A Big Picture View of Health and Inequality

I’m afraid I missed the President’s speech last night, but I’ve found Andrew Sullivan’s reactions to it well worth reading . . . especially his litany of the chief problems we face as a country:

Here are my concerns: a moneyed elite whose estrangement from the center of American life, proved by their obscene indifference to minimal propriety . . . has destabilized the critical middle of American polity, and begun to feed a cynicism about government that is corrosive of democracy; a culture of debt that has pervaded public and private America that bespeaks deep contempt for future generations; a physical infrastructure that is in obvious disrepair; an empire that seems to be running on auto-pilot, which keeps adding new provinces, with no way to sustain them in the long run; a healthcare system that seems to have built up as much waste as innovation and as much bureaucracy as the worst form of socialized medicine; an energy policy that keeps us in hock to Arab dictators and abuses our responsibility to be careful stewards of God’s creation. (emphasis added)

I couldn’t have put it better myself. Obama’s plan to tax that “moneyed elite” in order to get some leverage on the health care leviathan seems an ideal first step toward tackling these problem, even if it does inevitably hit some of the more virtuous denizens of lower Richistan.

Hopefully administration leaders will get a chance to see the film version of Maggie Mahar’s Money-Driven Medicine. The book brilliantly chronicles the wasteful complexity of our current health care non-system. I am thrilled to see it adapted by a documentarist of Alex Gibney‘s stature (he directed “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room” and “Taxi to the Dark Side”). I’ll be hosting a screening at Yale in April.

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