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Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Paul Krugman and the "socialist hellhole"

Paul Krugman defends Administration health insurance reform proposals (he calls them "health reform plans") by assuring his readers that no "socialist hellhole" will result. I wonder what "hellhole" he is referring to. Socialist Cuba, a poor island nation, spends one-thirtieth the amount on health care that we do, yet provides its citizens with a life expectancy (77 years) and infant mortality rates (6/1,000) identical to that of the United States, and vastly superior to the comparable figures in many U.S. cities (72 and 12 in our nation's capital, Washington, D.C., for example).

Of course the real comparable countries to Cuba would be nearby island nations, all of them capitalist. In those, life expectancy varies from 72 in Jamaica to as low as 60 in Haiti, while infant morality rates even more dramatically demonstrate the superiority of socialist health care, varying from 17 in Jamaica to 84 in Haiti.

The key to socialist health care isn't simply that health care is completely free (for citizens and tourists alike), but government responsibility of the entire medical care system. Cuba has more doctors per capita (591/100,000 people) than any other country in the world (more than twice that in the U.S.) because they build enough medical schools and train enough doctors to meet their needs (and, indeed, provide free medical education not only to their own citizens but to people from around the world, including dozens of Americans). They then follow that up by building hospitals and clinics all over the country to make sure everyone in the country has access to medical care. Nor do pharmaceutical company profits soak up the health dollar, since Cuba produces many (not yet all) of its own drugs, and has been a world leader in biotech research with a number of very important drugs, such as a Hepatitis B vaccine, on the market.

"Socialist hellhole"? Mr. Krugman, you'd better pick another straw man to attack.

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