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Politics

The Great Depression 2.0

I think the current economic crisis was predictable and inevitable, it was only the exact timing that was tricky to determine ahead of time — similar to the situation in California where seismologists say that a big earthquake is coming, but no one knows when it will happen. Over the years there have been some obviously bad trends, including:

  • Buy first, pay more later (i.e. credit cards, mortgages, loans)
  • Failure to save money (complement of first point)
  • Risky investments to get rich quickly (e.g the stock market)
  • Failure of the US educational system to prepare for 21st century jobs
  • Transnational corporations that will use a cheaper workforce overseas
  • US government control by those same transnational corporations
  • Health care issues (more below)

Regarding health care, it seems that there are several big problems, especially in the US:

  • Advances in technology increase longevity and cost. The average lifespan has increased at least 10 years over the last few decades. There is no doubt medical technology has been responsible for this, though the cost of medical technology is great, and the fact that people live longer means that there are more years of retirement that need to be paid somehow. Big price tag here, but further inflated by the following points.
  • Medical leeches. No, not the old-fashioned leeches used in medicine for blood-letting. The modern captialistic variety: Drug companies, device companies, for-profit hospitals, insurance companies. Anyone making a big profit off of health care. Drug and device companies argue that they need money for R&D. I would be more sympathetic to their cause if it weren’t for the incessant bombardment of Viva Viagra and Cialis commercials on TV. And the fact that they sell the same drugs much more cheaply in countries other than the US. Hospitals nowadays are more interested in providing wide-screen TVs to their patients than good medical care. They too should shut up with their stupid advertising. Worst of all are the insurance companies. Their only purpose is to take your money and then deny your claims for payment. They are a totally unnecessary drain on the system! Get rid of them!!
  • In the US, businesses pay for health care. STUPID! Health care is a hot potato, no on wants to pay for it. Not the patients, not the government, and, as you will find out when you submit bills to your insurance company, not them either. How can our businesses compete on a global market when they have to pay for our health care?
  • People are sicker. Yes they live longer, but they are fatter, have more hypertension, diabetes, smoke too much, don’t exercise, eat badly, and generally just could care less about their health. So, more need for health care. I don’t think smoking should be illegal, but at least make smokers pay for their own health care through higher cigarette taxes!

I don’t know the answers to all these problems, other than to try to reverse these trends (through regulation, improving the educational system, etc.) and hope the foundering ship of the economy rights itself. Regarding Health Care, there can be only one answer: nationalize it. It won’t be perfect, but it should be better than what we have. It won’t happen though as long as our government is owned by the companies we are trying to regulate.

By mannd

I am a retired cardiac electrophysiologist who has worked both in private practice in Louisville, Kentucky and as a Professor of Medicine at the University of Colorado in Denver. I am interested not only in medicine, but also in computer programming, music, science fiction, fantasy, 30s pulp literature, and a whole lot more.

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