Thursday, September 24, 2009

We don’t want to

In response to last week's article in Newsweek about the morals of a country can be seen in its health care a reader wrote that only in American is health care seen as a pathway to riches. That means in America the state of my wallet is more important than your health.

The rest of the world looks at American health care and wonders if we want health care for all. We can bail out banks in no time, get ourselves wrapped up in a useless and costly war. But health care? Nearly everywhere else it is a human right -- including Saddam's Iraq and communist Cuba. Which proves it can be done. Successfully, too. But in America?

It's not because we can't afford it. Most other countries spend a lot less on health care than we do for similar outcomes. We currently spend a great deal of money for a wide variety of things (such as defense) that aren't really needed.

That leaves one reason: We don't want to.

And a big question: Why?

A likely answer:

America's mean streak has been carefully nurtured over the last 8 years. It isn't just health care, but a large number of components of the social safety net have been dismantled. Lives are seen within a cost-benefit analysis. This is a part of the idea, "That you need help is proof that you don't deserve help."

Within a supposedly (or nominally) Christian culture -- a religion that stresses we all are our brother's keeper -- how did a culture of cruelty develop?

Americans are fearful. And, yes, conservatism has been promoting that fear for a very long time. However, if you are fearful a couple things happen: (1) we develop a false bravado -- bad things won't happen to us, and (2) we blame the victim -- we feel we can avoid their fate because misfortune happened to them because they deserved it.

I'm left wondering if people get what they deserve and government should not stand in the way, why did we bail out the banks? Didn't the bankers deserve to go down with the ship?

That culture of cruelty leads to: If the poor (read: anyone who can't afford health insurance) deserve what they get then there is no need to waste my hard-earned money to give them as much as an aspirin. Health care should not be guaranteed to everyone.

Thus there is no need to fix health care because nothing is wrong.

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