Sunday, August 16, 2009

Christa: A Response for Mr. Burke

In regards to Mr. Burke's argument, I have to say that it's astounding to me that this language about "force and coersion" is being used to discuss NOT our country's complicated history of military force (which *is* funded by the government / us) but instead to attack a kind of health care support that millions of Americans have in fact called out for.

Mr. Burke objects to making everyone "poorer" as the frightening penalty for taking care of the country's poor. It may indeed even the playing field a bit more than some would like, but to confuse this with national "impoverishment" surprises me coming from someone of his professional stature. Has anyone ever been to Finland? Denmark? France? Any other "developed" country? These are not impoverished or unhappy places, though the average person may not pull in the kind of income that our top paying executives (and basketball stars) somehow manage to.

In 2006 - before the economic collapse forced us to take the cost of health care more seriously - psychologists at the University of Leicester in the UK released a study mapping 'subjective well being,' or happiness, worldwide, interviewing over 80,000 people across the globe in their research. Interestingly, Denmark, Switzerland, and Austria came out at the top of this list. The US ranked 23d. According to the responses they received, a nation's average level of happiness "was most closely associated with health levels. Prosperity and education were the next strongest determinants. " and "People in countries with good health care... were much more likely to report being happy." Well being may be a sort of wealth that many Americans have yet to experience on such a level, as most of us have always had to be so preoccupied with the other kind.

You can read the BBC's abbreviated report of this study:
or this more in-depth one from an American perspective through ABC News:
The latter is an interesting read beyond any discussion of health care.

There is clearly a lot of anxiety about who might suffer as a result of national health care, which has led to a lot of rash and inaccurate hypotheticals. For instance, an ill-informed assertion in Investor's Business Daily claimed that disabled people like physicist Stephen Hawking wouldn't have survived under a national health care system (Hawking is in fact British, and responded that he is alive today because of national healthcare). In response to such misunderstandings, the London Telegraph published a concise clarification of several recently mis-cited US concerns about NHS coverage in the United Kingdom: Telegraph Article

Anyway, more resources to add to the discussion.


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