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The Occasional Random Rant

September 19th, 2017 | No comments

Thoughts for sharing because I must…

In August, we traveled to Greece for a holiday getaway with members of our family to the island of Kythera.  It’s part of the Peloponnese, the southern islands off the coast of Greece.  While visiting, I picked up a copy of the Summer 2017 Edition of Kythera, the local newspaper.  It is a combined Greek and English newspaper focused on local events and activities.  I was struck by the editorial that started with the Plato quote above.

The essence of the editorial focused on the future of the European Union.  They described Emmanuel Macron’s presidential election in France as “…a flicker of light [that had] broken through the darkness of our 2017 chaotic world.”  In particular, the editorial highlighted Macron’s statement that, “The difficulties of one are always the problem of all.”  And, it cited how all members of the European Union needed to come together to solve problems.  Greece – in particular – has been very heavily hit by economic suppression through the agreement that Alexis Tsipras signed with the EU shortly after coming to office despite running on a platform that he would not “give in” to European demands.  By acquiescing, he lost the support of the vast majority of Greeks and unemployment has gone even higher (now over 30%, primarily among younger workers) during what is now called the “economic downturn” or “the austerity”.  The editorial posted details on the problems with the austerity plan and ended with the following statement:

“…But eight years into an economy in free fall and with little prospect of recovery, the Greek people have succumbed to protest fatigue and a sense of defeat.  The European Union has come full circle.  Just as it was created in the 1950s to provide peace and economic prosperity to a territory in ruin, it must now once again forge alliance for a democratic revival of its existence.”

So, what does this have to do with the United States (where I live), generally, and health care, more specifically?  I don’t want to simply the complexity of our nation but much of the distress that we are now facing – it seems to me – is evolving from economic dislocation and subjugation of certain segments of society.  For example, while the vast majority of our cities and urban areas have enjoyed a substantial economic recovery, the hollows of West Virginia, the vast rural areas of the Great Plains and other economically distressed areas of our country have wallowed in ongoing financial depression.

Then, I heard a distressing fact that if we take all of the wage increases that have been given to factory and other entry level workers over the last decade, they have been consumed by increases in health care costs. In other words, the hard working women and men who are the foundation of our nation have not only seen no “recovery” from the “Great Recession” but continue to be mired in situations that offer little hope for recovery.  Is it any wonder that the benefits of the health care reform legislation are popular amongst this group?  Which takes me to the second point that I keep saying in lots of different ways.  If we do not resolve the problems with our health care systems – despite how good it is in many ways – it will be the singular reason for bankrupting the nation!  How many times does this need to be raised as a reasonable challenge for getting us to engage as a nation in moving forward rather than regressing backward?

However, I offer these thoughts with an addition.  In the USA, we have been woefully inadequate in providing support to those who continue to suffer from the Great Recession.  We have done virtually nothing to help them retrain so they could pursue other careers and jobs …


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