Missouri, And America, Apparently Need Some European Socialism

Everywhere you look, Republicans fear what they often call “European socialism.”

Here in Missouri, right-wingers, who dominate the legislature, are cutting taxes mostly for corporations and wealthy folks. And then they are asking voters to approve a regressive sales tax. They refuse to expand Medicaid (socialized medicine!) and give health insurance to folks who need it. Meanwhile, look at this:

When it comes to measuring health systems, Missouri is 44th among the states and the District of Columbia in terms of “access and affordability, prevention and treatment, potentially avoidable hospital use and healthy lives.” Get that? This state is almost at the bottom. The only states below us are Georgia, Kentucky, Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Mississippi. Think about that. Missouri isn’t that much better than Mississippi, in terms of our health system. Yikes. And people are dying because of it. The Commonwealth Fund estimates as many as “86,000 deaths a year would be avoided if some states improved their health systems.” Yikes, again. (For an “estimated impact of improving performance” for Missouri, go here.)

Mittens Romney tried to use socialism to scare Americans in 2012, when he told us that President Obama was “taking us down a path towards Europe.” Would that be so bad? some might ask, especially some in Missouri who don’t have health insurance. To answer that question, I will end with an extensive quote from a recent column by Robert Reich, in which he explained how bad the Canadians and Europeans have it:

Most of them get free health care and subsidized child care. And if they lose their jobs, they get far more generous unemployment benefits than we do. (In fact, right now 75 percent of jobless Americans lack any unemployment benefits.)

If you think we make up for it by working less and getting paid more on an hourly basis, think again. There, at least three weekspaid vacation as the norm, along with paid sick leave, and paid parental leave.

We’re working an average of 4.6 percent more hours more than the typical Canadian worker, 21 percent more than the typical French worker, and a whopping 28 percent more than your typical German worker, according to data compiled by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof.

But at least Americans are more satisfied, aren’t we? Not really. According to opinion surveys and interviews, Canadians and Northern Europeans are.

They also live longer, their rate of infant mortality is lower, and women in these countries are far less likely to die as result of complications in pregnancy or childbirth.

But at least we’re the land of more equal opportunity, right? Wrong. Their poor kids have a better chance of getting ahead. While 42 percent of American kids born into poor families remain poor through their adult lives, only 30 percent of Britain’s poor kids remain impoverished – and even smaller percentages in other rich countries.

With results like that, it is too bad that President Obama isn’t “taking us down a path towards Europe.” I know some folks in Missouri who wish he would.

13 Comments

  1. Bbob

     /  May 30, 2014

    The richest country that has ever existed can afford to take care of its poor and sick, just as Jesus urged us to do.

    Like

  2. I too read Reich’s column on this and thought it was spot-on, but I think there is more to the story than simply obstructive political obstinance to our lack of progress. There is a strong social meme that’s epidemic in the U.S.A. It evidences itself in extreme competitiveness and financial obsessiveness.

    In 1930, John Maynard Keynes (no less) speculated in writing that despite the Great Depression, that because of technological advances the average workweek in 100 years would probably be down to 15 hours a week. That’s 3 hours a day, 5 days a week. He was recognizing the time-saving benefits already apparent in the fruits of the industrial revolution, including electricity (refrigerators, washing machines), radios, steam ships, airplanes, automobiles, assembly lines, teletypes, street cars, movies.

    Why didn’t Keynes’ dream come true, and why are we now behind Europe in so many ways? I think it’s the meme I mentioned. It’s why, or so I read, that even when Americans do go on vacation they usually use their smartphone to check in on the office every day.

    The famed psychologist, Abraham Maslow, postulated his hierarchy of needs and envisioned that at the top of the pyramid would be “self-actualization”, a state that would permit a sort of intellectual paradise in which both leisure and philosophy would be the primary activities. Instead, at least in our culture, it appears that’s not the case. What has happened is a never-sated thirst for more material things and more power over others. Bigger houses, more land, basketball teams, company jets, elevators for your Cadillacs, buildings with your name on them, and bigger yachts.

    I’m not sure this problem is fixable, and I’m certainly not advocating that we don’t try, I’m just not sure that it is. Maybe we will eventually mature as a society, I don’t know. But while blaming politicians for our problems we shouldn’t forget that they usually reflect the foibles, flaws and prejudices of their constituencies pretty accurately. Depressing.

    Like

  3. Treeske

     /  May 30, 2014

    A must for all, view the movie “Fed Up” exposing the ground causes of our health problems and other facts hidden to us.

    Like

    • We don’t have access to that movie here, as far as I know. (The closest is Kansas City.) Is there a way to see it online?

