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Americans ill-served by the blinkered view of US dominance

The time has come to think the unthinkable: the era of American dominance in international affairs may well be coming to an end. As that moment approaches, the main question will be how well the US is prepared for it.

Asia’s rise over the past few decades is more than a story of rapid economic growth. It is the story of a region undergoing a renaissance in which people’s minds are reopened and their outlook refreshed. Asia’s movement towards resuming its former central role in the global economy has so much momentum that it is virtually unstoppable. While the transformation may not always be seamless, there is no longer room to doubt that an Asian century is on the horizon, and that the world’s chemistry will change fundamentally.

Global leaders - whether policymakers or intellectuals - bear a responsibility to prepare their societies for impending global shifts. But too many American leaders are shirking this responsibility.

Last year, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, two US senators, one member of the US House of Representatives, and a deputy national security adviser participated in a forum on the future of American power (I was the chair). When asked what future they anticipated for American power, they predictably declared that the US would remain the world’s most powerful country. When asked whether America was prepared to become the world’s second-largest economy, they were reticent.

Their reaction was understandable: even entertaining the possibility of the United States becoming “No 2” amounts to career suicide for an American politician. Elected officials everywhere must adjust, to varying degrees, to fulfil the expectations of those who put them in office.

Intellectuals, on the other hand, have a special obligation to think the unthinkable and speak the unspeakable. They are supposed to consider all possibilities, even disagreeable ones, and prepare the population for prospective developments. Honest discussion of unpopular ideas is a key feature of an open society.

But, in the US, many intellectuals are not fulfilling this obligation.

Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, suggested recently that the US “could already be in the second decade of another American century”. Likewise, Clyde Prestowitz, the president of the Economic Strategy Institute, has said that “this century may well wind up being another American century”.

To be sure, such predictions may well prove accurate; if they do, the rest of the world will benefit. A strong and dynamic US economy, reinvigorated by cheap shale gas and accelerating innovation, would rejuvenate the global economy as a whole. But Americans are more than ready for this outcome; no preparation is needed.

If the world’s centre of gravity shifts to Asia, however, Americans will be woefully unprepared. Many Americans remain shockingly unaware of how much the rest of the world, especially Asia, has progressed. Americans need to be told a simple, mathematical truth. With 3 per cent of the world’s population, the US can no longer dominate the rest of the world, because Asians, with 60 per cent of the population, are no longer underperforming. But the belief that America is the only virtuous country, the sole beacon of light in a dark and unstable world, continues to shape many Americans’ worldview.

American intellectuals’ failure to challenge these ideas - and to help the US population shed complacent attitudes based on ignorance - perpetuates a culture of coddling the public. But while Americans tend to receive only good news, Asia’s rise is not really bad news. The US should recognise that Asian countries are not seeking to dominate the West, but to emulate it. They seek to build strong and dynamic middle classes and to achieve the kind of peace, stability and prosperity that the West has long enjoyed.

This deep social and intellectual transformation under way in Asia promises to catapult it from economic power to global leadership. China, which remains a closed society in many ways, has an open mind, whereas the US is an open society with a closed mind.

With Asia’s middle class set to rocket from roughly 500 million people today to 1.75 billion by 2020, the US will not be able to avoid the global economy’s new realities for much longer. The world is poised to undergo one of the most dramatic power shifts in human history. In order to be prepared for the transformation, Americans must abandon ingrained ideas and old assumptions, and liberate unthinkable thoughts. That is the challenge facing American public intellectuals today.

Kishore Mahbubani is dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore and author of The Great Convergence: Asia, the West, and the Logic of One World. Copyright: Project Syndicate

In Case It Wasn’t Obvious…

Via Simon Black of Sovereign Man blog,

Sometimes the writing on the wall seems painfully obvious. But occasionally it’s a good idea to step back and look at the big picture:

1) The Land of the Free is set to impose fresh restrictions on firearm ownership… to include a ban on assault weapons, increased background checks, psychological screenings, and criminalizing ammunition magazine clips with a capacity beyond ten rounds.

