Tennessee Independent ThinkerTennessee Independent Thinker News
         Volume 1 Issue 3                   "Helping to Educate Tennessee Voters about Important Political Issues."                               August 2013
Stop Money's Corruption of our Federal Government
                        by Tim Holt

The people’s influence over the U.S. government is practically missing because of money’s influence in politics.

A very small part of our population fund our federal election campaigns; 60% of the Superfund election money was provided by about 132 people, only 0.26% of the people gave over $200.  After the funders define their supported candidates, the General election is held, and the citizens get to vote, choosing from the candidates selected by the funders. Our Supreme Court in Citizens United said that the important thing was that the citizens voting in the general election got to have the ultimate influence.

To the contrary, choosing only from the funders selections means we have no real influence.  We are forced to choose a government consisting of only the funder’s selected representatives, corrupting our founders intent of a peoples republic.

We have lost the representative republic.  The people’s influence has been replaced by the corrupting influence of campaign and lobbying money.  We must take strong and decisive action to recover the peoples control of the government.  Two initiatives are in the works that are consistent with our mission.

Please review and sign to be a citizen cosponsor of the American Anticorruption Act at http://anticorruptionact.org/.   It is a comprehensive constitutional law that the authors have a good plan for implementing. Members of Congress will be asked to cosponsor, as written, when they get 1 million signatures.  Holdouts will be strongly opposed by a coalition of organizations in their next election; when they will be in the untenable position of supporting status quo corruption.

For the longer term, because the Supreme Court has given several human rights to corporations and said that money has the right of free speech, we need to deny these decisions with an amendment to the constitution.   You can support an amendment which meets the needs at http://movetoamend.org/.

United Against Corporate Exploitation of Our Rights
                         By Pat Combs

In 1886, a conservative Supreme Court breathed life into the Southern Pacific Railroad and things have not been the same since.   The corporations assumed the rights of personhood but none of the responsibilities that went along with it.  “We The People” — the ones who work, cry, bleed, worry, and live in this country — understand those responsibilities and are now called to act to protect OUR rights from being exploited by corporations for monetary gains and political influence. Corporate exploitation of OUR rights has led to the unregulated pollution of our air, land, and waters as well as the downfall of our economy, all for the sake of shortsighted profits.   “We The People” have had enough and have begun to speak up against this injustice.

The voices of the People began in the form of calls to overturn the Citizens United through a Constitutional Amendment, then became organized through groups such as Public Citizen, Common Cause, Free Speech for People, and Move to Amend.   With these groups bolstering hundreds of thousands of supporters, the calls of the People have become a movement that continues to expand across the nation.
Under the guise of personhood, Corporations have diminished the power of the People for the sake of profits.   The corporate hijacking of our political system should be met with a serious response from the People; and the fight starts with the Move to Amend amendment:

We, the People of the United States of America, reject the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling and other related cases, and move to amend our Constitution to firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights.

Personification is defined as the attribution of human characteristics to things that are not human.  The Supreme Court personified Corporations in the 19th Century and it is time, we set the record straight.    I leave you with two quotes:

“Everything the corporations earn goes to the people.”  – Mitt Romney

“Democrats are uncomfortable with corporate free speech.”  Senator Mitch McConnell

If, unlike Mr. Romney and Senator McConnell, you understand that the People did not receive golden parachutes during the financial crisis and that free speech is a human right – not a corporate right, raise your voice and be heard. The movement has come to Chattanooga with the recent formation of our very own chapter: Move to Amend Chattanooga.   You can find us on Facebook at Move to Amend Chattanooga. We encourage you to get involved by learning more about the movement, writing letters and demanding action from your elected officials.

Tennessee Healthcare Campaign is Helping Explain Affordable Care Act and Enrollment

Tennessee Healthcare Campaign (THCC), a nonprofit consumer health care advocacy group working to explain the Patient Protection & Affordable Health Care Law and working across Tennessee to help folks enroll in a health plan, received fundraising help at Cherokee Country Club on Wednesday, July 23.

