An Economist’s Christmas Card

24 Dec

Uwe Reinhardt sent the following Christmas card to friends and family in 1989:

As he explains in more detail here the idea is that Americans are just as charitable as their counterparts around the world, at least in spirit. That’s why the two supply of kind acts lines are parallel to one another. But, as you can see, the U.S. actually provides less charity–not because of a difference in attitudes toward charity–but because the price per “kind act” is higher in the U.S. than it is elsewhere in the world.

It’s just a thought. After all, we do lack a great deal of social solidarity in this country that I think might make our charitable inclinations a bit less charitable. But wouldn’t it be nice if we actually were just as compassionate as people in other countries? I’d really like to believe in that. I’d really like to believe that if health care costs came down in this country, we’d suddenly find ourselves doing more for our neighbors than we do now. Uwe Reinhardt’s hypothetical Christmas card suggests that that’s exactly what would happen. I think there’s only one way to find out. This Christmas, I’m hoping that Sen. Claus fills all of our stockings with lower health care costs.

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Posted by on December 24, 2009 in Uncategorized


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