When confronted with abysmal international education rankings, including 17th in reading, 23rd in science, and 31st in math, politicians instead blame our educators and teachers. The argument makes as much sense as a patient suing a cardiologist over his obesity or a dentist over his cavity. Gushing libertarianism suddenly evaporates in the public education arena, where leaders from Democratic mayor of Chicago Rahm I. Emanuel to Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott K. Walker have adopted the counterintuitive strategy of blaming and shaming the men and women to whom most of the American population entrusts their children. After all, collective bargaining sounds a lot like collectivization to the untrained ear!
American Crossroads, Karl Rove’s Super PAC, had a one percent success rate after spending $103 million, and Sheldon G. Adelson has little to show after spending $53 million of his own wealth. But the system allowing the corrupting influence of unlimited, anonymous contributions remains intact.
American politics is perpetually caught in a catch-22 between irrelevance and inefficacy. More than 50 years ago in the novel “Catch-22,” Joseph Heller presciently painted the saga of war-profiteering Milo Minderbinder, whose caricature of the American dream and crony capitalism now seems disturbingly nonfictional.
But Sloan-Kettering is just a single hospital making a principled stand. Medicare is still obligated by law to cover every drug that the Federal Drug Administration approves at the exorbitant prices dictated by manufacturers. Contrary to common sense, Medicare is prohibited from negotiating with pharmaceutical companies over the drugs it purchases under Part D of the Medicare Modernization Act, signed by President Bush in 2003.
We have lost our republic. Congress, once a bastion of responsive democracy, is incoherent, coopted, and corrupted by the deluge of campaign finance from a small fraction of the super wealthy, unions, and corporations. Beholden to insidious special interests, our politicians now represent contributors rather than constituents.