Friday, June 3, 2011

Sick Joke

Ask yourself this: if the self-proclaimed greatest, and unarguably richest, nation on the face of the earth cannot afford to provide healthcare to all of its citizens, how is it possible for all of those 'lesser' nation to do so? Magic of some kind? Socialist trickery? Pure dumb luck?

Let's give credit where credit is due: we certainly have the most expensive health care in the world. But that doesn't make it the best. Our infant mortality rates are higher than, and our average lifespans are shorter than, those countries we've been taught to mock. We have more cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. We're fatter than them, too. These are not the results we should expect after consistently spending more of our GDP on healthcare than any other nation....

What gives? What exactly are we getting for all of that money? Well, we're definitely number one when it comes to elective surgeries. I wouldn't go anywhere else in the world for a facelift or a tummy tuck. We also have the newest and shiniest equipment available. I know this from personal experience, because a couple of years ago I had a dull ache in my lower right abdomen. It grew progressively worse. Classic appendicitis symptom, right? That's what I thought. That's what the emergency room doctors thought, too. But they still ran me through the VERY EXPENSIVE machine. Twice. Then, satisfied that I wasn't pregnant, they removed my appendix laproscopically and sent me home a day later with a bill for $27,000. That seems fair, doesn't it?

That sort of care has helped the various health insurance companies pocket hundreds of millions of dollars. And that must be a good thing, because the Republican Party seems prepared to defend to the death insurance company profits. Not only that, but The Grand Oligarch's Party is also committed to increasing those same profits with their "let's replace Medicare with vouchers" ploy. "Have you no shame, sir?" are the words that come to mind.

We've reached a point in our history where any respectable, card carrying Republican will tell you with a straight face that we can't afford Social Security or Medicare anymore. And we certainly can't raise taxes on corporations or the richest Americans to help pay for them because that wouldn't be fair. Fair to whom, I wonder?

But in the next breath these same Republicans tell you that we're still the richest and best country in the world. So where does all that "wealth" go? I'm going to go way out on a limb here and suggest that maybe, just maybe, we spend a little too much money on Defense.

Not that we haven't gotten our money's worth. It has been great fun being the biggest, baddest, dog on the block and having the capability to destroy the world several thousand times over. And who can put a price tag on the joy that comes from overthrowing governments we don't agree with, blowing up defenseless non-combatants, and making the world safe for oil companies?

But all good things must come to an end and it's time for us to start concentrating on making our own house a more liveable place....and that should begin by providing a basic level of healthcare to every American regardless of their ability to pay and guaranteeing that no American ever has to go bankrupt because of an illness. If that means a few dozen redundant weapon systems don't get built, or a few hundred foreign bases have to close, or a few multi-billionaires are a little less "multi", well, that's OK by me.

Like the man said, you don't judge a society by how it treats its most fortunate citizens but by how it treats its least fortunate. And, surprise surprise, we find ourselves failing in this regard.

But there is no law that says we have to keep failing.

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