Monday, September 25, 2006

Red and Blue America: Meet the Health Belt

The conclusion of the last Federal election in the United States culminated with a flurry of maps, most of them divided into red and blue, illustrating which states voted for whom. Accompanying the maps was usually some form of commentary labelling the red and blue something pithy, if not witty, and speculative whining mostly complaining because the "wrong" guy had won (again). For may academics and liberals, Bush's victory was akin to the second coming of Brigham Young: the only problem being that middle America didn't pigeon-hole quite so easily into the various red neck, Holy Roller stereo types many tried to apply to the "red" areas of the US map.

Now Business Week has added a new dimension to the US electoral divisions with an emphasis upon health care and health care spending. As this article by David Tufte on tcsdaily explains the map shows a marked reflection of ...Congressional earmarks, federalism that directs healthcare spending down to one-party states, and state level decisions on the generosity of Medicare and Medicaid rules make the health belt this decade's big experiment with Keynesian policies, indirect vote buying, or both.

That is to say, those states that voted democrat did so because that's where Democratic government has spent the lion's share of government spending on health care and where the proportionally highest percentage of unionised, government health workers reside.

I watched Jimmy Stewart the other day in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington deliver a wonderful filibuster all about "graft and dams at Willard Creek": seems Washington, DC could use a latter day Frank Capra shot of reality. But who would play the part of Jean Arthur?