Late in the evening of December 6th, in the Exarcheia district of central Athens, 15 year old Alexandros Grigoropoulos was out with friends. Shortly after 9pm the group became part of a confrontation with members of the Greek Police. Alexandros was shot and killed.
In the days following the killing Alexandros became a symbol of a growing frustration among Greek youth over the country’s growing economic problems, rising unemployment, and a general perception of an inefficient and corrupt Greek government.
Riots in Athens over the death quickly spread like through out the country and then through out the whole of Europe.
The speed at which the riots spread has in part been attributed to organizers using text messaging and the internet as a means of spreading their message and setting up meeting locations. In an article to the Associated Press, Paul Have wrote…
At least some of the protests were organized over the Internet, showing how quickly the message of discontent can be spread, particularly among tech-savvy youth. One Web site Greek protesters used to update each other on the locations of clashes asserted there have been sympathy protests in nearly 20 countries.
This isn’t the first time we have seen the internet become a tool of the disenfranchised as a means of organizing protests.
When California passed Proposition 8 on November 4th, a wave of Anti-Prop 8 web sites such as Join the Impact, appeared on the web as a means of directing information to protesters and to organize events such as the Nationwide protest of November 15th and upcoming December 20th “Light Up The Night For Equality“.
Even in tightly controlled China, the internet has been used to organize people to effect change in government policies and stop construction of a chemical plant.
The internet is still basically in its infancy and the genie is out of the bottle. It’s difficult to imagine just how the civil rights movement of the 1960′s would have progressed had the internet been available. Imagine watching Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech as a live web cast or if Rosa Parks could have texted all her friends to join her in sitting at the front of buses all over the country on the same day.
Often, as individuals, we feel somewhat powerless against those with power, whether it be government, or the vocal majority. We sit in our homes feeling sorry for ourselves and saying “I can’t do anything about my situation so I’ll just make the best of it.” What we don’t realize is that we are rarely if ever truly alone.
Cross posted at The Pajama Pundit
Posts Tagged ‘Health care reform’
One of the biggest problems I see within the nation?s health insurance industry is lack of competition. In 2007 the American Medical Association released it?s last update to it?s report on Competition with in the Health Insurance market and it gave a rather grim picture.
Here in Iowa, Wellmark was reported to control 71% of the state market, with United Health Care (John Deere) the next highest in market share with 9%. While I?m no expert in business, a 71% market share sure seems like having the ability to basically set your own rules with very little care or concern about consumers.
While just about everyone agrees that there must be some sort of health care reform and soon, few can agree on how that should be done. Some argue that the best way to encourage competition within the health insurance market is to lift the limitation and allow consumers to cross state lines to purchase their health care policies. While at first glance this seems like a great idea and a workable one at that, there are some hidden problems that this unleashes.
Currently each state regulates the health insurance industries within the respective states. Groups who argue that the federal government has no constitutional authority to regulate health insurance companies often site states rights and the 10th amendment. Many of these same people are also in favor of allowing consumers to buy their insurance across state lines. While I personally haven?t entirely made up my mind on whether or not that would be a good way to go it there are a couple of possible results from this that don?t really sit well with me.
First of all, while allowing people to buy insurance across state lines would create a burst of competition in the short term, in the long term it doesn?t address the history of unregulated mergers and acquisitions that up until now have only really been contained by the state line rules. So instead of having monopolistic companies on the state level, we could quickly end up with them on the national level. How long would it be before a company like Wellmark controls 71% of the health care market nationwide? Should we really accept a short term fix that creates a long term problem?
Secondly, allowing people to buy insurance across state lines, effectively robs the states of regulating the health insurance markets within their states. Mirroring what happened with credit card companies, health insurance companies would quickly seek out the state or states with the fewest regulations and move there. So if for example, Texas has the fewest regulations on health insurance and all of the companies move there, then Texas state health insurance regulation agency is effectively setting the regulation policy for the entire nation, and what is good for Texas may not necessarily be good for Iowa.
As I?ve stated before, I do not support HR3200 (Open Congress) and I also do not support the plan that was put out by Max Bacaus in the senate. Both of them contain a mandate the requires all Americans to get health insurance regardless of whether they can actually afford it or not and if they don?t get the insurance they face a significant tax penalty of about 2.5% of their income. In my opinion what this does is create an artificial victory that Democrats will be able to point at in 2012 or beyond and allows them to claim that their health care plan worked because the lowered the number of people that are uninsured, which would be true only because they took away the choice of the people to make the decision of whether or not to get insurance away from them without actually fixing anything within the system. The Bacaus plan is even worse, because it contains the mandate but not the public insurance option. At least in HR3200, there is a public insurance option that gives consumers a tool to force insurance companies to lower premiums to something that is reasonable and affordable to working class people, you know, those of us making less than 50k a year and for who an insurance premium of $500 a month is not affordable.
My views on the public insurance option have changed somewhat since my review of HR3200 at the end of July. I currently see it as a tool to be used to get to the ultimate goal. I am no longer convinced it is the best option, but I have yet to see any options that feel are better.