Over the past few weeks we've had the need for a number of medical interventions a notch more serious than sniffles and sore throats. Nothing major, thankfully, but the sort of things that happen in life. In each case we were struck by the degree to which the level of service is improving over time. The intelligent application of technology to health service in a universal system makes life better, it's that simple.
Over the past 18 months or so I've made the mistake, three or four times, of putting a toenail in the general proximity of the American health care discussion. I was pleased to see that there are readers of this blog from both sides of the Great Political Divide of American politics, so in each case I was treated to torrents of - well, it wasn't abuse, but it certainly was reprimands for having got it all wrong. I should probably simply shut up this morning, the day after Obama passed a health insurance law, or Congress did at his behest, or something. But we bloggers, we talk too much by definition, else we wouldn't blog.... so here goes.
1. A rich society - and America is - should be able to protect its members from the harm of not having reliable health insurance. There are different ways of reaching that goal, but since I'm an firm believer in democracy, my fundamental belief is that democratic societies mostly figure out reasonably correct means to achieve the common goals. So if the United States is now a bit closer to being a good society (no society is ever near perfection), in the long run this should make America stronger. Given the alternatives, a strong America based on a healthy American society is good for the world (and good for Israel). So yesterday's legislation, I hope, is more a good thing than a bad thing.
2. It is hugely ironic that on the day of his historic achievement, Obama is being compared favorably to Lyndon Johnson. I'm old enough to remember how LBJ was literally drummed out of town by the political forebears - indeed, in many cases, by the very same individuals - who today are crowing over Obama's political victory. What can I say? Hee hee hee.
3. World history and the Jewish question. After all, at the end of the day we all ask ourselves what world history does for us. There can be no doubt that when Netanyahu meets Obama tomorrow, the meeting will be different for the outcome of yesterday's vote. Perhaps even dramatically so. Yet if there was one irrevocable thing I learned from the disintegration of my worldview in late 2000, when the political positions I had believed in and preached for my entire adult life came crashing down about me, it was that reality is stronger than any conceivable spin machine. The president has just had a political victory at home. This doesn't make his ineptitude in the Middle East any different than it was last week. Many Americans may or may not be impressed by his ability; the rest of the world is still the same complicated world.