Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Analogizing "flour and coffee" to "education and health"

I heard a segment on NPR tonight about how Obama might achieve the health care reform he desires. Some of the President-Elect's advisers on health care, including David Blumenthal, suggest that lessons may fruitfully be taken from President Lyndon Johnson's experience in pushing Medicare and Medicaid through Congress in 1965. You can listen to the story here.

So what does this have to do with rurality? Well, rural communities are disproportionately poor, and I heard a story last week on the California Report indicating that farmers pay more for health insurance. Many rural residents are self employed, so I would not be surprised if they are disproportionately uninsured. Rural residents have a lot at stake in successful health care reform, even if many of them wouldn't want to admit it (like those in Appalachia and the South; read more here).

But what caught my attention from a rural perspective was Lyndon Johnson's folksy language and his accent. You'll have to listen to the audio clip to experience the latter, but here is a quote that gives you a taste of the former.
In a conversation on March 6, 1965, [Johnson] tells Vice President Hubert Humphrey he could no more limit spending for health care, than tell his wife what groceries to buy.

"I'll go a 100 million or billion on health or education," Johnson said. "I don't argue about that any more than I argue about Lady Bird buying flour. You got to have flour and coffee in your house. And education and health, I'll spend the goddamn money."

Sarah Palin, eat your heart out.

Barack Obama, are you listening?

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