Wednesday, February 1, 2012


I congratulate myself. I am recovered. It took a couple of days of (mostly) bed rest, plenty of liquids--the usual stuff, but effective. Here I am... and fortunately so, because this is a special day: this is our first full day with Luka in our care. Sarah, his mom, has had to return to work and we are left, er... holding the baby. For one day of the week. Not onerous duty, we are looking forward to it.

It does give me pause to wonder, though, about how "advanced" we are, as a nation. When compared to most European countries (sorry, exceptionalists!) our provision for the care of the elderly is sadly primitive. My parents, aging in a small country village in Wales, could expect to receive regular visits from health care and other geriatric professionals; when finally incapacitated, there were fine, well-staffed residential homes available to take care of them. So, too, with maternity (and I believe paternity) leave laws, which require employers to provide far more generous and longer-lasting arrangements than were available to Sarah. In general, our health care "system" is an outrageously expensive mess, leaving countless millions to the not-so-tender mercies of private health insurance companies and the possibility of financial ruin. As Obama frequently remarks, we can do better.

Conservatives look back to a time when communities took care of themselves and each other. They call, as did Bush I, upon the "thousand points of light"--the charitable work to which we rightly contribute both here at home and abroad. Was a time when the world was small and relatively simple, as were our communities. These days we're massively overpopulated and globalized; we have become more impersonal, more distant from our neighbors, and feel less responsibility for them. Government, it seems to me, is the only workable medium in our contemporary world, for the collective care-taking that's needed, for the poor, the disenfranchised, the sick, and the vastly increasing population of the elderly. Our advanced neighbor countries have done more to move with the times. We seem unable to change our ways with the changing world, and are currently experiencing the agony of trying to catch up with it. It has gotten away from us, and we don't quite see what adjustments we need to make, and how to make them.

It's all too clear that the solutions offered by the slate of Republican contenders look to the past rather than the future. But there's no way back. What has failed in the past, in some instances disastrously, is not going to work any better in the future...

But what am I complaining about? Little Luka has just arrived. Well nursed, he is now sleeping peacefully in his bassinet. Here he is:

Poor little guy! Sleeping so peacefully, little does he know that he's the one who's going to have to find a new and equitable way to share this planet with all those other living beings. Looking at him, though, I feel sure he'll be up to the task.


CHI SPHERE said...

it is a task indeed to remain healthy without a net of national health support.

A close friend of mine who is my age, 68, returned to his home land of Sweden. He is fortunate to carry two passports. He has the healthcare his government provides as he ages. The cost for his diabetes medication was over $3,890 USD in prescriptions each year in the USA.

In Sweden his total cost is about $300 USD per year. Yes, he does pay a higher rate of income tax at 43% while making $150 USD a year as an architect. He has excellent public transportation in Sweden as well.

His former taxes were 33% on personal and 26% on his business. His health care expenses ran $11,000 for a plan that is comparable to what he has in Sweden.

Jean said...

He's so, so gorgeous! Glad you're feeling better in time to enjoy and fully participate in the day. My copy of your book just arrived.