It has occurred to me that the countries in the world that, ostensibly, have the best health care (and the best educational systems as well? I don’t know if they correlate, but I would bet that they do) are those that, after WWII, were helped enormously by the United States’ influx of money and expertise.
Japan, denied militarism, eventually began to flourish. I’ve seen news snips about how good their health care system is. (Education in Japan is undergoing “reform,” but I don’t know much about that system except that it is rigid and exceedingly competitive.) Switzerland, which remained neutral, saved a heck of a lot of money thereby, and has a good health care system. France’s health care system is highly rated. Perhaps, after the devastation of the war, and released from the necessity of spending most of their money on fighting, France concentrated on more important things: health and education (as well as food and wine, of course). I don’t know. I’m just wondering. After their “triumph” in WWI, what happened to the following generation? Why were they not able to better defend themselves against the Germans? One answer is they put all their eggs in one basket–the Maginot Line, a series of sophisticated bunkers which skipped the Ardennes Forest and the Belgium border, which is where the Germans entered. The system itself is pretty cool–take a look on Wikipedia. A survivalist’s dream. It was just focussed on how fighting was done in WWI. Another problem was that all the deaths in WWI depleted the numbers of the next generation, but one assumes that happened all over Europe.
At any rate, when nations are forced to take a breather from war, and especially when the “winners” are as wise as the US was in the aftermath, rebuilding the infrastructure and trying to oversee everything–we still have US troops in Germany and in Japan–more resources are available for the important things. Like health care and education. I recently read that health care in France is partially paid for by taxes on alcohol and tobacco. That’s good, but how about going one step further, here, byalso taxing the foods that make us obese, like sugar and flour and hydrogonated oils?
Meanwhile, because of the undeniable militarization of our culture, a huge portion of our taxes and resources are devoted to developing new weapons, maintaining the old ones, deploying forces here and there. The Soviet Union bankrupted itself during the cold war and dissolved. Why won’t this happen to us? What makes it necessary that we police the entire world with troops and weapons? There needs to be a middle ground.
We need to make a huge, wrenching effort to change direction in this country. The elements that constitute a good education are constantly shifting as new facts about how we learn are discovered. We need to spend our money in this area rather than on weaponization. Enemies in video games are simple, faceless, evil. Humans are not. Just killing lots of other humans does not solve problems. We don’t get to the next level. There is only this level. We need to look around and really think about how to use whatever it is that makes us human to enable us all to have optimal lives. Whatever that means to the individual.
I know this sounds simplistic and ignores the huge swath of weirdness that runs through humanity–our sociopaths, our habitual criminals, those of us impaired by schizophrenia or other brain-related problems. But we have to start somewhere.
September 3, 2009 No Comments