"The real US healthcare issue: compassion deficiency"

we can't do it with bake sales

Gordon Marino's short piece, "The real US healthcare issue: compassion deficiency", should be the first and the last word on the subject of health care. These are just excerpts:

The healthcare debate has revealed that Americans suffer from a compassion deficiency. Many of us would prefer that our fellow citizens go without medical care rather than make even the slightest of sacrifices.

. . . . Apparently, there are a lot of folks who would choose to have young mothers with cancer go without chemotherapy, instead of giving up a bit of that disposable income that is our badge of freedom and individualism.

Sure, we all like to think that as Americans we care, but normally we'll only bother to help when someone's tragedy manages to really touch us - a loved one perhaps, or a subject in a media drama - but it's not enough, and it's not about ethics. Marino continues:

I reside in a small town and every week there is some kind of raffle or spaghetti dinner to scrounge together the funds to meet the medical expenses of a child with leukemia or a teenager with a brain tumor. We're trying to pay for brain surgery with bake sales!

"The real US healthcare issue" had been published in the Christian Science Monitor exactly one week back, but I first saw it a few minutes ago when Barry sent me an IM pointing to what I have to describe as a pretty exciting new social bookmarking site for philosophers*, "Sympose". It describes itself as "a fast and easy way for professional philosophers to find online philosophy content that they might enjoy". While content can be supplied only by philosophers who have earned their Ph.D. or persons who are enrolled in a graduate program in philosophy, at least the rest of us can swim around in all that heady wisdom.

Gordon Marino is a professor of philosophy at St. Olaf's College, and the item was "scooped" onto Sympose by Preston Werner.

Disclosure, or confession: Back in the early dark ages (way before the internet), one of my undergraduate minors was philosophy. Okay, the other was German, but my history major was supposed to be the practical subject.

[image from trinityhawaii]

Great finds. I also think there must be some consequence of our inborn national exceptionalism that makes the idea of national healthcare such an anathema. Many americans believe socialized medicine results in rationed services (without understanding our services are rationed anyway). I think that brings up some deep collective psychological barrier and blindness. Surely, OUR society would never be second to another when it comes to something as important as healthcare. This is also why the socialist institutions we do have (Medicare, Public Education, etc) are not on the radar as relevant precursors.

But, thinking again, we all acknowledge our deficiencies in education. But the brunt of the negative effects of that are felt by the lower and middle classes. Class distinctions and hierarchies never went away with the American revolution.As long as systems work for the the very rich, it works for America as a whole.