Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Rationing: Is This Where US Health Care is Headed?

The new [Cuban] ration book surprised us at the end of December, just when speculation was growing about the demise of this booklet with its grid-paper pages. It arrived, like every year, surrounded by anxiety and annoyance, submerging us in that avoidance-approximation conflict generated by the subsidized. In its little pages I notice the absence of many products that once made up the monthly quota, now reduced to just a monotonous repertoire with insufficient nutritional values and rising costs.

For the first time in our house we are all in the same age bracket among the five defined by the Ministry of Internal Commerce. Exactly in the box for 14 to 64 years my son Teo appears, together with Reinaldo and me, but at least three generations of Cubans have seen the store clerks mark down what we can put in our mouths. Trapped in poverty, millions of compatriots depend on price assistance to survive. Rationing is a trampoline and falling is certain, a dependency we all wish would end, but that almost no one can let go.

I see my name written next to my son Teo’s and I’m afraid that his children, too, will receive milk only until the age of 7, be allotted washing soap every 2 months or a tasteless toothpaste to clean their teeth. I shudder imagining that in 30 years we will still have to prove, with a doctor’s certificate, that we have an ulcer to have the right to a few ounces of meat or a container of soy yogurt.

With its minimal quantities and doubtful quality, the ration market has also instilled in us an unhealthy gratitude and a guilt complex that cannot be our legacy to those yet to come. If another December arrives and we receive a new ration book, it will not be because we have avoided the economic cuts, but rather because we have fallen another step lower in our citizen autonomy.

~Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez

MP: As much as Americans might complain about greedy corporations, excessive CEO compensation, low non-union wages at Wal-Mart, high gas prices, income inequality, stagnant real wages, the disappearing middle class, etc. or whatever the current whining du jour is, just imagine what it would be like to live in a country like Cuba where your daily purchases of food were restricted and controlled by bureaucrat-determined quotas, and you actually had to present a rationing book to a civil servant (an inaccurate description, since they're rarely civil or servile in reality) clerk at a government-operated grocery store as a pre-requisite to buy food for you and your family.

I'll glady live with excessive CEO pay for Oprah, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet in a market economy any day over having to present a rationing book to a government bureaucrat to buy food like the citizens of Cuba are required to do daily.


At 1/06/2010 10:34 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 1/06/2010 10:38 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

We should enjoy what we have while we can. Health care rationing is most likely in our near future. Then, who knows? Maybe food rationing isn't too far off.

At 1/06/2010 11:26 PM, Anonymous RD said...

When I first saw the picture I thought I was looking at a report card. It dawned on me grades are now rationed too. My daughter gets graded 1s, 2s and 3s.

At 1/07/2010 12:26 AM, Blogger Erick said...

Why limit the options to abundance and crony-capitalism versus rationing? Sounds like a false choice.

Also, Gates and Opera used far fewer taxpayer-subsidies to earn their wealth than financial executives. Yves Smith has been hammering home this point:

At 1/07/2010 1:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the comment Erick.

I guess now we know what the " current whining du jour" is.

At 1/07/2010 6:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The "one size fits all" model is typical of government programs. As an example, in our healthcare debate, one of the central issues is whether abortions should be covered. In a free market, you would either pay for abortions out of pocket, or buy a policy that covered (or didn't cover) this procedure. Instead we're having a ridiculous national debate on whether abortions should be included in our "one size fits all" health care model.

It is so frustrating to watch this great country head down the path to socialized medicine.

At 1/07/2010 9:09 AM, Blogger Paul said...

Notice how the Lefties like Sethstorm have nothing to say in this comment thread, but gnash their teeth over the Chile post.

At 1/07/2010 11:45 AM, Anonymous Benny "Tell It LIke It Is Man" Cole said...

Some prefer crony capitalism, some prefer commie-fascism of China or Cuba. (Why is Cuba always bashed, but never China? Why does the right-wing go mute on China?)

Yet others might prefer a well-run health care system of Western Europe, while others like the USA hodge-podge.

The USA hodge-podge, however, consumes about double the GNP of some nations with similar outcomes.

If you like the way the agriculture and deense industries are dominated by the federal government, then you will love federalized health care.

Do our ag and defense industries do a good job?

Hide your wallets, bubelahs.

At 1/07/2010 12:33 PM, Blogger Erick said...

Benny, when can we start phasing out our high fructose corn syrup subsidies?

At 1/07/2010 12:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is Cuba always bashed, but never China? Why does the right-wing go mute on China?

If ignorance were money, Benny would be the richest man in the world:

BANGKOK, Thailand — With all eyes on Beijing, President Bush bluntly told China that America is strongly opposed to the way the communist government represses its people, a rebuke delivered from the heart of Asia on the cusp of the Olympic Games.

In perhaps his last major address in Asia, Bush said that America speaks out for a free press, free assembly and labor rights not to antagonize China's leaders, but because it's the only path the potent U.S. rival can take to reach its full potential.

"America stands in firm opposition to China's detention of political dissidents and human rights advocates and religious activists," Bush said.

"We press for openness and justice not to impose our beliefs, but to allow the Chinese people to express theirs."

Fox News

At 1/07/2010 1:38 PM, Anonymous Stephen said...

I think the fear that it could be where US Health Care is heading is completely unfounded. I can't imagine that the U.S. would completely ban private health care even if a UHC single payer system is implemented. Wouldn't such a law be unconstitutional?

At 1/07/2010 2:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Benny, why not the best of both worlds? Read a little and learn how Singapore has both: Private care and government care for the poor.

At 1/07/2010 4:01 PM, Blogger Colin said...

At 1/07/2010 4:33 PM, Blogger Methinks said...

I'm an immigrant from the Soviet Union and all I can say is they have meat in Cuba? Very fancy.


Post a Comment

<< Home