I’m sure you saw the report out early last week predicting the accelerated demise of medicare and Social Security – and then this from the frontline.

I do wonder though – it’s scary. What is the human cost going to be of the failure of those social systems and the people who haven’t prepared for it? To put it in direct terms, I know someone recently who was diagnosed with a serious illness and has no financial resources to deal with it. He’s qualified, after a mountain of paperwork, for medicaid, and probably would have received the medical treatment he needed anyway. But, what if he hadn’t?
And, it’s not just America (although with our many behaviorally-related health problems, it will be bad here too, between heart disease, smoking, obesity, and our general crap diet.) There’s the AIDS epidemic in Africa that will absolutely lay that continent low (not enough healthy miners to work the mines in South Africa, due to AIDS). And there’s alcoholism in Russia, and emphysema in China, where at least people eat healthier, even if the air they breathe is toxic. (I predict the summer Olympics in Beijing will have to be cancelled or relocated, or that Chinese production in that quarter will be at a 20-year low, as they shut down the polluting factories for the duration of the games.)

If you think the political reaction to high oil prices is silly (it is), what will happen in Congress when thousands of Americans can’t pay their medical bills, or when hundreds of thousands (more) Africans die without AIDS medication? The pressure on private sector medicine to produce without a profit will be immense, and perhaps legislative. Some sort of national health care is all but certain. Who knows, maybe we’ll be better off for it – although it is sure to be managed by incompetent bureaucrats. But, the more I think about it, the more it makes sense that one of the last stands of an embattled Nanny State that can’t pay its bills will be moving directly into providing the health care the boomers require as they go to the grave.
The cradle part was easy: head-start programs, unemployment benefits, etc. The grave part of our welfare state – we haven’t really seen what that entails in terms of cost, commitment, and coercion. We are about to find out.