Is it too late to make fun of Sue Lowden (the Republican candidate for the Nevada Senate seat)?
We’re late on this bandwagon, of course. In case you missed it, Lowden suggested that we should barter with doctors to keep down medical costs. When asked about this later, she repeated her belief that this could work because our grandparents in the mythical “olden days” would trade chickens or house-painting for medical care.
Immediately helpful websites offered to translate your medical costs into chickens and petition Lowden for help with finding care for other olden aliments like the vapors. Lowden’s not the only one suggesting bartering for medical care. But even random doctors in Indiana now feel they need to point out they don’t take chickens in payment.
Now, we’re all about barter here at DGG. We recently traded an old satellite dish for homemade venison sausage (One of the advantages of being in central PA is that lots of people hunt deer for food. Yum!). Everyone realizes, however, how crazy this would be when it comes to long-term approaches to health care reform. (Even Lowden eventually backed down.)
What’s less discussed is why this idea is so crazy. It’s not because doctors aren’t “sympathetic” or “reasonable.” It’s because NO ONE OWNS ANY CHICKENS.
Of course there are a few exceptions. But let’s be realistic. According to the 2000 U.S. census, nearly 80% of Americans lived in urban areas, and there’s no reason to think that proportion hasn’t gone up. We at DGG have lived in urban areas, and trust me, no one keeps chickens in a 2 bedroom apartment with no yard in downtown NYC or Boston or Los Angeles.
Even beyond that, fewer than 2% of Americans are self-employed farmers — down from approximately 80% in 1870. Those are the kind of people who in “olden times” would have had a chicken to barter. Surprise, most of us work for money these days. Barter doesn’t work economically if you are simply buying a chicken to give to your doctor – you have to raise it yourself. So you might as well pay in cash, because it will cost you the same — and your doctor only wants to dedicate so much of his or her basement to chest freezers.
But what’s really sad is the lead time we need to make an Sue Lowden expansion pack to “Quack in the Box.” But believe me, we’re keeping Lowden in mind. ESPECIALLY if she wins. -S