A new health care poll featured on the front page of USA TODAY on October 16 illustrates one of the most troubling elements of American pop culture, at the same time that it offers a few scraps of hope for beleaguered Republicans in the upcoming election.
In a truly breathtaking contradiction, only 44% of our fellow citizens indicated they were “satisfied” with the general quality of medical care in the USA, but nearly 90% expressed satisfaction with their own health care providers.
In other words, nearly half of the American people believe that all doctors and hospitals stink—except for the uniquely wonderful healers and facilities they, personally, are privileged to use!
This “I’m okay; you’re pathetic” syndrome applies to every significant issue in our lives. The people of this country feel consistently pleased with their own circumstances and hopeful about their individual progress, and at the same time they take a grim and gloomy view of the nation at large.
For instance, while the public expresses vast disapproval of the current state of the education system, more than two thirds of parents (and in some surveys, more than three-fourths) tell pollsters that they are proud and pleased with whatever schools their children actually attend.
For more than a generation, all surveys show overwhelming majorities indicating shockingly high levels of satisfaction with their own intimate, marital arrangements, at the same time we bemoan the sad state of family life in the nation at large.
Even during recessions, most people say they like their jobs and feel confident about their chances for personal advancement, but even during boom times (like today) most people look at the economic “big picture” as harsh and menacing.
In October of last year, at a time when Americans believed the country was on “the wrong track” by a two-to-one margin, a survey by the Pew Research Center asked a simple question about personal happiness: “How happy are you these days in your life?” An amazing 84% of respondents considered themselves “happy” (34% “very happy” and 50% “pretty happy”). Only 15% (disproportionately those in poor health and unmarried) said they were “not too happy.”