Monday, December 27, 2010

Rick Scott Set to Descend on Florida

I had forgotten the extent to which Rick Scott had masterminded the teabaggers' Town Hall riots back in the summer of 2009. OK, I knew he threw a lot of his own money into the health care debate, such as it was, and I certainly knew he wanted to stop any reform that would undermine the healthcare industry's profits. But Scott has been a one-man wrecking crew.

You remember Rick Scott, yes? In a post on September 20, I wondered, as did others, what Scott's appeal was, given his extremely dubious past as a CEO of a demonstrably fraudulent health care insurer. It was all very public information, and yet he had the inside track as Florida's next governor.

He, of course, won the election and so he will be that state's next CEO come January 4th (what is it about people who think CEOs make good politicians? The jobs are so similar, don't you know?)

Madfloridan has an excellent post excoriating the press for recently raising a few good questions about Slick Rick, now that the election is over. He cites three sources.

One is The St. Petersburg Times, which writes, "Incoming Gov. Rick Scott's disdain for government regulation appears to be absolute — and absolutely irresponsible. The Times quotes Scott who declares, "What's the benefit of a regulation, other than delay?"

Yikes, and this after deregulation ran amuck on Wall Street. And the St Petes Times concern about this? As Madfloridian says, "So now they worry." At least the Times bothered to explain the value of regulation.

Meanwhile, Time magazine asks, "Is Florida ready for Governor Rick Scott?" As Time writes:
Florida has some of the broadest open-government laws in the country. So when Governor-elect Rick Scott held a number of behind-closed-doors meetings with business leaders earlier this month during a five-day jobs tour, many political observers fretted that he might not fully appreciate the Sunshine State's sunshine rules. "It would have been a nice gesture on his part to hold those meetings more in the open," says Ben Wilcox, Florida director of the government watchdog group Common Cause. "But Florida's sunshine laws are going to take some getting used to on his part, since just about all he's known is the corporate world."

The Miami Herald quotes a Scott advisor who doubts that Florida needs public hospitals. That's pretty rich. Scott says it's all about improving efficiency, which sounds reasonable. But he is part and parcel of the conservative obsession with privatizing everything in sight, an idea wrapped with the wholly-unsupported insistence that the private sector is inherently and always more effective than the public sector. What that ideology really means is that by privatizing, profit becomes the central focus. And that is precisely why health care in the US is so inadequate. For other industrialized countries, universal health care is first and foremost a public health care issue. For the US, health care is a profit center. The primary fiduciary duty of US corporations, including those in health, is to their shareholders, not their customers. The insurance industry's big pushback on President Obama's health care plan was not because it would not work. It was because they knew a public option would end their ability to continue gouging the American people. 

So I feel for Madfloridian, who says, "I fear for our state the next few years. This guy makes Jeb look saintly." That, of course, is Jeb, as in Jeb Bush.

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