Aug 28, 2007

Dying in a Terrorist Attack Makes you a Hero. Dying from Your Government's Neglect & Incompetence Puts you on a Waiting List (maybe)

As long as we pursue stupid policies, more people will die from our own negligence than terrorists will ever kill.

One last gasp of summer before its semi-official end, on the Labor Day weekend. A new school year is upon us; this young 110 Congress (with many very old people in it) comes back in session with the Dems in charge but not in command. The Supremes will start a little later, in October, and I pray to ..Zeus that John Paul Stevens makes it another year on SCOTUS. Personally, I feel the excitement of having a new batch of students and a couple new classes to teach, and I do feel good that I'm able to do a few things I really like. I don't know if it's the best approach, but I often say that I'm fortunate not to live in wretched conditions that so many billions of humans experience in this 21st century.

Just two years ago, we witnessed the horrible scenes from the Gulf states,
notably New Orleans, LA. We shouldn't forget the deplorable response of our government to this disaster. Today, president Bush is asking for another $50 billion to pay for a few weeks' worth of a wasting war overseas--the total cost will soon surpass the trillion dollar mark. Don't tell me that we couldn't have invested this money more wisely--including making America safer through improving the living conditions domestically and internationally; I can think of many ways, smarter ways to spend our national resources. For instance, it'd take 1/5 of Bush's latest request to eradicate malaria in Africa for one year.

Any aid to foreign lands that actually improves the human condition it is in the best interest of the US. We can't kill enough terrorists faster than they're being made, often by our own actions. Being tough and powerful is good only if such are wisely used. Good deeds and good will are more effective than bullets in the long run. And, I'd guess cheaper too.

Obviously it's not only about money, but also of priorities. For example, we spend the most than any other country (percentage of GDP) on healthcare while we leave 45 million [their numbers larger than many countries] uninsured and many more under-insured. Most personal bankruptcies are due to overwhelming medical expenses, and most of those are from people who do have some kind of health insurance.

The scenes [often witnessed in underdeveloped countries] from New Orleans two years ago revealed an unpleasant truth about the US--a reality we have to face if we're to make progress. We should begin by carefully examining our national priorities. But, we all need to pay more attention and demand accountability from our leaders who we should elect after serious consideration. Elections have consequences, and it's a serious duty of every citizen to participate in the affairs of his/her nation.

The conservatives often said that they wanted to shrink the government so much that it could drown in a bathtub. In reality what they've done under the curren
t regime is to shrink the social services (like cutting S-CHIP) while increasing the size & scope of Big Brother! Spending money on a war of (bad) choice, while transferring wealth to the top-tier income bracket. No, we need health insurance, we need libraries, we need a good public transportation system, we need access to education, we need consumer protection, we need national parks, we need clean environment, etc.

I think we have our priorities all screwed up, and we often fall into the trap that we can't afford all those goodies. Well, let's see where the money goes, including the wealth that's shifted through tax policy. Let's have an honest debate about it. I understand that not every person has the same priorities, but I'm willing to bet that most Americans, given the facts, would not vote for a politician who promises to vote for a constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage, while he also votes to build a bridge to nowhere for several hundred millions of dollars. What's more important, having true family values, like health insurance for kids & parents, or conducting unnecessary wars every 25 years on false pretenses?

The list goes on... Life too, if you're lucky!

PS. One year ago, I wrote another post on the anniversary of Katrina. It contains interesting facts about, and reactions to that disaster. Here is the link.