Sunday, April 29, 2007

Bad Apples

Part 2: "No American Left Behind"

Part 3: Bad Apples

The title of Ron Suskind's riveting new book, ''The One Percent Doctrine,'' refers to an operating principle that he says Vice President Dick Cheney articulated shortly after 9/11: in Mr. Suskind's words, ''if there was even a 1 percent chance of terrorists getting a weapon of mass destruction -- and there has been a small probability of such an occurrence for some time -- the United States must now act as if it were a certainty.''
The New York Times, June 20, 2006
Star Parker’s cost-benefit analysis concluded that HPV vaccination was too expensive since “fewer than one-hundredth of 1 percent of the 108 million U.S. women older than 18 (0.009 percent) get cervical cancer and even fewer die from it.”

But a one percent risk of terrorist attack is enough for government to act, no matter what the cost (now approaching half a trillion dollars). That’s about $1500 per American so far, and far more per Iraqi.

One-hundredth of one percent is too little when it comes to HPV vaccine. About $400 per teenage female under eighteen.

And programs that spread the risk among us, that meet Americans’ basic needs like health care?

They’re non-starters because they might benefit the Irresponsibles. What would become of individual responsibility? It might breed more deadbeats and weaken America’s moral fiber. Might it pollute our purity of essence too?

Lazy, undeserving people, somewhere out there in unknown numbers might benefit more than me and mine. Like children splitting a can of Coke, conservatives obsess that someone else might get a hair’s breadth greater share in their glass. Or someone unworthy might get any.

They wouldn’t mind paying their taxes if the government spent them as responsibly as they would. (I have heard this in person.) After all, it’s not as though conservatives refuse to pay their share. It’s that someone somewhere in America of lower status might pay less — and they don’t mean corporate persons. Remember, Irresponsibles are of a lower moral caste, not necessarily of lower income.

Democrats should challenge conservatives to put numbers to what qualify as "failed programs" of the past or present. How many bad apples spoil an otherwise useful social program like Social Security or Medicare? How many Irresponsibles does it take to justify dismantling a program beneficial to the other 300 million Americans?

Ballpark. What percent?

For perspective, keep in mind that over $10 billion in Iraq reconstruction cash delivered to Baghdad shrink-wrapped on pallets simply vanished. Until Democrats took over this January, congressional Republicans showed little interest in the Irresponsibles behind that waste and inefficiency.

Outside the magic portal recently, a colleague opined that universal health care was coming whether people like him wanted it or not.

“Now why should I pay more taxes to provide health care for somebody who doesn’t even pay taxes?” (Meaning income taxes only, having conveniently forgotten about payroll, property and other taxes low-income workers still pay to support American government.)

Why indeed? Why should we put out fires in their houses? Protect them against invading armies? Investigate crimes when they’re victims? Educate their children? Or allow them to vote?

In conservative America, freedom and a helping hand belong to the deserving — to real Americans — and not to the nameless, faceless, numberless Irresponsibles.

Next: Code Talkers

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