I grew up with this quote from The Three Musketeers. Perhaps you remember the rest of it: for united we stand and divided we fall.
I remember that as an inspiration for our national life. But, now I am beginning to doubt the wisdom of that saying for the first time.
Are we one nation? I don’t think so. We are the most divided I can remember. I felt we came together on 9-11. You might have thought we would come together for Covid-19. Nope, the tensions are running high these days, despite the appearance that we may be gaining on this. So much of what you hear in news soundbites is crafted to discredit the other political party.
How do we set national policy when there are such strong divisions within our societal fabric? I hope you would agree that we must be sensitive to those who have little to no voice and can so easily be swept under the carpet with cavalier phrases like let them eat cake. But, we still try to solve problems on a statewide basis even when there are huge disparities within these states.
Take a look at what is happening in Michigan: Read the NPR story here.
Averages are so misleading. We all know you can drown trying to cross a lake
that averages 2 feet in depth. We average health insurance premiums where healthy people pay for those who choose unhealthy lifestyles. Which doesn’t happen in car insurance? People with bad driving records pay far more for insurance than those with safe ones. And this certainly doesn’t happen with life insurance where premiums for smokers and the overweight are higher than their healthier counterparts. Why does it happen on health insurance?
Will we have a sober debate about this? Let’s see what happens in Michigan. We will all learn lessons by comparing the different approaches to the pandemic taken by Sweden and its neighboring country, Norway. Sweden didn’t force business closures, Norway did. These otherwise similar countries have chosen markedly different approaches, and here are the results as of April 18. The impact on the Swedish economy may be less, but the loss of life far greater. Which begs the question, at what cost of a single life?
This has been a tragically costly experiment whose results may radically change how we make decisions about our economy, our provision of healthcare, and our expectations of federal, state, and local governments.
I hope it reinvigorates the spirit of “All for one and one for all, for united we stand and divided we fall.”