Why is it that our national policy makers are so robustly optimistic and filled with such can-do enthusiasm when it comes to shoveling billions of our tax dollars into big federal projects favored by wealthy campaign donors -- but fall into dismal depths of negativity and dispirited cries of no-can-do pessimism when it comes to paying for the things the majority of us Americans want and desperately need?
Take health care, a glaring national need not only for the 43 million people without any coverage, but also for the many millions more who have insurance policies that are so inadequate, expensive and riddled with insurance company loopholes that their "coverage" is next to useless. The prestigious Institute of Medicine has just issued a report saying that our country has a swelling health care crisis and that policy makers should respond with a universal program to provide affordable, high-quality health care to all.
How did policy makers respond? With a big "No Way!" Tommy Thompson, secretary of the Health and Human Services department, led the nay-saying: "I just don't think it's in the cards," he shrugged. "I don't think that, administratively or legislatively, it's feasible." This guy is America's top health care official, charged with solving a crucial issue that personally affects the majority of Americans -- yet he whimpers that good health care for everyone is simply beyond America's ability, so he won't even try for it.
Ironically, the Institute's report and plea for action came the same day that Bush announced that he wanted to spend unlimited billions of our tax dollars to build a space station on the moon and send astronauts to Mars. His political aides said the futuristic Mars shot was a reflection of Bush's optimistic nature.
Fine, but how 'bout we bring some of that optimism down to Earth, where we all live? They should at least try to meet the real needs of real people in the here and now. If they're not up to the job, let's find someone who is.
Publication date: 1/29/04