The Plague We Cannot Escape/Environmental Word Games

March 15th, 2003

To the Editor,

Your editorial section (3/15/03) is replete with tales of unconcern for AIDS patients in the third world and environmental principles. I am afraid that it is time to stop looking at the abuse of our ailing citizens and our environment as neglectful. It is time to call it what it is…a policy.

The tragedy of millions of dying AIDS victims must not overshadow the slower dying of millions in this country under more diverse diagnostic labels: autoimmune diseases like Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus and Parkinsons, cardiovascular ailments, COPD, Asthma, cancers with environmental links as with Lymphoma, the surge in premature senility as in Alzheimers etc. The CDC tells us that one fifth of adults have a chronic health condition which does not include the count of disabled children, institutionalized adults or disabled military personnel. The Social Security Administration tells us that three in ten new workers will become disabled during their working years, requiring SSD benefits. Are we such a weak species?

Let’s take our message from the one sent by the tobacco industry to the Czeck government: in premature illness and death, there is profit. That politically incorrect message intended to prevent passage of anti-smoking legislation in that country informs us that our ruling industries applaud savings on workers who leave the workforce (lost/reduced pensions, reduced use of medical benefits and lower salaried replacement personnel). The costs are transferred to the overburdened taxpayers who must fund SSDI payments, medicare and medicaid costs etc. as well as the price of cleaning up environmental messes responsible for the increasing rates of disability and chronic illness.

Let’s not estimate the power of greed solely in terms of it’s effect upon third world countries. Let us just use that obvious piece of inhumanity for as a marker for a broader agenda. When heads of state call themselves “CEOs” instead of “Presidents”, we should all listen to the underlying message and the legislative agenda which enforces it.

Categories: Articles, NY Times

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