Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Sick Around the World

Between this and climate change, you'd think no one in this country had anything above a third grade education.

Run, do not walk, to the nearest computer (I'm guessing you're already there, however) and watch the latest Frontline Doc, Sick Around the World. Whether you've seen Michael Moore's Sicko -- whether you've shunned it outright, whether you've celebrated it with fireworks -- Frontline's short film about Health Care systems around the globe should be required viewing for every registered American voter. And for all you Michael Moore haters, know this: Sicko is to Sick Around the World, as Three Ninjas is to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. It's really not even worth comparing the two.

In the film, T.R. Reid travels to five countries -- England, Japan, Germany, Taiwan and Switzerland -- and weighs the pros and cons about their respective health care systems; including cost to patients, cost to providers, quality of care, efficiency, wait times, and government involvement. There are drawbacks in every system to be sure, but there are things to be learned from each one as well. And very rarely do people, especially poor people, slip between the cracks to fend for themselves.

This isn't rocket science. It's common sense. Our health care system is broken. It's way past the point of ideology (and if you read this blog, you know I'm a big fan of ideology). I don't care about concerns over market intrusion, individual responsibility or anecdotal health-service nightmares. All I care about is that people get sick, and they can't afford treatment. We as Americans spend too much money on medical care, and get too little service in return. Our current system is inefficient, and it lacks any semblance of a moral responsibility to assist those who need it most. In this arena, the free market has proven to be completely inept. We literally turn into gibbering idiots every time we try and argue that health care isn't a basic human right. And there, I said it. Health care is a basic human right. Finally, I'm a complete, flaming liberal.

But think about it. We provide citizens with police and fire protection, whether they can afford it or not. We give kids an education, no matter their family income. Are these institutions perfect? Hell, no. But our streets are policed, house fires don't turn into city blazes, and most voters know a thing or two about civics and the political system. If you don't care for what's offered, and you can afford rent-a-cops and private schools, go for it. But if you can't, there's at least something to fall back on.

Why should health care be any different?

There is no such thing as free universal health care. We'll all have to pay for it, in whatever way we can. But people are sick. And they can't get treatment. What else is there to understand?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Hugo Chavez says: Castro predicted fall of dollar; Also, that I would forget to call my parents last weekend.

File under: Duh.

The dollar could never sustain its monolithic standing as the premiere currency of the world, especially as we near the globalised utopia as envisioned by Thomas Friedman and Ronald McDonald. I bet Fidel also predicted that the Roman Empire would one day come to a terrible end at the hands of the Vandals and Visigoths.

But Chavez couldn't just stick with the obvious: "I think if things continue on like this in the United States, we'll have to start preparing to receive the refugees here."

Oh that crazy, old codger. Refugee camp, here I come!