Misdirected Anger

June 08, 2017

Times Argus

Lately in Vermont, there has been a certain amount of animosity directed toward teachers and their union regarding health care benefits. While this anger is somewhat understandable, it is also misdirected. Instead of questioning or complaining about the teacher’s so-called “Cadillac” health care plans, we should be asking why ours isn’t as good!

First, the anger about teacher’s health care should be aimed at our political leaders who have failed to insure that we all have the same access to health care that every advanced country has. Instead they have let the private sector control our access to health care, resulting in millions uninsured and millions more underinsured. However, Congress has been reluctant to change the status quo with a plan due to the health industry’s lobbying efforts and PAC contributions to our elected representatives. The result of no universal health care plan has left us with a lower life expectancy at twice the cost of the above nations.

Here in Vermont we have the Act 48 “single payer” plan that treats health care as a right and public good, not a perk of employment. However we need the right leadership to implement it, which has been lacking. High-deductible private policies only act as a deterrent to doctor’s visits leading to more severe medical problems.

Incidentally, another frequent complaint are teachers’ paid days off. However the U.S. is the only advanced country that has no mandated paid vacation days for its workers. All Western European countries and others such as Japan, Canada, New Zealand, etc. have from 10 to 30 (France) such days, and virtually all have more paid days off than their mandates require. Not surprisingly, this lack of mandates contributes to the U.S. having the fewest paid days off on average compared with the above countries.

The above are just two reasons why the U.S. places lower on the happiness index and has such a high rate of stress-related problems, both mental and physical.

Jerry Kilcourse