A Few Observations on the Perversities of the Corporate Sector

To the Editor,

Regarding “A $600 Billion Swindle: Study Makes Case to ‘Abolish’ Medicare Advantage,” by Jake Johnson, reprinted in The New Hampshire Gazette for Friday, June 14, 2024, Wikipedia cites references for each of the following statements.

“In 2019, Medicare Advantage Organizations denied 13 percent of prior authorization requests that would have been accepted if the beneficiaries were in original Medicare. In 2019 alone, Medicare Advantage plans cost tax-payers $9 billion more dollars than if beneficiaries were in original Medicare. This is due to a financial incentive for physicians associated with these plans to manipulate diagnosis codes…. As a result of labeling beneficiaries with more severe diagnoses as a way to generate profit, many companies that participate in MA plans such as UnitedHealth, Humana, Elevance, and Kaiser have or are facing federal fraud lawsuits from the Department of Justice.”

An online article titled “The History of Medicare Advantage: From Inception to Growing Popularity,” by Healthpayer Intelligence (xtelligent Heathcare Media), after tracing the program’s origins—through a provision made at the inception of Medicare to “allow retirees with employer-sponsored insurance to maintain patient-provider relationships” through health maintenance organizations (HMOs) and the Balanced Budget Act of 1997, which “authorized new private plan options, including preferred provider organizations (PPOs), provider-sponsored organizations, private fee-for-service plans, and high deductible health plans with medical savings accounts,” to the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003, the present Medicare Advantage—concludes with acknowledgment of certain “downsides” of the latter, observing, for example, that “Policymakers and other stakeholders have… pointed to… structural issues that lead to overpayment,” and that “Medicare Advantage has faced scrutiny surrounding its marketing policies and prior authorization requirements. The Senate Finance Committee highlighted misleading advertisements and aggressive in-person tactics employed by health plans, brokers, and third-party marketers.”

That all of this surprises anyone is the only thing that’s surprising. Mr. Hightower’s column in the same edition of the Gazette, “Corporate America’s New Euphemisms for Gouging You,” in which he opines that the main job of CEOs earning salaries averaging in excess of $8,000 per hour “is to keep workers’ pay low, monopolize markets, and constantly invent slick ways to squeeze another dime from each consumer’s pocket,” illustrates the contempt with which a corporate sector in thrall to shareholders views the citizenry, which it prefers to characterize as consumers. But doesn’t business, in return for the exploitative profits it extracts from them, make government programs more efficient and effective? Let’s consider the corporate sector. Mass layoffs and outsourcing reduce costs and boost shareholder dividends, but don’t improve efficiency. Ask Boeing, which used to make aircraft that didn’t fall apart. And how effective are corporations that require recourse to provisions written into international trade agreements that allow them to sue countries for profits they would have earned had said countries not declined to do business with said corporations? That’s like you suing a neighbor whose lawn you offered to mow for what you would have earned had the neighbor not declined your offer. These are the kinds of perverse incentives that arise when corporations are allowed to ride roughshod over not only lowly consumers but even sovereign nations, not to mention the planet. Can’t we at least expect the corporate sector to keep its grubby amoral, when not immoral, fingers off the paltry benefits the government does accord the masses? Which benefits, by the way, the gated community set generally doesn’t decline even as they deposit their fat dividend checks in their already bloated bank accounts.

John Simon

Portsmouth, N.H.


Thank you for “bringing the receipts,” as the youths call it these days.

We spend most of our time here trying to connect exactly these sorts of dots, the better to create a picture which our betters—read, “those of higher net worth”—would prefer that we not see. It is a Sisyphean task.

In theory, it could be somewhat easier if the corporate media really did what they claim is their job. What Upton Sinclair once wrote about individuals also applies to news organizations: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

So we write on, against the current…. What the hell—we find it satisfying, and those readers we bump into randomly, generally seem to appreciate it.

The Editor


Another Victim of Willful Blindness

To the Editor:

New York District Attorney Bragg’s indictment and trial of President Trump is a perfect example of a Soviet style show trial.

Trump was targeted because he threatens Democrats’ political power.

