Health Care Reform and 9/11, or yet another way to demonstrate that the GOP and its allies are moral imbeciles.

I remember September 11, 2001, very well indeed.  That morning, I’d walked across 12th St. at Sixth Ave. to grab a quick breakfast at Joe Jr.’s.  I even remember what I had:  a toasted bialy with raspberry jam and a cup of coffee.  I was chatting with a couple of other guys at the counter about the Monday Night Football game the evening before — the Giants at Denver.  See — I remember.

Then a guy who looked as if he had lived way too hard during the sixties opened the door and said that a plane had just hit the World Trade Tower…and we didn’t believe him.

I walked out of the diner about five minutes later, looked to my left…

….you know what I saw.

I didn’t stay to the end.  I knew that I was watching people die, and I could not just stand there in the middle of Sixth Ave. — The Avenue of the Americas! — as that happened.

The official figure is that on that day 2,976 innocents died.

It was horrific — a disaster, a tragedy, and a crime.

For the sake of those almost three thousand dead, with the aim of preventing such a loss ever again, the United States went to war, twice.

We have committed an astonishing amount of treasure to those conflicts — about one trillion now, and counting — and  we have asked hundreds of thousands of Americans to serve in truly difficult circumstances to defend us from harm.

We have received that last full measure of devotion from thousands of those Americans — 5,344 members of the uniformed services as I write this — all in response to the loss of those three thousand  taken from us on September 11, 2001.*

Now, in January 2010, we are debating a question that seems far removed from the stark horror and terror of 9/11.

We confront once more the question of whether or not an American’s access to health care should, in this country at this moment, be something every American can expect.

We all know where we are, confronting a Senate bill that is deeply flawed.  It is compromised in a dozen different directions, and it does not deal with several of the root problems in the health care complex that the United States must some day solve.

But, but, but… at its core it does this one thing:  it provides  health insurance to 30 million Americans who do not now have it. Whether or not it can be improved by one legislative maneuver or another, it still does that.

We know one thing about the lack of coverage.  It kills people.

The latest Harvard Medical School Study estimates that 45,000 Americans die each year from lack of coverage.

You can see where this is going, I’m sure.

Thirty  million people is about 1o percent of the population of the United States. One tenth of 45,000 is 4,500.  But of course, it’s worse than that. The US Census estimates that about 46 million Americans lack health insurance each year.  That thirty million who would benefit under the Senate bill account for about two thirds of that total.

If we cannot find a way to pass the Senate bill, with or without changes…if we can’t get this through, then those thirty millions will remain uninsured.  Some of them will die each year as a result.  If the Harvard study is right, that number could be as high as 30,000 Americans gone who did not need to go.

Even if you think the Harvard study may overstate the death toll, then give the number a haircut — say cut it almost in half — and you still have some 18,o00 Americans dead each year from financial arrest.  Six 9/11s.  One every couple of months

We were willing to go to war; we are still willing to spend billions each year on the fight; as a nation we accept the necessity of sacrifice, of the loss of good women and men cut off in their prime, to respond to the criminal tragedy that was 9/11, with its 2,976 men and women killed.

We’re losing many times that many every year that we could save right now….and yet the GOP and its allies think it is more important to win a political battle than it is to prevent this annual massacre.

I don’t accuse our friends across the aisle of a willful desire to kill their fellow citizens in their thousands.  Rather, it is willed ignorance — that’s where I bring them in guilty.

Theirs is a careful not-knowing, a skill that allows them to unsee the unglamorous and unnoticed missed infection here, the unmedicated heart failure there.

But the outcome is the same, and the current attempt to derail the health care/health insurance reform measures available to us now makes those who are doing so accessories before the fact — co-conspirators — in all those unnecessary deaths.

That’s what blocking health care means.  Leave aside the compelling policy argument, all the practical reasons why this makes sense:   if you knew that there was some action you could take to prevent 9/11, what would be the moral cost of choosing not to do so?

That’s what the GOP should ask itself;  that’s what the perfection-at-any-cost wing of my own Democratic party needs to remember.  That’s what the rest of us should be dinning in our neighbors ears:  Those who for financial interest or partisan advantage are lying about health care now are committing perhaps another 9/11 every two months.

Year after year.

We need to get this done now.

*Not to mention, of course, the journalists, contractors, coalition military and above all, civilians who have lost their lives in these conflicts.

Image:  Nicholas Maes, “Christ Before Pilate” (Pilate washing his hands), before 1670.