And if they can’t pass these measures by law, the President is prepared to enforce them by royal decree, i.e. executive order.

It’s amazing that people have become so fearful, they are now abdicating one of the most fundamental responsibilities of humanity— protecting and safeguarding our families.

Instead, many Americans are choosing to outsource this responsibility to the same folks who bathe them in radiation at airports, spy on their phone calls and emails, wage senseless wars in foreign lands… and have a horrible track record of screwing up everything they try to do.

Great idea, seems like a hell of a trade-off.

2) The German central bank has announced that they will begin withdrawing their massive gold holdings from the United States.

In what is likely to be the first move among many other sovereign nations, it’s clear that governments no longer trust each other, and that the goodwill of the United States is being viewed with increasing suspicion.

As gold holdings flee the United States, how long will it be before they ‘close the window’ and ban gold exports? Do you really want to find out first hand?

3) The United States government is just weeks away from defaulting on its mountain of debt. Having already technically breached the debt ceiling, their only temporary fix is to seize federal pensions and engage in fraudulent accounting tricks.

Obviously this forebodes a number of potential consequences— seizure of private retirement accounts, capital controls, etc.  And yet, people in US will merely trust that their government is going to ‘fix it’, and do absolutely nothing to hedge their bets.

4) European politicians have declared an end to the euro crisis. Notwithstanding the wave of riots across the continent, or the record level of unemployment that was just reached this month, politicians are engaging in self-congratulatory back-slapping for their courageous handling of the crisis.

At this point, Europe has almost become a caricature… its politicians like monocled cartoon villains, twirling their moustaches in dark room.

Absolutely nothing has changed on a fundamental level. Most countries still have massively high debt burdens, pension obgliations, and deficits. And they’re still living hand to mouth on the backs of German taxpayers and quantitative easing.

Pretending that the situation has magically resolved itself is either the height of incompetence or intellectual dishonesty.

Curiously, most people seem to know this. Yet they will do absolutely nothing.

They know, for example, that a US default is an entirely feasible option on the table. They understand that the consequences would be disastrous. And yet, most folks will do nothing and simply hope for the best.

The best response is to take steps which make sense in either scenario… no matter what happens.

You won’t be worse off for taking control of your retirement account. You won’t be worse off for holding some of your hard-earned savings in a strong, stable bank overseas, in a jurisdiction where your politicians can’t seize it. You won’t be worse off for having some precious metals stashed away overseas… or owning productive land abroad.

All of these steps make sense no matter what. And it’s an important strategy to adopt.

The Non-Financial Cost of Stagnation: “Social Recession” and Japan’s “Lost Generations”

The Non-Financial Cost of Stagnation: “Social Recession” and Japan’s “Lost Generations”   (August 9, 2010)

Japan’s stagnating economy and society are still operating on a postwar model which no longer makes sense. In response, its young generations are opting out of workaholic career paths, marriage and having children.

We in America are already getting a taste of the social costs of grinding economic decline. Young people who are graduating from college find a world of greatly diminished opportunities for full-time employment.

Many of the jobs that are available are free-lance/contract or other temp jobs, or part-time positions which pay one-third of what their parents earn.

Lacking sufficient income, young people are moving back home or staying at home because that is the only financially viable option open to them.

The cheerleaders cranking the hype machine shrilly claim that the U.S. economy will soon start growing smartly. But as this weblog and many others have documented over the past five years, that assumption has essentially no foundation in reality.

