FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Health Savings Accounts: a Boon to the Bosses

Pot Shots wants to emphasize a point merely implied by Vice President Cheney in his comments about mistaking Harry Whittington for a quail: marijuana played no part whatsoever in this episode.

So, for five days the Bush Administration had to stay “off-message” while the wags in the media snickered about the shooting accident In those five days a little item about $7 billion in tax relief for the oil companies (that just recorded the greatest profits since King Midas) came and went The Cheerleader-in-Chief was back with a vengeance on Friday, shilling for “Health Savings Accounts.” These duplicitous devices shift the basic burden of paying for healthcare from the bosses to the workers, while enabling the former to save on payroll taxes.

The biggest backers of HSAs, according to a Wall St. Journal piece Feb. 3, are “the insurance industry and the financial-services industry, which is poised to reap billions of dollars in fees from managing money squirreled away in HSAs.”

Wal-Mart and GM are among the companies promoting HSAs to their employees. The Journal noted hopefully, “Just as the 401(k) -invented as a supplemental benefit- ended up supplanting pensions, HSAs could do the same to traditional employee health insurance

“Employers decide whether to contribute money to the accounts. Even if they do contribute, the employer’s total cost for each employee in an HAS is generally lower than for a worker in a traditional health plan. For example, employers typically pay $3,284 for a single employee in a traditional insurance plan; covering the same employee in a high-deductible plan would cost $2,850

“Even if they don’t contribute a cent, employers still get tax benefits. And the more of their own pay employees set aside each year, the bigger their employers’ tax breaks. That’s because employers ordinarily have to pay a variety of payroll taxes on cash income their employees earn; these taxes fund Social Security, Medicare and state and federal unemployment programs. But under at least some HAS arrangements, employers can skip most of those taxes on employee contributions to the account, bringing the employers savings of as much as 7% to 10%, according to some estimates.”

Teflon Kills

An Environmental Protection Agency advisory group acknowledged Jan. 30 that the main ingredient in Teflon -perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA- is “likely” to cause cancer. PFOA enters the body from food cooked in Teflon pots and pans or packaged in stick-free containers; also, via microfibres from stain-resistant carpets and clothing, and fumes from nail polish. There is no avoiding indirect exposure because vast quantities of PFOA and its precursor chemicals are released into the environment in the Teflon manufacturing process. “No hidin’ place down here,” says the old song.

DuPont is the sole US manufacturer of PFOA and Teflon; 3M and the fast-food chains are major distributors. The ominous news about Teflon is being conveyed to the American people incrementally -just like the news about cigarettes and every other cancer-causing commodity- amidst denials, stalls and obfuscation from the corporations that make and sell the deadly stuff. People who keep birds have known for decades that an overheated Teflon pan can kill a canary in the next room. “Mere anecdotal evidence” said DuPont’s experts. Numerous studies have linked PFOA to cancer in lab animals, and high levels have been found in people’s blood. “The chemical hasn’t been linked to cancer in humans” was DuPont’s response to the EPA’s Jan. 30 warning, according to the Wall St. Journal. Meanwhile, out of the goodness of its corporate heart, Dupont “said it had committed to ‘virtually eliminate’ sources of exposure by 2015 and has already reduced manufacturing emissions by 94%.”

A common assumption in all these drawn-out exposes is that the deadly products cannot be withdrawn from circulation immediately. Sales are simply more important than public health. The WSJ piece on the EPA’s Teflon findings noted, “One reason PFOAs and fluoropolymer coatings are so widespread is because alternatives have been hard to develop.” But why are alternatives required? Any cook knows that cast iron, stainless steel, or enamelware, properly used and washed, is close to stick-free. The marketing of stick-free cookware by DuPont in the postwar years was a classic case of creation of demand. DuPont claimed their toxic synthetic was salubrious because it enabled cooks to use less butter, olive oil, lard, etc. “Easier to clean” was another big selling point.
“War on Terror” A Better Rationale For Militarism than “War on Drugs”

The U.S. Department of Defense has less need to rely on the War on Drugs to rationalize its funding requests now that they’ve got “terrorism.” This is made clear in Afghanistan, where poppy cultivation is again widespread as the U.S. military seeks support, or at least neutrality, from the farmers.