Since Trump didn’t commit any obvious crimes, Democrats indicted Trump for things never charged against anyone else, based on unique, never intended interpretations of laws.

Judge Merchan was deliberately, not randomly, picked to ensure a guilty verdict. Based on New York rules Judge Merchan should have recused himself because of his multiple conflicts of interests.

Judge Merchan put both his feet on the scale of Justice to compel a conviction, including: [We have deleted the usual Ewing barrage of predictable, unsupported allegations, ten in all, each one a slanted misinterpretation of reality. – The Ed.]

Democrats are trying to do to Trump what they successfully did to destroy the political futures of Senator Ted Stevens, Governor Bob McDonnell, and Senator John Edwards who were all ultimately determined to be innocent. Trump’s conviction will be reversed… but probably after the November election, after they hope the damage is done.

If Democrats get away with misusing the Justice system to defeat Trump, all future elections will be between convicted felons. Both parties will have to get phoney convictions against their opponents.

Don Ewing

Meredith, N.H.


How do you do it? Were you personally tutored whilst sitting at the feet of Steve Bannon? If so, you have our sympathy. We can only judge from the photographic record, but his hygiene seems dubious at best. Throw in his signature rhetorical technique—“flooding the zone with shit”—and your waves of twisted, counter-fact become slightly more understandable.

This goon you worship has been treated to more special consideration over the course of his life than if he had been the Lost Dauphin.

The reason so many Americans are slavering for his downfall is that, deep down, we have some atavistic memory of what justice looks like.

We’d bet there are old folks in this country who are hanging on by a thread and refusing to die until they see him get what he deserves.

The Editor


Using “Pro-Life” as a Vehicle to Return to the Past

To the Editor:

Certain Republicans are using women’s bodies against us in efforts to reinstate the legal and political structures of the past. A past where women had no rights of their own. A past where women were regarded as chattel. A past where married women had no legal rights other than those derived from their husbands, who controlled their wives’ income, their property and their education. A past where only white men could vote.

Removing rights to bodily autonomy allows a return to this past. Should these men be able to keep women “pregnant in the summer, barefoot in the winter,” they believe they will each regain their rightful position to reign as sovereign of the household.

In Dobbs v. Jackson, the U.S. Supreme Court removed women’s rights to bodily autonomy as to pregnancy termination. Justice Clarence Thomas suggested in Dobbs that more is on the way. Post election, the Court will likely outlaw medicinal abortions. If fetal rights are determined to exist at conception, Griswold v. Connecticut, the 1965 case establishing a right to contraception, will be overturned.

Trump, the Republican presidential candidate, has stated plans to ignore the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which guaranteed birthright citizenship. If the amendments giving women the right to vote are also ignored, the rollback of rights will be more or less complete. Only white men will have the vote.

The major candidates for president are not the same. Protect your freedoms and your rights. Vote for President Biden.

Lorraine L. Hansen

Rollinsford, N.H.


Thank you for highlighting the components of this despicable movement. We can’t prevent something that we don’t see coming.

The Editor


Git ’er Done, Joe!

To the Editor:

Because he has been willing to patiently negotiate with the other party, President Biden has gotten a huge amount of legislation passed. New Hampshire has felt the impact of these major legislative accomplishments.

For example, Biden’s American Rescue Plan of 2021, was intended to speed up the county’s recovery from the economic and health effects of COVID. By its two-year anniversary, the results for our state were obvious.

It powered a strong recovery in New Hampshire with the unemployment rate falling from 4.2% in January 2021 to 2.9% in December 2022, and led to a record 28,000 new small business application in the state.

All 241 N.H. towns received direct funds to avoid cuts and invest in public safety, housing, work force development, and 150 School Districts received funding to support academic recovery and student mental health.

Over 590 N.H. Child Care Programs received support to help keep their doors open, impacting up to 43,000 N.H. children, and the historic Child Tax Credit provided tax relief that benefited an estimated 144,000 families with 239,000 children in N.H..

Health care savings, rental assistance, financial relief for college students and affordable high speed internet for businesses contributed to the recovery in our state.