The event was hosted by Jerry Askew of Tennova Healthcare and Dr. Dennis Freeman of Cherokee Health Care Systems.  Donations will be used for THCC’s efforts to ‘Enroll Tennessee’ in health insurance.   Walter Davis of Blount County, THCC’s executive director, addressed attendees noting that “Close to one million Tennesseans, about one in six, do not have health insurance and others are underinsured.  Beginning October 1 individuals can enroll in health plans on new exchanges for their health insurance and may qualify for federal premium tax subsidies. See www.healthcare.gov or call 1-800-318-2596 for more information.  Coverage begins January 1, 2014. A qualified individual earning $11,490/yr., which is the 100% poverty level, will be able to obtain a comprehensive health insurance plan for about $20 per month. The rest of the premium will be paid by our federal government using the enrollee’s premium tax subsidy. 

Among the health insurance reforms, the insurance companies may not deny coverage of any illness or prior condition and the insurance company must use at least $80 of every $100 premium for the enrollee’s healthcare, not for profits nor administration and salaries.

According to 2010 census data and surveys, there are about 338,000 under 65 years old in the 38 counties of East Tennessee who lack health insurance.  About 310,000 are adults ages 18-64 and about 18,000 are uninsured children.  Many of the uninsured children are eligible for TennCare or the CHIP program but their parents may not know about the program. As Director Davis said ‘THCC has only three staff members and relies on volunteers to help spread the word so people can learn how to obtain health insurance’.  About 80, people attended Director Davis’s presentation at Blount County Library on Monday evening. THCC staff can be reached at 1-877-431-7083 for questions or speakers.

Submitted by
Mary M. Headrick M.D. 1-865-992-1965, mary@maryheadrick.com, THCC volunteer and
Walter Davis, THCC executive director, 1-877-431-7083, walter@thcc2.org

Tennessee Healthcare Campaign is Helping Explain Affordable Care Act and Enrollment
Affordable Care Act – Enrollment in Exchanges begins Oct. 1, 2013
There are ~832,000 uninsured Tennesseans, ~111,000 in Knox nine county area. Tennesseans who are not currently eligible for TennCare nor for an affordable work place plan can apply for health insurance on the new health insurance exchange. Those whose income is 100%-400% of the federal poverty level MAY be eligible for premium tax subsidies to purchase an affordable comprehensive health insurance plan.  For example, based on current premium predictions, a Silver Plan individual applicant earning $11,490/yr. might obtain health insurance for $19/month with the rest subsidized through their premium tax credit.  Folks can go to www.kff.org/interactive/subsidy-calculator/  to estimate their age and tobacco status premium cost and subsidy.  Smoking and chewing tobacco are not subsidized premium add-ons and insurers are allowed to add up to 50% to the premium for the tobacco health risk (e.g. $113/mo enrollee cost for $226/mo subsidized plan). The web site www.healthcare.gov or phone 1-800-318-2596 has more information.

By the October 1, when enrollment begins, volunteers hope to have a notebook in every public library to aid enrollment. Those willing can volunteer 5 hours for training to become a Certified Application Counselor (CAC) and then volunteer time to help folks enroll.  Contact Nicki Vivorette of TN Justice at nvivorette@tnjustice.org, 1-877-608-1009 to get on the notification list for CAC training. The lessons should be available after August 15. The link below is the portal for training for agents and brokers, CACs and Navigators.
Folks who are interested in helping can maintain the library notebook or take the CAC classes with or without certification from testing and help spread the word through their church or other group.

Here are a few premium subsidy predictions:

                       (Continued in Column 2)
                 (Continued from Column 1)

See ‘Linking Americans to Coverage 2014’ to view a histogram showing exchange enrollment categories with no TennCare Expansion.  Looking at the Premium & Subsidy Examples above and below, one sees the ‘Uninsured childless adults ages 19-64 with incomes of $11,489/year or less are likely to remain uninsured in Tennessee.  They will not be eligible for subsidies unless the Governor changes his mind about accepting Federal dollars for them.  Affordable health care and hospital survival depends on vigorous enrollment of the uninsured.  Spreading the word, enrolling folks and keeping them enrolled warrants everyone’s help. Small businesses (50 or fewer employees) will be able to enroll in the SHOP marketplace and will find lower prices for comprehensive plans. Several new resources are now available on http://marketplace.cms.gov, including the SHOP application form which makes it easier to understand the small business coverage. There will be no penalties for businesses in 2014.

