Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Things I do not understand #47

Barack Obama
Posted by Tania Kindersley.

After all that, today turns out to be politics.  (Of course as a good feminist I believe the personal is political, so maybe every day is politics, but that's a whole other question.) 

Here is what I do not get: every year, in the richest, most powerful nation on earth, perhaps the only country on earth that was founded on an idea, 45,000 people die because they do not have health insurance.  This is not some crackpot figure plucked from the air by a crazed conspiracy theorist.  The number was arrived at after a rigorous study by the American Journal of Public Health, which doesn't sound to me like a Commie rabble-rousing publication.

When the twin towers fell, almost 3,000 people died.  In response to that tragedy, millions of dollars were spent, new agencies were created, America threw itself into a state of national emergency.  But when it loses 45,000 citizens annually, this great nation does…nothing.

It's not quite nothing.  A healthcare bill is winding its tortuous way through Congress.  Committees have sat and caucuses have been held.  A bill has been written, all 2,000 pages of it.  Endless clauses and provisions have been inserted, removed, rewritten, haggled over.  But even with possibly the most cerebral and talented president in three generations, America still has not got a law to reform its shockingly flawed healthcare system.  Even with a majority in both houses, the Dems cannot get what they want.  Even with the brilliant and aggressive Rahm Emanuel cracking heads up on the Hill, nine months have gone by, and the legislation is still tangled in the long grass.  The Republicans, whom the cynical believe are bought and paid for by the insurance companies, all say no.  (No, no, no, they say, getting crosser and crosser and redder and redder in the face, as if they never heard of such abomination.) The blue dog Democrats are digging in their doggy heels.  The inexplicable Joe Lieberman has just thrown the latest spanner deep into the works, causing the pundits to wonder if the whole thing may just roll over and die. 

I don't understand a word of it.  I don't understand why the most powerful man in the world cannot pass a damn bill.  I don't understand why health insurance companies can make profits in the billions while people are actually dying.  I don't understand why the right wing is shouting about communism and killing grandma.  I don't understand how the thousands of lobbyists who are fighting reform can look at themselves in the looking glass in the morning.  I do not understand what is going on in the curious mind of Joe Lieberman.

Tomorrow: what the hell is going on at Copenhagen.  Or maybe just a nice picture of the dogs.

1 comment:

  1. I am in total agreement with you, I think it boils down to greed and fear, mainly coming from the "all powerful" insurance companies.

    We all know that the NHS has major flaws, but I still believe it's one of the best healthcare systems in the world, let's hope that even with the growing ageing population it can be sustained.

    France has a pretty good health system too, but you still have to have extra insurance top up's. After seven years of living in France it's still a shock to the system to have to scrabble about for cash or cheque to pay the GP, even though, you eventually get 70% back.


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