My latest Al Jazeera English op-ed has been published here. This is how it begins:
Enshrining the lies of the US’ 1%
What chance does truth have, if Americans cannot cast off lies that directly steal money from their own pockets?
Last week, in an act of profound deception, the American “fact-checking” organisation, PolitiFact, chose a true statement as its “Lie of the Year”. The pseudo-lie? “[House] Republicans voted to end Medicare”, as part of the GOP’s “Ryan Plan” last April. The reality? As the Wall Street Journal’s Naftali Bendavid wrote at the time, in a preview of the vote that Democrats would then cite to justify their claims:
The plan would essentially end Medicare, which now pays most of the healthcare bills for 48 million elderly and disabled Americans, as a programme that directly pays those bills. Mr Ryan and other conservatives say this is necessary because of the programme’s soaring costs.
There is a potential lie-of-the-year in that paragraph. It’s just not the one that PolitiFact thinks it found.
The real lie is the claim that Ryan’s plan “is necessary because of the programme’s soaring costs”. In fact, the problem isn’t Medicare per se, it’s the entire cost structure of American medicine as a whole, which is roughly twice the per capita cost of healthcare spending in other advanced countries – even those that have 50 per cent more people aged 65+than the US has.
The reason for that cost structure is non-competitive private oligopolies – insurance companies, drug companies, hospital chains, etc., – in sharp contrast to other countries with their government-run systems of various different kinds. There’s another name for these oligopolies -they are the cash cows of the one per cent. Paul Ryan is their man, and PolitiFact is part of their protection system.
You can read the whole op-ed here.