When people organize themselves into a civil society they expect certain benefits according to the abilities of their commonwealth and the historical circumstances. We hear a lot about freedom and choices in this market economy, many of the arguments coming from the conservatives and the ruling elites. The market economy, capitalism, competition, reward for one's efforts, innovation, private profit, efficiency, rationalism, etc, are all good things. But, it helps to examine the details, because as it is said, the devil hides in the details.
Adam Smith is an icon of capitalists, though I doubt many have read his Wealth of Nations carefully enough. Who needs public schools, he asks. The wealthy can purchase their own education, and the "free" choice the poor can exercise is to go to work in the factories. Same scenario with the health care in this country. The market forces and our government have failed to provide a good solution to the nation's ailing population. About 1 in 3 Americans either lacks health care insurance or is under-insured.
This is the only industrialized country where a person can be driven into bankruptcy because of medical expenses. In addition, despite all the militaristic culture and the huge outlays on security, more Americans die every year (6 times more) that all those Americans who were killed by terrorists on 9-11. The American Cancer Society estimates that cancer deaths in the US can be cut in half if everyone has access to care and early detection! The only solution, of course, is to provide universal coverage.
So, next time you hear the politicians talk about choice, freedom and the ..American way, speak up, ask questions, think for yourself, define what the American dream is all about. For freedom to be meaningful it has to be practical and available. You're not really free, if you're free to think & say whatever you want in solitary confinement! You also have to be alive to have freedom. In this dangerous world, we have to ask smart questions about safety, and be ready to form majorities to demand real, practical safety, and access to all the services a wealthy, advanced, democratic society should provide to its people. That's a progressive culture or life!
Sharks are dangerous to humans for they kill a few dozen people a year world-wide;. Yet, this is not a risk most of us have to be afraid of, because we can reasonably escape it. Talking about the sharks and spending billions upon billions to protect ourselves while practically ignoring the most dangerous animal* (that injures 200 million and kills 3 million humans every year) is absurd. Let's put a few things into perspective here. The absence of a public safety net is what kills more people and brings so much suffering.
Oh, one more thing. It's shameful that the wealthiest country on the planet has really bad health statistics as ranked by the World Health Organization. It's a travesty that there is a gap of 30 years in the average life span between the people in the Northeast and those in several states in the South!
PS>In an earlier post, I discussed Bush's statement that the US has a better health care system that other countries... Click here to jump to that page.