This morning (11-10-09) on CNN, the conservative talking point of the day became clear: We have the best health care in the world and the liberals want to destroy it.
And that statement is true, to a point. A very small point. We do have the finest research hospitals in the world; and, we do the most extensive pharmaceutical research and development in the world. And health care in America is the most expensive in the world. And, if you search for other factors that make our system the best, you may find some.
But, the talking point (that we have the best health care in the world) is propaganda*. Richard Alan Nelson ( in his hook, A Chronology and Glossary of Propaganda) defines propaganda as
a systematic form of purposeful persuasion that attempts to influence the emotions, attitudes, opinions, and actions of specified target audiences for ideological, political or commercial purposes through the controlled transmission of one-sided messages (which may or may not be factual) via mass and direct media channels."
As mentioned above, the American health-care system is the best in some ways. But, weigh those factors against these.
In the United States**
+ Life expectancy is rated 31st in the world, tied with Kuwait
+ Infant mortality, #37. A child in the USA is 2.5 times likely to die by age 5 as a child in Singapore.
+ Maternal mortality: a woman is 11.5 times more like likely to die in childbirth than a woman in Ireland.
+ Americans take ten percent fewer medications than people in other industrialized countries but pay 100% more for them.
+ We have tens of millions of Americans with no health insurance and when they see a doctor they are more likely to have chronic and serious conditions. Treating "sickness" is much more expensive than monitoring "wellness".
+ An Afro-American in New Orleans has a lower life-expectancy than a person in Vietnam or Honduras.
We do not have the best health care in the world if we talk about accessibility, wellness and cost. And it is blatant propaganda to assert that we do.
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** these figures come from the World Health Organization, via the New Your Times. http://kristof.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/11/04/best-health-care-in-the-world/