Sunday, May 15, 2011

Health is the Infrastructure of the Infrastructure

File:ENT Doctor with Old Nigerian Patient.jpg

Economics Infrastructure is usually considered to be roads, communication, water systems and etc.

But there is an infrastructure which is more fundamental than these, and this is health. Physical and mental health are more important for without them roads, sewage systems, communication, transportation and so on would not function well.

The first infrastructure is Human. In fact, it is the infrastructure that underlies the infrastructure.

When we do not pay attention to a population’s health we are undermining economic growth.

In the US, capitalism has failed to provide universal access to healthcare. If we add up the statistics for those who receive government healthcare (elderly and poor) and combine that with those who are working but cannot afford healthcare, we arrive at around 42% of the population in 2007. This is when deregulation was at its height and the economy was doing well, right before the mortgage collapse.

Capitalism has shown that it cannot provide general healthcare for its citizens for several reasons. One is that its requirement for profit will not allow it to provide medical services for a large portion of a nation, leaving almost half without attention.

Second, monopolization, which naturally arises in capitalism, drives up the prices of healthcare – drugs, equipment and devices, tools, materials…

Universal and national healthcare is the only solution. And this can be done with a program of breaking up monopolies and lowering prices and generating innovation and competition.

Capitalism touts itself as being the solution to all social problems, but it is not. It cannot solve the healthcare problem. Further, it could never create a national education system. And there are other essential functions and services that it could not perform for an entire nation….though it might serve a select few with high enough income and thus more profit potential.

National defense is another arena in which we would not want business running the show. You can imagine what would happen in this case.

A society and culture is composed of many different institutions and systems, economics and business is only one of these. In a world where we have an appreciation of many different values, we will want separate institutions to serve these values. We would not want one institution in control of all, and then have it stunt, manipulate or destroy other institutions such as healthcare or education.

A multiple value perspective results in multiple powers. This is necessary to maintain the diversity of our world, to achieve diverse goals at once, to satisfy all of our many needs.

 Cage Innoye

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