Paul Elisha: Reluctant Remembrances

Sep 24, 2013

As the beloved piquant paradoxical pin-striper, Yogi Berra, used to pipe – “It’s like deja vu all over again,” it’s precisely that, just two decades or so later, with the same old cast of characters and a few new faces added.

One of the unhappy consequences of survival to an ancient age, with one’s mind intact is the remembrance of things one would prefer to have forgotten.  For this reluctant re-collector, the incident occurred over an approximate period, from 1964 to 1965, when one of our nation’s more presumptive heroes was in the process of re-inventing himself from cinematic provocateur to politically priceless worthiness as a potential potentate.  At that time, he was the admired host of the hugely popular TV Western, “Death Valley Days” and approaching an apex of his own potential, as a soon-to-be California Governor: Ronald Reagan.

The strangely serendipitous and eerily haunting incident dealt with Healthcare, as originally proposed by the radically inventive West Coast power-house pioneer of ‘Liberty Ships,’ ‘Baby Flat-Tops,’ floating dry-docks and employee incentives, the Henry J. Kaiser company, which – post war – was actually proposing a plan of insurance for employee healthcare, of which the union at G.E. was an early proponent.  Needless to state, G.E. fought back with all corporate propaganda guns firing…full blast; the job of  anti-insurance shooter falling to one blandly believable: “Two-Gun, Reagan.”    In one of his most compelling performances, he condemned healthcare insurance for employee unions as – “…an insidious form of creeping Communism, unworthy of American labor union support.”  That early battle was one the Union at G.E. lost.

Healthcare insurance, like Henry Kaiser proposed is now, happily, part and parcel of employee pension plans, nationwide.  In fact, Medicare and what detractors have derided as ‘OBAMA-CARE’ are outgrowths.  Alas, deceptive revilers are still trying to tag them as ‘un-American’.  Congressional curtailers have wangled ways to cut themselves in for coverage, at taxpayer expense but can’t seem to find the funds to give taxpayers equal coverage… or so they claim.

To this reluctant recollector, that sounds too suspiciously Reaganesque… and we know the desert that leads to.  We cannot and must not go there, while today’s G.E. departs for other locales of promise and profit, leaving its union bereft of benefits for which to bargain and a denuded environment, still awash in the many persistent poisons of GE’s corporate unconcern.

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