Saturday, February 16, 2008

Kenya - Meddle and Muddle

Under British colonialism, the world learned how to divide and conquer. Now, with the American hegemony at hand, that has been replaced by a 'policy' of meddling and muddling. The resulting confusion is very destructive to nations and economies. Kicking off the 21st century, Iraq stands as the sentinel example . Pakistan, with Mushy (the U.S. backed dictator) now creating an unholy antidemocratic mess, is another case in point.

Kenya is an unlikely place to suspect an American hand but the signs have been there for quite some time now. Mwai Kibaki, the previous president, is a typical example of one who seems well intentioned, urbane, well educated, soft spoken, and yet is firmly in the U.S.'s back pocket. The secret is money, though that's hardly a great secret, is it?

Unfortunately for the U.S., even the Kenyan government's official map that purports to explain the strange result of Kibaki's 'win' shows, to anyone who knows how tribes and populations are actually distributed in Kenya that the 'official result' is a farce.
Bush, in the face of an obviously rigged election, wants power to be shared in Kenya. Shared? Did he offer to share his presidency when John Kerry won the popular vote in his own questionable 'win' in his own 'democratic' country? In other words, by whatever means, Mwai should retain the semblance of power, for Raila Odinga is an unknown quantity and looks (from what we can tell of his public persona) to be much less likely to slip quietly into the CIA's silky hands.
Kofi Annan's attempts to help sort things out in Kenya must have really alarmed the Bush administration. Kofi has been a quiet but powerful force in opposition to the American attempts at hegemony. That fight almost destroyed the U.N. itself as the U.S. used its money power to choke the U.N. into submission. Rice is now sent to butt herself in to the delicate situation in Kenya to see to it that Mwai doesn't cave in. The fact that then thousands more may die in the face of a ham-handed attempt to subvert real live democracy, is immaterial.

Also immaterial, it seems, is the fact that perhaps for the very first time in Africa, a country has voted without regards to tribal allegiance. That is the only way for Odinga, a non-Kikuyu to have popularly and decisively ousted Mwai who is a Kikuyu. Kikuyus themselves, and a lot of them too, voted for someone from another tribe - unheard of in Africa, till a couple months ago!
Kenya is a land of vast potential. It has excellent agricultural prospects, good water, regular rains and has a wide range of habitats. The people are intelligent, relatively well educated, hard working, honest, sincere, friendly and very politically active.
Let's not do things the Cheney-me-to-a-Rice Bush way just this once. Enough of this meddling and muddling! Let's give Kenya a chance.

In the meantime, as Kenyans struggle for their independence and their right to decide their own future, let them know that there are many around the world praying for their success and peace and progress.
For the land of my birth, right now though, I am much reminded of the title of a book by a South African writer, Alan Paton:


Thursday, February 14, 2008

Haunting Echoes of 'Health' Insurance

Way back in June of 2006, I had done a post ("Money or Medicine" - click the title link) on the shenanigans of health insurers and particularly a group called United Health (at that time hiding behind a quiet buyout of Oxford) who had earned a rather rich write-up in the NY Times. I was therefore less than surprised to see this heading at NPR today on my Google Homepage: "N.Y. Attorney General Accuses Insurers of Fraud".

Part of the answer must be that it's a bit like life insurance - you don't really know much about what you've actually got for your investment till it is (far) too late to make any changes. Folks that get really sick and then get shafted are already in such bad shape both financially and personally that their feeble voices are well below our threshold.

We will insist on believing the slick sales talk, and continue to be awed by the shiny brochures and the oh-so-well-designed websites that we forget that all that cosmetic costs real money and its coming out of the premium that so quietly gets deducted from your paycheck every month. Effective cosmetic cover is only really needed when there is no intrinsic beauty to reveal. Individual horror stories are a dime a dozen, but few seem to be aware that their fates are a result of careful planning and cleverly hidden execution. The return on investment for the shareholders is the permanent goal. Shafting and systematically cheating a few thousand here or there is the acceptable collateral damage along the path to that ROI.

Granted that the present U.S. government is more concerned about protecting the turf of such big businesses than overly worried about the healthcare that the general populace does or does not get. Still, I wonder how such corporations can continue to convince people to pay the dues that keep them raking in the money even when their primary aim is to take folks for a cheap but royal sounding ride?

We are so proud to be among 'the protected' and we will continue to be proud until it's too late and we are too far gone to be able to do anything about it but cry.

Thanks to Peter Kuper for the wonderfully apt illustration.


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