JAMA Revisited April 5, 1919 before its administration is possible, a considerable amount of compromise will be necessary. Delay at present is not only un- avoidable but desirable. No state has as yet passed any health insurance measure. The progress of the first state that does will be carefully watched. If delay affords an opportunity for care- Fallacies in the Discussion of Social Insurance ful consideration of the many phases of the bill, exhaustive dis- In the present discussion of social insurance in this country, as cussion of the details, and a patient hearing to all interested par- in England ten years ago, it seems impossible for either its ad- ties, then the delay will be well worth while. Probably in no field vocates or its opponents to avoid extreme and partizan state- of legislative action today is so great caution and deliberation ments. Arguments on both sides are characterized by sweep- advisable as in the field of social insurance. The editorial in the ing generalizations and unwarranted deductions, which too New Republic is a fair sample of the hasty and often misleading often are accepted by the reader because they are made by some generalizations that are appearing on this subject. It is more than well known authority. An illustration of this tendency is to be ever necessary that physicians keep cool heads and clear judg- found in an editorial in the New Republic, March 22. After stat- ment, and refuse to allow their attention to be diverted from the ing that “neither Republican nor Democratic leaders can af- essential principles involved in these proposed measures. ford to compromise” on the health insurance bill now before the New York legislature, the editorial continues: “Organized la- Learning Spanish bor has unanimously placed health insurance first among its im- In another department is an answer to an inquiry relative to mediate legislative demands.” This statement is incorrect. If the methods for learning Spanish. It is gratifying to note that editor had said, “Organized labor in New York State has unani- the Spanish edition of THE JOURNAL has been instrumental in mously placed health insurance first among its immediate leg- awakening greater interest in the Spanish language. Both for islative demands,” his statement would have been correct. The business and cultural reasons the Spanish tongue and litera- New York Federation of Labor has indorsed health insurance, ture should be better known in the United States. Those as have a few other state federations. Enumerating the forces who take the pains to learn Spanish will find themselves behind the measure, the New Republic says: “An impressive ar- amply repaid by the wealth of a literature which only now is ray of civic Societies, far-sighted employers and physicians have beginning to be appreciated fully in this country. Unfortu- come to the support of the bill.” No “impressive array” of phy- nately, many English translations of Spanish works which sicians has as yet supported any health insurance measure in are available are not of the best. If the new era of friendship any state. The editorial continues: “Congress adjourned with- among nations is to develop—especially among the nations out taking any action. The states must step into the breach— of the western hemisphere—the different peoples must above all the pivotal state of New York.” No measure providing become better acquainted. One way to accomplish this is by for national health insurance has ever been presented to Con- learning the foreign languages. We seem to be today no gress, nor could Congress take any action on this subject. It is nearer than in the days of the Tower of Babel to that time essentially a matter that comes under state jurisdiction. New when a universal language shall rise from the ruins of Latin, York may be a “pivotal state” in the political field, but it is no Volapük, Esperanto and Ido. It may not be amiss to say that more pivotal from an industrial or economic standpoint than those interested in Spanish will find an unusually easy is Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Ohio or Illinois. The editorial method of improving their knowledge by comparing the concludes: “The health insurance bill is the most important mea- translations in the Spanish edition of THE JOURNAL with the sure now before the legislators and the people of New York State. English original. In this way they may enrich their vocabu- It should be passed without compromise, evasion or delay.” lary and learn some of the finer distinctions in the gram- It should if it is the best bill that can be devised; otherwise, it matical construction of the two languages. One of the great- should not. If in the New York bill the interests of employees, est of the Spanish monarchs is credited with saying that a employers, physicians and the state were properly safe- man is worth as many men as languages he knows. guarded, then the statement of the New Republic might be ac- cepted. But in the present state of knowledge on this question, any bill is an experiment. Probably before its passage, certainly JAMA. 1919;72(14):1003-1004. Editor’s Note: JAMA Revisited is transcribed verbatim from articles published Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Assistant Editor. previously, unless otherwise noted. 1316 JAMA April 2, 2019 Volume 321, Number 13 (Reprinted) jama.com © 2019 American Medical Association. All rights reserved.
JAMA – American Medical Association
Published: Apr 2, 2019
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