I think we’d all agree that Australia is a big country. In fact, it’s not a country at all, but a continent like North America. So, it would be sensible to assume it’s a pretty big place with lots of people. It’s actually almost twice the land mass of India.
Julia A. Seymour would disagree. In fact, Ms Seymour would find it thoroughly acceptable for the whole population of Australia to be without any form of health service whatever.
According to Ms Seymour of the Business & Media Institute, people like me should not have healthcare insurance. Apparently, it’s fine for non-Americans to live and work in the USA, but they must not be included when statistics about health insurance are compiled.
In an effort to undermine Michael Moore’s film “SiCKO”, Seymour and her ultra right-wing colleagues at the BMI are challenging Moore’s figure for the numbers of persons in the US living without health cover. 10,000,000 – she says – are not US citizens and should therefore be excluded from the statistics.
In fact, she implies in her article that if you, citizen or not, are an owner-occupier and have a computer, then you can afford health insurance and its purely a matter of personal choice if you don’t have it. Given that for most people the cost of adequate health cover comes close to the cost of mortgaging a second home, this conclusion seems a little unfair.
Seymour is, in fact, utilizing quotes from a book: “The Cure: How Capitalism Can Save American Health Care” by David Gratzer. As capitalism has failed miserably in that task over the last two hundred years in this country, it seems unlikely Mister Gratzer has found “the cure”, as he professes. When we consider his credentials, however, his enthusiasm for a capitalist approach to the problem appears more clear.
David Gratzer is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, another of those right-wing “think tanks” like the AEI and Heritage. Let us, for a moment, consider the commitment of the Manhattan Institute to America’s public health.
“………privatization of sanitation services and infrastructure maintenance, deregulation in the area of environmental and consumer protection, school vouchers and cuts in governmental spending on social welfare programs……”
This hardly seems a recipe for improving America’s healthcare. Dig a little deeper, though, and the waters become even murkier.
The Manhattan Institute doesn’t publish a list of its corporate sponsors. That’s probably just as well. It’s happy to proclaim financial links to charitable foundations like Koch and Scaife, but makes more effort to conceal “donations” from Exxon Mobil, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and prominent tobacco companies like Phillip Morris, Brown & Williamson, and R.J. Reynolds.
Sourcewatch tells us that:
“…….a 1997 R.J. Reynolds memo reveals RJR’s intent to use the Manhattan Institute as a third party to help the company reduce the public’s perception of danger from exposure to secondhand smoke:
“Devise ways to educate the public about epidemiology and put risk in perspective. For example, work with Steven J. Milloy, Michael Fumento, CEI Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Manhattan Institute [my bold] and others to put together a 1/2-hour or 1-hour TV show explaining epi[demiology] and risk. Create an epi/risk website to educate the general public, maybe working with the Harvard School of Public Health. Do the same for journalists.”
Of course, Sourcewatch is one of those stinking liberal organizations not to be trusted, but in this instance it’s sources are verifiable. The memo, containing numerous other devious schemes to indoctrinate Americans into believing smoking is cool and the dangers grossly overrated, can be read HERE. Note 7 is pertinent, but as an object lesson in deceiving the American people, the whole memo is worthy of perusal.
Suddenly Julia A. Seymour’s persuasions are somewhat less than compelling, but just suppose her figures are correct after all.
She opens her article by stating:
“Michael Moore was wrong about health insurance. So were President Bush, Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), presidential candidates former Sen. John Edwards and Gov. Mike Huckabee and The Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, People magazine and Time magazine, as well as CNN, CBS and ABC.”
Well now, that’s an awful lot of well-informed people and organizations that got it wrong. What they say is that around 50,000,000 Americans are without health insurance. Ms Seymour argues that figure is way too high. Take out the 10,000,000 non-citizens like me, who live here just because we love America so much and don’t deserve healthcare, and subtract the numbers of people so well off they don’t even bother with it because they’re too busy enjoying their own home and playing on their computer, and you are left with a figure of around 20,000,000 – or, says Ms Seymour, a mere 7% of the populace.
Ms Seymour, however, is not content with that number. She pares it down still further by juggling the statistics until she arrives at – to Ms Seymour – the more agreeable figure of between 8.2 million and 13.9 million.
That’s much more acceptable. After all, if we average out those figures to just 12,000,000, it’s only the total population of Zimbabwe, or Angola, or Cuba – and who cares about them anyway?
Unfortunately, Ms Seymour has made a grave error in her calculations. By removing the 10,000,000 of us who are not citizens she is simply playing with words. While the figures quoted by Moore and others are classified under the terms “Americans without health insurance”, it is ludicrous to assume the statistics must only refer to citizens, and not other US inhabitants living under the umbrella – albeit, leaky – of American healthcare. We permanent residents get sick as readily as citizens. We also pay the same amount in taxes. So, in this instance, her argument is seriously flawed and utterly unacceptable as a means of reducing the figure she is trying to achieve.
Add the 10,000,000 back into the calculation, and the figure Ms Seymour arrives at by her own arithmetic becomes 22,000,000.
Or, slightly more than the total population of Australia.
Filed under: Vital statistics
AUTHOR’S FOOTNOTE: The above article was written to highlight the absurdity of those who argue over figures; that the number 50,000,000 is unacceptable, yet 20,000,000 is much less so.
I would simply respond: “Is the figure ‘1’ acceptable?
Julia Seymour grandly announces that only 7% of “Americans” fall through the health net, as though it is to be applauded as a success. Only 7%. Let us take this figure and remove the ‘%’ sign. Imagine, if you will, a small village of just 100 inhabitants; a close-knit community of, say, 40 families. 37 of those families enjoy good health, and when they get sick the local doctor makes them better. 3 families cannot afford health insurance, so when an influenza epidemic hits the village the doctor refuses to treat the members of those three families because he won’t get paid. If you lived in that village and knew those families, what would you do? What would all the other families in the village do? I don’t need you to answer. I know your response. You would unhesitatingly rush to help in whatever way you could – even if it was just to assist in running the mercenary doctor out of town. Those three families represent about 7% of the village population. They’re the 7% that Julia A. Seymour and her well-heeled, capitalist, cronies would consider acceptably expendable.