If we start at the beginning of the alphabet with Alabama, and we toss out states with very high populations**, how many states would it take to reach a total of 50,000,000?
What would it look like if we ‘mapped it’?
How many states would it take?
Sixteen: the populations of 16 states, or almost 1/3 of these United States, are about equal to the number of uninsured Americans.
Here are the numbers that I used, from recent data on the US population.
Alabama = 4,447,100
Arizona = 5,130,632
Delaware = 783,600
Idaho = 1,293,953
Indiana = 6,080,485
Iowa = 2,926,324
Kansas = 2,688,418
Kentucky = 4,041,769
Maine = 1,274,923
If the Blue Dogs were asked, "Do you really think that it’s okay for the combined population of 1 out of every 3 states in these United States of America to remain uninsured?" would they try harder to understand the critical importance of the public option?
Is it really acceptable that the number of uninsured Americans is equal to the combined population of one-third of all states?
This little exercise underscored for me:
- 1. The issue of health care is not a trivial matter; but it is an issue on which smaller states have a hugely disproportionate impact because of the way that the US Senate operates.
- 2. The issue of health care affects a vast number of Americans, and a huge portion of the nation. I’d expected the population of uninsured Americans to fit inside seven or eight of the smaller states; I was stunned to realize that the number of uninsured equal the population of 16 of the 50 United States.
- 3. What does this mean politically? It’s obvious: smaller states have a wildly disproportionate influence on national issues that affect all Americans.
Does this mapping of the number of ‘states worth’ of Americans who have trouble obtaining affordable health care cause you to think about the politics of health care in a new way? What does it mean that 32,000,000+ Californians have the same number of Senate votes as 626,932 Alaskans?
If I divide 32,000,000 California voters by 626,932 Alaska voters, I come up with the number: 46.18.
Let’s round it to 46.
It appears that under US Senate rules, every single Alaskan has 46 times as much ‘voting power’ in the U.S. Senate as every single Californian.
If I divide 32,000,000 Californians by 1,274,923 Maine residents, it appears that each Maine voter has 25 times as much ‘Senate voting power’ as each Californian.
The combined populations of one-third of the 50 United States are unable to obtain affordable health care coverage.
Each Alaskan has 46 times the ‘Senate vote power’ of each Californian.
Each Maine resident has 25 times the ‘Senate vote power’ of each Californian.
Here’s another way to think of it: each resident of Alaska has 46 times the ‘Senate vote power’ of Steve Jobs, or of Brad Pitt, or of a cancer researcher at Stanford.
And each Maine resident has 25 times much ‘Senate vote power’ as Clint Eastwood, a neurologist working at UCLA, or the CEO of Google.
So tell me again, how ‘bipartisan’ discussions on health care are ‘fair’?
When we’re looking at ratios of 1:24, and 1:46, I’m really not very patient with bloviating about how bipartisanship is going to solve all our problems.
What it’s going to do is underscore extreme inequalities that do not reflect the majority views and needs of Americans all over this nation. How is this ‘equitable’?
** (California’s population is approximately 33,8716,48 and Illinois’s population around 12,419,293. The combined total of these two large populations is around 45,000,000.)