Who are the Uninsured? www.Enrollamerica.org has the most recent data showing demographics for areas of 100,000 residents.  The uninsured in Knox and surrounding counties are poor.  Being single and male adds to the likelihood of being uninsured.

As of July 21, 2013, Tennessee has not accepted TennCare expansion nor accepted the $730.7 Million in federal money to help the poor and near poor obtain health insurance. Exchange applicants under 100% FPL probably will not be able to afford any coverage. They can go to federally qualified, state qualified community health clinics for a small subset of healthcare needs.

Check this CHART to see if there is a hospital in your county at risk of closing or losing some of its services, as well as jobs. 

Two Events for Climate Action
Saturday in Knoxville
Sunday in Oak Ridge

Saturday, August 17th is the ONE EARTH, OUR CHOICE free concert and rally for climate action at the SEEED Center, 1617 Dandridge Avenue, Knoxville. 

FREE Concert and Rally for Climate Action, featuring:
The renowned Sparky and Rhonda Rucker's old-time blues, hymns, original songs, and climate action songs;
Speaker climate ecologist Virginia Dale, Ph.D., Senior Scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory;
Al Gore's new Climate Reality Project slide show, presented by Joan Nelson;
Speaker Louise Gorenflo of Interfaith Power and Light;...
Event announcements, literature, etc. from participating groups;

And above all, a chance to connect and join together to expose the lies of the fossil fuel industry's extravagantly and secretly funded denial campaign and to work for our common future, our children and our grandchildren's future, and the future of our verdant Earth and of all her children to come. Has there ever been a cause more compelling, more crucial, or more urgent? 

Knoxville Climate Action Rally
(Click graphic to enlarge)

Bill McKibbins to Speak in Oak Ridge Sunday Evening

Bill McKibbins, environmentalist, head of 350.org, author of Eaarth, will speak to the interested public this Sunday, August 18, at 7:00PM EST at Oak Ridge High School, Oak Ridge, TN.  Please join us.  Eaarth was selected by UTK faculty as the Freshman orientation book for 2013-2014 and Mr. McKibbins will speak at UTK on August 19.

Bill McKibbins Do The Math Tour

Man-Made Climate Change – What can the Citizen Do?
by Dr. Mary Headrick
In a speech delivered in Oak Ridge, TN at a gathering of concerned citizens for the environment at the future site of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Oak Ridge

In April of 1955, a 16 year old black student named Claudette Colvin was the first person arrested for resisting bus segregation in Montgomery, Alabama, preceding the better known Rosa Parks incident by nine months. When asked why, Claudette Colvin said ‘History is holding me in this seat.  Harriet Tubman is pushing on this shoulder and Sojourner Truth is pushing on the other. Probably very few of you know about the girl, Claudette Colvin and her role as an activist.

Here today, you are unknown and must be activist for saving our planet and averting further climate change.  We must lead the activism and engage others. Jim Hansen, the father of our tipping point number for Earth as we know it, 350 ppm atmospheric CO2, said we don’t need more scientists as badly as we need more activists.  The 2012 average was 394 ppm CO2 atmospheric.  Too much!

Per the activism of Bill McKibbins, who will be in our area August 18-19, we must help publicize THREE NUMBERS: 2 Degrees Celsius (3.6 deg Fahrenheit), 565 Gigatons, 2795 Gigatons and their meaning.  If most folks know the formula E=MC2 then surely they can learn these numbers and the message: Climate Change is Real, We have the capacity to destroy planet Earth for most of humanity.  We can alter the future.

April 22, 1970, was the first Earth Day. 10% of Americans, 20 million, observed Earth Day in some way.  As the Cuyahoga River feeding Lake Erie burned, citizens related their outrage to President Nixon and Congress.  From this public outcry, we earned EPA, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Clean Water Act, The Clean Air Act, and the Clean Drinking Water Act and more.  But today, our TN elected officials in Washington call for abolishing EPA and call for leasing public lands to private industry for any and all fossil fuel extraction. Our TN leaders support the Halliburton, Dick Cheney, Oil & Gas exemption of the Clean Water Act and other exemptions, incentives and loopholes for coal, oil & natural gas, the leading fossil fuels that emit greenhouse gases.  In short, our elected officials are promoting reckless deregulation and aggressive use of fossil fuels, positions that will, irrevocably, harm our planet. Reckless deregulation and failure to dramatically reduce greenhouse gases will rob our children and grandchildren of the temperature, water, air, and soil they need to survive.