      Like

  4. ansonburlingame

     /  May 30, 2014

    Herb suggested a deep problem in America today and got pounced upon herein. Now Jim says “There is a strong social meme that’s epidemic in the U.S.A. It evidences itself in extreme competitiveness and financial obsessiveness.”. Anyone going to pounce on Jim and suggest he is exaggerating the issue? I sure won’t.

    I also believe there is an epidemic but do not limit it to just “extreme competitiveness and financial obsessiveness”. It goes deeper than just those two things. How about an epidemic of self-centerness?

    This blog is oh so quick to condemn the self-centerness of the 1%. You (and Robert Reich) are winning that war in terms of popular opinion today as well. But in doing so you feed the maw of another form or rampant self-centerness, the “I will vote for Obama because I will get a cell phone” type of self angrandizment. Left unsaid by such people is they could care less who pays for the “cell phone”, they just want theirs, now and will vote accordingly.

    OK, maybe “cell phones” is trivial. Try “reparations” instead if you like.

    I won’t burden you with other lengthy examples of self centerness run amoke but will suggest one of Jim’s examples has it wrong. Sure the 1%ers go on “vacation” glued to their cell phones. But most “workers” that I know would never dream of staying in touch with the office, afer they leave the work place at 5 PM, much less while on a week’s vacation. Let someone else take care of “worK” while we go “play” is a far more prevalent attitude in America today.

    Did it ever dawn on you liberals that if “one man” gave attention to “work” as most 1%ers do, then the unemployment statistics for that “one man” would be ZERO??

    As well Jim, I don’t know how to fix that one, either. But recognizing a problem is always a first step towards a solution.

    Anson

    Like

    • The unnecessary use of quotation marks and long debunked perception that President Obama planned to provide free, taxpayer subsidized cell phones to underprivileged black women detracts from an otherwise stroppy comment.

      http://www.wikihow.com/Use-Quotation-Marks-Correctly

      http://gawker.com/5947133/the-obama-phone-program-has-nothing-to-do-with-obama

      Like

      • Juan,

        Obama “has” my vote, “even” though he didn’t “give” me a free “phone.”

        “Duane”

        PS: Love the word “stroppy.”

        Like

        • “Fearless” Leader,

          OMG!!! I’m “quivering” with delight that you liked stroppy. Tempted to use bolshie, I feared it would be misconstrued. I don’t want Anson to “think” I’m calling him a Bolshevik.

          Like

          • Juan,

            The Urban Dictionary, a place where street pedants are seeking to rescue English from the grammar snobs, uses the following sentence under the definition of “bolshy”:

            He was getting stroppy with me, so I started getting bolshy.

            You gotta love that. Uh, excuse me. You “gotta” love that.

            Duane

            Like

            • Wow, what the odds of that? I’m “buying” a Powerball ticket. On second though, I’ll just buy a ticket. “Buying” might be like asking for a ticket and never receiving one because no money exchanges hands.

              Like

    • Anson,

      1. You wrote, “This blog is oh so quick to condemn the self-centerness [sic] of the 1%.” If by “this blog” you mean me, then you are wrong. I don’t recall ever claiming that, as a group, the 1% is self-centered [sic]. What I have repeatedly claimed is that too much of the country’s wealth is settling in the hands of a small number of people, self-centered or not. Oh, and that we ought to tax them more.

      2. Reagan, that paragon of self-centeredness [sic], started the Obama-phone program, as I recall. Which is amazing, considering Obama was somewhere around 23 years old. Big O has amazing powers, as you probably know relative to all the controversy about his birth. Oh, and the Ronnie-Obama phones were not just given out to black folks, so I don’t see the whole “reparations” connection.

      3. I love how you put “workers” in quotes, as if people who don’t give the boss all of their free time as well as their paid time somehow don’t deserve the term without qualification.

      4. I love how you assume that all the people in the 1% class are dedicated to work in ways the rest of us could only dream of. 

      Duane

      Like

  5. ansonburlingame

     /  June 2, 2014

    Juan,

    OMG!! I have never accused Obama of wanting to provide free cell phones. It is the perception of some however that if they vote for Obama that is what they will get, something for “free”. And he certainly, as a politician running for office, does not refute that perception, but he also does not endorse it, either. How about the “I won’t have to worry about my mortgage now” remark after the election in 2008!

    Like it or not, the perception in America today is that the “have’s” will and should have material goods taken from them and the “have not’s” believe they will get more as a result. No wonder battle lines are now drawn and reasonable discussion is not to be found in many places, today in American politics.

    Anson

    Like

  1. Missouri, And America, Apparently Need Some European Socialism | SOCIALISM: the Informant
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