During this moment of shock and frustration in the United States, part of the national conversation has been focused on what’s next. After a moment of terrible injustice, how will things become any better?
There’s a lot of focus on police brutality, but racism extends far beyond elements within our judicial system.
One of the most eye-opening aspects of the book Give People Money: How a Universal Basic Income Would End Poverty, Revolutionize Work, and Remake the World by Annie Lowrey was a chapter on how race relations impacted social policy in the United States.
Here’s the first passage:
Countries with greater racial diversity tend to put only a small fraction of their GDP to social spending, while nations with a more uniform population spend much more.
Many nations that are “fairly to highly homogenous in terms of race and language” spend approximately 20 percent of their GDP on social programs, according to a study by Alberto Alesina, Edward Glaeser, and Bruce Sacerdote. More diverse countries spend drastically less.
Part of the way this plays out in the United States in relation to healthcare started with the move toward private providers. This second passage, quoted in Lowrey’s book comes from writer Vann R. Newkirk II of The Atlantic:
In essence, the United States’s peculiar private-based health-care system exists at least in part because of the country’s commitment to maintaining racial hierarchies. The results were deep racial disparities in almost every major disease, an enduring gap in lifespans and mortality, and the creation of entirely separate medical and public-health infrastructures.
In looking at healthcare today, in light of everything that is going on, it’s all the more important to recognize that things have to change.
I’m honored to have had the chance to speak to several individuals that are fighting for the poor and that are fighting to end racism by finding ways to enable and provide care.
My surprise at the passages above comes from the fact that I didn’t realize how drastically America has stacked the deck against minorities–especially when it comes to issues of health. We’ve seen the results of these disparities here in Louisiana in the midst of the pandemic, but it’s heartbreaking to see how far back these problems go.
We have to make changes in so many areas of our society, including healthcare. Thankfully, people are working to make a difference, but we’ve got a long way to go.