Much more likely is an “end to (paying) work” of the sort I have described here many times:

End of Work, End of Affluence (December 5, 2008)

End of Work, End of Affluence I: Cascading Job Losses (December 8, 2008)

End of Work, End of Affluence III: The Rise of Informal Businesses (December 10, 2008)

Endgame 3: The End of (Paying) Work (January 21, 2009)

Demographics and the End of the Savior State (May 17, 2010)

What happens to the social fabric of an advanced-economy nation after a decade or more of economic stagnation? For an answer, we can turn to Japan. The second-largest economy in the world has stagnated in just this fashion for almost twenty years, and the consequences for the “lost generations” which have come of age in the “lost decades” have been dire. In many ways, the social conventions of Japan are fraying or unraveling under the relentless pressure of an economy in seemingly permanent decline.

While the world sees Japan as the home of consumer technology juggernauts such as Sony and Toshiba and high-tech “bullet trains” (shinkansen), beneath the bright lights of Tokyo and the evident wealth generated by decades of hard work and the massive global export machine of “Japan, Inc,” lies a different reality: increasing poverty and decreasing opportunity for the nation’s youth.

The gap between extremes of income at the top and bottom of society– measured by the Gini coefficient — has been growing in Japan for years; to the surprise of many outsiders, once-egalitarian Japan is becoming a nation of haves and have-nots.

The media in Japan have popularized the phrase “kakusa shakai,” literally meaning “gap society.” As the elite slice of society prospers and younger workers are increasingly marginalized, the media has focused on the shrinking middle class. For example, a bestselling book offers tips on how to get by on an annual income of less than three million yen ($34,800). Two million yen ($23,000) has become the de-facto poverty line for millions of Japanese, especially outside high-cost Tokyo.

More than one-third of the workforce is part-time as companies have shed the famed Japanese lifetime employment system, nudged along by government legislation which abolished restrictions on flexible hiring a few years ago. Temp agencies have expanded to fill the need for contract jobs, as permanent job opportunities have dwindled.

Many fear that as the generation of salaried Baby Boomers dies out, the country’s economic slide might accelerate. Japan’s share of the global economy has fallen below 10 percent from a peak of 18 percent in 1994. Were this decline to continue, income disparities would widen and threaten to pull this once-stable society apart.

Young Japanese, their expectations permanently downsized, are increasingly opting out of the rigid social systems on which Japan, Inc. was built.

The term “Freeter” is a hybrid word that originated in the late 1980s, just as the Japanese property and stock market bubbles reached their zenith. It combines the English “free” a nd the German “arbeiter,” or worker, and describes a lifestyle which is radically different from the buttoned-down rigidity of the permanent-employment economy: freedom to move between jobs.

This absence of loyalty to a company is totally alien to previous generations of driven Japanese “salarymen” who were expected to uncomplainingly turn in 70-hour work weeks at the same company for decades, all in exchange for lifetime employment.

Many young people have come to mistrust big corporations, having seen their fathers or uncles eased out of “lifetime” jobs in the relentless downsizing of the past twenty years. From the point of view of the younger generations, the loyalty their parents unstintingly offered to companies was wasted.

They have also come to see diminishing value in the grueling study and tortuous examinations required to compete for the elite jobs in academia, industry and government; with opportunities fading, long years of study are perceived as pointless.

In contrast, the “freeter” lifestyle is one of hopping between short-term jobs and devoting energy and time to foreign travel, hobbies or other interests.

As long ago as 2001, The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare estimates that 50 percent of high school graduates and 30 percent of college graduates now quit their jobs within three years of leaving school.

The downside is permanently downsized income and prospects. Many of the four million “freeters” survive on part-time work and either live at home or in a tiny flat with no bath. A typical “freeter” wage is 1,000 yen ($8.60) an hour.

Japan’s slump has lasted so long, a “New Lost Generation” is coming of age, joining Japan’s first “Lost Generation” which graduated into the bleak job market of the 1990s.

These trends have led to an ironic moniker for the Freeter lifestyle: Dame-Ren (No Good People). The Dame-Ren get by on odd jobs, low-cost living and drastically diminished expectations.

