:: to the teeth ::    thoughts on social justice, medicine, race, hope and beats

"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way.
On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." :: Arundhati Roy ::

"The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any." :: Alice Walker ::
Tuesday, October 05, 2004  

On American Nationalism (and healthcare? in bed?)

Nick Lewis has a post on american nationalism over at Netpolitik and cross-posted over at American Samizdat (both fascinating blogs!). Here's the beginning and end of his post:

Where as the majority of Nationalisms are founded upon a belief in ethnic or cultural superiority; American Nationalism is is a belief in the superiority of our political ideal. This would make sense, for we feel pride in seeing ourselves as an ethnically and culturally diverse nation. America is the great "melting pot", as they say. Thus, George W. Bush's claim that Bin Laden attacked us because he "hated freedom" is a prototypical example of American Nationalism in action.

...Rather, I'd like to remind a few people of the responsibility they have to America, and the rest of the world. The world is prone to following our example. Do we set an example of pre-emptive war; "do whatever we please cause' we can"? Or, do we show the rest of the world that there actually might -- in fact -- be substance behind our rhetoric of freedom, justice, and opportunity? I think the American electorate would be wise to think very carefully about that question.

Interesting -- the superiority of our political ideals as our form of nationalism. Like the fortune cookie game where you add "in bed" to your recently found fortune, I thought I'd add "also in healthcare" to the ends of these sentences...

...the responsibility they have to America, and the rest of the world...in health care. The world is prone to follow our example...in health care.

Do we set an example of "pre-emptive war;" "do whatever we please cause "we can"?... in health care? Or do we show the rest of the world that there actually might -- in fact -- be substance behind our rhetoric of freedom, justice, and opportunity...in health care?

So, that was fun. Anyway, I think our view of health care is sometimes a bit... arrogant. We really don't want to hear about how other countries do it (there's been an interesting debate on the AMSA healthpolicy listserv of late on comparative systems, and many med students and docs are satisfied with pushing forth myths about other countries' health care systems and myths about our health care system). True, we have an awesomely trained health care workforce, and an amazing health care system, but it's rippin' at its seams with millions uninsured and our priorities all twisted upside down (doing what we can to prove that the market works, instead of working on the system and the public's best), and our nationalism may be getting in the way of even checking out other systems and having a dialogue with them. This February, 14 of us medical students went to Seattle and Vancouver, on a 5 day study tour called SeaCouver, and one of the things we did was talk to people on the streets (we filmed them too), and we heard some very interesting views on their health care system and their personal experiences. I personally think that more of this discussion can only help us strengthen our system.

Again, I love the GOOD things about my country's health care system, but I'm very passionate in my belief (shared by many others) that there should be a way to make the GOOD parts of our system accessible to more people (and for hardworking folks who work two jobs and can't afford the ever-rising costs of health insurance, it's just not accessible). At the same time, I believe strongly that the BAD parts of our system need to be fixed in order for our nation to stand tall in the world as an example of good health -- we need more equitable access to health care, more affordable and comprehensive benefits (total reform of the health insurance industry), more of a focus on public health than there is now (5% of health care $$ going to prevention, 95% going to treatment), a comprehensive fix to medical malpractice issues (which means a reform of the malpractice insurance industry), and a serious decrease in racial, ethnic disparities in health care.

posted by Anjali Taneja | 10/05/2004 10:10:00 AM | |


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