All our 1960's environmental gains, as well as the very planet itself are under attack and we are here today to say ‘Enough’.  We are here to tell President Obama, our Senators, our Representatives and EPA to regulate greenhouse gases and to implement a carbon tax.  We must decide how that carbon tax revenue is used: how much as a dividend divided among all citizens equally, how much applied to energy, transportation and food programs to move us away from fossil fuel use.  We are here to affirm the science, the truth, that through fossil fuel misuse and overuse we are warming the Earth and causing very dangerous climate change and weather extremes.

There is no Planet "B". Humans require safe temperatures, water, air and soil to survive. Corporations, who often lie to us in slick PR campaigns and who pervert our political climate with their campaign and lobby dollar, are not people and merely require profits, not safe temperature, water, air and soil.  Corporations are one source of jobs, BUT, to quote Park Overall," 'Is any job worth the slow Death of your children?”

The stakes are high.  That is why we are here, why we will return on August 17, why we will rally at the visits of Bill McKibbon, why we will apply bumper stickers, make signs, march, write letters, email and phone, why we will join environmentally conscious organizations like our faith-based justice groups, Sierra Club, TEC, SOCM, TCWP, Union of Concerned Scientists and Environment Justice movements; why we will donate to and vote for environmentally conscious candidates and projects; and why we will try to live a low carbon emission life. Each of us can be a Claudette Colvin in this fight for the planet.

Please engage your community.  Please support and please promote a carbon tax with some proceeds reinvested in the green jobs for renewable and sustainable infrastructure and way of life:

We must address our three areas of behavior:

1. The production of electricity (How much energy efficiency, hydro, solar, wind, nuclear, …. And what kind, with what safeguards, what investments?) (Communicate with TVA, with your local power distributor)

2. Transportation (How much mass, public, rail and personal vehicle?)

3. Food production (How much carbon in the production, packaging and delivery?, Are we using our soil properly and using the CO2 fixation of plants and soil?)

                  (Continued top of Column 3)
(Continued from Column 2)

There are opportunities in each of these arenas.
Again review the THREE NUMBERS:
2 degrees Celsius (3.6 deg. F), the MAXIMUM allowed global warming. We have already .7 degrees C and have ALREADY put into our atmosphere CO2 that will continue to raise global temperature even if we put no more net greenhouse gas into the atmosphere.  Greenhouse gases hang around up there.

565 Gigatons is the amount of additional CO2 or equivalent greenhouse gas that we can put into the atmosphere without passing the 2 degree global temperature rise.

2795 Gigatons is the amount of unused fossil fuel already identified and ready to extract and use. They are ‘in the cookie jar’ already.  We cannot afford to eat all the cookies.  Neither Tar Sands Oil nor Fracking for natural gas are solutions. Both compound the problems. To many among Industry and by our leaders are wrong-headed about these.  We need carbon energy independence, not just foreign oil independence.

We have a great, collective task that no one person can master.  We must work together if ‘the commons’, meaning our air, water, soil and temperature remain livable for our children and grandchildren. Please share the message, the three numbers, 2 Degrees C, 565 Gigatons of CO2, and 2795 Gigatons of CO2.

Let’s gather at every opportunity, in every venue for this great work, this difficult task.  Thank you for being here today, July 20, 2013 in this heat. Thank you if you are reading this essay/speech.

Mary Headrick M.D.
P.O. Box 218
Maynardville, TN 37807-0218

Editor’s License
by Ralph Hubbard

When one looks at the state of politics today on a national, as well as state level, one can only conclude that nothing else matters accept for the politicians and their political party to be in control of our government in order to benefit themselves and their contributors.  If politicians were actually trying to improve the lives of the average voter we would have a far different government and country and our politicians would work together and compromise to reach goals for improvement.

