Thursday, September 20, 2007

Schwarzenegger, a "Social Democrat"?

As someone who has in the past called Arnold Schwarzenegger many things, from a poor man's version of Karl Marx portrayal of Napoleon III in the 18th Brumaire to a poor man's Ronald Reagan (Ronnie, whatever his other faults did have more dramatic range and could pronounce California correctly when he was governor) I must say that I was taken somewhat aback by Schwarzenegger's current campaign to enact universal health care legislation in California. Perhaps I had underestimated the star of Conan the Barbarian, Terminator I, II, III, Kindergarden Cop and Twins? Certainly others had, beginning with his pumping iron days.

Of course, political reactionaries have at times in history advanced progressive ideas for their own purposes. Although I have usually thought of another German speaking politician of the right when I think of Schwarzenegger (his dad joined the Nazi party in 1936 in Austria two years before Hitler's annexation of the country), I remembered Otto Von Bismarck, the German "Iron Chancellor" of the 1880s who with one hand outlawed the Social Democratic Party and with another enacted the first state social insurance legislation in history (trying to steal the Social Democrats thunder and defuse the class struggle). Schwarzenegger doesn't have that much of a class struggle politics to worry about from the Democrats, but it may have dawned on him, unlike his fellow Republicans, that state social insurance policies increase labor productivity and also increase purchasing power by reducing out of pocket health care expenses for employees and employers for insurance premiums.

But then I checked out the details of the plan. (Bismarck's in the 1880s were very limited also, compared to what the SPD was advocating.) The devil is in the details, as they say and there is a lot of devil in Schwarzenegger's details universal coverage with a $5,000 deductible and a maximum $7,500 out of pocket expenses per person and $10,000 per family.

There are over six million people in California who have no coverage and most of them, I assume are low income. Such out of pocket expenses would be devastating to low income people, although one can
argue that something is better than nothing, which sadly is the way that many Americans have come to see things since the Reagan reaction lowered collective expectations while expanding illusions of individual wealth.

Schwarzenegger has gotten the Chamber of Commerce in California to support his plan and is trying to work out deals with the Democratic majority in the legislature, who have their own policies. If I were the the Democrats I would get on board in the fight for the comprehensive health care legislation that Representative John Conyers has introduced under the heading of Medicare for All. It is much closer to the health care that Arnold Schwarzenegger in Austria in the 1950s and 1960s and most Britons and Europeans have enjoyed for half a century or more, although Otto Von Bismarck never would have supported it in the 19th century and Schwarzenegger won't in the 21st century. It is the sort of national legislation that is necessary to solve a health care crisis that is both a national problem and a national disgrace.

Norman Markowitz


Anonymous said...

Great, CPU$A supporters are now delivering political bouquets to the Terminator himself.

It will only be a matter of time before Big Labor and the AFL-CIA are on board with this.

National Socialism, American style.

Jim said...

Mr. Anonymous-secret-pants obviously didn't read the article.

Anonymous said...

If my article is is a bouquet to Schwarzenegger, I wonder what an insult would be?
Not so anonymous Norman Markowitz
P.S. There are more to articles than titles, although advertisers often don' think so.