A blog formerly known as Bookishness

By Charles Matthews

"Dazzled by so many and such marvelous inventions, the people of Macondo ... became indignant over the living images that the prosperous merchant Bruno Crespi projected in the theater with the lion-head ticket windows, for a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one. The audience, who had paid two cents apiece to share the difficulties of the actors, would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats. The mayor, at the urging of Bruno Crespi, explained in a proclamation that the cinema was a machine of illusions that did not merit the emotional outbursts of the audience. With that discouraging explanation many ... decided not to return to the movies, considering that they already had too many troubles of their own to weep over the acted-out misfortunes of imaginary beings."
--Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Saturday, August 22, 2009

It's About Time

I don't usually count on Time magazine (which we get because someone once gave us a gift subscription) for anything but conventional wisdom skewed to the right. But this short review of T.R. Reid's book about American health care put in a very few words what's wrong with it, and why reform is so damn essential. Boldface is mine:

The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care By T.R. Reid; Penguin; 288 pages

The U.S. health-care system is in a remedial class by itself. In no other industrialized country do 20,000 people die each year because they can't afford to see a doctor; nowhere else do 700,000 a year go bankrupt because of their medical bills. When it comes to health-care policy, an economist tells T.R. Reid, the U.S. is the "bogeyman of the world." The question Reid poses, however, isn't, What are we doing wrong? It's, What are other countries doing right--and how can the U.S. learn from them? A Washington Post correspondent with a nagging shoulder injury from his Navy days, Reid traveled the world to see how other countries' health-care systems would treat him. From Germany to Canada to Taiwan, he finds several different models for success, all with one thing in common.

When considering whether a government has a moral obligation to provide access to health care for all its citizens, Reid notes, "every developed country except the United States has reached the same conclusion."

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