Posts Tagged ‘developed world

24
Oct
08

How Great is the U.S.?

Since Sean Hannity keeps saying the U.S. is the greatest country god gave the Earth and among the anti-intellectuals, patriotism equals character, I thought I’d look into how great our country is when compared to other nations.

Infant Mortality:

According to the CDC, the U.S. ranks 29th in infant mortality levels when compared to other nations. We’re behind Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, CUBA, Czech Republican, Denmark, England & Wales, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Scotland, Singapore, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

Now – just in case you weren’t paying attention – I just listed a whole helluvalotta states with socialized medicine. Oooh, bad word! I know!

So, we’re not the greatest in one of the leading indicators of health care quality: infant mortality rates. Let’s move on.

Life Expectancy and more:

According to the CIA World Factbook (and made into a pretty chart on Wikipedia), the U.S. is 45th in life expectancy when compared to other nations. The United Nations has us up at 38. We’re behind Costa Rica, Malta, a whole bunch of socialist countries, Puerto Rico, the United Arab Emirates and a whole bunch more.

Okay…well, maybe this is because we’re so awesome and have so many conveniences we don’t move around that much and that’s why we die earlier – but the life that we live is so much more awesome. Well, that’s not true either, a study at the University of Leicester found that the U.S. is 23rd of the world’s happiest countries.

AND, we’re way down on other lists including unemployment, and our students aren’t even in the top 20 in math, reading and science.

We are free, though – and there’s definitely something to be said for that. Or maybe not.

Freedom

Reporters Without Borders says the U.S. is 36th in terms of freedom of the press. 36th!! Shit, we’re on the same level as Bosnia & Herzegovina. Trinidad & Tobago are ahead of us, including Slovenia, Suriname, Lithuania and Estonia and all those other countries that beat us in all the other categories.

We have the 20th smallest level of “perceived corruption” – but all those countries with lower infant mortality rates and higher life expectancy rate even less than we do on “perceived corruption.” And less is better here, people.

Economics

Well, The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal found the U.S. 5th in terms of economic freedom. And the World Economic Forum gives us top spot in Global Competitiveness. So, as long as we’ve got our shit together when it comes to money, who cares if our citizens die before everybody else and we can’t keep babies alive?

At least we’re number 1 in renewable energy attractiveness! There’s a small spot of sunshine!

Now, I’m not exactly sure how you measure greatness. But when a doctor says the word “cancer” to you, I doubt you’ll really be concerned with words like “capitalism” and “socialism” and more focused on “treatment availability” and “cure.” After your newborn succumbs to an acute illness, I doubt you’ll be glad our health care system is “for profit.” And after your “for profit” health insurance doesn’t cover needed procedures and you’re forced to declare bankruptcy (which was made harder under George W. Bush and would remain so under McCain), something tells me you won’t be shouting about how the U.S. is the best country on Earth. You’ll just leave that to millionaire Sean Hannity who can afford health care for his family.

Do you think me anti-American for saying such things? I don’t really care. I know am grateful every day I am from this country and I speak from the experience of having lived outside the U.S. – so I know what I’m talking about. I wonder if Sean Hannity has lived abroad.

The point is, the U.S. has a lot of room for improvement and many other countries present many benefits to their citizens that we do not enjoy here. Before we run around shouting about how awesome we are and attacking those who might disagree with us, we should look to carving out a better future for the U.S. and the children who will inherit it.

“It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.” Gandhi (this dude from India who lived a long time ago)

P.S. People throwing around terms like “Real America” and “Pro-American” can suck it. We’re the UNITED States. Or didn’t they get that? How dare those imbeciles.

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24
Sep
08

Pharmaceutical Company To Disclose Payments To Doctors

I’d put the hallalujahs off for just a minute, though.

According to AP, Eli Lilly and Co. has said they will report payments made to doctors over $500 for services, speeches, etc. How unusual.

The pharmaceutical industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. Every time you go to the doctor, they have another prescription for you. Words such as “bi-polar disorder,” “anxiety disorder,” “clinical depression,” “attention deficit disorder,” and so many more are in our everyday vernacular. Do you fee sad sometimes and then happy sometimes? Well, that’s not right! Have a pill and this pill and this pill even though we have no idea who their chemical interactions will affect your body!

Do you think any of those diseases exist in developing world? No, they have to deal not with disorders of conveniences, but actual maladies such as starvation and AIDS and tuberculosis. Drugs do not cost nearly as much in those areas of the world because people could never dream of affording them and entire countries’ economies would face collapse. The cost of one pill here in the U.S. could feed the population of Sub-Sarahan Africa.

We’ve raised a population of entitled Americans who expect easy street and look to quick fixes when times get tough. We don’t even need to leave our bedrooms to have anything we need in the world. Is it a coincidence that obesity numbers go up the same time as depression and a infinitesimal amount of other diseases increase? I don’t think so.

Furthermore, the drug companies use people as their guinea pigs by pushing drugs far too quickly through governmental approval – though many times due to pressure by patients. Many times, these drugs prove to cause extreme harm over the long period. You know every time you turn on daytime TV and some ambulance-chaser is talking about Vioxx? There you go.

The drug companies pour a load the money they make with their high-priced drugs into the pockets of doctors who recommend them and write prescriptions and the law makers who decide (de)regulation. Ever heard of Medicare? As Wikipedia says, “According to Marcia Angell, the former head of the New England Journal of Medicine, ‘The United States is the only advanced country that permits the pharmaceutical industry to charge exactly what the market will bear.'”

Drugs that Americans depend on to live and stay healthy will cost them the quality of their life simply because of corporate greed and the idea of “free market” which does not exist in this country. Drug companies will tell you that their profits are focused on providing more products. They don’t reveal the salaries of their executives. It’s sickening, really.

So, now Eli Lilly and Co. says they will disclose doctor payments in expression of good will. AP reports,

Dr. Peter Lurie, deputy director of the health research group at Public Citizen, said the state laws can let patients know when their doctors have a connection to a drug firm, but the state laws are not working very well. The laws have various exemptions and sometimes don’t even disclose the information to the public, he said.

Lurie was skeptical that Eli Lilly’s announcement represented a step forward on the issue of more transparency in health care.

“There are dozens of pharmaceutical companies. This is just one of them. Most won’t follow this guideline at all, and there will be no enforcement,” Lurie said. “This is Ely Lilly’s attempt to forestall the federal legislation by saying we’re in effect complying anyway.”

Needless to say, my skepticism remains high. Why wouldn’t Eli Lilly disclose all payments? How many of the payments they issues are under $500?

High drug prices are simply another example of the myth of the free market and “American capitalism.” This manner of economic laissez-faire hurts the lower economic echelons – which is the majority of Americans. Until we start being honest about the reality of our lack of regulation, American voters will never demand better treatment from the Corporatocracy our country has become. Socialism is not a bad word and does not work in its pure form. But for our citizens to reap the benefits of economic growth, we must pepper our capitalism with a bit of socialism. Pro-capitalism is not patriotic. Being honest is.




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