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God Bless the Nurses. And Please Hurry!

Jim Hightower on

Every religion prioritizes care for the needy. Christianity's Benedictine Rule, for example, puts care of the sick atop the moral order, "above and before every other duty."

Really -- even above the holy Wall Street mandate that medical and insurance conglomerates must squeeze every last penny of profits out of America's corporate-care system? Well, gosh, they say, let's not go crazy with this religious stuff! There's morality ... and then there's business.

Consider how today's monopolized and financialized hospital networks treat nurses -- the high-touch frontline people who do the most to put care in "health care." Paid a pittance, thousands of nurses across America are now organizing and unionizing against the inequities of this system. The nurses' core grievance, however, is not their pay, but the gross understaffing imposed on them and their patients by profiteering hospital chains.

In a national survey, more than half of nurses feel "used up" and "emotionally drained." Why? Primarily because executives keep goosing up profits by eliminating care providers, making it impossible for the remaining, stretched-out staff to meet their own high moral standard of care. That's demoralizing for nurses ... and deadly for patients.

Yet, corporate-care lobbyists loudly squawk that hospital chains can't afford to pay fair wages and fully staff-up. Ironically, one of the loudest squawkers is the hospital mega-chain, Ascension, a Catholic church offshoot proclaiming to be "rooted in the loving ministry of Jesus as healer." Some healer. In a devilish partnership with a Wall Street huckster, Ascension has been slashing nursing staffs while paying its CEO $13 million a year, hoarding $18 billion in cash and allotting a pitiful 2% of its budget for charitable care of the poor.

What the hell! To help battle health care greed, go to NationalNursesUnited.org.

THAT STENCH OF CORRUPTION YOU SMELL IS COMING FROM THE SUPREME COURT

We Texans are long-accustomed to enduring stormy outbursts of corruption among our top state legislators. The spectacle of lawmakers taking corporate bribes to provide legislative favors, tax breaks, government contracts and such is as common as spring tornadoes -- and even more destructive to the public good.

 

The state's prevailing ethical standard was articulated several years ago when a powerful legislator (nicknamed "Bull of Brazos") was caught personally profiting from a bill he was pushing: "I'd just make a little bit of money," he explained dismissively. "I wouldn't make a whole lot."

Before rolling your eyes at Crazy Texas, though, consider the sneak attack that corporate America is now making to legalize the wholesale bribery of every public official in America. Their ploy is a cynical effort to redefine bribery. Paying officials to do corporate favors, they insist, should only be considered a bribe if the payoff is arranged before the favor is done. Yes, with a straight face, these finaglers claim that if the payment comes after an official delivers the goods, it's not a bribe but simply a "gratuity." Like tipping a waiter for good service.

Even the flimflammers Congress would balk at voting for such a blatant perversion of language and public integrity. So, the corporate connivers have slinked over to the corrupt plutocratic partisans on the Supreme Court, beseeching them to -- Hocus Pocus! -- autocratically decree that wrong is right. And they probably will, since a majority of the Supremes have themselves accepted corrupt freebies from corporate patrons. Take Clarence Thomas, please! He's been given millions in corporate bribes (excuse me, "gratuities"), so he's hardly an unbiased judge of official corruption.

To fight the stench of this legal freak show, go to Campaign Legal Center: campaignlegal.org.

To find out more about Jim Hightower and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.

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