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California State Government June 6, 2006 Election
Smart Voter

Universal Rights to Healthcare, Fair Hours and Benefits

By Michael S. Strimling

Candidate for Governor; Democratic Party

This information is provided by the candidate
Workers and families have right to fair pay, health care, fair hours, time for loved ones and pensions. ADDED BONUS: Mike Strimling's Email from Monday, March 31, 2003, as the Iraq War Started
Workers and families have right to fair pay, fair hours, vacations and pensions. Arnold has continually attacked nurses, firefighters, and other union workers. Instead, we need to expand the rights of workers.

We are living in a time when increasing numbers of workers are called "professionals." They are expected to skip vacations and work 60 or 80 hour weeks to compete with others in their firms. Families, children and society suffer. European laws require fair hours and 5 weeks paid vacation - we can at least require 3 weeks and require that workers actually take that time off rather than try to get a jump on their peers. We can protect families by allowing time with loved ones, requiring job grievance procedures to weed out abuses in the workplace, and some job security from retaliation and abuse. The most productive economies and the best quality of products and construction have come from highly organized workforces, such as those in Japan and Germany. No one should be fired for trying to organize, either in this country or in any of our trading partners. We should support and require labor rights and fair pay and benefits in Mexico if we really are concerned about immigration.

We have to recognize that the modern service economy is full of non-unionized professionals and "contract employees" who are really workers, not managers. They are not organized and do not receive the same benefits that unions fought to gain. Even if they become "partners" of their firms, in reality they can be expelled and "downsized" on a whim. This erodes the rights and privileges of all who work. Rules should be in place to provide a system of severance and readjustment for all who work.

Moreover, with Social Security under attack and pension plans disappearing, many employees are unable to save and uncertain of the future. We should have state pension plans to which any private worker or contract employee may choose to contribute, so as to have guaranteed annuity for life. If you believe in the quality of life for all people who work, and their families and the elderly, we need to have this debate.

Healthcare is a right -- make it universal. About 5 million Californians have no health insurance. Those that have health insurance pay for those who don't in higher insurance premiums. Insurance premiums are rising, and business and workers are both paying more every month. Trying to get care from an HMO gets ever more difficult for those who are truly sick.

Maryland just passed a law that requires huge employers like Walmart either to provide health insurance to their workers or pay an amount to the State to insure those workers. California should do the same. As it is, many Walmart employees get Medi-Cal or health services in County Emergency Rooms, and that is paid by taxpayers. Other services to the uninsured are paid by subsidies from other patients. Walmart's low prices rest on the back of taxpayers.

Too much of the healthcare dollar goes to HMO bureaucrats, medical billing departments, and insurance profits. The government has operated Medicare with only about 2% overhead, but for everyone else, billing and insurance companies take at least 20% of the health care dollar. European hospitals do not have billing departments. We could save vital money from health care by adopting a plan that relies on doctors' judgment, not insurance companies. People may still have the choice to have private insurance supplemental plans and go to private doctors, but California should establish a basic health system to insure everyone for preventative care and for catastrophic care. Public clinics should be established to transition to such a plan, with the public clinics taking insured patients - for their insurance reimbursement - and uninsured patients for a payroll insurance charge. People should be able to get shots, health screenings, antibiotics and contraceptives subsidized at local clinics. The system can be operated in a variety of ways - by payroll or out of general funds, but it must be universal. Even Hawaii requires universal employer insurance. There is no reason why California cannot have as good of a health system as Hawaii, Maryland or Vermont, let alone the systems of Europe. At least 23 countries have better life expectancy than America, including Japan, Sweden, Israel, France, Canada, Italy, Greece, New Zealand, Australia, Germany, Spain, Finland and Britain. We must stop this national shame.

The Canadian health care system started in the provinces -- we can do that here. Let us not retreat from the modern world in fear, resignation and bigotry. Let's not race to the bottom in wages and benefits. Let's make California better and a beacon to the country. The candidates are not speaking with specifics about these vital issues. If you believe in universal health care, please support this campaign.

AN EMAIL ON IRAQ FROM 2003: And now - if you are still with us - an added bonus. The following is an email that Mike Strimling sent around during the first week of the Iraq War. If you think that nobody could have predicted the "civil war," or the "insurgency," or all the other violations of right and killing that has occurred, take a look at this email written just as America had decided to invade Iraq:


Sent: Monday, March 31, 2003 10:44 PM

To: [Addressees omitted to protect privacy....]

...This is so like Vietnam. The lack of consensus behind this war is setting friends against each other. 3 weeks ago we had inspectors roaming Saddam's country destroying missiles etc., and the UN was pretty united on the issue of what it would do if it found Saddam was doing anything to terrorize Western countries. He was pretty hamstrung. So I question why we couldn't have waited....

But aside from whether it was good foreign policy to invade, the military aspect of it seemed, before the war, and seems increasingly now, like Vietnam. This is the invasion of a foreign country.

I don't know what most Americans think, but this looks like it could be a continual bloodbath, even after we "conquer." Last week before the war started, I suddenly had that feeling of doom about the practicalities of the war, aside from it being bad foreign policy. This came from living my entire adolescence with the specter of Vietnam, and having McNamara tell us that we were going to prevail soon there. Rumsfeld looks a lot like McNamara.

