Bill Maher – New Rule: Not everything in America has to make a profit

by on August 3, 2009 · 12 comments

in Civil Rights, Economy, War and Peace

by Bill Maher / HuffPost / originally posted July 23, 2009

How about this for a New Rule: Not everything in America has to make a profit. It used to be that there were some services and institutions so vital to our nation that they were exempt from market pressures. Some things we just didn’t do for money. The United States always defined capitalism, but it didn’t used to define us. But now it’s becoming all that we are.

Did you know, for example, that there was a time when being called a “war profiteer” was a bad thing? But now our war zones are dominated by private contractors and mercenaries who work for corporations. There are more private contractors in Iraq than American troops, and we pay them generous salaries to do jobs the troops used to do for themselves ­– like laundry. War is not supposed to turn a profit, but our wars have become boondoggles for weapons manufacturers and connected civilian contractors.

Prisons used to be a non-profit business, too. And for good reason –­ who the hell wants to own a prison? By definition you’re going to have trouble with the tenants. But now prisons are big business. A company called the Corrections Corporation of America is on the New York Stock Exchange, which is convenient since that’s where all the real crime is happening anyway. The CCA and similar corporations actually lobby Congress for stiffer sentencing laws so they can lock more people up and make more money. That’s why America has the world;s largest prison population ­– because actually rehabilitating people would have a negative impact on the bottom line.

Television news is another area that used to be roped off from the profit motive. When Walter Cronkite died last week, it was odd to see news anchor after news anchor talking about how much better the news coverage was back in Cronkite’s day. I thought, “Gee, if only you were in a position to do something about it.”

But maybe they aren’t. Because unlike in Cronkite’s day, today’s news has to make a profit like all the other divisions in a media conglomerate. That’s why it wasn’t surprising to see the CBS Evening News broadcast live from the Staples Center for two nights this month, just in case Michael Jackson came back to life and sold Iran nuclear weapons. In Uncle Walter’s time, the news division was a loss leader. Making money was the job of The Beverly Hillbillies. And now that we have reporters moving to Alaska to hang out with the Palin family, the news is The Beverly Hillbillies.

And finally, there’s health care. It wasn’t that long ago that when a kid broke his leg playing stickball, his parents took him to the local Catholic hospital, the nun put a thermometer in his mouth, the doctor slapped some plaster on his ankle and you were done. The bill was $1.50, plus you got to keep the thermometer.

But like everything else that’s good and noble in life, some Wall Street wizard decided that hospitals could be big business, so now they’re run by some bean counters in a corporate plaza in Charlotte. In the U.S. today, three giant for-profit conglomerates own close to 600 hospitals and other health care facilities. They’re not hospitals anymore; they’re Jiffy Lubes with bedpans. America’s largest hospital chain, HCA, was founded by the family of Bill Frist, who perfectly represents the Republican attitude toward health care: it’s not a right, it’s a racket. The more people who get sick and need medicine, the higher their profit margins. Which is why they’re always pushing the Jell-O.

Because medicine is now for-profit we have things like “recision,” where insurance companies hire people to figure out ways to deny you coverage when you get sick, even though you’ve been paying into your plan for years.

When did the profit motive become the only reason to do anything? When did that become the new patriotism? Ask not what you could do for your country, ask what’s in it for Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

If conservatives get to call universal health care “socialized medicine,” I get to call private health care “soulless vampires making money off human pain.” The problem with President Obama’s health care plan isn’t socialism, it’s capitalism.

And if medicine is for profit, and war, and the news, and the penal system, my question is: what’s wrong with firemen? Why don’t they charge? They must be commies. Oh my God! That explains the red trucks!

Bill Maher, host of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher airs live tonight at 10pm

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar mr fresh August 3, 2009 at 8:48 pm

and while we’re at it, can we tax the heck out of corporate bonuses over $250,000?

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avatar Dave Gilbert August 4, 2009 at 8:31 am

Bill Maher cracks me up, I just feel sad for his cousin Del Mar because he’s lost so many race horses recently.

Truth be told, there’s nothing wrong with making a profit, just so long as you’re not screwing over your fellow man in the process. ;)

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avatar doug porter August 4, 2009 at 8:39 am

bad puns must be punished.

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avatar Dave Gilbert August 4, 2009 at 9:02 am

What do you think Doug, hard time in the Punitentiary?

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avatar OBSteven August 4, 2009 at 10:15 am

While we are doing a HBO comedy commercial. Let’s do one for the locals. Ahem. “Every Friday night for over 3 years we have Ocean Beach Comedy! 7-9 $5 If you think you’re funny and want to try comedy come to our comedy open mic 6-7 before the show.” We have had some of the best in the country right here in O.B.

Want to come in this Friday or next Friday for free? Just tell me which one and I will put you on our guest list.

contact@oceanbeachcomedy.com

Bill Mahr is ok. But he is no Bill Hicks.

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avatar mr fresh August 4, 2009 at 10:38 am

but do they have anybody at ob comedy who’s punny?

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avatar jon August 4, 2009 at 10:42 am

Bob

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avatar Dave Gilbert August 4, 2009 at 1:37 pm

I’ve been meaning to go check out Ocean Beach Comedy because laughter is so good for the soul. I’m glad that I have a decent “Scents of Yuma” but I don’t know how good comedians do it on a regular basis. I’m pretty good with a quick retort but that’s because I grew up listening to guys like George Carlin, who to me is the master when it comes to observational comedy.

Just about all of my stuff is borrowed from either him, Bill Cosby, Steve Martin, the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, Dennis Miller (before he got all right wing on us) and Jerry Seinfeld.

Then throw in modern cats like Jon Stewart, Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle & Stephen Colbert and I’m too busy laughing at them to think I had a legit shot at being some sort of wise guy.

I’ll just leave the bologna slice in each of my shoes so that way I can at least always feel funny. (ba-dump-bump! ;)

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avatar Patty Jones August 4, 2009 at 7:15 pm

rotflmfao at dave!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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avatar Dave Sparling August 4, 2009 at 9:42 pm

All part of the greatest growth of the Military Industrial Complex in history, starting with Gulf war one and the marriage between western media and the MIC. Ike gave a warning years ago but as usual the masses chose to ignore it.

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avatar Dave Sparling August 4, 2009 at 9:48 pm

Oh and as for OBC @ Winstons you might check out 3 guys, Sacrilegious Dave, Reverend Dave, Gitmo Dave. Or on Mondays Drunk Poets Old Hermit Dave.

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avatar mr fresh August 5, 2009 at 7:41 am

OBC = all Dave all the time….

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