It is Time for America to Grow Up

I was at a friend’s birthday party a few weeks back, and found myself squirreled away in the corner talking to a cardiac surgeon from Denmark about the state of our healthcare system in the United States. I was frankly tired of debating the topic with many Americans who have never had the opportunity to live overseas, and experience nationalized healthcare first hand, and I was looking for a new perspective.

My Danish friend made three main points:

  1. Free healthcare is cheaper than making people pay (in the long run).
  2. Medical school should be affordable for anyone who wants to go.
  3. Once people see the value of the services, they are willing to pay higher taxes for it.

He told me a story about how healthcare in Denmark had been absolutely free at one time. Then the hospitals decided to start charging something like $20 a visit. This one change had a disatrous result. Why? Because some of the main customers at the ER had been addicts. Normally, they would come in immediately when they started getting infections around their injection sites. The doctors would see them, hand out antibiotics, and send them on their way.

When the ER started charging $20 the addicts stopped coming in, that is, until they were so sick they had to. So instead of just handing out antibiotics for minor infections, the addicts were now being admitted to the ICU for raging infections that had been left unchecked, all because they didn’t want to spend the $20.

We talked about the ridiculously high cost of medical school here, and how exclusive it is. In Denmark they pay you to go to medical school. They pay your tuition and give you a monthly allowance. If you have the smarts, you can attend medical school.

And lastly we talked about the tax rate in Denmark, which can be as high as 60%. When Danes were asked if they would pay higher taxes for better healthcare, the majority said they would.

When I lived in Finland for a year as a teenager I noticed something: the elderly were carefree, healthy and happy. They knew they were going to be taken care of by their national healthcare system when they retired. They knew they would never bankrupt their families with a terminal illness. They knew they’d have a place to live among their peers that would provide them everything they needed, to enjoy their sunset years.

Those without healthcare in the United States live in a constant state of fear and uncertainty. One major illness could send any one of us into bankruptcy, whether we have healthcare or not. It is time for America, one of the wealthiest nations in the world, to grow up and take care of its people before it’s too late.

To the Point TV Show Topics for Jan. 6, 2009

I can’t believe it’s been over a year since we last taped a To the Point TV show. I had been writing, co-producing and hosting this show for over three years when I decided to take a break last January. It was a lot of work for no pay. But it was always interesting and challenging.

Well, all good breaks must come to an end. We taped two back-to-back shows last night, and they will start airing in the Portland Metro area next week on channels 21 and 23 I think. They will be up on our website ToThePointTV.org in a week or two.

The panelists last night were:

State Representative Matt Wingard

Mike Riley, Riley Research

Richard Donin, Energy and Educational Consultant

and guest panelist Courtney Clarke, a local business owner.

International
The protests that began after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s controversial re-election in June have grown into what some say is the biggest challenge to the government since the 1979 Islamic revolution. Just this week the government banned all citizens from cooperating with foreign organizations such as the BBC, Voice of America, and various human rights groups, saying these groups were trying to destabilize the government.  Who will prevail, Ahmadinejad or the people of Iran, and what if anything can the world community do?

National
On December 25th a suspected al-Qaeda member, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, got on Northwest Airlines flight 253 in Amsterdam and attempted to detonate a bomb during the flight’s final descent into Detroit. British intelligence had been tracking Abdulmutallab for more than a year, and Abdulmutallab’s father had warned U.S. intelligence of his son’s radical behavior six weeks prior to the incident. The U.S. has already announced it will require additional screening for air passengers bound for the U.S. from any of 14 countries, including Algeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria. But will this work?

State
According to the Cascade Policy Institute (a free market think tank), Measures 66 and 67 could cost Oregon up to 70,000 jobs. Opponents of the measure say we shouldn’t be increasing taxes during a recession and the government hasn’t tightened its belt enough.  Proponents say the tax is only on the wealthiest Oregonians and corporations and that schools and health care services will have to be cut if the tax increases don’t pass. Let’s talk about the key points in these measures.

Local
He’s a former Portland Trailblazer, a financial adviser, and a sometimes basketball and lacrosse coach in Lake Oswego. He’s Chris Dudley and he’s running for Governor. Can he win the  Republican nomination with a lot of financial backing but no political experience?

International

The country of Yemen is being torn apart by a tribal rebellion, a secessionist movement, and the worst poverty and unemployment in the Arab world. And al-Qaeda has been quick to take advantage of the chaos, and create a presence in Yemen. How can the U.S. be most effective in fighting this terrorist organization?

National

Both the Senate and the House have put forth legislation to pass a behemoth healthcare bill. Some argue the bill violates constitutional rights. Others say it doesn’t go far enough. Assuming the bill passes, what will be the most significant impacts on the average U.S. citizen?

State

According to an investigative report published in The Oregonian newspaper, the administration of Governor Ted Kulongoski misrepresented the true cost of a tax credit created to subsidize renewable energy, in order to get it passed by the State Legislature. Is the Business Energy Tax Program still a good program even with the additional costs?

Local

Economists say the state has technically climbed out of recession. but tell that to the 11.1% of Oregonians who are still unemployed. Tom Potiowsky, Oregon government’s chief economist says it’s a jobless recovery and it’s going to be a long, slow road. What is it going to take for Oregon to dig itself out of the recession?

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