The second amendment reads:
“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed”.
Would it not be better for today’s world were it modified thusly?
“Health, being a necessary foundation to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness (see declaration of independence), the right of the people to receive healthcare, shall be guaranteed”?
No point in beating around the bush: The United States of America, the world’s richest, most prosperous country has the second worst infant mortality rate in the modern world (ranking 50th globally). With more than three times that of Japan (the country with the lowest infant death rate), the US has fallen behind Cuba…CUBA! The United States also fares poorly in life expectancy ranking 50th in the world.
There are many factors which contribute to these numbers, but it would be idiotic to ignore the elephant in the room. An estimated 45-50 million people in the United States are uninsured. Children born to uninsured low income mothers have a 50-60% higher mortality rate than children born to insured mothers, nationally. In West Virginia, the infant mortality rate dropped from 3.5 to .7 percent after the introduction of prenatal care; the relationship between uninsurance and infant mortality is blatant. And we live in a culture of life?
Uninsured adults below the age of 65 have a 25% greater mortality risk than insured adults. A study published by Harvard University estimates that 45000 people die each year because of lack of healthcare; Obviously these are not all people being turned away from emergencies; most hospitals do not turn away the dying just because they have no insurance (…though I’d like to see what happens if a homeless guy were to walk up to the front desk at one of out premier hospitals). But the uninsured are far more likely to wait until it is too late. The uninsured are 40 percent more likely to be diagnosed with late stage breast and prostate cancer, and uninsured women are 40-50 percent more likely to die of breast cancer.
Are we saving money by not having insurance for everyone? Nope! The US spends more per capita than any other industrialized nation. The US spends more than 5200 dollars per person (insured or not). With its low infant mortality and high life expectancy, Japan spends less than 2000. Canada, a country with a similar demographic to the US spends half of what we spend per capita and insures everyone.
Many times have the American people had the opportunity to adopt a universal system, and many times has the insurance industry risen to the occasion to make sure that the initiative would fail. Truman began his push for healthcare with overwhelming popular support (75%); the resistance from the insurance lobby was formidable; it even went so far as to launch a campaign in the south which warned that nationalized healthcare would mean racially integrated hospitals and waiting rooms. When Clinton tried to tackle the problem, the health insurance industry ramped up lobbying to the tune of 100s of millions of dollars (remember the despicable Harry and Louise ads?) making sure that the proposal would be stillborn.
The insurance industry is only part of the problem. Of equal or even greater importance is ignorance and gullibility. Too many Americans live in an isolated insulated bubble. They swallow whole the propaganda that the healthcare lobby feeds them because they have little contact with the outside world.
Long lines in Canada?
…It must be so!
Ever been there?
…Nope (why would I want to stand in line?)
We think of national healthcare in terms of long lines, dated procedures and hopeless bureaucracy; we do so from a country whose healthcare performance is number one only with respect to cost. 3000 people died on 9/11, rightly or wrongly we have mobilized enormous resources to protect us against terrorism. Lack of healthcare kills ten times as many people every year; is protection against illness not worth the …huge savings in cost?
There is another way that lack of universal healthcare hurts us; it’s bad for business. Many US companies pay for their workers’ healthcare. They will often compete against companies from countries which don’t. Prior to the economic crisis, General Motors has been hemorrhaging cash for 6 quarters. They have to charge an extra $1500 per vehicle to pay for healthcare; how can they be expected to compete with such a handicap? Because of this many automobile plants are actually moving plants north of the border to Canada, simply to be able to compete.
The second amendment allows us to be cowboys in the 21st century. Great!
Is this how we plan to face upcoming the daunting challenges of the future? Wouldn’t we be better off being a little more healthy and competitive?