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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Gapminder's Video on Global Poverty

While debating with Scarlet over on her blog about poverty and what to do about it, I remembered the Gapminder presentation at Google, which was an outstanding and incredibly illuminating lecture on global poverty, global inequality, and what has been done to lift people out of poverty.

It also highlights how poorly the USA does in metrics compared to other developing countries. We have some of the worst infant mortality rates, and among the lowest life expectancies, despite our immense wealth. Most of that, naturally, can be attributed to the fact that we are the only major developing country not to have a universal, single payer healthcare system. So while we spend 16.75% of our GDP on healthcare (according to today's Wall Street Journal article), we have worse outcomes than any other developed country.

Is it surprising, then, that Americans are beginning to turn against trade? The world's most open economy has the least safety net for its citizens. If you're displaced by globalization or technology, you lose your health insurance at exactly the time when you're most likely to need it. All the middle class webmasters, accountants, and soon, radiologists who are displaced by outsourcing will start feeling that pinch soon, and unlike poorer unskilled workers these are people who will actually vote. Things will change, and my hope is that they will change sooner rather than later.


Floyd said...

The US has the lowest infant mortality rates for any given birth weight, and people come here from Canada for care that they cannot get in their home country (at least not in a timely fashion).

America has a higher infant mortality rate than other countries because it has more mothers who are alcoholics, drug addicts, and just plain morons; it has a (slightly) lower life expectancy because many people are obese and do not exercise. Universal healthcare is not going to do anything about that.

Unknown said...

What Floyd is trying to say, but cleverly does not, is that Blacks in the USA have an infant mortality rate that's closer to that of a developing country than non-Blacks. In other words, our extraordinarily high inequality of income and lack of cheap, easy to access healthcare leads us to behave like 2 different countries, one rich and one poor. The average outcome is not good, even if the outcome for Bill Gates' children will be.

And of course, should you ever lose your job, you will quickly discover how poorly our nation's healthcare systems will serve you, at precisely the time when you need it the most.