Showing posts with label health care. Show all posts
Showing posts with label health care. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

"The Post-American World" by Fareed Zakaria

This marks my 400th blog post.  I have to give a shout out to a blogger I read and was inspired by before I became an expat.  Once while reading his blog, he remarked that he had reached 400 posts. I had no way of knowing how easy or hard that was at the time. Now I do and I salute Al Tischler, formerly of Radio Free Europe, for all of his hard work on the blog he wrote while his family was in Prague called Tischlers In Prague.  I loved reading his family's adventures and couldn't wait to get to get to the Czech Republic as I planned from America. Al, it is a pleasure to catch up with you!

Now that I'm an expat, I see things that worry me about the future of America.   A recent book published in the last few years with the title "The Post-American World and the Rise of the Rest" by Fareed Zakaria zeros in on that concern with a title that makes it sound like America zenith has past.  I love watching Fareed Zakaria's show 'Global Public Square' on CNN and wanted to hear what this cerebral immigrant had to say about the American future. 

Fareed Zakaria is well-known now to American television audiences, but it is important to remember what a breakthrough broadcasting success he was when he started his international affairs show. For most of us Americans he was the most prominent Muslim-American we had ever seen on television. Indeed, friends have suggested he could be our first Muslim-American Secretary of State.

I appreciated that his was the first Sunday talk show to consistently, week-after-week, bring an international panel of guests on his show to discuss how issues looked from abroad. Utilizing intellect and charm, he led Americans in considering and valuing viewpoints from non-Americans at a time when America was scared, hunkered down, and lashing out in Iraq and Afghanistan.

If Thomas Friedman's "The World is Flat," helped me understand the economic impact of globalization, Zakaria's "The Post-American World and the Rise of the Rest" soothed me as an American and made me comfortable with the political impact of globalization (despite its alarming title). As nations become "more like America" and compete with us using the same level of democracy and capitalistic meritocracy that made America such a success, it could be easy for Americans to fear the future and the world more. Zakaria suggests that if we stay true to democratic values and don't fight the reality of the rise of the rest, America has enough advantages with our superb ability to assimilate immigrants, our unrivaled institutions of higher education, and our storied ability to turn research into actual products to compete just fine against nations with larger populations.

Our role will be to lead politically and economically by example, coordinate nations in a multi-polar world as George H.W. Bush did so well in the first Gulf War, and thrive with our friends not just by ourselves.  A new edition of the book, "The Post-American World 2.0" has been released as of May 2011.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Dental Overreach

 Disclaimer - Not my teeth - someone else's
Anyone who has ever moved knows what a job it is to reestablish all of the relationships that are necessary to daily life.  The church, the school, the gym, the doctor, the dentist, the shoe repair man, the list goes on and on. As an expat the burden is even greater because it's hard to compromise on the standards you want for yourself.

Recently, I decided I needed my teeth cleaned because it had been 18 months since my last cleaning.  I had an amazing dentist in America with a fantastic staff.  I loved visiting his office, so much so that the one thing I did when I was home in America was make sure I got my teeth cleaned there. My dentist's office was full of information about he and his wife being in the top 1% of cosmetic dentists.  Everything was fantastic about that office from the wonderful friendly staff, to their expertise, right down to the terrific bird feeders out his window for me to watch. 

So I asked friends I trusted for a terrific dentist recommendation in my Istanbul neighborhood, went and checked out the office beforehand and inquired about prices, looked around and was sufficiently impressed that it was both upscale and thoroughly modern to international standards. Today I went for my appointment.

The dentist didn't know that it had been 18 months since my last cleaning.  He used those little dental mirrors to look at my teeth.  "You don't need to be here. Your teeth don't need a cleaning. There is nothing to clean." he said. "It was nice to meet you."

I was completely flabbergasted.  My dental hygienist back home wanted me in every four months.  She wanted me to buy a WaterPik.  She wanted me to buy tools that would stimulate my gums.  She said without quarterly cleanings and daily tools my teeth would really suffer. Now they guy is telling me after 18 months of benign neglect they look fine?

This appointment was a perfect example why America consistently runs up medical bills that outpace the world without better outcomes to show for it. France spends a mere 11% of GDP on health care.  America is at an unsustainable 16%, predicted to hit 19.5% in five years. For all the money we spend, we are 42nd in the world in life expectancy. We are the only industrialized, first-world nation without health care for citizens and we routinely leave 50 million of our fellow citizens uninsured.  Yet, we spend all this money and for what?

Why do we keep doing what we're doing in America? Overtreating? Each year that we don't fix this pointless spending, other nations get to invest that money on something else.  The 5% difference in what we spend on health care and someone else doesn't spend on health care then gets compounded every year.  Their investments in their countries build and make all kinds of exciting projects possible.
 
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