Tuesday, October 06, 2009

800-lb Fact

Becker-Posner blog about the Swiss health care system, its advantages and disadvantages as well as why it may not be a good fit in the U.S. They actually mention that the U.S. has a large underclass while Switzerland does not. Well, yes. But you're not supposed to mention that.

The historian Kenneth T. Jackson recently wrote: "Since World War II, America's northeastern and midwestern cities have been in both relative and absolute decline. Their once proud central business districts have typically slipped into retail and business irrelevance; their neighborhoods have lost their once dense networks of bakeries, shoe stores and pharmacies; and their streets have too often become dispiriting collections of broken, broken windows and broken lives. After dark, pedestrians retreat from the empty sidewalks, public housing projects come under the sway of gangs and drug dealers, and merchants lower graffiti-covered metal gates. Too often, no one is home." (Ballon and Jackson, 2007, p. 67).

We are in Perth where I will be talking to the AIUS. Perth is lovely. Why do we so much like exploring cities in (most) other countries? The carefree exploration of new cities is one of life's great pleasures. But you cannot do that in most American cities. You have to make damn sure of where you can and cannot go. As in walk or use public transit.

It's not just about health care. The 800-lb gorilla in the room is America's underclass problem and the welfare state's failure in doing anything meaningful about it . Job #1 is to admit it exists. Thank you, Becker-Posner.