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Forum Post: does public opinion matter

Posted 12 years ago on July 5, 2012, 1:18 p.m. EST by flip (7101)
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“A large majority of the population supports extensive government intervention, it appears. An NBC-Wall Street Journal poll found that ‘over 2/3 of all Americans thought the government should guarantee ‘everyone’ the best and most advanced health care that technology can supply; a Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 80 percent regard universal health care as ‘more important than holding down taxes’; polls reported in Business Week found that ‘67% of Americans think it’s a good idea to guarantee health care for all U.S. citizens, as Canada and Britain do, with just 27% dissenting’; the Pew Research Center found that 64 percent of Americans favor ‘the U.S. government guaranteeing health insurance for all citizens, even if it means raising taxes’ (30 percent opposed). By the late 1980s, more than 70 percent of Americans ‘thought health care should be a constitutional guarantee,’ while 40 percent ‘thought it already was.’ One could only imagine what the figures would be if the topics were not virtually off the public agenda.”[2]



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[-] 2 points by HempTwister (667) from Little Rock, AR 12 years ago


[-] 0 points by jrhirsch (4714) from Sun City, CA 12 years ago

Can you provide links to your sources?

[-] 1 points by flip (7101) 12 years ago


[-] 1 points by jrhirsch (4714) from Sun City, CA 12 years ago

The polls you quote don't match what I've read. Is the quote from the 2006 book "Failed States", by Noam Chomsky?

[-] 1 points by flip (7101) 12 years ago

no i think an earlier one but don't think much has changed. any change is a result of koch bros propaganda certainly not an improvement in the health care delivery system!

[-] 1 points by jrhirsch (4714) from Sun City, CA 12 years ago

So If you accept Chomsky's statement without checking it's validity, how do know it's true? If you just copy and paste information, you can be as easily manipulated by the Koch brothers as by Noam Chomsky.

[-] 2 points by flip (7101) 12 years ago

not a question of accepting anyones opinion - this is common knowledge. sorry if you are not aware but public opinion on many subjects is very different from government policy - do a little looking for yourself but here is something to start with - by the way - why would you make me waste my time on something so obvious? WENDELL POTTER: Oh, they did. They said, in fact, they — he reported that there was a 15-minute standing ovation at the end of the movie, so it was very, very well received. We were very scared. And we knew that we would have to develop a very sophisticated and expensive campaign to turn people away from the idea of universal care. We were afraid that this might really galvanize public opinion. We were told by our pollsters, in a meeting that was held just days after the premier of the movie, that for the first time ever since they had been polling, that people were —- a majority of people were in favor of much greater government involvement in our healthcare system. So that -—

AMY GOODMAN: Who were your pollsters?

WENDELL POTTER: McInturff, Public Opinion Strategies, Bill McInturff, who’s a well-known Republican strategist and who went on to be John McCain’s chief pollster. He’s been a pollster for the insurance industry for probably two decades. And he had been tracking public opinion for all these years. And this really scared the insurers, the executives. We were all concerned about that, because we felt that this movie would be — have such an impact that it would really pave the way for legislation to be passed that could be very detrimental to the insurance industry. So it was very important for the insurers to attack this movie as fiercely as possible.

AMY GOODMAN: And so, what was the grassroots strategy, if you had one, as the movie came out in the United States?

WENDELL POTTER: Well, one key component was to fund a front group, and that is something that I write about quite a bit in the book, about how special interests, and the insurance industry, in particular, will use premium dollars to funnel thousands and thousands, if not millions, of dollars to big PR firms to set up fake grassroots organizations — astroturf, as we call it — and front groups. And in this case, there was a front group that was set up called Health Care America, and the sole purpose for it to be set up was to attack Michael Moore and to attack the notion of a single-payer system in this country.

AMY GOODMAN: And who were the people who populated Health Care America?

WENDELL POTTER: There were just a couple of people. There was a woman. I think her name was —- I can’t remember her name. Sarah Berk, I think, was her name. But the media contact for it was a guy named Bill Pierce, who I had known and worked with in the past. He used to be a PR guy for Blue Cross/Blue Shield Association. At that time, he was in the public relations firm APCO Worldwide. He was listed as a media contact, and if you called his number, you would have reached him at his desk at APCO Worldwide. It didn’t have any substance. It was just a -—

AMY GOODMAN: What is APCO Worldwide?

WENDELL POTTER: It is a very, very big PR firm that was started several years ago by a big Washington law firm, Arnold & Porter. The A and P is Arnold & Porter, and they were defending —


WENDELL POTTER: Yeah, and they were defending tobacco companies. So they felt that they needed to have help in the court of public opinion, as well as in the courtroom.