The Supreme Court made a seriously wrong decision in the Citizen’s United case by granting corporations the rights of personhood by giving them the right to give unlimited amounts of money to influence political elections. They equated money with free speech, which means that the wealthy can drown out the voices of the average citizen.  It should be noted that as “persons” they were not required to pay Social Security and Medicare on their “salary” (corporate profits). They only have the opportunity to influence elections in order to maximum their opportunity for profit.

Now there is nothing wrong with corporate profit. Lord knows it is needed for business to grow and hire employees. However, when Congressmen can be bought (of course none will admit to this) with large campaign contributions so that they can get laws passed and regulations removed or changed that enhance their profits, often times at the expense of their employees, and often times, the public’s expense; that is just wrong.

Books could be written about this subject, but here is a simple solution to the problem. Why don’t we pass a law or Constitutional amendment that only allows political contributions from registered voters and only for candidates whom we can vote for. (Corporations don’t vote, at least not yet.) Some limit could be set for contributing to political parties by individual voters and no one else. PAC money and other organizations that try to influence elections collecting and pooling money would have to prove that their contributions came from voters who could vote for the candidate(s) they support.

This would have the effect of requiring Senators and Representatives, both state and national, to come home on weekends and be available to their voters instead of spending all their time raising money for the next election.  They could do the right thing instead of what will earn them the most corporate money and support.

Of course all this would take a lot of thought to change election laws to remove the influence of big money from elections.  Until big money’s influence is removed from our elections, not much will change and our republic will continue to decline with all the partisan fighting and refusal to compromise.

The Tragedy of Willful Ignorance
by Janis Hashe

 “The tragedy of willful ignorance is that it’s not necessary. All of us—me, the lifelong progressive, someone else, the lifelong dyed-in-the-wool conservative—can learn from each other if we stop flinging stereotypes and, in some cases, outright lies, in each other’s faces. You are not going to “take back our country” from me—I am as American as you. I am not going to persuade you that the ambiguous, fluid world of our future is better than the constrained world of the past. OK. Let’s tear down the walls of willful ignorance and move forward together.”  Read the full article in The  Pulse, Chattanooga's Weekly Alternative.

Tennessee Independent Thinker News
The Tennessee Independent Thinker News is a periodic publication to help educate the public about important political issues facing Tennessee and the nation.  Your support and contributions to this publication will help to make it something that can help Tennesseans make informed decisions about the political issues in our future and how you can help.
Co-Editors - Dr. Mary M. Headrick & Ralph Hubbard

You may submit news and announcements relevant to the mission of this publication to:
mary@maryheadrick.com or hubbard@csot.com

Read Past Issues:

( Click issue Volume to view )

Volume-1 Issue-2 2013  Articles on:
1. Medicaid / TennCare Expansion and Governor Haslam's Decision To Refuse Medicaid Expansion Will Cost More Money To Almost Everyone Needing Healthcare, by Dr. Mary Headrick;
2. How Can You Help Make TennCare Expansion Happen, by Dr. Mary Headrick;
3. Governor Haslam called the joint session of the General Assembly on March 28 and refused the 2014 Medicaid (TennCare) expansion, from the League of Women Voter's newsletter;
4. Editor's License by Ralph Hubbard: Governor Haslam's Refusing Fed Dollars in 2014 Makes No Sense;
5. Prison-based Gerrymandering: Unequal Representation. By Sunny J. Murray

Volume-1 Issue-1 2013 
Articles on:
1.  Medicaid / TennCare Expansion that supports accepting federal dollars to obtain Health Care for the working poor;
2. TN Chapter of the American College of Physicians write letter to Governor in support of Medicaid Expansion
3. Frequently asked questions about the Health Care and federal funds expansion
impact on the State budget and Tennessee’s economy;
4. U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander introduces legislation to repeal individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act;
5. Knoxville News-Sentinel posts timeline for Affordable Care Act;
6. League of Women Voters of Tennessee submits Action Alert about proposed Constitutional Amendment to change our Judicial Selection Process; and
7. Medicaid Expansion Issues & Benefits By C. Wright Pinson, MBA, Vanderbilt University Medical Senate Health and Welfare Committee. 

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