A little while back, a glance at The Atlantic archives demonstrated the plummeting cost of computer power since 1982. Now we've got Channing Frothingham's 1947 article "The Health of the Nation: A Plea for Public Medicine" where he points out that:

The amount of money spent annually on medical care for individuals in the United States is estimated at about $4,000,000,000. Those who have studied the possibilities believe that this sum is sufficient to provide good individual care for all the people and to reimburse the physicians adequately.

$4 billion in 1947 dollars is about $37.4 billion in 2007 dollars according to the inflation calculator. Present day US health care spending, meanwhile, runs to about $2,000 billion a year. Obviously, you're getting more advanced technology these days and people live longer, but actually not that much longer -- life expectancy in 1947 was 66.8 years -- since our lifestyles seem to have become less healthy in many ways.

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