The decline of permanent employment has led to the unraveling of social mores and conventions. Many young men now reject the macho work ethic and related values of their fathers. These “herbivores” reject the traditonal Samurai ideal of masculinity.

Derisively called “herbivores” or “Grass-eaters,” these young men are uncompetitive and uncommitted to work, evidence of their deep disillusionment with Japan’s troubled economy.

A bestselling book titled The Herbivorous Ladylike Men Who Are Changing Japan by Megumi Ushikubo, president of Tokyo marketing firm Infinity, claims that about two-thirds of all Japanese men aged 20-34 are now partial or total grass-eaters. “People who grew up in the bubble era (of the 1980s) really feel like they were let down. They worked so hard and it all came to nothing,” says Ms Ushikubo. “So the men who came after them have changed.”

This has spawned a disconnect between genders so pervasive that Japan is experiencing a “social recession” in marriage, births, and even sex, all of which are declining.

With a wealth and income divide widening along generational lines, many young Japanese are attaching themselves to their parents, the generation that accumulated home and savings during the boom years of the 1970′s and 1980′s. Surveys indicate that roughly two-thirds of freeters live at home.

Freeters “who have no children, no dreams, hope or job skills could become a major burden on society, as they contribute to the decline in the birthrate and in social insurance contributions,” Masahiro Yamada, a sociology professor wrote in a magazine essay titled, Parasite Singles Feed on Family System.

This trend of never leaving home has sparked an almost tragicomical countertrend ofJapanese parents who actively seek mates to marry off their “parasite single” offspring as the only way to get them out of the house.

An even more extreme social disorder is Hikikomori, or “acute social withdrawal,” a condition in which the young live-at-home person will virtually wall themselves off from the world by never leaving their room.

Though acute social withdrawal in Japan affect both genders, impossibly high expectations of males from middle and upper middle class families has led many sons, typically the eldest, to refuse to leave the home. The trigger for this complete withdrawal from social interaction is often one or more traumatic episodes of social or academic failure: that is, the inability to meet standards of conduct and success that can no longer be met in diminished-opportunity Japan.

The unraveling of Japan’s social fabric as a result of eroding economic conditions for young people offers Americans a troubling glimpse of the high costs of long-term economic stagnation.

There is even a darker side to this disintegration of the social fabric and convention: child abuse is on the rise as well. Sadly, people under long-term stress often take out their multiple frustrations on the weakest, most marginalized people–including children:

Record 44,210 child abuse cases logged in ’09

Japan hit by huge rise in child abuse

Both Japan and the U.S. alike desperately need a peaceful revolution in expectations, financial justice (i.e. the absence of fraud, collusion, looting, gaming the system and parasitic leeching by financial and political Elites) and in the social definitions of wealth, security, community, “growth” as a measure of well-being and prosperity, and ultimately, what constitutes meaningful “work.”

In effect, postwar Japan grafted a mercantilist export economy based on insane work-hours onto a traditional patriarchal society in which women were expected to sacrifice their autonomy and ambitions for the good of their children, husband and the husband’s parents.

The male “salaryman” was expected to sacrifice his life up to retirement to his employer, via 60-70 hour work-weeks and killing commutes. Children were expected to sacrifice their childhood and teen years to study, in order to pass hellishly demanding exams on which their future livelihood, career and income depended.

These extremes of sacrifice might have made sense or seemed necessary to rebuild the nation after World War II. But now, 65 years and three generations after the war, these sacrifices make no sense and are destroying the social fabric of Japan.

Men who work 70 hours a week have no real role in their children’s lives, nor are they able to be husbands and fathers in any meaningful day-to-day sense. Understandably, many young Japanese men are opting out of that life of absurd, fundamentally meaningless sacrifice to corporations or the government.

For their part, young women are opting out of the burdens of being in effect a single parent who carries the immense responsibility of guaranteeing the academic success of her son(s) and the marriageability of her daughter(s). Further, as in standard traditional societies, she essentially leaves her own family and throws in her lot with her husband’s family, as she is expected to care for his aging parents as a daughter-in-law.

