In case you wondered about what we in the U.S. pay for health care compared with those unfree unfortunates who suffer under various forms of socialized medicine, here are some graphs from 2009 showing the advantages of what is sometimes called “the best health care system in the world.”
The graphs are from the International Federation of Health Plans. I’ve selected only four — to show the relative costs* of
an office visit
a day in the hospital
a common procedure (childbirth without complications)
a widely used drug (Lipitor)
You can download all the charts here, but be warned: it gets boring. We’re number one in every chart, at least in this one category of how much we shell out.
Since we have the best health care in the world, this must mean that you get what you pay for. Our Lipitor must be four to ten times as good as the Lipitor that Canadians take.
Hat tip: Ezra Klein.
*These amounts are what providers are paid by governments or other insurers, not what the patient pays, which in many Eurpean countries is essentially nothing. See the footnotes for the tables in the original document. Or look at the comments on this at Boing Boing, a discussion which is remarkably civil (do they monitor comments?).
Katrin sent in a really interesting attempt to disrupt the narrative about the Netherlands that is being told on Fox News. The 3-and-a-half minute video shows Fox anchors and guests calling the Dutch “naive” and the country “out of control,” “a cesspool of corruption and crime,” “a mess,” “anarchy,” and “a Disneyworld for those people,” then counterposes that commentary with images of and statistics about the country.
It’s a fascinating example of two sides contesting over the framing of a nation.
By far, the best part occurs at 2:40. Gretchen Carlson mentions that 40% of Americans in the U.S. report having ingested marijuana, compared to 22% of the Dutch. O’Reilly responds with shocking statistical illiteracy (or a willingness to assume the illiteracy of his viewers). Confusing percentages with whole numbers, he says:
The way they do the statistics in the Netherlands is different, plus its a much smaller country, it’s a much smaller base to do the stats on.
How does the U.S. compare to other developed countries on measures of social justice? According to the New York Times, not very well. The visual below compares countries’ poverty rates, poverty prevention measures, income inequality, spending on pre-primary education, and citizen health. The “overall” rating is on the far left and the U.S. ranks 27th out of 31.
Let me clarify: it’s not a situation where everything goes… It’s definitely older teenage couples who have established relationships and whose parents have talked about contraception.
Which is to say, as Velshi puts it, sex and sex education in countries like the Netherlands, in which parents are more permissive—or as Schalet says, “parents are more connected with their kids”—about allowing boyfriends and girlfriends to sleep over, take “a holistic approach.”
Schalet’s research, explored more deeply in her new University of Chicago book Not Under My Roof, takes a look at American parenting practices surrounding teen sex and the practices of parents in other countries. Using in-depth interviews with parents and teens and a host of other data, she finds:
The takeaway for American parents… isn’t necessarily “You must permit sleepovers.” Many parents are going to say, “Not under my roof!” That’s why it’s the title of my book. The takeaway is that you can have more open conversations—you should probably have more open conversations—about what’s a good relationship, sex and contraception should go together, what does it mean to be “ready,” how to get rid of some of these damaging stereotypes (gender stereotypes). Those are all things that are going to help promote teenage health and better relationships between parents and kids.
Schalet is clear that parental approaches are nowhere near the only factor in the stark differences in teen pregnancy rates between the U.S. and the Netherlands, but says they are, in fact, particularly important. “Kids are having sex, clearly,” Velshi says. And that’s precisely the point, no matter whether parents believe their kids should be able to have sex in their own homes, Schalet believes: “I think what you emphasize is that, above all, the conversation is important, and the conversation itself does not make kids have sex.” Ideally, she points out, that conversation will take place at home with parents, but a holistic talk about sexuality, relationships, and health can also take place in schools, with clergy, and in many other locations.
Dr. Schalet on CNN (we apologize for the commercial):
Letta Page is the Associate Editor and Producer of The Society Pages. She has a decade of experience in academic editing across a range of disciplines, including two years as the managing editor of Contexts. Page holds degrees in history and classical studies from Boston University and an art degree from the University of Minnesota.