The DOD’s direct involvement in the War on Drugs was authorized by the coke-crazed Congress of 1988. Over the years DOD developed 179 sub-programs -building and maintaining air bases, training other countries’ troops, intelligence gathering, overflights, etc.-costing $1 billion/year and enabling the U.S. to introduce troops into some 30 countries. But the missions often involved restrictions imposed by the locals or some constitutionalists in the U.S. Congress, and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and his neo-con clique wanted their operatives to be able to go anywhere and do anything. Given the U.S. military’s real longterm mission -securing oil production facilities and guarding the pipelines and ports- “counter-terror” seems like a much better rationale than the WOD.

In the summer of 2002, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz issued a memo which, according to an LA Times story by Paul Richter, “said the department had ‘carefully reviewed its existing counter-narcotics policy’ because of ‘the changed national security environment, the corresponding shift in the department’s budget and other priorities, and evolving support requirements.’ The Pentagon will now focus its counter-narcotics activities on programs that, among other things, ‘contribute to the war on terrorism,’ Wolfowitz added.”

FRED GARDNER is the editor of O’Shaughnessy’s Journal of the California Cannabis Research Medical Group. He can be reached at: fred@plebesite.com

 

More articles by:

Fred Gardner is the managing editor of O’Shaughnessy’s. He can be reached at fred@plebesite.com

Weekend Edition
August 17, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Daniel Wolff
The Aretha Dialogue
Nick Pemberton
Donald Trump and the Rise of Patriotism 
Joseph Natoli
First Amendment Rights and the Court of Popular Opinion
Andrew Levine
Midterms 2018: What’s There to Hope For?
Robert Hunziker
Hothouse Earth
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Running Out of Fools
Ajamu Baraka
Opposing Bipartisan Warmongering is Defending Human Rights of the Poor and Working Class
Paul Street
Corporate Media: the Enemy of the People
David Macaray
Trump and the Sex Tape
CJ Hopkins
Where Have All the Nazis Gone?
Daniel Falcone
The Future of NATO: an Interview With Richard Falk
Cesar Chelala
The Historic Responsibility of the Catholic Church
Ron Jacobs
The Barbarism of US Immigration Policy
Kenneth Surin
In Shanghai
William Camacaro - Frederick B. Mills
The Military Option Against Venezuela in the “Year of the Americas”
Nancy Kurshan
The Whole World Was Watching: Chicago ’68, Revisited
Robert Fantina
Yemeni and Palestinian Children
Alexandra Isfahani-Hammond
Orcas and Other-Than-Human Grief
Shoshana Fine – Thomas Lindemann
Migrants Deaths: European Democracies and the Right to Not Protect?
Paul Edwards
Totally Irrusianal
Thomas Knapp
Murphy’s Law: Big Tech Must Serve as Censorship Subcontractors
Mark Ashwill
More Demons Unleashed After Fulbright University Vietnam Official Drops Rhetorical Bombshells
Ralph Nader
Going Fundamental Eludes Congressional Progressives
Hans-Armin Ohlmann
My Longest Day: How World War II Ended for My Family
Matthew Funke
The Nordic Countries Aren’t Socialist
Daniel Warner
Tiger Woods, Donald Trump and Crime and Punishment
Dave Lindorff
Mainstream Media Hypocrisy on Display
Jeff Cohen
Democrats Gather in Chicago: Elite Party or Party of the People?
Victor Grossman
Stand Up With New Hope in Germany?
Christopher Brauchli
A Family Affair
Jill Richardson
Profiting From Poison
Patrick Bobilin
Moving the Margins
Alison Barros
Dear White American
Celia Bottger
If Ireland Can Reject Fossil Fuels, Your Town Can Too
Ian Scott Horst
Less Voting, More Revolution
Peter Certo
Trump Snubbed McCain, Then the Media Snubbed the Rest of Us
Dan Ritzman
Drilling ANWR: One of Our Last Links to the Wild World is in Danger
Brandon Do
The World and Palestine, Palestine and the World
Chris Wright
An Updated and Improved Marxism
Daryan Rezazad
Iran and the Doomsday Machine
Patrick Bond
Africa’s Pioneering Marxist Political Economist, Samir Amin (1931-2018)
Louis Proyect
Memoir From the Underground
Binoy Kampmark
Meaningless Titles and Liveable Cities: Melbourne Loses to Vienna
Andrew Stewart
Blackkklansman: Spike Lee Delivers a Masterpiece
Elizabeth Lennard
Alan Chadwick in the Budding Grove: Story Summary for a Documentary Film
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail