Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Measuring Up

I spent entirely too much time on Facebook the other day, having a heated discussion with a friend of a friend about health care reform in the U.S. Me: yes! now! Her: no way! The conversation was making me crazy mostly because she was busy spouting statistics that made no sense and I got myself all in a tizzy, scouring the Internet for better information on comparative health indicators, health spending, tax burden, etc. She could have cared less; it was all "socialism" to her.

Now here comes President Sarkozy with another idea that's going to make Americans like her completely flip out: stop measuring the nation's well-being with the single measure of gross domestic product (income) and start measuring it with more complex indicators that also account for quality of life or as the French say "joie de vivre" including vacation time, health care, and family relationships. I'm sure this will spark a huge debate on how to measure and weight these factors, all of which merit careful discussion. What I like is the acknowledgement that while money itself counts (and counts a lot), it shouldn't be the only measure of societal success. You can read more about the news in the Wall Street Journal.

A tip of the hat to my friend Fernando back in DC for sharing this link.


debbie in toronto said...

Anne as a Canadian I watch the debate in America about health care and can't believe how different the culture seems to be..surely everyone no matter their situation in life deserves the same basic standard of health brother in law had a very serious heart condition and had to have 3 emergency operations, the first one alone would have bankrupted my sister's familly since it was a preexisting conditon.

Instead we rushed him to the hospital and didn't for one minute worry about costs or would they even do the operation...we just worried about him.

He's fine now, his two young sons have their Dad with them.

It's time for American's to stop being so afraid of "socialized" health care...isnt' that what gov't is for?

Amy K said...

I'm an American (although one of the seemingly rational few), and couldn't agree with you more. I am so tired and frustrated by the constant emphasis on money here.

We were in Europe for the month of June, and I loved the way of life. I can only hope that someday the powers that be here in the US will wake up to the fact that money is not the end-all, be-all of life. Many things are much more important and fulfilling.

And, nobody should have to lose everything due to an illness or accident. But, for some reason, doing right by people as a society is sacrificed for the individual. Maddening.

katie said...


In 1968, Robert Kennedy said:

For too long we seem to have surrendered personal excellence and community value in the mere accumulation of material things. Our gross national product now is over 800 billion dollars a year, but that gross national product, if we judge the United States of America by that, that gross national product counts air pollution, and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for people who break them. It counts the destruction of the redwoods and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic squall. It counts Napalm, and it counts nuclear warheads, and armored cars for the police to fight the riots in our city. It counts Whitman's rifles and Speck's Knifes and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children. Yet, the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play; it does not include the beauty of our poetry of the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate for the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country it measures everything in short except that which makes life worth while. And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.

Anne said...

Thanks all but especially Katie for those words from RFK.

GaL said...

Hello Anne,

Maybe you can link this youtube video to your friend like that she will be able to celebrate with this song that US position is 37 in the word in healthcare.
I am not sure if the man used the last WHO's ranking.

Anne said...

GaL: Unbelievable. That's exactly the video that started the whole debate.

Peter (the other) said...

Gross National Happiness has been an ongoing experiment! I am afraid for my fellow 'mercans, they just don't seem to make much sense and yet with such strength of emotion. What are we smokin'/drinkin' over here?

Diogenes said...

Well, frankly, I think it is sad that we are even having a debate on healthcare in the US.

If we had a national health insurance plan, it would be good for business. Car manufacturers and airlines that have been struggling could take this cost out of their expenses (the govt would pay) and become instantly profitable.

Th eUS is ranked # 37 in quality of care and #1 in cost per WHO. The fact that Sarkozy wants to change GDP is a real illustration of the difference in the two systems. In Europe the governments ask "What is good for the poutlation." In the US the govenrment asks "What is good for the corporation." I would rather live under the former.

IMO the people that are against health care are the least travelled Americans. And those who work for big pharma and insurance companies. Below are some health insurance CEO salaries by the hour. They could pay for a lot of treatments.

Miles White - Abbott - $17,395
Fred Hassan - Schering-Plough - $15,677
Bill Weldon - Johnson & Johnson - $13,022
H. Edward Hanway - CIGNA - $6,373
Angela Braly - WellPoint - $5,127

Cécile Qd9 said...

Well. As we all know, Nicolas Sarkozy is a dangerous communist... ;o)

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