Given these burdens, it’s no wonder a third of Japanese young women have not married and have no plans to marry. According to one female author quoted in one of the above articles, Japanese men sometimes propose to women with lines like: “I want you to cook miso soup for me the rest of my life.” Quelle surprise that Japan’s increasingly educated and well-traveled young women are not impressed with this offer of lifetime menial servitude.

Japan’s youth are opting out of its stagnating economy and traditionalist society for good reason: the sacrifices demanded are inhuman and no longer make sense.What Japan needs is 35-hour work-weeks and shared jobs, not 70-hour work-weeks for some and dead-end jobs for half its youth.

If Japan wants to encourage families and women to have children, then it needs to recognize that the sacrifices demanded of young men and women no longer make sense in today’s world.

Worst Analogy…Ever

The game was so memorable that President Obama used it as a metaphor for his strategy against Mitt Romney. “We’re the Miami Heat, and he’s Jeremy Lin,” Obama reportedly told an aide. Obama meant that they were going to try to cut off every avenue Romney has to win, the same way the Heat did to Lin. “I wish it wasn’t said,” Lin says now. 

Read More http://www.gq.com/sports/profiles/201211/jeremy-lin-gq-november-2012-cover-story#ixzz29Sy5i2I9

The United States, long considered the standard bearer for economic freedom among large industrial nations, has experienced a remarkable plunge in economic freedom during the past decade. From 1980 to 2000, the US was generally rated the third freest economy in the world, ranking behind only Hong Kong and Singapore. The ranking of the US has fallen precipitously; from second in 2000 to eighth in 2005 and 19th in 2010. By 2009, the United States had fallen behind Switzerland, Canada, Australia, Chile, and Mauritius, countries that chose not to follow the path of massive growth in government financed by borrowing that is now the most prominent characteristic of US fiscal policy. By 2010, the United States had also fallen behind Finland and Denmark, two European welfare states. Moreover, it now trails Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Estonia, Taiwan, and Qatar. The Fraser Institute’s massive volume on the Economic Freedom Of The World - based on the following five factors: Size of Government, Legal System & Property Rights, Sound Money, Freedom to Trade Internationally, and Regulation - covers 42 variables with the goal of quantifying the key ingredients of economic freedom.

QE3 = Operation Screw

By:  Peter Schiff 
Friday, September 14, 2012

With yesterday’s Fed decision and press conference, Chairman Ben Bernanke finally and decisively laid his cards on the table. And confirming what I have been saying for many years, all he was holding was more of the same snake oil and bluster. Going further than he has ever gone before, he made it clear that he will be permanently binding the American economy to a losing strategy. As a result, September 13, 2012 may one day be regarded as the day America finally threw in the economic towel.

Here is the outline of the Fed’s plan: buy hundreds of billions of home mortgages annually in order to push down mortgage rates and push up home prices, thereby encouraging people to build and buy homes and spend the extracted equity on consumer goods. Furthermore, the Fed hopes that ultra-cheap money will push up stock prices so that Wall Street and stock investors feel wealthier and begin to spend more freely. He won’t admit this directly, but rather than building an economy on increased productivity, production, and wealth accumulation, he is trying to build one on confidence, increased leverage, and rising asset prices. In other words, the Fed prefers the illusion of growth to the restructuring needed to allow for real growth.

The problem that went unnoticed by the reporters at the Fed’s press conference (and those who have written about it subsequently) is that we already tried this strategy and it ended in disaster. Loose monetary policy created the housing and stock bubbles of the last decade, the bursting of which almost blew up the economy. Apparently for Bernanke and his cohorts, almost isn’t good enough. They are coming back to finish the job. But this time, they are packing weaponry of a much higher caliber. Not only are they pushing mortgage rates down to historical lows but now they are buying all the loans!

