A strongly argued account that provides useful ammunition for anyone seeking to effect change in a medical system that...

ONE NATION, UNINSURED

WHY THE U.S. HAS NO NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE

Every one of the Western industrialized powers guarantees its citizens comprehensive coverage for essential health care—except the United States. Sociologist Quadagno (The Color of Welfare, 1994) ably explores the logic behind this appalling fact.

It’s a complex question, as Quadagno allows: Amortization and other risk-analysis models mingle with myriad underwriting plans and the plain high cost of medical care to make comprehensive health care a maddeningly elusive goal. And then, of course, the powers that be don’t want it. It is for those reasons, but not those reasons alone, that so many Americans lack basic coverage—and their numbers are larger by far than the official count of 45 million in 2003, “because many more people are uninsured for some period over any two-year time span.” The poor are almost always uninsured, except under the most generalized of plans; in a two-year span, nearly 60 percent of non-elderly Hispanics were also uninsured, as against 43 percent of African-Americans and 23 percent of whites. Part of the problem is that minorities are less likely than whites to have jobs that offer health care benefits. But attempts to include all Americans in a national plan have been stymied for more than a century. Heroes are few and villains many here. When Franklin Roosevelt attempted to include health insurance in the 1935 Social Security Act, the American Medical Association successfully argued that it “smacked of socialism and communism and might incite revolution.” When Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower attempted health care reforms during their administrations, they met much the same opposition, this time with the strong backing of the insurance industry. And, as Quadagno relates, the present administration is indisposed toward any reform that would threaten the status quo, period, even as the average annual cost of a family policy in 2003 rose to $9,068.

A strongly argued account that provides useful ammunition for anyone seeking to effect change in a medical system that willfully excludes so many who so need it.

Pub Date: April 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-19-516039-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2005

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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