Three weeks before 9/11, 2 years ago, Senators were trying to convince Rumsfeld and the Bush administration, in Senate public hearings, that terrorism was more of a threat than missile defense, but the Senators could not convince these dolts. Then, Bush and this administration changed its whole conduct of policy when this country was attacked by just a small band of isolated and suicidal criminals bent on changing our foreign policy. We even changed our policy towards peoples quite distant from the Arab perpetrators, including Sikhs and others who share very little with the actual criminals. Secret police round them up and interview them ceaselessly, sometimes holding them without charges or trial. Homeland Security patrols our public places. The country has militarized and is attacking another country that only really shares ethnicity with the perpetrators of 9/11. If this is what happens in America, what kind of resistance do we think we are going to find in a country like Iraq, when we invade it with hundreds of thousands of non-Arabs to change its Arab regime? They are people, like us, who are genetically bred by millions of years of human evolution, to rally around the tribe and its leaders when it is attacked.

Even if people hate their own government's policies, and think the leader was not popularly elected, a good many of them in this country rallied around our government when we were attacked on our soil. The whole conundrum of Vietnam was that the communists probably had more support among ordinary Vietnamese after we came there. We were a bunch of non-Vietnamese, white and black, English-speaking U.S. soldiers attacking their country with napalm to convince them that Vietnamese communists (who looked like them and spoke their language)were wrong for them. Most people everywhere are not political.

Nothing politicizes a populace towards supporting a a native regime -- even a brutal one -- like being invaded by soldiers of another ethnic group or even soldiers speaking another language. This is so even when the foreign invaders are supporting a supposed alternative regime made up of indigenous people, as we did in Vietnam and are supporting here.

If Iraq were invading this country to tell us that Bush was not popularly elected, and Iraq were trying to install Gore as president, most Democrats would probably rally around Bush to push out the invaders. It is one thing not to like one's own leaders. It is another to allow an invading army tell one who the leader should be. The first is our right. The second is being treated like a colony. Why don't we see that?

Added to that, Saddam represents a 25% minority of Sunni Moslems. Sunnis are all in power now, but will be out of power if they lose control in this war. It is not just Saddam but this entire Baath Sunni group that controls the country and its policies. foreign and domestic. They must have intense motivation to at least control large territory when the war ceases, because otherwise they and their children die or are permanently disadvantaged for the indefinite future. This means killing a lot of Americans to maintain at least a large swath of central Iraq.

Americans soldiers -- and Americans -- on the other hand, do not have a similar desperate motivation at all costs to conquer that country.

This also is not Kuwait. We are not pushing another band of foreigner occupiers out of a country smaller than New Jersey now. Here we are trying to invade and control a country the size of Texas against armies and militias made up of their own people who have lived there for hundreds of years. Even if we win territory in this war, we are still in foreign territory. We are subject to continual attack. It looks like a long series of Vietnam battles like Khe Sahn, where we gain ground in a battle but the whole country is not us.

It is basically the same scenario as Israel's occupation: snipers and brick throwers may be around every corner. We are surprised by rearguard militias in Iraq. How could we be? Perhaps the French after Napoleon and the Germans after Hitler had insight, in opposing this war, about how difficult it is to invade and control other countries without resistance. A lot of Iraqi people will be motivated by unreasonable race hatred, just like Americans are afraid and hateful to Moslem peoples (and have always been similarly hateful towards another Semitic group, Jews). Some Iraqis, like some Palestinians, are going to take that race hatred and express it in suicidal attacks on us, there and here.

Not to mention other collateral effects of mass violence and desensitizing to violence. Remember, Tim McVay was a soldier in Desert Storm. There is a price to pay whenever violence is presented as the answer to any question.

How much on-the-ground terrorism will we stand, when it means senseless loss of life? Will we intervene even between Sunni and Shia Moslems?

How many bullets will we take? The British left America because a ragged bunch of Minutemen kept sniping at them. The question should be asked: if my own child were subject to being drafted, and killed, would I support this policy? Would it be worth it? What if I had to go fight it? That is a question that will become more present if the war presents gas casualties and more are called up.

In Vietnam, it was only going to take a few thousand soldiers to help keep out the communists. And then more than a million troops couldn't do it. In this war, we have far fewer troops than the massive coalition in 1991 that ousted Iraq from small Kuwait. ... I don't know how anybody thought this would be quick or easy. This could be a big mess, especially if Saddam gasses our troops. Are we ready for thousand of casualties? How many pictures of American casualties are we ready to take: 1000 or 10,000, or 20,0000 or 100,000?

How many injured and post-traumatic shell-shocked veterans?

How many casualties of Americans here or in other countries are we willing to bear? How many countries do we feel we should be isolated from because of the rash activities of an unelected president?

Does this seem worthwhile when we had hundreds of inspectors actually in Iraq searching for and destroying weapons, with the approval and unity of the entire UN Security Council?

And then, if we do conquer Iraq, what is to keep Iran from invading parts of it, or the Turks? Are we signing up to defend Iraq's territory? How big is this commitment?

Nobody doubts that Saddam is a bad guy. I remember reading a Newsweek cover article about him back in 1990, long before he invaded Kuwait. The theme of that article was that it was foolish and wrong for George Bush the First to be giving so much support to this brutal guy who was using it to subjugate his own people and commit war crimes.

But Bush and many Americans thought then that there was a really evil Moslem regime in Iran that Saddam was helping us by attacking so..... These are the same guys now making policy! Similarly, we were then supporting Osama Bin Laden against the Soviets. We helped create these monsters. Now, we are supporting Kurds and others against Saddam. Could we be creating new Saddams and Osamas there?

When we create any clients who are fighting our enemies, they and their followers get a taste and skill for violence. They get little taste or experience for minding their domestic lives, office work or farming. Neither do our vets.

Even some Americans are getting a blood lust for Iraq and Saddam from this experience, and its pictures. In "1984" Orwell showed a world where there was a permanent dehumanizing propaganda against the "enemy." Demonizing the enemy is partly to make the population docile in the loss of their own rights. We have virtually a police state if one is the wrong race, now. Will we wait until they come for all of us who oppose them?"


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