The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Monday, June 18, 2007


Heard a supposed former CIA operative on the radio this morning. His position is that Scooter Libby was indeed involved in the outing of a covert operative. I seem to remember George Bush the First, quite a while ago, commenting that what had happened was indeed treasonous. As former Head of the intelligence agency in question, he would indeed have an informed opinion. Does anyone out there have data about opinions offered by other former Agency personnel?
Had a conversation about health care over the weekend. My position is that things become part of the “Commons” when enough people declare they are. That the best argument I’ve heard against Universal Health Care is the simple “I don’t wan’t to pay for other people’s insurance.” Fair enough, but almost no one says that. The other good argument is the “I want the right to negotiate treatment outside the system,” an argument I’ve heard from several well-to-do folks. Fair enough. But if that’s the argument, it would seem that the best arrangement is to add some kind of amendment (wrong word?) to a Universal Health Plan, allowing those with enough money to purchase an “upper tier” of coverage that will give them what they want. Is it my mistake, or has no one proposed such an “upper tier.”

Of course, if the real argument is “I don’t want to pay for other people’s insurance,” that would explain why I haven’t heard an “upper tier” argument.

The thing I hear more than anything else is that Universal Health Care would become very inefficient and ineffective. Well, if that’s true, it would be relatively easy to determine. Ineffective implies that health services aren’t reaching the customer in a timely, effective fashion, right? In which case it should have an impact on health and longevity, right?

Well, there are two standards I know of in that regard, and they’re pretty straight-forward. I haven’t looked this data up yet, but I know I’d be willing to be guided by the results of this little investigation—and so should anyone else who is genuinely interested in the quality of health care available to citizens.

The two measurements are:
1) Life Expectancy
2) Infant Mortality Rate.

This is a non-political comment. Years ago, I was willing to grant that a low black infant mortality rate in South Africa implied that the health of blacks in that country was better than in many “freer” black countries. Why? Because that was the data.

So…whatever one may think, this isn’t a loaded question for me. I suspect I know what the answer is, but haven’t looked it up. My suspicion is that in countries with Universal Health Coverage, their life expectancy is at least as good, and their infant mortality rates are lower. THIS IS A GUESS. Please feel free to educate me if I’m wrong.

But if I’m correct, then the only real argument that remains (in my mind) is: “I don’t want to pay for other people’s insurance.” All right, that can be an honest and honorable response. Odd how rarely I hear it.

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