Wednesday, February 26, 2014

At Work in the Fields of the Lord

Without a trace of irony, President Obama last night urged his unpaid health insurance sales force to also keep fighting for a federal minimum wage:
“We’re going to make a big push these last few weeks,” Obama told OFA volunteers and officials. “I can talk, my team can talk here in Washington, but it’s not going to make as much of a difference as if you are out there making the case. The work you’re doing is God’s work. It is hard work.”
Work that neither needs nor deserves a paycheck or a stipend, apparently. Working for the Big Guy is its own reward. As you go door-to-door, selling Obamacare insurance product to complete strangers at your own peril and at your own expense, you are simply following in the footsteps of Lloyd Blankfein. He, too, does God's Work as CEO of Goldman Sachs. Just imagine the soothing drops of heavenly beneficence trickling down your back as you work for the greater glory of the Market God within the delusional confines of a political personality cult.

On one recent day in Florida, Obama's insurance broker-missionaries amazingly managed to sign up 25 people out of the 2,000-plus prospects they visited. Put another way, they enjoy about the same rate of success at finding people at home as do Jehovah's Witnesses. From the New York Times:
 Such are the limits of microtargeting the uninsured as groups supporting the Obama administration take to the streets on behalf of the president’s most important domestic initiative. The nationwide effort is modeled on Mr. Obama’s successful voter turnout machines in 2008 and 2012, but in this case the task of finding Americans without health insurance and signing them up is a painfully slow grind.

But hold on a second. I wasn't being totally fair when I implied that our president is cynically exploiting a bunch of fanatical serfs for his own political gain. This is Sweepstakes USA, after all, so there are a few carefully selected lucky duckies in the Obamacare church sales force getting actual paychecks:
The campaign is staffed by organizations deploying thousands of paid and volunteer canvassers across the country. Planned Parenthood, one of the most aggressive groups, has raised millions of dollars for the effort. It is paying about 400 workers like Ms. Morwin $12 an hour. They are knocking on an average of 18,000 doors a day in eight states: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas.
Enroll America, a nonprofit group that is trying to expand the health care rolls, has hired 266 people and recruited 14,000 volunteers to not only canvass neighborhoods but also make calls at phone banks and host events at community colleges in 11 states. The group has also spent $7 million to advertise on the Internet.
The efforts are important for Mr. Obama, who has been damaged politically by the initial failures of his health care website. Now, with finally working, his administration and outside supporters are racing to meet their goal of signing up seven million people by March 31. By the end of January, nearly 3.3 million people had enrolled. To the canvassers, at least, the original goal seems a long way off.
Two hundred sixty-six paid employees out of 14,000 unpaid proselytizers? I guess it never occurred to the officials running Sweepstakes USA that they could help solve the unemployment crisis by training people to be insurance brokers and then paying them an actual living wage as they pound the pavement for Market God. Instead, it's all about rallying around a "damaged" president, and matching each Republican anecdotal Obamacare failure story with any equally poignant Democratic anecdotal success story. Every lottery, after all, must have winners and losers.

And 40 million-plus uninsured Americans gaze longingly from afar at the lucky six or nine million in line to eventually win a health insurance admission card. "You gotta be in it to win it!" is the promise, but not the guarantee. And when they tell you that all you need is a marketplace and a dream.... well, that depends on your locale as well as on your bank account. Restrictions do apply, especially if you're a poor working person living in a red state like Florida. Then the odds are definitely stacked against both you and that well-meaning volunteer knocking at your door.   


falken751 said...

Rome lived upon its principal till ruin stared it in the face. Industry is the only true source of wealth, and there was no industry in Rome. By day the Ostia road was crowded with carts and muleteers, carrying to the great city the silks and spices of the East, the marble of Asia Minor, the timber of the Atlas, the grain of Africa and Egypt; and the carts brought out nothing but loads of dung. That was their return cargo.
– The Martyrdom of Man by Winwood Reade (1871)

Jay - Ottawa said...

Obama has gathered up another army. Once again, the wrong people will be knocking on the wrong doors with the wrong message. They are selling suffocation. Only poets and a few visionary bloggers seem to understand. Despite all their poetic folderol, poets can, quicker than a political scientist, unmask fraud, murder and hypocrisy for the people. As I’ve told you so often in the past, Class: Art, not Politics, leads the way in this regard.

Therefore, today’s poem is by Percy Bysshe Shelley –– note how even his name rhymes once, then rhymes again thanks to that fussy middle name –– not that that’s important. What counts is the idea wrapped up within its quaint forms. Recognize those quaint forms, learn how to unwrap them, and the idea will stand naked before you.

Gandhi and other people of his kind, like Howard Zinn (alav ha-shalom), often quoted these lines. The poem is a bit overlong in its entirety, so here is just a sampling. Although written nearly two hundred years ago, it’s still relevant today. Let me assure you before you even ask: yes, this will be on the test.

I met Murder on the way—
He had a mask like Castlereagh—
Very smooth he looked, yet grim ;
Seven blood-hounds followed him :

All were fat ; and well they might
Be in admirable plight,
For one by one, and two by two,
He tossed them human hearts to chew
Which from his wide cloak he drew.

Next came Fraud, and he had on,
Like Lord Eldon, an ermined gown ;
His big tears, for he wept well,
Turned to mill-stones as they fell.

And the little children, who
Round his feet played to and fro,
Thinking every tear a gem,
Had their brains knocked out by them.

Clothed with the Bible, as with light,
And the shadows of the night,
Like Sidmouth, next, Hypocrisy
On a crocodile rode by.

And many more Destructions played
In this ghastly masquerade,
All disguised, even to the eyes,
Like Bishops, lawyers, peers, and spies.

‘Every woman in the land
Will point at them as they stand—
They will hardly dare to greet
Their acquaintance in the street.

‘And the bold, true warriors
Who have hugged Danger in wars
Will turn to those who would be free,
Ashamed of such base company.

‘And that slaughter to the Nation
Shall steam up like inspiration,
Eloquent, oracular ;
A volcano heard afar.

‘And these words shall then become
Like Oppression’s thundered doom
Ringing through each heart and brain.
Heard again—again—again—

‘Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number—
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you—
Ye are many—they are few.’