Thursday, September 29, 2011

Another Single Payer State?

Maybe the health care barrel really is splintering: now the governor of Montana says he will, like Vermont, seek a waiver from Obamacare in order to implement a single payer system in his state, where half the population gets their health care from the government (so much for the myth of hardy, go-it-alone westerners). Video here.

It's interesting this is coming from another small state. I think states like Montana and (certainly) Vermont have much more of a sense of community in the old-fashioned sense of caring for their neighbors. Both have populations under 1 million. I lived in Vermont for about 8 months, and in New Hampshire (pop 1.3 M) for 7 years, and in both places I received calls from my state representative when I wrote them about something or other. The first time it happened it really threw me, because I hadn't even conceived of such a thing. I even once received a call from a state rep who wan't my own, after I sent him an email about his idea on an obscure law specifying the exact boundary between NH and Maine. He talked to me for an hour! I think that kind of connection is largely gone in the US, where 312 million people are mostly just numbers, invisible to national-level politicians. (I was watching the introduction to the new show Person of Interest, and one of the main characters who was the victim of a crime told a detective, "Any more, the only time people ask for your name is when you're in trouble.") That's why a Tea Party debate audience could boo the gay soldier and jeer at someone without without health insurance -- we're such a big country, and so stratified, and so individually isolated behind TV and computer screens, that we don't know one another anymore. Problems are just abstract, just cells in a spreadsheet. But in smaller places like Vermont (and, I'm guessing, Montana) there is a sense that individuals count and community is valuable. Maybe in Europe, too -- all the lone wolves with individualism genes set off for America, leaving behind the homebodies with the social genes. At least, that's my theory. (Actually it was Darwin's -- I'll post that when I get a chance.)

1 comment:

TheTracker said...

"I think states like Montana and (certainly) Vermont have much more of a sense of community in the old-fashioned sense of caring for their neighbors."

You can hate your neighbors' guts and still be for single payer.

I mean, nine percent last year. That's not left or right; it's just math.

You solve it by creating something akin to public schools: basics for everybody, not without constant bickering over what we as a society can afford. Those that can afford something gold-plated are free to buy it.