Healthcare politics and racism

Getting healthcare opinions from a Michael Moore movie is an example of why Amerikkkans have no path to change. One can note the problems but still not have a path.

Nicholas Kristof’s editorial of August 26 links two unconnected things. It’s one thing to know there is a big problem with healthcare including especially for the disadvantaged. It’s another thing to know that the U.S. Government would solve it.

Kristof is now aware that the United $tates is the world’s prison leader and within that racism has to be highly suspect as the underlying cause. MIM has reported on indignities in prison healthcare for decades.

True, in many other countries a bigger role for government has solved many healthcare problems. Those countries have tended to have a proletariat and in some cases a more ethnically homogenous population when they set up their healthcare systems. Those countries also generally have a fraction of the U.$. imprisonment rate.

It’s not that big government is inherently “un-American”; although, we believe it’s pretty obvious that it has to be suspect as corporatism in the U.$. case. The problem is that when we look at the government we already have, we do not see a good job being done for the really disadvantaged.

Of course, privatizing prisons is not going to provide better healthcare. However, going to public prison does not reduce one’s healthcare risk for contracting tuberculosis. Quite the opposite and the Center for Disease Control lists correctional facilities as a risk factor for TB.(2)

The United $tates is not the only country with that problem. However, there are countries without that problem. In Sweden it is the foreign-born at risk for TB only.(3) The World Health Organization stance is that “TB is not an unavoidable consequence of incarceration and can be controlled through the application of Stop TB Strategy based programmes and improvements in prison conditions.”(4) 1993 to 1997 estimates put U.$. state and federal prison TB rates at 23 to 27 per 100,000.

Then the question arises, why the United $tates has a TB problem in prison. Russia with the number two prison-state in the world percentage-wise has half its cases of TB from prisons.(5) So once again, Russia is another example that big government is no guarantee.

In a country with a handful of prisoners, it is not necessary to draw from the dregs of society to administer them. Where prisons are large factors in state budgets, it stands to reason that the politics of healthcare is more salient both in terms of recuiting people to work in the prisons and in terms of what governments are willing to pay for. For Amerikkka, because there is such a large prison population, there is no getting around addressing the character of the Amerikkkan people, whether they are willing to fund AND implement prison healthcare. This is a case where once again, it would be wise to cut the prison population to a fraction of its current size and defeat the politics connected to a huge prison union, huge prison industry and huge appropriations to care for prisoners.

When MIM sees Amerikans rally for releasing prisoners and giving the rest healthcare, we’ll believe that the government will deliver for the disadvantaged. Otherwise, in the Amerikan case a dangerous illusion might arise that people can take risks and have government healthcare. That might not account for the special viciousness of the Amerikan public.

Medicare and Medicaid are popular as is Social Security, but they are popular because they deliver for the middle-class. MIM has no question that Uncle $am could borrow from China to give out popular benefits to the middle-class. However, healthcare for U.$. TB patients would not be a slamdunk. It might be quicker to fight the anti-dollar struggle and call for help from newly enriched Third World countries who send up non-racist medical clinics to care for our disadvantaged within U.$. borders. In any case, prioritizing the struggle against national chauvinism is necessary even in Sweden for healthcare to advance. Given a choice between a stout struggle to reduce Amerikkkan chauvinism and a struggle to borrow money from China for some huge bureaucracy, we put our money on stout anti-racist/chauvinist struggle to do more to advance healthcare.

Notes:
1. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/27/opinion/27kristof.html
2. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00001642.htm
3. http://www.eurosurveillance.org/ViewArticle.aspx?ArticleId=606 ;
http://www.bikupan.se/tuberculosis/tuberc.html#anchor154664
4. http://www.who.int/tb/challenges/prisons/en/index.html
5. http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1117551#id565793 ;
see also, http://www.euro.who.int/document/TUB/fs10e_tbprisons.pdf

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