Posts Tagged ‘‘Trumpcare’’

Trump Passes Law Allowing Gene Testing by Bosses

March 14, 2017

This is another, very chilling step towards genuine Fascism by Trump, who’s surrounded himself with Fascists and White Supremacists. In this piece from the David Pakman Show, the host and his producer, Louis, reveal how Trump introduced legislation that would permit employers to demand their employees take genetic tests and hand over information about the DNA. This was slipped past Congress when the public had their attention on the colossal mess that is Trumpcare. This overturns previous legislation which prevented employers from demanding such information, not least under US privacy laws. The legislation permits US employers to do this if they are running ‘wellness’ programmes. Pakman states that this is all about employers having the ability to charge people more for their healthcare, if they find out they have certain genetic conditions.

This is exactly what the authors Ruth Hubbard and Elijah Wald wished to expose and counter in their book, Exploding the Gene Myth (Boston: Beacon Press 1997).

The book is subtitled ‘How Genetic Information Is Produced and Manipulated by Scientists, Physicians, Employers, Insurance Companies, Educators and Law Enforcers’. It’s about the way the above have tried to link illness and criminality to heredity since the 19th century, and how this has led to eugenics legislation in which the ‘genetically unfit’ were sterilised and institutionalised in order to prevent them breeding. Or else it was used as pretext to prevent the passage of welfare legislation. The argument here was that it would be a waste of resources supporting those, who were unable to work as their illness was down to their own faulty biological heredity, not the terrible working conditions and industrial hazards of the time.

Eugenics was a favourite topic amongst the European and American chattering classes from the late 19th century until it was discredited by the horrors of the Nazi regime during World War II. But Hubbard and Wald warned that it was coming back with the drive to find a genetic basis for illnesses like schizophrenia and other traits. The book has the following chapters

1. Of Genes and People
The Role of Genetics in Our Lives
Genes for Deafness, Genes for Being Raped
A Word about Scientists
Heredity and Environment
What Are Genes?

2. Genetic Labelling and Old Eugenics
The Birth of Eugenics
Genetic Labelling
Involuntary Sterilisation
Eugenic Immigration Policies.

3. The New Eugenics: Testing, Screening and Choice
Overt and Subtle Eugenics
Parenting, Disabilities and Selective Abortion
Genetic Screening
Fallacies of Genetic Prediction.

4. A Brief Look at Genetics
Heredity and Genes
The Beginning: Gregor Mendel, “Traits” and “Factors”
From Mendel to the Double Helix
Genes and Proteins
How Chromosomes and Genes Are Duplicated
X and Y: The Sex Chromosome
From DNA to RNA to Proteins
How Genes Function
Sequencing the Human Genome
RFLPs: Linking DNA with Traits

5. Genes in Context
Definitions of Health and Disease
Individualisation of Health and Illness
Genes as Blueprints
Geneticisation
Diagnostic Labeling

6. “Inherited Tendencies”: Chronic Conditions
Some Underlying Assumptions
Conditions that Run in Families
Diabetes
High Blood Pressure, Heart Disease, and Strokes
Cancer
Oncogenes and Anti-Oncogenes
Cancer Prevention and Cancer Screening
Breast Cancer
Cancer Prevention versus Cancer Therapy

7. “Inherited Tendencies”: Behaviours
Which Behaviours?
Homosexuality
Alcoholism
Problems of Linking Genes to Behaviour
Pitfalls of Behavioural Research: The XYY Fallacy

8. Manipulating Our Genes
Conventional Treatments for Inherited Conditions
Modifying DNA: Somatic Cell Manipulations
“Germ-Line Gene Therapy”: Changing Future Generations

9. Genes for Sale
Funds for Research, Profits for Biotechnology
Commercialisation and Conflicts of Interest
Owning the Genome
What to Do?

10. Genetic Discrimination:
Education, Employment and Insurance

Genetic Testing and the Schools
Genetic Discrimination in the Workplace
Measures in Counter Employment-Related Discrimination
Genetic Discrimination in Insurance

11. DNA-Based Identification Systems, Privacy, and Civil Liberties
DNA and the Criminal Justice System
Scientific Problems with DNA Profiles
Genetic Privacy and Civil Liberties
Employment- and Health-Related Issues
Controlling Genetic Information.

There is also a preface, in which they give their reasons and aims for writing the book, a conclusion and afterword, as well as an appendix on mitochondrial DNA, notes, glossary and a bibliography and list of other resources.

