Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Better Take Your Vitamins

My friend's mom smoked too much. She didn't watch out for herself, and the doctors told her she needed to change her habits or she was gonna lose her leg. Well, she didn't change her habits, and she lost her leg. Then the doctors told her if she didn't change her habits she'd die.

She died, but only after a long hospital stay. My friend's father had to sell his house to pay the bill. One Christmas Eve, in his new digs in the basement of his son's home, he picked up a revolver and blew his brains out. That was when I decided there was a health care problem in the United States.

But the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan loudly proclaimed there was no crisis. When you have US Government health insurance, things look pretty rosy, I suppose. Still, nothing was even attempted for a long time until Bill Clinton put his wife in charge of a task force. President Clinton, in perhaps the worst mistake of his presidency, declared that he would veto any bill that did not match 100% the proposal for universal health. This left no room for compromise, and no possibility that we could have at least improved our system.

One very good thing, for most teachers, is the health care plans we have. We don't generally have to contend with the issues you'll encounter in Michael Moore's new film Sicko. But a lot of Americans do.

Why should that be? If other countries can provide universal health care, why can't we? And if there are problems in other systems, why can't we learn from them and improve on them? Why must the business of insurance companies entail denying health care to maximize profit? Isn't the welfare of our people more important than the bottom line of these companies?

Can't we do better than this?
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