Don’t Cry For Rush, Costa Rica

When Rush Limbaugh recently threatened to “leave for Costa Rica” if health care reform passed, many of his critics mistakenly thought he was pledging to move there. In actuality, he was answering a caller’s question about where he would seek health care, not citizenship.  

Rush gets marooned by the truth.

  

Now that health care reform has passed, Limbaugh has been forced to defend his statement. Ironically, the true quote contains no less hypocrisy than the one erroneously attributed to him. The healthcare system in Costa Rica is a combination of government and private insurance coupled with public and private hospitals, paralleling what the reform bill will create here. If the public option is eventually passed, the two systems will be nearly identical.  

The Costa Rica system is paid for by an 11% tax on workers (a daunting figure until you discover the per capita cost, which also includes a mandatory pension plan, equals only about $100 a month). This tiny country of 4.5 million has figured out how to pay for universal health care and social security at a cost to the economy of less than $1200 per person, per year.  

I am sure most of Rush’s listeners would be surprised to discover that given a choice of any health system in the world, the “government takeover” Costa Rica model is the one he chooses to support. It sounds very similar to the proposals he has railed against for years in this country. Of course he rails against entitlements, even though he has accepted them. He rails against leniency for drug offenders, although as a drug offender himself, he begged for mercy from prosecutors.  

Rush might want to review his facts on climate change before he springs for that beach condo.

  

So, after closer examination, this hypocrisy is not so baffling. In fact, it’s completely understandable, once you discover that, in Costa Rica, many drugs can be purchased legally without a prescription. I wonder if Oxycontin is on that list? Sure beats having your housekeeper drive around Puntarenas looking for a Denny’s parking lot where she can score some “baby blues”.

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Tax This – The Citizens’ Survey

Like most adult Americans, I’ve begun to think about maybe starting to perhaps kinda almost commence doing my taxes. Conceivably, it could happen sometime between the Winter Olympics and March Madness. Or not.

That's right, it's tax time.

The public’s general lack of enthusiasm for filing a return could be mitigated if the IRS added some incentives. Perhaps a comment form, or better yet, a survey, mailed out with every tax manual, allowing us to critique the stewards of our tax dollars. When you buy a toaster they include a consumer survey, why not when you write out a big fat check to the government? The results could be read on the floor of the House and Senate every April 15th, during mandatory sessions of Congress.

A sample survey might look something like this:

1) Do you think stimulus tax dollars should be spent on the companies that created the financial crisis, or the people who are suffering from it?

2)Do you think your tax dollars should go towards everyone’s health insurance plan or just the health insurance plan for members of Congress?

3)Do you think your tax dollars should be spent to finance elections or should corporations be left to take care of that? (See questions one and two above.)

Maybe it would be more enlightening to just let people choose where a discretionary portion of their tax dollars, say 5%, should go. I’m sure there would be a significant discrepancy between Congress’ agenda and the priorities of the American public. Talk about voting with your dollars.

As simple as this plan is, I’m sure it will never happen. Sounds too much like … Democracy.