Last year, the Fed launched the so-called “Operation Twist,” which was designed to lower long-term interest rates and flatten the yield curve. Without creating any real benefits for the economy, the move exposed US taxpayers and holders of dollar-based assets to the dangers of shortening the maturity on $16 trillion of outstanding government debt. Such a repositioning exposes the Treasury to much faster and more painful consequences if interest rates rise. Still, the set of policies announced yesterday will do so much more damage than “Operation Twist,” they should be dubbed “Operation Screw.” Because make no mistake, anyone holding US dollars, Treasury bonds, or living on a fixed income will have their purchasing power stolen by these actions.

Prior injections of quantitative easing have done little to revive our economy or set us on a path for real recovery. We are now in more debt, have more people out of work, and have deeper fiscal problems than we had before the Fed began down this path. All the supporters can say is things would have been worse absent the stimulus. While counterfactual arguments are hard to prove, I do not doubt that things would have been worse in the short-term if we had simply allowed the imbalances of the old economy to work themselves out. But in exchange for that pain, I believe that we would be on the road to a real recovery. Instead, we have artificially sustained a borrow-and-spend model that puts us farther away from solid ground.

Because the initials of quantitative easing - QE - have brought to mind the famous Queen Elizabeth cruise ships, many have likened these Fed moves as giant vessels that are loaded up and sent out to sea. But based on their newly announced plans, the analogy no longer applies. As the new commitments are open-ended, quantitative easing will now be delivered via a non-stop conveyor belt that dumps cheap money on the economy. The only variable is how fast the belt moves.

Fortunately, the crude limitations of the Fed’s only policy tool have become more apparent to the markets. If you must stick with the nautical metaphors, QE3 has sunk before it has even left port. The move was explicitly designed to push down long-term interest rates, but interest rates spiked significantly in the immediate aftermath of the announcement. Traders realize that an open-ended commitment to buying bonds means that inflation and dollar weakness will likely destroy any nominal gains in the bonds themselves. To underscore this point, the Fed announcement also caused a sharp selloff in Treasuries and the dollar and a strong rally in commodities, especially precious metals.

Given that 30-year fixed mortgages are already at historic lows, there can be little confidence that the new plan will succeed in pushing them much lower, especially given the upward spike that occurred in the immediate aftermath of the announcement. Instead, Bernanke is likely trying to provide the confidence home owners need to exchange fixed-rate mortgages for lower adjustable rate loans - which would free up more cash for current consumer spending. He is looking for homeowners to do their own twist. If he succeeds, more homeowners will be vulnerable to increasing rates, which will further limit the Fed’s future ability to increase rates to fight rising prices.

The goal of the plan is to create consumer purchasing power by raising home and stock prices. No one seems to be considering the likelihood that unending QE will fail to lift bond, stock, or home prices, but will instead bleed straight through to higher prices for food, energy, and other consumer staples. If that occurs, consumers will have less purchasing power as a result of Bernanke’s efforts, not more.

The Fed decision comes at the same time as the situation in Europe is finally moving out of urgent crisis mode. While I do not think the ECB’s decision to underwrite more sovereign debt from troubled EU members will work out well in the long term, at least those moves have come with some German strings attached [For more on this, see John Browne’s article from earlier this week]. As a result, I feel that the attention of currency traders may now shift to the poor fundamentals of the US dollar, rather than the potential for a breakup of the euro.

In the meantime, the implications for American investors should be clear. The Fed will try to conjure a recovery on the backs of currency debasement. It will not stop or alter from this course. If the economy fails to respond to the drugs, Bernanke will simply up the dosage. In fact, he is so convinced we will remain dependent on quantitative easing that he explicitly said he won’t turn off the spigots even if things noticeably improve. In other words, the dollar is screwed.



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Please feel free to repost with proper attribution and all links included.