There were a series of scandals regarding the enforced genetic testing of employees in the ’80s and ’90s, one of which was compulsory genetic testing of a set of recruits in the US army. They also make it very clear that the insurance companies wanted to introduce it as a way of charging those with ‘faulty’ genes higher premiums.

And from that, it’s a very short step to eugenics and then the mass slaughter of the congenitally disabled under the Third Reich’s Aktion T4.

The forcible genetic testing of US recruits is mentioned in one of the books that came out on the X-Files, as an example of how the paranoid fantasies of the show nevertheless had a factual basis in this instance. To be fair to the Christian Right in the America, they are very hostile to sterilisation and eugenics. However, it’ll be interesting to see if they oppose this noxious piece of legislation. In much of the rhetoric of the religious right, such legislation is linked to oppressive, totalitarian states, like Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union. It’ll be interesting to see if they oppose it when it’s introduced by an ostensibly democratic government (yeah, I know, it ain’t really), dominated by big business and which is bitterly hostile to any kind of Socialism.

I don’t think you’ll see a word against it. As Pakman explains, when it came to voting, all the Republicans voted for it, all the Democrats against. And I doubt the right-wing Conspiracy fringe will oppose it either. Alex Jones on Infowars has been pumping out pro-Trump propaganda since the Orange Nazi’s election campaign. He wants Americans to believe that Trump is somehow ‘anti-globalist’, despite the fact that he’s stuffed his cabinet full of globalists and monopoly capitalists.

This is truly terrifying, as it does bring us once step closer to the genetic dystopia of the film Gattaca.

And it’s yet more proof of the Nazism at the core of Trump’s administration.

The Young Turks Examine Trump’s Alternative to Obamacare; and How It’ll Hurt the Poor

March 7, 2016

Donald Trump has been loudly proclaiming throughout his campaign that he’ll repeal Obamacare and replace it with his new, improved system. In this clip The Young Turks’ Cenk Uygur, John Iadarola and Jimmy Dore go through his proposals to show how some of his ideas, which superficially sound good, will leave for the poor and long-term sick much worse off.

First off, Trump intends to repeal the mandate obliging the insurance companies to provide insurance for everyone. They note that this is a policy that not even the other Republicans wanted to be seen endorsing. Indeed, they were all for the mandate when it was a Republican policy. As soon as it was adopted by Obama, a Democrat, they turned against it. And Trump was just as fickle. They argue that he never in fact knew what the mandate was when he telling everyone that he supported it. When he found out that the other Republicans were against it, then he joined them and attacked it as well.

Trump’s proposed reforms would also remove the obligation of the insurance underwriters to charge the same for those with expensive or long-term illnesses. It would allow them to charge more for those with pre-existing illnesses.

They make the point that Trump was telling everyone that under his healthcare plans, no-one would be left to die in the street. But this is what his policies would lead to. They also point out that he doesn’t spell out what the consequences of this policies would be on his website, but it’s clear from reading the conditions he lays out for his health care plan that these are what would result. They also point out that Trump could say more or less anything, no matter how nonsensical or contradictory, provided he shouted it and used an insult. The only person, who actually bothered to tackle him about this in any detail was Marco Rubio, and then Trump folded, as he didn’t have an answer. Of course none of the Republicans have any idea what they’d replace Obamacare with. The only person who does is Bernie Sanders, who wants a system like the socialised medical services in Europe.

Trump also promises that he’ll make the cost of medical care tax-deductible. This looks good, but it’s another way of giving money to the rich and depriving the poor and middle class. It’s largely only the rich that itemise their taxes, which is one of the requirements of this part of Trump’s health care plans. Also, the poor and the middle class don’t actually make enough money to be able to pay enough in tax for deductions for the costs of medical care to be possible. It’s why Obamacare actually has tax credits for the poor and middle class. So this is another way in which the poor will lose out in favour of the rich if Trump gets in.

And finally there’s Trump’s plans to let people in one state be able to buy insurance in another. The Turks here point out that instead of promoting competition, what’ll happen is that all the insurance companies will move to the state with the lowest taxes and least regulations, like Delaware. The result will actually be less competition between firms, and less legal protection for insurance policy holders.

So Trumpcare will result in more people being uninsured and uninsurable. It won’t stop people dying in the street from lack of medical care. But on the other hand, it will benefit the rich while fooling the poor into thinking he’s doing something for them. Just like Conservatives and Republicans have done down the years.