Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Numerical Perspective

Back in early September the following meme washed through Twitter/Facebook.
No one should die because they cannot afford health care, and no one should go broke because they get sick or get in an accident. If you agree, please post this as your status for the rest of the day.
A friend from Rochester, David Fischer, replied with a bit of statistical perspective. In America, about 20,000 people die each year because they lack health insurance; about 40,000 die each year from auto accidents; about 66,000 die each year because of hospital staff not washing hands. He concludes, "If you want to reduce needless deaths each year, lack of health insurance is not the the low-hanging fruit."

The key question for the summer's big political topic is how many Americans want health insurance but cannot afford it. I've been searching for a reliable answer, and it seems to be between 3.5% and 2%.

My family enjoys participating in a (Community Supported Agriculture) CSA "farm box" from a local farm. We pay for a season's produce from a local farm early in the calendar year. The farm benefits from an influx of money during the months they most need it. The consumer receives a bargain price on produce.

Eating locally grown food supports the local economy, and the produce often tastes better. But it is not very significant for environmental reasons, as people are realizing. Avoiding red meat has a much more significant environmental benefit. Of course, the people politicizing being a locavore ignore this.

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