By now, most people are aware that the American healthcare system is among the most dysfunctional institutions imaginable, with the highest costs in the world, and some of the worst outcomes of any advanced country. That being said, there are still those who deny the necessity of completely overhauling the system, and as such, it is useful to take some time and go over the essential facts of the matter. As always, all sources will be listed at the end.
America’s Poor Health Outcomes
It has become increasingly common in recent years to argue that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is no longer socialist, due to the market reforms that were put into place during the leadership of Deng Xiaoping (which continue to the present day). It is claimed that the proclamations of the Communist Party of China (which has always maintained that the country is socialist) are merely an ideological smokescreen, designed to cover up their supposed embrace of capitalist economics. However, an examination of the facts quickly reveals this view to be erroneous; the PRC is still a socialist country…
Recent years have brought a sharp uptick in the number of people interested in the policies and ideas of the political left. In order to clarify some basic points of confusion, and provide answers to some frequently asked questions, this short primer has been prepared. I encourage the reader to provide feedback if they feel that anything useful has been omitted. As always, all sources are listed at the end.
Question #1: What’s Wrong With Capitalism?
In his 1936 book The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money, the famed economist John Maynard Keynes noted that the main problems…
The United States has long seen itself as a very special nation, playing a uniquely noble role on the world stage. While other nations are said to be guided by vulgar self-interest, the United States is supposedly different; the primary goal of American foreign policy is, according to the State Department’s website, to “promote and demonstrate democratic values and advance a free, peaceful, and prosperous world.” But how well does the United States live up to those so-called “democratic values”? Does it in fact promote the cause of a “free, peaceful, and prosperous world”? Let’s look at the facts.
It is truly incredible to see some people denying the existence of fascism in the United States. Stephen Miller was caught citing explicitly white-supremacist publications in his emails, and yet he was allowed to serve as a White House senior policy advisor (seemingly the one member of the administration Trump couldn't find it in himself to fire), and now continues to make appearances in the mainstream media! Utterly baffling.
Anyone engaging in political discussion (both online and off) will be aware of certain classic right-wing and liberal talking points, which are often used to hand-wave away arguments and evidence provided by socialists. In order to deal with these common points, it is necessary to make a brief survey of the evidence. As always, all sources will be listed at the end.
Talking Point #1: “Socialism Always Fails, Just Look at Venezuela!”
The American labor movement has been in a steady decline over the last several decades. Despite the fact that most Americans have a positive view of labor unions, membership has fallen dramatically since its peak in 1954 (when it stood at about 34.8% of the workforce), reaching a dismal low of 10.7% in 2017. …
For the past several years, there has been an intense debate over whether or not there should be an increase in the United States’ minimum wage. While the vast majority of Americans favor raising the minimum wage to $15-an-hour, there have been those who claim that such a move would pose a threat to the economy, potentially causing massive job losses, and possibly even reducing incomes for low-wage workers. In order to assess the truth of these claims, it is necessary to look through the available evidence on the topic. As always, all sources are listed at the end.
Excellent article. I'd also note that there is very robust evidence that expanding health coverage via public programs has a significant poverty-reducing effect. For example, a 2019 paper in the American Journal of Public Health found that food insecurity fell after the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, suggesting that “health insurance provision has spillover effects that reduce other dimensions of poverty.”
Similarly, a 2019 paper in Health Affairs found that “Medicaid expansion caused a significant reduction in the poverty rate.” Interestingly, Medicaid’s antipoverty impact “grew over the past decade independent of expansion, by shielding beneficiaries from growing out-of-pocket spending.” From all of this, it seems clear that if we were to achieve universal coverage, it would have an even more potent poverty-fighting effect.
Good article. I think it's also important to note that even if we do get these sorts of reforms (i.e. those contained in S.1), there is still the problem that ordinary people have shockingly little influence in public policy. Just last year, a new study in the Social Science Quarterly confirmed what we already knew, that "the affluent have substantial influence over policy making while average Americans have little to no influence." This issue ultimately goes to the root of the American socio-economic system, with problems like inequality, class divide, and so on. These things need to be the real focus of our efforts, alongside pushing for things like S.1.
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