionally or unintentionally, he exposes the driving force underlying the Bush regime. Thompson does so by describing his inability to do an honest, constructive job because of the underlying commitment of the Bush administration to a select elitist class in America. Here’s the startling story:

Thompson wanted the power to negotiate with the big drug companies to hold down the rates they charge Medicare patients. The power was denied to him. The White House and Republicans in Congress said that such a move would result in the government imposing price controls…a cardinal sin in the GOP moral system.

But as any businessman or any union leader knows, “bargaining” over price is not the same as “setting” the price. In “bargaining” one may say, “if you reduce the price we will buy more,” or “if you reduce the price we will not shop around for an alternative medicine,” etc. So, why did the administration and its cohorts deny Thompson the right to bargain?

It takes no genius to discover the answer. In effect, the government is saying to the drug makers, whatever you want, you get. It’s a philosophy that elevates greed over need.

If that policy were limited to dealing with pharmaceutical firms only, that would be bad enough. But it is a policy that has penetrated every pore of this regime’s operations, from taxation to the awarding of contracts, and to the decisions about who should fill our powerful Cabinet posts in the next four years.

What a contrast to the noble notion that our government should be a “government of the people, by the people, and for the people,” embodied in the call of the Preamble to the Constitution to “promote the general welfare.” And what a change from FDR’s “welfare state” to G.B.’s “warfare state.”

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