AMY GOODMAN: And what did Health Care America — who did they say they were?

WENDELL POTTER: They said they were representing consumers. And —

AMY GOODMAN: Did anyone expose this at the time?

WENDELL POTTER: No. No one did.

AMY GOODMAN: Did anyone have them on to counter what Michael Moore had to say on television, radio or quote them in the newspaper?

WENDELL POTTER: No. In fact — and I’ve done a search recently just to find out how they were covered, and they were never exposed.

AMY GOODMAN: But were they quoted?

WENDELL POTTER: Oh, absolutely. They were quoted extensively. They sent out press releases. And they were given status as a legitimate organization, even by the New York Times.

AMY GOODMAN: In what article?

WENDELL POTTER: There was an article that the New York Times wrote as a kind of a review of Sicko, not really a review but just a story about the movie actually premiering in the U.S. in June of 2007. And the New York Times story quoted the Health Care America spokesman as saying that this represented a move toward socialism. And there was not an — apparently not an attempt on the part of the reporter, or any reporter that I saw, to disclose the fact that this was funded largely by the insurance industry.

AMY GOODMAN: Let’s go to another clip of Sicko, of Michael Moore’s film, that they also feared, that they sent one lucky staff member, employee from CIGNA, to the Riviera to watch the film festival where Michael Moore got a standing ovation for 15 minutes, and then have a corporate conference call to report back on what they saw. This is Sicko, a clip.

MICHAEL MOORE: This guy broke his ankle. How much will this cost him? He’ll have some huge bill when he’s done, right?

NHS HOSPITAL ADMINISTRATIVE WORKER: Here, no. Just everything is free.

MICHAEL MOORE: I’m asking about hospital charges, and you’re laughing.

Even with insurance, there’s bound to be a bill somewhere.

What did they charge you for that baby?

NEW FATHER: No, no, no. Everything was on NHS.


NEW FATHER: It’s not America.

MICHAEL MOORE: So this is where people come to pay their bill when they’re done staying in the hospital.

NHS CASHIER: No, this is the NHS hospital, so you don’t pay that bill.

MICHAEL MOORE: Why does it say "cashier" here if people don’t have to pay a bill?

NHS HOSPITAL ADMINISTRATIVE WORKER: …place, you have — it just means get the traffic expenses reimbursed.

MICHAEL MOORE: So in British hospitals, instead of money going into the cashier’s window, money comes out.

[from Democracy Now!, mooreon">6/18/07]

MICHAEL MOORE: Yeah, they look at me like I’m from Mars when I’m asking the Brits, you know, how much they paid for this, that or whatever.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Michael Moore. Let’s talk about how we arrived at the system we did in this country.

MICHAEL MOORE: Well, you know, my grandfather was a country doctor, actually. He was from Canada. He went to medical school in the late 1800s, which was a year then. You know, it’s pretty much what they knew back then. They could teach it in a year. And so, the little village where, you know, I was raised, because my mom was from there, too, because he was there, you know, he was paid with eggs and milk and chickens and things like that. He didn’t do it to make any big money. They didn’t make big money then. They were comfortable — the local doctor — but they weren’t the rich man in the community.

We got away from the concept of treating people because it was the right thing to do. The nuns ran the hospital that I was born in. The nuns weren’t doing this to turn profit and invest in Wall Street. You know, I mean, they did it because they thought that was their duty to serve God and to serve mankind by opening hospitals and delivering babies. We’re a long ways from that now. Somewhere we let profit and greed enter into this.

And in the film, I peg a certain date when the HMOs really got their start. And I got very lucky. I had a 23-year-old researcher in my office who worked on the film, who was actually someone I believe that was recommended by Jeremy Scahill, so there’s a Democracy Now! connection to this moment in the movie. But he found this Watergate tape — has nothing to do with Watergate, it’s one of the Nixon tapes — at the Archives, National Archives, where Nixon and Ehrlichman are discussing whether or not to support this HMO concept. And Ehrlichman says to Nixon, "You’re going to love this, because this is private enterprise. This isn’t like some freebie thing." Nixon goes, "Oh, I like that. Tell me about it." And then Ehrlichman says, "Well, this is how it’s going to work, these HMOs. They’re going to make more money by providing less care. The less care they give them, the patients, the more money the company makes." Nixon goes, "Ooh, not bad!" And it’s all there on tape.

[-] 0 points by jrhirsch (4714) from Sun City, CA 12 years ago

Here is the likely source for the 80% figure that Chomsky quotes.


