Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Question for our Time

On the question of healthcare:

If we think outside the box--pull from the inventive, from the unconventional realms of our thinking, aren't there some alternatives that would allow us to be less dependent on a large and distant, faceless, impersonal, unapproachable, and impervious system (whether corporate for-profit or public) to control and provide for our most intimate and personal needs? (Like what about the possibility of supplementing healthcare payments with local alternative/complementary currencies that would put "relationship" and "community" back into healthcare?)

Can anyone explain why in the 50's, 60's and the first part of the 70's we could afford to pay out of pocket for our healthcare needs, only needing insurance for catastrophic illnesses? I know I paid for both my Caesarian births and hospital stays with very little supplemental insurance. Could the main problem we're experiencing have more to do with the structure of our economy and our tax system being geared to gathering and preserving the wealth into the top .1% of our population (whose income rose 296% between 1979 and 2005 while that of the median household only rose 13%--Krugman's blog below)?

Hasn't this resulting loss of prosperity, of financial security within the broad ranks of the middle and working classes contributed to unaffordable healthcare? How about runaway corporate crime in partnership with political leadership? Dependency on an oil economy? And what about an unthinking large number of baby-boom investors (and 401K's) supporting this system of greed through its economic dependency upon it (investment in stocks and bonds--hedge funds)?

Shouldn't we be considering restoring progressive income tax and other reforms that would redistribute the wealth and its availability to the middle and working classes? Wouldn't that make "personal" healthcare affordable to the majority of "we the people"--(supplemented by insurance for catastrophic conditions)? And certainly, for those in circumstances of poverty and those who give or have given unpaid services to family and community there should be Medicare type provisions.

But shouldn't we mainly be asking the question why we would allow our economy to be debt-based, since this form, by its very nature, creates poverty and sustains it through policies supporting constant economic growth (which requires continued debt creation)? I admit I'm not at all educated in the field of economics, but some very simple explanations by Bernard Lietaer (one of the developers of the Euro-dollar currency) in his book, "The Future of Money", made this situation quite clear to me.

I've been claiming "it's the economy, stupid" for a long time, but I was glad to see today Paul Krugman's (NYT) blog, "The Conscience of a Liberal" pointing to the economy and major economic shifts being the primary and immediate issue needing to be addressed by us all--and to hear he's writing a book on the same subject. Here's the intro to his book:

"I was born in 1953. Like the rest of my generation, I took the America I grew up in for granted – in fact, like many in my generation I railed against the very real injustices of our society, marched against the bombing of Cambodia, went door to door for liberal candidates. It’s only in retrospect that the political and economic environment of my youth stands revealed as a paradise lost, an exceptional episode in our nation’s history."-from

And here's an excerpt from the intro to a book I began last year pointing to the same issue (with my own twist to the plot):

"My generation, seeded in the sixties, recklessly wrought their brave-hearted assault up the walls from the path of least resistance, only to reach their peak at the ridge where reluctance and relapse dramatically drew them back into the vibration of the host mother’s economy of placental charm. Here all her mesmerizing material, emotional, and psychological seductiveness has held them where they languish still, deeply entangled in their dependency on her failing economy. Addicted they are to her homing frequency which lulls them into an illusion of false security and freezes them into a pattern that can only end in death.

It is not a death, however, in which they currently sleep, but a deep and drug-induced dream that locks this beauty in her tower of captivity. Here, she has been unwittingly, steadily, and deviously drained of her life-blood by an economy that ruthlessly feeds off her essence while paralyzing her with poisoned perceptions of reality..."

It's my premise that a generation awakened to conscience and to maturing consciousness, "Our Generation", the baby-boom group that through its sheer numbers has altered the culture at each and every stage of its development, is now empowered and so should feel compelled to make the changes that will sustain us all (humanity, and what we value as human beings) for the future. It is time to envision and activate, as "elders", wise and responsible economic and political leadership, and for the generation behind us, Gen-X, to join full-force into that mission, and for Gen-Y and those following, to responsibly hold our feet to the fire 'til we get it done!

Doesn't it just make sense that if our economy were working for the good of all people, there would be affordable and personable healthcare? And that we would be taking care of the environment on which we are dependent for the survival of all life? So isn't the economy the bigger issue? How do we wean ourselves from what is poisoning us and restore ourselves to the "pursuit of health and happiness"? That's the big question for our times. And there's a link below to a chart from Krugman's blog showing major economic shifts over the last 90 years--he says:

"The chart shows the share of the richest 10 percent of the American population in total income –an indicator that closely tracks many other measures of economic inequality over the past 90 years, as estimated by the economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez. I’ve added labels indicating four key periods."

OK, so shoot me, I think like a weirdo!


yours truly said...

Yes, yes and yes ... on all counts. Pretty impressive study here! I consider these disparities in the back of my mind and feel vexed... but rarely look close enough, because it is upsetting. Very provocative. Thanks for breaking the issues down to important questions that we all must ask but are often too confused to formulate intelligently. Your writing always impresses me!


In her own Voice said...

thanks, Lora--appreciate your reflection and's good to get feedback on issues such as these and not feel I'm throwing my voice into a vacuum!