The novel coronavirus is forcing Americans to go it alone. This is happening in a shockingly literal way, as families scatter and freeze and shelter in place. And it is happening in a structural way too: When calamity hits, Americans tend to face the shock by themselves.
Americans are no less susceptible to disease, joblessness, and family changes than their peers in rich nations, but they are made more fragile by these crises. The country has a thinner safety net, fewer public goods, and less social insurance than other countries. The United States spends roughly what other Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development nations do on pensions, or Social Security, and more on health care, for less coverage and worse outcomes. It spends less than a third of what the average OECD country does on helping the jobless, about a third supporting families with kids, and 50 percent less on incapacity, meaning disability, sickness, or injury that might keep a person from accessing the labor market.
Perhaps the country’s most pressing problem is its high uninsured rate. Every other country as wealthy as the United States has figured out how to cover its entire population, generally at a much lower cost, too…
Yes, we all should know this already. Seeing it in print might help you focus on who you vote for…or not.