Read more: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/PeterSchiffsEconomicCommentary/~3/DN92LhWwiqE/operation_screwed#ixzz26WgOwQFq

Hong Kong Healthcare vs. American Healthcare

Hong Kong Healthcare vs. American Healthcare

Earlier this week I caught the flu as a result of being exposed to the typhoon and from heavy use of air conditioners.  The symptoms of the flu were different from the typical flu because although I didn’t get the fever, I was having a bad case of an infected throat, coughing, stuffy nose, and a stomach virus.  The stomach virus didn’t come out until after I had a traditional Chinese dinner at the grim and gritty part of Kowloon.

When the symptoms started appearing, I was hesitant to go to a nearby clinic since I was uninsured.  Instead I went to purchase a bottle of Methodex cough syrup and drank hot water in the hopes this would stop the cough.  After 2 days, I started getting feverish and decided to go to the local clinic after insistence from my relative.  I honestly did not want to go for fear of being price gouged for just a few minutes of meeting with the doctor and for the fear of having to pay a great deal for the prescription medicines.

When I went to see the doctor at the clinic, he was able to diagnose my flu and proceeded to give me a list of medication to fight it.  The final bill for the visit was at $240HKD, which is roughly $31USD, and the fee included the prescription medicine.  If I had local health insurance in HK, the entire doctor’s fee would be fully covered.  It was shocking that I only had to pay around $31 just for a doctor’s visit and prescription medication despite being uninsured.  If this was America, I would have to pay around $20 just for the co-pay and then additional funds to get the prescription medicine.    Otherwise, I would be paying somewhere close to the $100s if I was uninsured.

One more thing to note is that in Hong Kong, the doctors and pharmacists only provide the amount of medication prescribed by the doctor.  For example, if the doctor only prescribed 3 days’ worth of medicine, the pharmacist would only provide 3 days’ worth of medication with the assumption the patient would use all of it within that period of time.  This is not only a way to prevent medication from being wasted but a great way to control costs of prescription medication.  In America, doctors would simply prescribe the medicine and the pharmacist would provide you with the entire package with the assumption the patient would simply stopped using it when all symptoms disappear.  The problem with this approach is that the patient is buying unnecessary amounts of medicine and is taking on extra costs instead of just getting exactly what he or she needs per the doctor’s prescription.

Later that week, I started getting abdominal pains and had to go to the hospital to see a doctor.  When I arrived, the doctor took the time to diagnose me after waiting for at least an hour, then got the nurse to inject me with anti-viral medication and gave me prescribed medication to fight the stomach virus and pains.  At the end of the hospital visit, my bill came out to $580HKD or $$75 for the doctor’s consultation, anti-viral injection and prescription medicine.  Also, if I was insured, the majority of this fee would be covered by the health provider with no co-pay.  However, if this happened in America, I would be stuck with at least $580USD in doctor’s fees and get hounded by the hospital to pay off the fees as soon as possible.  Also, keep in mind that I went to a private hospital and I learned that the government hospitals charge no more than $50HKD for treatment despite longer wait times.

So I really am confused by Americans who keep claiming that US healthcare is the “best in the world”, when it simply isn’t true.  Whether the healthcare system is managed by the government, such as in Canada or France; or it has a two-tier system with a variety of options such as Hong Kong, these arrangement seem to be far more efficient than what we currently have in America.  Despite all the sensationalised nonsense from American media about the extremes of state-controlled healthcare or fully private healthcare, people in those places are overall content with their system compared to those in the USA. 

I don’t think forcing American taxpayers to pay more taxes for being uninsured and making it mandatory to purchase healthcare is the best option.  It’s really clear that US healthcare is broken with their medical fees and prescription fees that are nowhere near the actual market value of these goods and services.  Most of all, it is simply arrogant to believe that Americans do not  need to learn how the world implements their healthcare system as a means to actually improving American healthcare on the basis of the big lie that “America is the greatest [insert noun here] in the world”. 

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