I feel like I ought to do this right. To spend a few more days researching and reading, then a few days writing and drafting, then a day or two editing before putting up a long piece on health care. That’s not going to happen for a few reasons though. First, I’ve nothing original to say on the matter. And second, I just don’t care enough.
I care about the topic, to be certain. My novice year debate case was universal health care (as a solution to poor mental health care in the United States) and I have followed the topic ever since then. I had a pretty damn good plan (though I can’t find it and sadly don’t recall the specifics at this late date) and I’ve seen versions of it suggested over the years by congressmen and women. But I don’t care enough to spend a lot of time writing something here because it’s simply not going to change anything. People with more clout, intelligence, and wit than me have written on the subject, so I will simply nod to their fine work.
Too Poor to Make the News
I read this Op-Ed piece in the New York Times (login required, but check BugMeNot for a quick fix) when it first came out, and after reading the third in this series today I went back and re-read it. This series doesn’t deal with health care. Rather, it deals with poverty.
As the author observes, while the bad economy hurts the wealthy and the middle class, it’s not as great a fall for the impoverished. “We were poor before, and we’re still poor,” one woman was quoted. That doesn’t mean things aren’t bad, or worse, for that matter–they certainly are. Those who had at least the occasional job have none, and it’s harder to get help than ever. The problem is that the poor are getting poorer, and the system is being tailored to hurt them more.
A Homespun Safety Net
Part two in the series of op-ed pieces, this article addresses welfare less than it does the social networks built by the poor to get by. The author notes the generosity of the poor, which she experienced some while researching a book several years ago, and how willing they are to help one another without question. Because “the system” treats them like criminals and discourages them from seeking state assistance, they help one another, but that safety net can’t hold under much weight. Eventually their home-made system breaks simply due to a lack of resources.
Is It Now a Crime to Be Poor?
The last article in this series takes a look at the criminalization of poverty in the USA. The odd thing (or perhaps it isn’t) is that as poverty levels rise, more laws are put in place to target the impoverished. While some lawmakers may claim that these laws are applied equitably and fairly against both poor and rich, I don’t know who they think they’re fooling. The poor are hit hardest, and this article makes some good observations I hadn’t considered. There are some laws, and in particular some combinations or applications of laws, that just strike me as wrong.
The Cost Conundrum
Possibly the best article I have ever read (though I read a great one in Conde Nast – Economist a few months ago… I’m not much of a magazine person though, so I don’t read articles often), The Cost Conundrum is written by a doctor turned journalist and compares the health care costs of two Texas towns. Though near each other geographically with similar health statistics and income levels, one has almost double the national average cost of health care while the other is right around average.
It’s a long article and I really encourage whomever to read it, but the gist is two-fold:
- Doctors realized they can charge whatever they want and make tons of money, so some of them do.
- The current solutions proposed won’t fix anything because they only address insurers (those writing the checks) rather than the doctors (the ones writing the bills).
America has no right to speak ill of our NHS
This British op-ed piece does a fantastic job of giving a perspective from the other side of the pond. It is well-researched and well-written, and I appreciated how the author highlighted the flaws in both our current system and our current debate.
Most interesting, however, is the author’s take on the philosophy of health care, and their derision of the USA’s system being non-Christian. Particularly interesting from a Brit, where religion is on a huge decline, to a country that continues to pride itself on its Christian heritage (or, at the least, predominantly elects Christian leaders).
The last article perhaps echoes my own thoughts best. I feel we have a moral obligation, an imperative if you will, to provide health care to everyone. Not just health care, but care in general, and food and clean water, clothing, shelter, etc. I recognize the challenges to doing this worldwide, though I think it could be done. I do not think it would be challenging at all to do it in the USA if we reorganized things a bit. Admittedly, such a reorganization would almost call for a dictatorship, but solutions are possible.
That’s why I wouldn’t make a good politician. I suck at utilitarianism, and I recognize that. Politicians have to be utilitarian and they have to work within a system. Major overhauls are generally unfeasible. Minor corrections are, though, and I think we have the opportunity to correct some things.
The poor need it, and they deserve it no less than I do, or anyone else. I admit to the same mentality mentioned in A Homespun Safety Net, that the poor just need to get over it, work hard, and pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. I don’t believe in excuses, and while I recognize my unique set of circumstances that led to me having a good job and a comfortable lifestyle, I also recall the years of planning and work that went into reaching this point. I have been actively working towards this goal since I was nine years old, so fourteen years. I tend to suspect even a destitute, poor, uneducated person with a criminal record could get out in fourteen years if they applied themselves.
Regardless of what I think (that entire last paragraph), I know what my creator tells me to do. We’ve got to take care of people, and we’re doing a poor job of it in the USA. We can do better because other people are doing it better. If they can, so can we.
What have you been reading?
I don’t have any idea what the current debate about health care is like. We don’t have television service and I honestly don’t even glance at the news on a day-to-day basis. I rarely open up Times to see the headlines, let alone read anything.
What have you been reading, or what can you share on this topic? I’d love to read anything you can offer.