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--  American Losers Dept. --


The problem with being stupid: How do you know?  

Joshua Holland is a voice to pay attention to. His Nov01.2103 piece on billmoyers.com says more things you need to understand about the American health care crisis in a single page than all of Obama’s men and all of Obama’s horses have said in five years. Well, OK, the horses haven’t said all that much anyway, and it doesn’t appear to be the men who are running the DHS.  I need to scratch around for a better literary analogy.  

But the point Holland is making is: This mess can be fixed and it can be fixed virtually overnight if Americans just quit assenting to their own rape by the medical industry. 

What Holland fails to say, at least explicitly, is what absolutely has to be said. This struggle is not Republicans v. Democrats, and it is not conservatives v. liberals. The struggle is – and has to be understood as – the AMA, the pharmaceutical industry, the hospital industry, and the medical devices industry all ganging up against the American public. Forget the banking industry, the financial crisis and the medical care crisis in America are both driven by the medical industry. And, as in all such struggles, while they have the upper hand in terms of financing their fight, they can be completely swamped and beaten into a pulp by the one thing the public has a complete monopoly on: votes. If your representatives are not willing to stand up against the medical industry in your behalf, then you have to get new representatives who will.  You are paying the present politician to stand up against you in behalf of the medical industry.  That has a name: stupidity

Here are a few of Holland’s points:

  • Medical bills are the leading cause of bankruptcies in this country, ahead of credit card debt and unwieldy mortgages. Rising costs for health benefits are a big reason for flat wages: What employers pay in total compensation, including health benefits, has grown a lot faster than wages in recent years.
  • If Americans paid the same amount for health care per person as people do in other wealthy countries with longer average life expectancies, we’d have a balanced budget now and surpluses projected for the future.
  • The $8,500 Americans spent per person on health care in 2011 was around $5,000 more than the average among developed countries. [$8,500 !!!!]
  • Americans have significantly poorer health outcomes than most developed countries. Even white, well-off Americans live sicker and die sooner than similarly situated people elsewhere.
  • Americans rely much more heavily on the private sector to finance our health care than any other wealthy country. Across the OECD countries, governments pick up 72 percent of the tab for health care, but the USG finances just under 48 percent of Americans’ healthcare – only the Chilean government covers a smaller share.
  • New medical technologies are the number one driver of US health care costs, and yet Americans have no advantage over other developed countries in healthcare outcomes.
  • Everything from pharmaceuticals to surgical procedures to tests costs Americans more than citizens of other rich countries (the linked study found only a single exception: cataract surgeries cost more in Switzerland). Even a basic checkup is more expensive here than in other highly developed states.

Holland’s objective is to make some very important and eye-popping points about how Americans get ripped off by the medical care industry. But I think the more basic point is one not even Bill Moyers and his colleagues are willing to go public on: Americans are too stupid to pick the best people to govern them. In other words, Americans are too stupid for their own form of democracy. And I think both history and the present testify to the truth of that assertion.  The problem with being stupid is: How do you know?




Copyright, Denis O'Brien, 2005-2016 ~ ~ All rights reserved.