Does Business Call the Shots?

April 12, 2011

  The recent WCAX news report on the meeting between IBM and other business executives and Gov. Peter Shumlin provided a chilling reminder of how government usually functions in the United States. The executives are shown entering the governor's office smiling and bristling with confidence, and perhaps even a little arrogance, that they are the ones who call the shots and that they expect government officials to do what they want. In this instance, they appear both in the television and print media to be confident that they will be able to prevent the state from enacting a single-payer health care system in Vermont. After all, when we look at how policy is formulated and enacted on the federal level, it seems clear that corporate America, its executives and boards, who are not elected by the American people, is the state.

But this is Vermont, where democracy still reigns and the voters have the final word. Single-payer will provide IBM employees with at least the same level of medical care they currently have, maybe more, and at the same time likely save money for IBM and other businesses. More importantly, it will cover every Vermonter while saving them and the state government a lot of money. Shouldn't those executives at least wait until next year, when the funding mechanisms for a single-payer system in Vermont will be devised, to see if such a system would be harmful or beneficial to their bottom line? Or are they simply motivated by an ideology and a culture on the national level that is used to dictating state policy?

FRANK NICOSIA

Middlebury

Rutland Herald