Monday, May 16, 2005

The Unspoken North American Class Divide

From the New York Times: "Life at the Top in America Isn't Just Better, It's Longer"

Basically, they follow three different people, who all had heart attacks at the same time, and are from three different income brackets. As expected: the rich guy gets better medical care than the poor woman, but perhaps more surprising: The rich guy actually ends up in better health AFTER the heart attack. Interesting article.

It is all a part of a series the New York times is putting out which is exploring class divides in America. I'm really looking forward to further installments in this series, and reading the first couple of articles has got me thinking.

In North America, most of us live the "American Dream" ie. No matter who you are, if you work hard enough you can live the good life. It's easy to see why this idea is so seductive to people. Corporations and governments like it, because belief in it makes happy and productive workers. The working class and the poor like it because they hope for a better life in the future. The rich probably don't think about it much - they're already living the good life.

It's good to want to be more than you are, but I think that the American dream is a fallacy because it's really not that easy. Studies have shown that climbing from lower to upper class income levels just doesn't happen too often. And why should it. If you are struggling to put food on the table, you often don't have alo of time or energy left at the end of the day for anything else.

I think that North America's blatant refusal to admit that we have a fully functional class system is making things worse. In Europe, it is actually easier for people to live the American Dream of increasing your income bracket. And Europe is KNOWN for being classist if anything. I think the key to this lies in denial. Europe has always been very open about it's class problems. America says "no... we don't have those problems here - we are the land of opportunity!" And in refusing to admit to a problem, suddenly has no problem to deal with, and so nothing gets done.

The result: A Chambermaid, making 21,000 has a heart attack and is sent to the hospital here the rich man decided not to go. She receives sub-par care there, and the rest of her life is saddled with a whole host of health problems. She can't work, and can't afford a home of her own. The Rich man, meanwhile is happily retired and healthier than ever. I'm not sure the american dream is really working out for everybody in this scenario


Blogger Target Market said...

It's true. Yet another symptom of a sick society deep in denial.


11:30 PM  
Anonymous Blue Cross of California said...

Great blog I hope we can work to build a better health care system. Health insurance is a major aspect to many.

11:56 AM  

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