Health Care Reform and Socialized Medicine

A review of
Introduction to US Health Policy: The Organization, Financing, and Delivery of Health Care in America
(Author: Donald A. Barr)

Democrats will be pushing health care reform for 2020. “Universal” health care is a buzzword that energizes their base, though it remains to be seen whether many independent voters will be persuaded. Some independents, certainly, have doubts as to whether reform would advantage or disadvantage them personally. But almost all independents reason ideologically as well. Most are “conflicted conservatives” who, in widely varying degrees, may resonate to conservative one-liners about big government, bureaucratic inefficiency, stifled innovation, or—most dramatically—socialism.

Donald Barr recounts a century of trying to achieve health care reform in the US, beginning with a failed proposal for national health insurance by Theodore Roosevelt in 1912. Similar failures reoccurred every decade or two afterwards. When Franklin D. Roosevelt tried to include national health insurance as part of the New Deal in 1938,

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Democracy and the Deterioration of Journalism

A Review of
Informing the News (Author: Thomas E. Patterson)

An informed citizenry is essential to a well-functioning democracy. We all assume that the “fourth estate” is what engenders citizens’ understanding of our national situation. In the last three decades, unfortunately, the quality of news has degenerated, raising questions about what the news can realistically be expected to accomplish.

The causes are technological (cable, internet, social media) as well as economic (audience fragmentation, advertising no longer can support costs of journalism) and sociological (the nationalization of politics, the changing style of journalism). The effect, according to a Carnegie Corporation report, is that “the quality of journalism is losing ground in the drive for profit, diminished objectivity, and the spread of the ‘entertainment virus.’”

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You Can’t Fight Polarization Until You Understand It

A Review of
Uncivil Agreement: How Politics Became Our Identity (Author: Lilliana Mason)

Lilliana Mason uses extensive social psychology research to explain how today’s polarization works. The two parties have become heavily “sorted”, and victory for the “team” eclipses attention to actual issues. She concludes:

The social sorting of American partisans has changed the electorate into a group of voters who are relatively unresponsive to changing information or real national problems. The voting booths are increasingly occupied by those who fiercely want their side to win and consider the other party to be disastrous.

And there are real effects:

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