As we enter the last frenzied days of Christmas shopping, Dmitriy T.M. thought it was worth looking at international comparisons in spending on the holiday. The Economist posted a graph based on Gallup polls and other data sources about how much individuals in various countries in Europe, plus the U.S. and South Africa, plan to spend on Christmas shopping this year, plotted against national GDP. Overall, Christmas spending correlates with national wealth, with the Netherlands being a noticeable outlier (spending less than we’d expect) and Luxembourg in a spending league of its own:
Tara C. sent us a great excuse to revive an old post featuring public resistance to marketing that is believed to sexually objectify women. As I wrote back then, this resistance shows us how…
…adding commentary to the ubiquitous images that surround us [can help] us to notice, even if just temporarily, that our environment is toxic to our ability to think of all people as full and complete humans.
I’ll put Tara’s submission first, but do enjoy the whole collection.
Commentary on a Special K. ad in Dublin, sent in by Tara C. (Broadsheet):
Hey there Special-K Lady.
I know you think I should diet
So I can be slim just like you.
thing is, I think I look pretty fabulous
Just the way I am
Also, Special-K tastes like cardboard
so piss off
Toban B. (a prolific SocImages contributor, by the way) sent us a set of photographs. These were snapped in Seattle, Washington by Jonathan McIntosh:
This one was written on by a teenage girl in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. It reads: “I’m sick of sexually tinted images.”
Tricia V. sent us an example of this kind of resistance in Haiti. The billboard below is in for a brand of beer called Prestige. Tricia writes: “The writing [along the bottom of] the billboard says “Ko O+ pa machandiz” which translates as ‘Women’s bodies are not merchandise.’” She was impressed at the effort exerted to climb up and write across a full-sized billboard.
NEW (May ’10)! Ang B. snapped this photo in Madison, Wisconsin:
Skewed sex ratios (which I’ve written about here and here) are in the news, with the publication of Unnatural Selection, by Mara Hvistendahl. The report shows some of the countries with the most skewed sex ratios, reflecting the practice of parents aborting female fetuses (Vietnam and Taiwan should be in there, too). With the exception of Korea, they’ve all gotten more skewed since the 1990s, when ultrasounds became more widely available, allowing parents to find out the sex of the fetus early in the pregnancy.
The most egregious inequality between women of the world is probably in maternal mortality. This chart shows, for example, that the chance of a woman dying during pregnancy or birth is about 100- 39-times higher in Africa than Europe. The chart also shows how many of those deaths are from unsafe abortions.
Finally, I made this one myself, showing women as a percentage of parliament in most of the world’s rich countries (the spreadsheet has the whole list). The USA, with 90 women out of 535 members of Congress, comes in at 17%.
People who design men’s rooms seem to have the working assumption that men are sexist pigs. Those urinals that seem to mimic sex (in Lisa’s pimp-my-urinal post here) illustrate the sexist part – ideas that are important mostly outside the men’s room. But inside the men’s room, it’s the pig half of the phrase that’s important. Men can be slobs, especially at the urinal.
At airports, for example, jet lagged travelers, men at least, tended to be, how shall we put it, careless? aimless?
What to do?
Americans tend to frame problems in moralistic terms. If something is wrong, drug use for example, punish the wrongdoers. And if that doesn’t work, make the penalties even harsher. Applied to the problem of spillage and splash in the men’s room, we might expect to see signs warning: “No Spillage or Spraying. Penalty up to $500 fine.”
The Dutch have a more practical approach, more focused on solving a problem than on punishing evil. The Dutch also have a reputation for cleanliness. Years ago, when the men’s rooms at the Amsterdam airport were looking and smelling like, well, like men’s rooms, Schilpol Schiphol, the company that runs the Amsterdam airport, looked into the problem. And the problem was that most men weren’t looking. They simply didn’t watch where they were going. So Schiphol came up with a simple and non-punitive solution:
It’s that black spot (I’ve added the red outline). If the photo were life size, you would easily see that it’s a fly. Or rather, a realistic picture of a fly. The idea was that men would aim for the fly – the stream would go from one fly to another (I’m sure this pun doesn’t work in Dutch) – and the men’s room would stay cleaner.
It worked. A study by Schiphol’s social science team found that fly urinals had an 80% reduction in spillage. Some years after that, JFK hired Schiphol to run the International Arrivals Building there. So now at JFK too, the urinals have the target flies. At the Newark airport, I saw urinals with a cartoon-like bee (a realistic bee might have might have triggered a counterproductive startle and flinch).
More recently, urinal targets have gotten even more playful. For the Europeans, there’s soccer.
And an American company, not to be outdone, encourages men to piss a field goal.