Friday, July 27, 2007


As, yet again, we discuss plans for (badly needed) "reform" of the US health care "system," its often useful to look to other countries for ideas. Here's an idea from Babylon (as parts of Iraq were known back in the day). From the Histories of Herodotus (ch. 197):
They have no physicians, but when a man is ill, they lay him in the public square, and the passers-by come up to him, and if they have ever had the disease themselves or have known any one who has suffered from it, they give him advice, recommending him to do whatever they found good in their own case, or in the case known to them; and no one is allowed to pass the sick man in silence without asking him what his ailment is.
Sounds like a good, low-cost way to aggregate information. I suspect the AMA would oppose it, though.
Another Babylonian custom praised by Herodotus was their annual bride auction: the high bids received for the comeliest were used to finance dowries for the homeliest. Is it possible to deplore the sexism and admire the efficiency at the same time?

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