The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Los Angeles health care:
Robin Hood in reverse

Aug 11, 2003

Earlier this year, Los Angeles County's health department cut way back on health care services for the poor and uninsured. They claimed their budget deficit was too big.

Surprise! The department now reports a surplus that is nine times more than what they anticipated will be saved by their cuts.

And the cuts were not small. The county closed 16 clinics. It cut 400 health-care jobs. It also moved to close a rehabilitation center and cut 100 county hospital beds, but those cuts are on hold because of a patients' lawsuit.

In any case – look at what just happened: the county claimed it needed to reduce expenses, politicians made cuts that saved twenty-five million dollars – and then reported a surplus of two hundred and twenty-five million dollars!

Now that it has found all this money, is the county going to re-open the 16 clinics and re-hire the 400 workers? So far, not a chance. They say they have found other budget problems ... which will show up in future years.

Isn't this all too familiar? Whether it's a city government, a state government, or the national government, all of them claim these huge budget deficits. All of them say they have no choice but to cut services. Always, the cuts just happen to fall hardest on those who are the poorest and most disadvantaged.

And what happens to the money saved? It goes to those who don't need it at all. By the billions and billions of dollars, the money is taken by the politicians and turned over to the interests they have always subsidized – the wealthy and their huge corporations. In California's case, first and foremost it's paying off the huge Enron energy contracts. It's taking from the poor to give to the rich – Robin Hood in reverse.

Of course most of the financial manipulators are a little more clever than those in the Los Angeles County health department. It's not often they are so bad at covering up the evidence!