the least of our brothers (rant warning)

Nicholas Kristof wrote a very interesting column in today’s New York Times: Health Care? Ask Cuba. In it, he writes about how the United States, despite having the most-expensive health care system in the world and, allegedly the best, still has a higher infant mortality rate than Cuba, Canada, Singapore, Sweden, and a lot of other countries, yes, even France.

And, what’s more, the infant mortality rate in the US rose, rather than declined, in 2002 (the latest year where we have reliable statistics). Read that carefully: it ROSE. It means 28,000 babies die each year. It means in this land of the “Compassionate Conservative,” we are killing off our poor. It means Americans elected (mostly) men who care more about supporting an ostentatious display of inauguration pomp in Washington than in spending money to make sure our needy and helpless citizens are taken care of.

Singapore has the best infant mortality rate in the world: 2.3 babies die before the age of 1 for every 1,000 live births. Sweden, Japan and Iceland all have a rate that is less than half of ours.

If we had a rate as good as Singapore’s, we would save 18,900 babies each year. Or to put it another way, our policy failures in Iraq may be killing Americans at a rate of about 800 a year, but our health care failures at home are resulting in incomparably more deaths - of infants. And their mothers, because women are 70 percent more likely to die in childbirth in America than in Europe.

Of course, deaths in maternity wards occur one by one, and don’t generate the national attention, grief and alarm of an explosion in Falluja or a tsunami in Sri Lanka. But they are far more frequent: every day, on average, 77 babies die in the U.S. and one woman dies in childbirth.

If this is what it means to be a Christian nation, which all the pundits and preachers and politicians are blathering about, then I am relieved I am not a Christian. The preachers and the politicians talk the talk, but they’re certainly not walking the walk. Lip service is what we’re getting, this pious, meaningless hypocrisy instead of real action. Ok, Mr. or Ms. Self-proclaimed Christian, I hear your words. Now show me what Christianity really means. Would Jesus let 28,000 babies die because we, as Americans, are too stingy to spend the money it takes to provide health care for everyone? What! Give up our iPod or settle for a non-camera phone in order to save a baby’s life? Yeah, right. Come on you Christians out there: when are you going to rise up and actually BE Christians? Demand universal health care for our poor, make sure every child is fed and has a decent roof over his or her head, on and on. Dump the politicians who make the label “Christian Nation” a lie. Let’s see ... there are about 150 million Christians in the country (according to my 2002 World Almanac). It’s about time 149.9 million of you get off your asses and do something besides showing up at church. What would Jesus do?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/12/05 at 05:42 PM
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