Explore posts in the same categories: Obama, Picking sides, Politics, public health, Republican knavery

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11 Comments on “Health Care Reform and 9/11, or yet another way to demonstrate that the GOP and its allies are moral imbeciles.”

  1. David Smith Says:

    WOW! What a day-dreamer. Did you make all this up by yourself, or did you go from ignorant liberal blog to intollerant liberal blog gathering overused, useless, hand-me-down ideas?

  2. Olliander Says:

    “The latest Harvard Medical School Study estimates that 45,000 Americans die each year from lack of coverage.”

    Since 2.5 million people die in this country each year, about 98.2% of deaths are people who HAVE health insurance. What health care crisis?

    Those of you on the left who insist on pushing propaganda and idiotic false equivalencies are digging the spike into “healthcare reform” with each passing day. As a conservative, I implore you to keep at it.

    As per the White House, it’s the “message” that needs tweaking right?

    • Tom Says:

      “What health care crisis?”

      That’s an impressive sentence. The willed not knowing required to write it must take enormous amounts of sustained effort.

      As I’ve noted to another troll, there is a wealth of actually informed writing on the web to document the various facets of the crisis. The post above is intended to mimic Hillel’s famous instruction as to the essence of the Torah.

      Go and study. Start with the numbers of Americans who lack health insurance at any time over a 2 year period.

      Go to the number of bankruptcies caused by lack of insurance.

      Go to the labor market inflexibility that results from our system.

      Go to the cost of our system, compared to our international economic and security competitors.

      Go to the outcomes our system achieves compared to those of our competitors (a very complex area, but worth actual attention, rather than the braying conflation two very different quantities: numbers of deaths and numbers of “excess” deaths, as understood by those who actually do MM work.

      And so on. You are an ignorant, braying fool. Come back when you know something.

    • Jim Bales Says:

      Olliander writes:
      “The latest Harvard Medical School Study estimates that 45,000 Americans die each year from lack of coverage.”

      Since 2.5 million people die in this country each year, about 98.2% of deaths are people who HAVE health insurance. What health care crisis?

      Olliander seems to have not noticed that the vast majority of people who die are (to use the technical term) old. (According to the US Social Security Administration, 79% of men who die are 65 or older, and 87% of women.)

      Most of these people take part in a Federal program called “Medicare”, a single-payer insurance program.

      Assuming a population that is 50/50 male/female at all ages, that means some 300,000 people under 65 die in the US each year, and the preponderance of the 40,000 uninsured who die are part of that 40,000.


      • Jim Bales Says:

        Typos in the last sentence, which should read:
        “the preponderance of the 45,000 uninsured who die are part of that 300,000”


        PS Tom — any way to get a comment preview feature? -jb

  3. DJ Says:

    Great blog. Now on my must read list.

  4. Olliander Says:

    Aw, did I touch a nerve?

    “You are an ignorant, braying fool.”

    How intellectual of you. Following the standard leftwing protocol for “debates”, I see:

    1. Pontificate
    2. Name calling
    3. ???
    4. Win argument

    Stay classy…

    • Tom Says:

      Nice try. Let’s see. You’ve noticed that the death rate is one per person, from which you conclude no health care reform is necessary, and you then carefully avoid any further contact with data that might sully the spotless sunshine of your perfect fantasy.

      As said above: come back when you know something. Projection is tedious.

  5. AJ Hill Says:

    I’ve never believed for an instant that right wingers felt genuine concern for the victims of 9-11. Those people merely furnished a convenient excuse for an invasion that was predetermined from the beginning of the Bush administration [reported by
    Bush’s first Treasury Secretary, Paul
    Your troll demonstrated as much in his second post. Displaying impressive mastery of elementary arithmetic, he ignored the real pathos of those 45,000 annual deaths
    Of course, those who died during the 9-11 attacks constituted barely an eighth of a percent of the total American death toll that year. Employing Mssr. Olliander’s callous myopia, we see that 9-11 was ten times less significant than the health insurance crisis. I’d love to know how he accomodates this in his philosophy.

  6. chrome agnomen Says:

    flaming liberal here. taking it down to the basic element, for the most part, white folk died in the towers, many of them well-to-do; the health care victims tend to be poorer and more proportionally of color. i agree with what you’re saying here completely, but to the right, the former are innocent victims, the latter professional victims. and anyway, events have shown that they didn’t give a damn about the tower people anyway, but it was sure a handy handle to hang a couple of wars upon.

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