I have to question your conclusion regarding the relative merit of our USA based healthcare as compared to other nations. Especially with regard to the western European nations you have listed. The last time I consulted a map, some of the wealthiest scions of the world from the Middle East and Asia seem to be flying over these same nations on their way here.
Granted, the wealthy Canadians (including many in government posts) that choose to simply drive past their own hospitals and over the border, to ours, may simply be looking to save the airfare - but somehow, I don't think so...
Now, is ours more expensive to provide ? Yes. That is, in general, the way of things in life as most folks understand that "you get what you pay for". But, from what I can observe, cost factors do tend to matter less (if at all) when it is ones own health on the line and one has the resources to exercise a choice.
Interestingly, many of these same European nations that you identify as having a lower overall healthcare system cost, also have far lower legal costs and associated insurance costs for their frontline health providers and that is something that I would say merits further discussion...
Once again, the discussion gets down to politics. I am not so naiive as to belive I can sway your thinking, but I would encourage you to carefully observe what other countries are doing with universal health care. I think any rational objective comparison on the levels and cost of care in numerous first world countries will show that the US is far behind and far more expensive-countless international comparisons show this. Once everyone is insured, insurers will have more customers (good for business), everyone will be on a level playing field, back-office costs will go way down, etc. It works, the level of service to the consumer is better than in the US (just because hate radio declares that we "have the best health care in the world" doesn't make it so). Ask Switzerland, Germany, Australia.......
I agree with you regarding escalating costs caused by government intervention. I went to a private engineering college, which was more expensive but closer to 'home' since I was a 'non-traditional' student who was already stable in my community.
Anyway, even the government had their hands into issues at this private school. The biggest example I remember, from years back, is the government subsidies they were going to hold back if the school didn't go fully 'non-smoking', and close all smoking lounges inside. The government always works that way; do this or we won't give you money.
Let's not forget the trap that so many young people unwittingly fall into: the school loan. Smart loans are definitely an oxymoron and while the premise of borrowing for something as important as education has merit, I don't believe we educate young people as to the ramifications of borrowing (often well-over the actually tuition amount) rather than working and paying at least part "as you go." Many people become weighed down by loans that never go away although the finance companies are happy to temporary defer payment while continuing to accrue interest when hardships happen.
I am also a huge proponent of community college for the first two years. I have been paying into the Texas Tomorrow Fund since 1999 for my son's junior and senior year – fully expecting him to work and attend community college for his first two years as an affordable and character building option. Now that high schools offer dual credit (college and high school) tuition free, we are also looking forward to him graduating high school with several hours of college credit under his belt.
As far as where a student goes, I think accreditation is a key factor that sadly is often overlooked or misunderstood. There are lots of fine non-ivy league universities that offer excellent educations and life-learning experiences, but if they are not accredited (SACS for example) by the accreditation bodies for that particular area of study, the student may not only have difficulty getting hired, they may find they are unable to pursue a higher degree later because the school they are applying to won't accept the degree they earned. Thorough research is essential in selecting a school - no matter how affordable or what scholarships are offered, if it doesn't have credibility in both the academic world and in the marketplace, it could have very upsetting repercussions for the student's future.
Discussing the ROI is interesting but implies that the rising cost is just a given and so is to be accepted, as it will be paid for over a life time. The big problem, as discussed in "The Bell Curve", is that higher education has already stratified American society, leaving many unable to attend even before the ever increasing cost is a consideration.
I think college makes sense in this discussion because many of us majored in engineering, which tends to start paying back immediately upon graduation. But I think it gets dicier for people who don't have degrees that create a foundation for job training. I realize college isn't just about job training, but I would have some second thoughts these days about sending a child to college at one of the $50K-per-year liberal arts schools. Those schools work for kids who want to go to law school, med school or graduate school, but the paybacks are less certain (especially in a tough economy) for kids who don't use their education as a springboard for even more education.
I went to college and grad school and don't regret it. Along with the classroom knowledge I learned about critical thinking, how to examine and solve problems, how to design experiments, how to work with teams, and so on. I also made many helpful professional connections, worked with mentors--good and bad--made lifelong friends and learned a lot about how to live life and be a useful part of society. I suppose you can learn some of those things without a college education, but if you can go to college, I recommend doing so. Also, we have many good, inexpensive state schools in the USA, price doesn't always mean quality in college education.
You only get one chance to go to college (at least as a young person right out of high school). Yes, schools are increasingly overpriced, which in turn wrecks the ROI analysis - unless you start a Facebook-like company at age 19. Regardless, you will never regret having graduated from a good school. I sidestepped the ROI issue by going to a good engineering school which was free, but now wants to charge. Can you guess what school it is?
Altair has released an update of its HyperWorks computer-aided engineering simulation suite that includes new features focusing on four key areas of product design: performance optimization, lightweight design, lead-time reduction, and new technologies.
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In a line of ultra-futuristic projects, DARPA is developing a brain microchip that will help heal the bodies and minds of soldiers. A final product is far off, but preliminary chips are already being tested.
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