Not resting there, President Biden worked with Republicans to pass the long term American Jobs Act to continue to rebuild and grow the economy and to preserve the economic security of the middle class. With a fast-growing economy, strong labor market and falling inflation, the U.S. has outpaced its counterparts in Europe and elsewhere during these difficult times all over the world.

Keep up the good work, Joe!

Cynthia Muse

Rye, N.H.


Wanted: Educated Voters

To the Editor;

Alexis de Tocqueville was a 19th century French political theorist who wrote “Democracy in America,” still considered one of the best descriptions of the American political system ever written. Tocqueville notes that effective democracy requires an educated, involved electorate supported by a free and unbiased press. Educated voters attuned to political debate are necessary for evaluating political issues, using critical thinking to analyze conflicting perspectives and making rational decisions. They are less likely to be swayed by demagoguery or charismatic pretenders. Without informed and knowledgeable voters, democracies are more likely to fall under the control of special interests and demagogues.

Recent voter polls should cause us to pay attention to Tocqueville’s observations. A CBS poll of Republican voters shows that 34 percent are unaware that Trump has been indicted for attempting to overturn the results of the 2020 election while 70 percent still believe that the election fraudulently denied Trump the presidency. CNN reports that approximately 50 percent of Republican voters do not believe that Trump kept classified documents at Mar-a-Lago despite video evidence widely shown on various media. Eighty percent believe that Biden directed the recent hush money trial that resulted in Trump’s felony conviction even though the indictments were brought in a New York state court and the jury was selected from a random pool of N.Y. residents.

The results of these polls may be disappointing, but they are not surprising. Prior to becoming a convicted felon, Trump was twice impeached and found liable for sex abuse, defamation and massive corporate fraud. He is an immoral serial liar, a malignant narcissist, and has demonstrated incompetence as a corporate manager and as president. Any reasonable person would conclude that he is unsuited to be president. Yet Republican support for him remains strong. Is this support the result of apathy, willful ignorance or both?

Some of Trump’s support may be attributed to the decline of traditional news media and the proliferation of online news sources that have splintered into biased echo chambers that provide news only that favors their preferred tribe. Voters who get political news only through biased media are incapable of the critical analysis necessary for making effective electoral decisions, no matter how educated they may be. Yet educated voters should be expected to recognize bias and seek out alternative sources of information. The fact that many Republican voters fail to do so indicates that their support of Trump is the result of willful ignorance. For whatever reason, voter ignorance is a clear advantage for Trump. No wonder that he has remarked “I love the uneducated.” He can create an alternative reality based on conjecture and lies that his supporters accept without question.

The most effective strategy that Biden supporters can deploy to combat the willful ignorance of MAGA advocates is an unrelenting focus on the truth and the exposure of Trump’s persistent lies. Although such a strategy is not likely to convince the most rabid MAGA extremists, an appeal to fact may peel away the more reasonable among them.  They may make the difference in what appears to be a close election.

Robert D. Russell, Ph.D.

Harrisburg, Pa.


Talk about synchronicity—your letter came in shortly after we decided to run the passage which immediately follows.

The Editor


“… every strong upsurge of power in the public sphere, be it of a political or a religious nature, infects a large part of humankind with stupidity. It would even seem that this is virtually a sociological-psychological law. The power of the one needs the stupidity of the other. The process at work here is not that particular human capacities, for instance, the intellect, suddenly atrophy or fail. Instead, it seems that under the overwhelming impact of rising power, humans are deprived of their inner independence and, more or less consciously, give up establishing an autonomous position toward the emerging circumstances. The fact that the stupid person is often stubborn must not blind us to the fact that he is not independent. In conversation with him, one virtually feels that one is dealing not at all with him as a person, but with slogans, catchwords, and the like that have taken possession of him. He is under a spell, blinded, misused, and abused in his very being. Having thus become a mindless tool, the stupid person will also be capable of any evil and at the same time incapable of seeing that it is evil. This is where the danger of diabolical misuse lurks, for it is this that can once and for all destroy human beings.”

– Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison

Bonhoeffer was arrested by the Gestapo on April 5, 1943. Later accused of being associated with the July 20, 1944 plot to assassinate Hitler, he was hanged April 9, 1945.

Leave a Comment