The Big Picture

“In order to properly understand the big picture, everyone should fear becoming mentally clouded and obsessed with one small section of truth.” -Xun Zi

TreesRobert Samuelson wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post titled “The welfare state’s reckoning” in which he argues that the European crisis is really a crisis of unmanageable welfare states. I suppose that argument could be made, if you don’t count Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, and Switzerland as part of Europe. Also, if you ignore that South Korea, Australia, and Canada also have similar welfare states and aren’t on the verge of collapse.

Ezra Klein does a much better job articulating this point.

“If the United States had Canada’s health-care system, and Canada’s per capita health-care costs, we would have a much “larger” welfare state, but we wouldn’t have a deficit problem. Assuming we weren’t spending that money elsewhere, we wouldn’t even have a deficit.”

Shockingly enough, providing for your citizens to have access to basic health care actually lowers costs. Instead, in the US, health care is prohibitively expensive resulting in many citizens putting off obtaining medical care until they are very ill, thus making them more costly to treat. Further, young, healthy people avoid purchasing health insurance, driving up the costs for insurance companies.

It’s not rocket science, people. Even Rick Santorum gets it, accidentally.

“If you don’t have to have insurance until you’re sick, why buy insurance? … How much would insurance be if only people who needed insurance bought it? The whole point of insurance is: healthy people buy it, sick people buy it, and those who are healthy support those who are sick…. But if insurance is only sick people buy it, well guess what’s going to be the cost of insurance. That’s why there’s a preexisting-condition clause.”

Universal health care isn’t to blame for the European debt crisis. The lack of it, in part, is to blame for America’s.

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