Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Another Indictment of America's Faux Exceptionalism

Many, especially on the far right and among Christofascist/Tea Party circles, like to bloviate about American exceptionalism.  American exceptionalism is, of course, a myth used by the ignorant and xenophobic to make themselves feel good about themselves and superior to others much as the Christofascists focus on condemning others rather than face the reality of their own hypocrisy filled, miserable lives.   But, as this blog has looked previously, there is one area in which America is exceptional, but in a very negative and unflattering way:  we have the shortest life expectancy of any developed nation and we have the least efficient health care system as well despite spending more on health care than any other nation.  The irony is that the policies that lead to this horrible distinction are those championed by those who most wrap themselves in patriotism and feign worship of Christianity.  A column in the Washington Post looks at this ignominious distinct held by America and offers an indictment of the nation's failing health care system and those responsible for the true "culture of death."  Here are excerpts:

January has turned out to be a banner month for fans of American exceptionalism. As documented in voluminous detail in a 404-page report released last week by the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine, Americans lead shorter lives than Western Europeans, Australians, Japanese and Canadians. Of the 17 countries measured, the United States placed dead last in life expectancy, even though we lead the planet in the amount we spend on health care (17.6 percent of gross domestic product in 2010 vs. 11.6 percent each for France and Germany). We get radically less bang for the buck than comparable nations. If that’s not exceptionalism, I don’t know what is.

Americans die young. The death rate for Americans younger than 50, the report showed, is almost off the comparative charts. A range of exceptionally American factors — car usage and lack of exercise, junk-food diets, violent deaths from guns, high numbers of uninsured and a concomitant lack of treatment, the high rate of poverty — all contribute to this grim distinction.  

The study enumerates other key, if unsurprising, factors in our shortness of life. “Americans are more likely to find their health care inaccessible or unaffordable,” it concludes. “Americans benefit less from safety net programs that can buffer the negative health effects of poverty and other social disadvantages.”

But a funny thing happens to Americans’ life expectancy when they age. The U.S. mortality rate is the highest of the 17 nations until Americans hit 50 and the second-highest until they hit 70. Then our mortality ranking precipitously shifts: By the time American seniors hit 80, they have some of the longest life expectancies in the world.

What gives? .  .  .  .   the larger part of the answer is that at age 65, Americans enter a health-care system that ceases to be exceptional when compared with the systems in the other 16 nations studied. They leave behind the private provision of medical coverage, forsake the genius of the market and avail themselves of universal medical insurance. For the first time, they are beneficiaries of the same kind of social policy that their counterparts in other lands enjoy. And presto, change-o: Their life expectancy catches up with and eventually surpasses those of the French, Germans, Britons and Canadians.

The big question raised by the data in this study is how Americans have allowed themselves to sink to the bottom of so many indexes that measure the quality and duration of our lives. What’s truly exceptional about America, it turns out, is the indifference we show to our compatriots, the absence of the kind of national solidarity more evident in the nations that surpass us on all these lists. Mitt Romney may have lost the election — thankfully — but his relegation of 47 percent of his fellow Americans to history’s scrap heap evinces a spirit that suffuses all too many of our institutional arrangements and social relations. 

Yes, it is damning and all too accurate.  Even more damning is that the policies that are the root cause of this disgrace track directly back to the GOP and its supposedly :godly Christian" base.  They are indeed modern day Pharisees.  They most certainly are not true followers of the Gospel message.

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