"a Washington Post-ABC News poll found that 80 percent regard universal health care as ‘more important than holding down taxes"

He omits parts of the question so his statement is not accurate.

  1. Which of these do you think is more important: (providing health care coverage for all Americans, even if it means raising taxes) or (holding down taxes, even if it means some Americans do not have health care coverage)?
[-] 2 points by flip (7101) 12 years ago

he is not the source - look to pew research. you will find out things that will surprise you. do you have a point

[-] 0 points by jrhirsch (4714) from Sun City, CA 12 years ago

Who is the source for your post?

[-] 2 points by flip (7101) 12 years ago

why do you want to know? isn't it obvious - their names are right there!

[-] 2 points by flip (7101) 12 years ago

i am not your monkey - i can do what i like. do you have a point - does it matter where it is from - would you like to dicuss the content

[-] 1 points by jrhirsch (4714) from Sun City, CA 12 years ago

When caught with your pants down, pull them back up.

[-] 1 points by flip (7101) 12 years ago

you have been in the sun too long - like i said - i am not your monkey but thanks for your concern

[-] 1 points by flip (7101) 12 years ago

here is another to chew on - you can get me the source if you like - you seem to be good at that - while you're at it read it and think about what it means -

"The first scholarly edition of the Magna Carta was published in 1759 by the English jurist William Blackstone, whose work was a source for U.S. constitutional law. It was entitled “The Great Charter and the Charter of the Forest,” following earlier practice. Both charters are highly significant today.

The companion Charter of the Forest is perhaps even more pertinent today. It demanded protection of the commons from external power. The commons were the source of sustenance for the general population – their fuel, their food, their construction materials. The Forest was no wilderness. It was carefully nurtured, maintained in common, its riches available to all, and preserved for future generations.

By the 17th century, the Charter of the Forest had fallen victim to the commodity economy and capitalist practice and morality. No longer protected for cooperative care and use, the commons were restricted to what could not be privatized – a category that continues to shrink before our eyes.

Last month the World Bank ruled that the mining multinational Pacific Rim can proceed with its case against El Salvador for trying to preserve lands and communities from highly destructive gold mining. Environmental protection would deprive the company of future profits, a crime under the rules of the investor rights regime mislabeled as “free trade.”

This is only one example of struggles under way over much of the world, some with extreme violence, as in resource-rich eastern Congo, where millions have been killed in recent years to ensure an ample supply of minerals for cellphones and other uses, and of course ample profits.

The dismantling of the Charter of the Forest brought with it a radical revision of how the commons are conceived, captured by Garrett Hardin’s influential thesis in 1968 that “Freedom in a commons brings ruin to us all,” the famous “tragedy of the commons”: What is not privately owned will be destroyed by individual avarice.

The doctrine is not without challenge. Elinor Olstrom won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2009 for her work showing the superiority of user-managed commons.

But the doctrine has force if we accept its unstated premise: that humans are blindly driven by what American workers, at the dawn of the industrial revolution, called “the New Spirit of the Age, Gain Wealth forgetting all but Self” – a doctrine they bitterly condemned as demeaning and destructive, an assault on the very nature of free people.

Huge efforts have been devoted since to inculcating the New Spirit of the Age. Major industries are dedicated to what political economist Thorstein Veblen called “fabricating wants” – directing people to “the superficial things” of life, like “fashionable consumption,” in the words of Columbia University marketing professor Paul Nystrom.

That way people can be atomized, seeking personal gain alone and diverted from dangerous efforts to think for themselves, act in concert and challenge authority.

It’s unnecessary to dwell on the extreme dangers posed by one central element of the destruction of the commons: the reliance on fossil fuels, which courts global disaster. Details may be debated, but there is little serious doubt that the problems are all too real and that the longer we delay in addressing them, the more awful will be the legacy left to generations to come. The recent Rio+20 Conference is the latest effort. Its aspirations were meager, its outcome derisory.

In the lead in confronting the crisis, throughout the world, are indigenous communities. The strongest stand has been taken by the one country they govern, Bolivia, the poorest country in South America and for centuries a victim of Western destruction of its rich resources.

After the ignominious collapse of the Copenhagen global climate change summit in 2009, Bolivia organized a People’s Summit with 35,000 participants from 140 countries. The summit called for very sharp reduction in emissions, and a Universal Declaration on the Rights of Mother Earth. That is a key demand of indigenous communities all over the world.

The demand is ridiculed by sophisticated Westerners, but unless we can acquire some of the sensibility of the indigenous communities, they are likely to have the last laugh – a laugh of grim despair.